01-05-20 January Cruise – Pacific Princess

This past January, we took a Princes Cruise through the Panama Canal.  Our voyage started in Fort Lauderdale, Florida made stops in Aruba, Costa Rica and two stops in Mexico – Puerto Chiapas and Cabo San Lucas before ending the journey in Los Angeles

Our friends Sally and Jim

 This was a much different cruse then we experienced over Thanksgiving on Carnival Cruise – first, this is a small ship, only 650 passengers and didn’t do anything like a round trip cruise as we did in November.  In fact, we boarded the ship on its first leg of an around the world trip lasting 111 days.  Our part of the overall trip was only 15 days so just a small piece of the trip being taken by a lot of the passengers on board.  The entire trip had only the four stops so most time was spent at sea.

Pacific Princess off Cabo San Lucas

We had booked this cruise after a long conversation with our friends Jim and Sally.  They have been on a number of cruises but never on a small ship such as the Pacific Princess.  As a matter of fact, Jim had recommended we try this ship for our Alaska cruise that is scheduled for June.  After we booked that cruise,he started looking at it’s overall itinerary and found the Panama Canal leg of the around the world trip (the ship goes completely around before we re-board it in Alaska in June).  Once he discovered the Panama Transit trip he booked passage and we did too.

The stairs from the “front desk” to the retail area of the ship.
One of the shops in the retail area – there were only 2 actual shops on board.

Pacific Princes, as I mentioned, is the smallest ship in the Princess Fleet – with 11 decks and is 592 feet long as compared to their other ships with 19 decks and over 1,000 feet long.  The smaller ship still provides many of the same amenities found on the larger ships, specialty restaurants, bar entertainment and cabaret shows, but certainly nothing like the crowds for sure.  Yes, there was a small Casino on board – with various game tables (no craps for some reason) and slot machines but we were not tempted to play.

Slots were part of the casino for sure
Entrance to the Spa and fitness center.
The pool area and sun deck
Our dinner group – Sally with our waiter Alex next to Jim with Janeen sitting next to Denise with David behind her next to Al and Ron and Carol on the right side of the group.
Janeen with Executive Chef Giuseppe Pollara

Our cabin was on deck 7 as was Sally and Jim’s.  We had a nice room with a balcony but we didn’t spend a lot of time in the cabin, as there were things to do and places to explore.  Dining was either in the dining room with wait service on deck 4 (most evenings were there) or in the buffet on deck 9.  Also on deck 9 was the spa (Janeen spent several relaxing hours there) with the pool in the middle.  On deck 10 forward was the Pacific Lounge Bar where we met each evening for an adult beverage before dinner or to just hang out and see the sights.  A nice library and reading room on deck 10 aft was also a quiet place to enjoy the afternoon.  At the opposite end of the ship from the dining room was the Cabaret Lounge with entertainment in the evening and various presentations during the day.  

Here we are enjoying a bit of outside time
There was a fireplace in the library – of course it was not functional but a nice touch anyway
Lots of board and other types of games available
Janeen with the Capitan – Paolo Arrigo

Our Dinner seating was early, 5:30 or so, and we shared the table with 2 other couples along with Sally and Jim.  One couple – Al and Denise – were on board for the entire adventure of 111 days while the other couple – Ron and Carol  – were getting off with us in Los Angeles.  I would have to say we had a good group of people at our table and really all the people we spoke to seem to be having a good time and enjoying the adventure.  I did speak with one passenger who was on his 10th around the world cruise (on the same ship!) and he had his grandson with him as his full time caregiver. I’m not certain about going on a cruise for 111 days ,but to do it 10 times seems a bit much ,however if you enjoy it and have the money why not?

Rondell Sheridan – a Comedian did a good job keeping us laughing
Sonia Selbie – vocalist very enjoyable and loved her act.
The on board dance and singing company did several nice musical evenings in the Lounge.
Eric Buss did comedy magic

Over the next few blogs I will try and give some highlights about the various port of call and of course the adventure of going through the Panama Canal.  Until then, as Rick Steve’s always says, “Keep on traveling”.

Jim, Sally, Janeen and David waiting for the evening’s entertainment to start – everyone has their own device!

1-1-20 Gosh, it’s been 3 months since there was an update!

Well, it’s been a while since I updated the blog. The last blog, done while we were in New Orleans in October seems like a long time ago. Since that time, we visited with friends in Savanna Georgia (Hello to Bob and Linda) and found our way back to our son’s home in Springfield VA.

Well, it’s been a while since I updated the blog. The last blog we did was from our adventure in New Orleans in October; seems like a long time ago. Since that time, we visited with friends in Savanna, Georgia (Hello to Bob and Linda) and found our way back to our son’s home in Springfield VA.   Once we returned to Virginia, we got serious about buying a home of our own .We purchased a lovely 3 bedroom place in Williamsburg VA – we have room ,so come and visit!

Our new home in Williamsburg VA – come and visit!

Several months ago, we had agreed to join several other families and go on a Carnival  ocean cruise to the Bahamas over the Thanksgiving Weekend. This eliminated the need for anyone to actually have to cook a turkey (although it also meant there were not going to be any left overs for sandwiches).  Joining with about 20 other folks (3 different families with extended relations) we hired a party bus and headed to Baltimore to join Carnival Cruise for a weeklong trip south to the Bahamas.  It was nice to have the bus as that meant we didn’t have to drive, find parking and could  have an adult beverage along the way!

Katie gives her sister, Trebor, a hug while daddy checks his phone.

This was our first “ocean” cruise, having done a bunch of River Cruises through Europe; it was a very different experience for us.  Carnival is clearly a party boat and as such there were lots of families and entertainment (and drinks) for all to enjoy. 

While we did get off the ship in Nassau (to get a stamp in our passport!), we didn’t get off on the Carnival Island or in Freeport – it was nice to just relax on the ship and let all the “kids” go explore. 

There were comedians (not really that good) and other entertainment options.  One of the events was a “build a bear” where Katie had the opportunity to pick out something – she created a cat. 

Terri and Molly having an adult beverage in the lounge

Jackson, G’Pa and Katie in the pool having a good time.

Janeen catching up on her reading on our room’s balcony.

All in all it was a nice adventure and I’m sure everyone had a great time.

After the cruise it was time to actually “visit” our new home, arrange appliances, have our furniture moved from California and do all the things needed to make it our place – plus of course get ready for Christmas.  We purchased the place prior to Thanksgiving and by the end of the year we had slept in our own bed all of 5 nights!

When we left California, we didn’t store much furniture ,basically a bedroom suite, some living room storage units and a carpet or two plus kitchen stuff and artwork.  Needless to say, we have some furniture and other things to arrange and have spent a good amount of time checking out the Salvation Army and consignment stores in both the Springfield Area and Williamsburg.  So, at this point we have several easy chairs, a dining table and 6 chairs plus some stools for the kitchen counter area.  Lots more to get, but we can now sleep in our own bed, and eat meals at a table with real plates and utensils.

Between getting the house set up we tried to squeeze in some Christmas shopping and general holiday planning. 

Our little Santa bundle of joy.
Katie got a Star Wars Light Saber night night while Trebor checks out the package.

We had a nice family Christmas holiday with our grandkids and closed out the year feeling good about all that happened in the past year.  Next up things happening in 2020 including a Cruise through the Panama Canal, a trip to Alaska and other adventures.

11-11-19 Plantations Whitney and Houmas on the Mississippi River

On our last adventure in New Orleans, we Traveled back in time to the era of the antebellum South on a guided tour from New Orleans to the Whitney Plantation, a former indigo and sugar plantation on the River Road now dedicated to promoting an understanding of slavery in Louisiana and after lunch, visited Houmas, also known, as Burnside Plantation, a historic plantation complex and house.

Our entry ‘ticket’ had a picture and story about a slave on the plantation.

These two Plantations couldn’t be any further apart. The Whitney Plantation is a collection of buildings but the main focus is devoted to slavery in the Southern United States. German immigrants Ambroise Haydel started the Whitney Plantation in 1752 and his wife and their decedents owned it until 1867. After the Civil War (1867) the plantation was sold to Bradish Johnson of New York, who named the property after his grandson, Harry Whitney. Over the next 100 years or so it changed hands several times. In 1999 John Cummings, a trial attorney from New Orleans, who has spent more than $8 million of his own fortune on this long-term project, purchased it.

Front of the Whitney House French Caribbean architecture

The museum, comprising main portions of the 2,000-acre plantation property contain imaginative exhibits designed by Cummings representing persons born into slavery before the Civil War commissions original.

Before the Civil War, the Whitney Plantation counted 22 slave cabins on its site. They were made of cypress and comprised two living sections – on either side of the main wall.

Inside slave cabin – basically one room.

The site includes the main house, several slave cabins, various out buildings and a church (not original to the property). There is a large memorial that includes the names of number of enslaved peoples that includes their personal histories (where known) on the property.

Memorial Wall

Our guide at Whitney Plantation slave history

Slave memorial wall recognizing Slaves

Not all of them were directly associated with the Plantation but in the general area and time frame. The only interior tour was of the slave cabins and the church – the main house isn’t included at this time. The entire property is dedicated to how enslaved people were treated throughout this dark period of the US history.

The church at Whitney

Inside church at Whitney, statues represent known children of slaves

By contrast, the Houmas, really is a focus on the plantation owner, not the slave population. Dating from the late 1700s, with the current main house completed in 1840, the Houmas Plantation is named after the Houma people who originally occupied this area of Louisiana. The complex contains eight buildings on about 10 acres.   Alexander Latil and Maurice Conway ‘appropriated’ all of the Houma tribe’s land on the east side of the Mississippi River in 1774 to create the plantation.

Front of Houmas note veranda architecture for coolingv – and Janeen relaxing on the bench

Similar to the Whitney Plantation, the Houmas was a working sugarcane plantation by the early 1800’s.   Purchased by Daniel Clark in about 1805, he began to develop the property and built one of the first sugar mills along this stretch of the river.

Bette Davis bedroom where she stayed during hiatus in film – Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte in 1964

Changing hands several times over the years it grew to over 12,000 acres with approximately 750 slaves. After 1900, the house and ground began to fall into disrepair further damaged by the Mississippi River flood of 1927 and during The Great Depression it fall into worse condition.

Janeen at Houmas under Resurrection Fern on tree

George B Corzat purchased the house in 1940 and began an ambitious program of restoration of the house and gardens.

Parlor at Houmas

Lincoln sculpture purchased at auction with bronze dog, which when cleaned proved to be pure silver

Another shot of one of the rooms on the first floor at Houmas.

In the spring of 2003, the Estate of Dr. George Crozat auctioned off the entire contents of the mansion and grounds. Kevin Kelly, a New Orleans Businessman, purchased the mansion and surrounding grounds and began the task of restoring the mansion and gardens. The mansion, having undergone over 200 years of construction and remodeling by various owners, reflected a multitude of styles. It was impossible to restore the house to a definite period without sacrificing elements from other important periods of its history. The choice was made to select the best features from various periods to showcase a legacy of each family in the mansion. After extensive restorations to the house and grounds, the Houmas re-opened for tours in November of 2003. Mr. Kelly allows tours of the mansion and gardens, however the Houmas remains his private residence, as it was for its previous owners for over 240 years.

Hallway on the 2nd floor

Owners bedroom fireplace Houmas

Owners bedroom steps for dogs to get on bed

The tour of the main house reflects a period of opulence reflective of the ‘gold era’ of plantations in the South. Furniture, artwork and decorations all depict a rich history of the area and are well maintained.

Oaks on the pond – levee in the background at Houmas thru the trees

The view out the front porch is quite lovely with stately old Oak trees lined up along the drive. Unfortunately the levee along the Mississippi River is just out the front blocking what would have been a lovely view of the river.

The children’s room with movable chair and desk that closes.

Artifact display including the canine memorabilia of the current owner

Today the property is used for weddings, film shoots and private events.

This was the final adventure as part of our Road Scholar – Signature City New Orleans: City of Mystery & Intrigue.  We had a good time, learned a lot and achieved our goal of learning about this wonderful City.  There is no question that we will be back sometime in the future to explore more of this city.

Here we are!

10-10-19 New Orleans Various Events

Here’s a brief overview of some of the other things we did while in New Orleans – lots of good times, lots of great music for sure.  Wedding Procession . Just as we walked out the front of our Hotel this wedding march was passing by. There were several that occurred during our stay.

One lunchtime, our Road Scholar Program included a couple of hours with Doreen Ketchens.

Doreen and her ‘group’ performed for several hours after lunch one day.

Blowing a clarinet on the corner of Royal and St Peter streets for some 32 years as the leader of Doreen’s Jazz New Orleans Band is a far cry from Ketchens’ ambition of being the principal clarinetist in the New Orleans Philharmonic Orchestra. Over the course of a couple of hours, Doreen treated us to some history of Jazz in New Orleans, how the street musicians survive and some insights into the reasons for the traditional music we hear all over the City.

Doreen Ketchens – did a great job of entertaining us and teaching us about Jazz in New Orleans.

It was a foot stomping, hand clapping session so  we purchased one of her CD’s.

One evening, we had a pass to go to Fritzel’s – the oldest operated Jazz Club in New Orleans. We arrived early, which was good given the limited seating, and had a wonderful hour of Dixie Land Jazz. Housed in a 1831 building it is home for some of the city’s best musicians. In addition to regular weekend programs, there are frequent jam sessions in the wee hours of the night.

Tom Fischer on clarinet and Richard Scott on piano entertained us for an hour or so and it was wonderful.

Janeen attended the lecture by Joanne Sealy introducing the writers and authors who have been influenced, and reflected the City. G.Washington Cable and Lafcadio Hearn were outsiders who found a home in the Crescent City, as did Mississippi transplants Wm.Faulkner and T. Williams. Gumbo Ya-Ya by Lyle Saxon has been republished as a treasury of Creole and Cajan sayings. We visited Anne Rice’s writing arie in the Garden District where  she enlarged tales of Yellow Fever and Dysentery and Malaria  that wiped out entire districts and households, leaving the almost dead to cope. Lillian Hellman followed in the steps of Kate Chopin and Truman Capote recorded the eccentrics of the area, perhaps not as concisely as John Kennedy Toole in A Confederacy of Dunces.

On one of our excursion days, we went to the National WWII Museum. We have been in a number of museums both in the USA and in Europe over the last couple of years and this place ranks right up there at the top. The museum focuses on the contribution made by the United States to Allied victor in WWII. Founded in 2000, it was later designated by the U.S. Congress as America’s official National WWII Museum. One of the highlights is a movie narrated by Tom Hanks which covered both the Pacific and European theaters and was very moving.

Higgins Boat – designed and built in New Orleans this boat was critical to all the landings made throughout WWII. This is one of only a few that survived the war.

Lots of airplanes on display in this museum.

The Exhibit is fantastic, aircraft, weaponry, uniforms, personal stories, for both theaters.

There were displays for both areas and well documented with lots of interesting things to look at.

Guns, guns and more guns on display.

1934  comandered Opel Sedan in winter camouflage

 One afternoon, I took off and Janeen went to the New Orleans School of Cooking.

Cooking Class – getting things together.

Over the course of an hour or two they made Gumbo, Shrimp Etouffee  Pralines and Bananas Foster – getting to eat everything at the end of the meal.

Janeen and Chef Harriet  Robin at the Cooking Class.

10-8-19 New Orleans Architecture

Sure, New Orleans is clearly a ‘party city’ but it is steeped in history and interesting architecture. The buildings and architecture are reflective of its history and multicultural heritage. In the morning, Nellie Watson, a local architect and long time resident, held a discussion about the culture and architecture of the City. After spending time in the ‘classroom’, so to speak, we boarded the Coach and headed out for a tour to see some of the fantastic homes throughout the City. From Creole cottages to historic mansions on St. Charles Avenue there is a rich diversity to explore.

French Quarter Creole cottages

Creole Cottages (The term “Creole” was created to describe citizens in New Orleans after America took control of the city in 1803. French and Spanish descendants who were early settlers of the city adopted the name to distinguish themselves from the influx of American citizens occupying the city.) These are scattered throughout the city with most being built between 1790 and 1850. Creole cottages are 1 or 11/2-story, set at ground level almost touching the street with steeply pitched roofs. They have a symmetrical four-opening façade wall and a wood or stucco exterior.

An example of an American Townhouse

American Townhouses ,a style found in the Central business district and Lower garden District, are narrow brick or stucco three-story structures featuring asymmetric windows and iron balconies on the second and third floor. Built between 1820 and 1850 in the area mostly occupied by the ‘new’ residents coming into New Orleans.

French Quarter Creole Townhouse

Creole Town Houses – these are the most iconic pieces of architecture in the city of New Orleans, comprising a large portion of the French Quarter. Creole townhouses were built after the great fire of 1788 that destroyed much of the city. They were built from about 1788 through the mid 1850’s or so. The original wooden buildings were replaced with structures with courtyards, thick walls, arcades and cast-iron balconies. The façade of the building sits on the property line with an asymmetrical arrangement of arched openings. These come with steeply pitched roof with a parapets, side-gabled with several roof dormers and strongly show their French and Spanish influence. The exterior was usually brick or stucco. These are the beautiful buildings spread throughout the French Quarter with many having retail or restaurants on the first level with either additional restaurant space above or homes.

Raised Central Hall cottage

Found in the Garden District, Uptown and other areas are Raised Center-Hall cottages. These homes were raised enough above street level that there is sometimes a garage or work area on the ground level. They feature porches that stretch all the way across the front with columns. Greek Revival and Italianate center Hall Cottages are most common but Queen Anne and other Victorian styles stand proudly in between.   These were built between 1803 and 1870 supporting the influx of new Americans coming into the City and usually away from the old section – French quarter.

Shotgun House

Found all over New Orleans, and built between 1850 and 1910 are Shotgun Houses. These are long and narrow single-story homes that have a wood exterior and are easy to spot. Many feature charming Victorian embellishments beneath the large front eve. The term “shotgun” originates from the idea that when standing in the front of the house, you can fire a bullet clear through every room in the house. Some of these have been converted to have what is called a camelback – a second story set at the rear of the house.

Mansion on St. Charles Avenue.

Double-gallery houses on Esplanade Avenue

One of the last styles of housing is the Double-Gallery house. Found in the lower Garden District these two-story houses feature stacked and covered front porches, box columns and front door off to one side. They look a lot like townhouses but they are set much further back from the sidewalk. These were built between 1850 and 1910.

Houses in uptown New Orleans

“Madame John’s Legacy” was built just after the great fire of 1788, in the older, French colonial style.

In 1905, Paul Doullut, a steamboat captain, designed and constructed a home facing the Mississippi River in what is now known as the Holy Cross neighborhood of New Orleans. The captain wanted a home reminiscent of the steamboats he and his wife, who was, also, a steamboat captain, guided up and down the river.

After WWII, the California bungalow style of home started to be built in neighborhoods. These are noted for their low slung appearance, being more horizontal than vertical with exterior wood siding maybe with a brick, stucco or stone porch with flared columns and roof overhang. Not the most pleasing of the styles as it really doesn’t “fit into” the general architectural style of most neighborhoods where they have been built.

This was for sale – something like 2.3 million dollars.

The wrap around porch was lovely.

Lovely home with a large balcony over the entrance.

Nellie gave us a great tour and a good appreciation of the different histories and styles being built reflecting changes over time. Glad we had this as part of our Tour of New Orleans.

This is our “group” – folks from all over the country. Road Scholar did a great job of showing us around this lovely city.

10-7-19 New Orleans Introduction

New Orleans – reflections about this lovely City. We had visited many years ago when we drove across country in 1978 on our way to Los Angeles. So, when we found the Road Scholar Tour of New Orleans, City Of Mystery & Intrigue it seemed like the right thing to do.

Around every corner is a beautiful building with lovely ironwork. The cast iron on the second level is more difficult than the wrought iron on the upper level.

Lovely – just another street corner in the French Quarter.

After checking into the Hotel Monteleone we joined 28 other Scholars to learn about this wonderful city.

Here we are across the street from the Hotel Monteleone. A lovely old hotel in the heart of the French Quarter.

We would meet at the Clock in the Lobby of the Hotel before going out on tour.

Dubbed affectionately by some as the northernmost Caribbean city, New Orleans revels in its giddy blend of European refinement and carefree effervescence, a place where virtue and vice are celebrated in equal measure. We where invited to surrender to the intoxicating charms of “the Crescent City” that have long fascinated artists, writers, musicians and scholars. We experienced live New Orleans jazz, took field trips inside and outside the French Quarter and Garden District; got perspectives on architectural and literary landmarks, and enjoyed the unique culinary adventures as well as the National World War II Museum.

Jackson Square with the Basilica of St. Louis in the middle, the The Presbytere on the right and the The Cabildo on the left.

The Presbytere – Designed in 1791 to match the Cabildo, the building was used by the Louisiana Supreme Court and now part of the Louisiana State Museum system

As the seat of colonial government, the Cabildo was the site of the Louisiana Purchase transfer ceremonies in late 1803. Now part of the Louisiana State Museum system

Pontalba Buildings – These are on one side of the Jackson Square park.

New Orleans is a consolidated city-parish located along the Mississippi river. With a population of about 391,000 it has the most residents of any city in Louisiana. The Port of New Orleans, that extends to Baton Rouge on the Mississippi river, is considered the economic and commercial hub for the broader Gulf Coast region and the gateway to the world, both with shipments out of the port and products brought in from all over the world.

Proof that David was there.

Walking along Bourbon Street early in the morning. Clearly early for this city – no one is really out yet to Party!

Founded in 1718 by French colonists, New Orleans was once the territorial capital of French Louisiana – was ruled by the Spanish from 1762-1801,given back to France and ultimately sold to the United States by Napoleon  in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. In 1840, New Orleans was the third-most populated city in the United States and was the largest city in the American South until after World War II.

A typical levee along the Mississippi

Needless to say, the flat elevation (New Orleans is actually below sea level) has resulted in flooding, resulting in various levees being created, large drainage pumps being installed and general a fear of the Mississippi and any hurricanes (think Katrina in August 2005).

Our first day started with a general introduction by Ms Ann, a lifetime resident of New Orleans, covering its history culture and discussion about levees and the role Lake Pontchartrain plays in protecting the City from flooding.

Lake Pontchartrain – we stopped here while on our couch tour.  The lake is about 40 miles by 24 miles so it’s really a large estatuary.

Following our “classroom intro”, we boarded the coach and drove around getting a feel for the city and learning about the various areas.

Janeen keeping track of where we were going on the city tour.

This included a visit to the one of the famed St. Louis above-ground cemeteries of the City.

Each of the crypts would ‘house’ multiple generations of decedents. The names would be placed on the front or sides. Not something I would want to take on.

You can see the names engraved on the fronts showing the many people inside.

Along the way, we stopped at the The Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture. Atypical of most sculpture gardens, this garden is located within a mature existing landscape of pines, magnolias and live oaks surrounding two lagoons. Lots of very interesting sculptures including some familiar artists  and pieces we have seen in other locations.

Spider, 1996 Louise Bourgeois – This is by the same artist who did a similar spider we saw at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao Spain.

Janeen and the Spider at the Park.

Mother and child, 1988 – Fernando Botero

The Spanish Moss was hanging on these trees. Lovely to see.

Hercules the Archer, 1909 Antoine Bourdelle

Ww stand together, 2005 George Rodrigue

10-8-19 New Orleans and Halloween – A tradition of good times.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Halloween in Uptown! The Skeleton House, an annual tradition, is back in all its glory at the corner of St. Charles Avenue and State Street in New Orleans.

Little Dead Riding Hood

The owner has been decorating it for years — and both locals and tourists love it, especially the puns! Louellen Berger, who lives in the home and is in charge of the decorations, says it’s something she looks forward to year after year.

Beauty and the Beast

Gone with the Wind has been outdone

View of the side yard


“To see people of all walks of life, and from in town out of town and whatever get excited and enjoy this, because I don’t want it to be scary, want to be funny,” Berger said. “I want to be lighthearted and make everyone laugh. I hope I created that.”














We stopped here during our Architectural tour of the City. It was great to see all the decorations – kinda reminded me of the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland (well, not really but hey, it’s my Blog and I can say what I want). In any event it was a nice quick visit to an interesting part of this wonderful City.

















More on New Orleans as time permits.

9-27-19 Grand Canyon National Park

How does one make a visit to one of the seven “must see” wonders of the world a personal experience? It certainly helps to have a bright clear autumn day as a lens to view it. Then you hire a driver/guide (Marvelous Marv Tours) ) who has spent his life in Williams, Arizona (except for service in Vietnam) pick you up at the hotel and point out regional wonders en route to the south rim.

The Park is celebrating its Centennial Birthday all year.

Although thousands of world visitors come to view the canyon every season, our fellow tourists were mostly burgundy- robed and civilian pilgrims to the opening of the Buddhist Temple in Williams.

Route 64 north sent us through Ponderosa pine, Pinon pine and the wild National Forest suffering from long-term drought. The Forestry service is clearing the forest floor and will light controlled burns of the cleared debris as snow approaches.

The water and grass and hunting free area bring in the elk

Elk groupings graze calmly along the highway, but they are an invasive species competing with antelope and native grazers.

Cliffrose bush explained by Marv

Cliff Rose bush edges the walks toward the viewpoints along with Utah juniper and Yucca family Bandolear spikes. Cliff Rose provided wool dye for rugs from “spurs”, lanolin in the branches to wash the wool and a sunny yellow flower to guide natives to its growth. The points of the yucca plant worked as needles and the sturdy leaves release “threads” which helped early inhabitants bind and sew tools and coverings

Bird of the Canyon, probably a turkey vulture, but possibly a California Condor as they have been released into the canyon

Ravens, turkey vultures and California condors float on the upstream from the canyon a mile below. Clouds shadow the geology and highlight the green of trilobite layers and Redwall limestone.

Black volcanic rock thrusts up from the base schist and golden Coconino sandstone layers at upper levels

On a clear day you can see the San Francisco range in the distance, past centuries of geologic history

North Rim on the horizon from Yavapai Point on the South rim

Sun and cloud shadows provided a perfect backdrop at every stop

Ten miles across to the opposite North Rim

Green oasis at bottom of canyon is Phantom Ranch, accessible by Bright Angel trail, hiking or mule

Marvelous Marv tours showed us Canyon views at Yavapai Point with the North Rim background; the muddy Colorado below, and Phantom Ranch Bridge visible as white water rafters glided though, pinpoint spots from our perch a mile above. The Yavapai Geology Museum added historic and reviewed guide points made during our trek. Grandview Point views provided expansive, yet closer photos of the layered canyon.

Nature provides resting points

The Canyon is measured in meandering river miles, 245, although “as the crow flies” it is 140 long

We could have taken the Grand Canyon Train from Williams to the South Rim but we really enjoyed our adventure with Marv, plus the train takes 2-1/2 hours each way giving you only a couple of hours to explore.  Marvelous Marv had us at the South Rim in just over an hour and we spent almost 5 hours in the Park before heading back to Williams.

Thanks Marvelous Marv (Mason) you had two happy tourists

Marvelous Marv – a wonderful resource and guide for our adventure to the Grand Canyon

It was a beautiful day with only moderate crowds and the weather could not have been nicer to view this amazing National Park.

9-26-19 On the Road Again – Williams AZ

On the road again
Just can’t wait to get on the road again
The life I love is making music with my friends

And I can’t wait to get on the road again
On the road again

Goin’ places that I’ve never been
Seein’ things that I may never see again

The song, by Willie Nelson says it all. We are on the road again. This time we have left Southern California and are heading back to the East Coast. First stop was a quick visit with my brother in Indio – and then on to Prescott Arizona. Prescott was an overnight visit with our friend Dave – he and I worked together for 16 years in Glendale and we both retired within 2 months of each other in 2017. Nice visit. It seems that taking pictures over the last couple of days just hasn’t happened. So actual proof we were there is unavailable.

Now we are in Williams Arizona – the “Gateway to the Grand Canyon”.

The Arch over the road

It seems that Janeen has never been to the Grand Canyon so we have a tour set for tomorrow which should be both educational and fun. However, today it is all about Williams. With a population of only 3,158 (as of 2017) its major claim to fame is that it was the last city on Historic Route 66 to be bypassed by Interstate 40. The community was bypassed on October 13, 1984 and it is clear it thrives on tourists and those particularly nostalgic for the old route 66.

Painted on the side of the building to commemorate when I-40 opening and the end of Route 66

The Historic Downtown district covers 6 square blocks with a number of interesting shops and restaurants. This place is clearly one of the major inspirations for the Disney – Pixar movie Cars.

This reminded us of Cars Land at Disney’s California Adventure. Live music in the patio too.

Proof we were there.

As we drove into town Janeen and I both said how it reminded us of the movie and Cars Land at Disneyland California Adventures.

Pete’s Rt 66 Gas Station Museum

Just walking along the sidewalk

Lot’s of 50’s and 60’s references throughout the place.

Seems the couldn’t get this old car out.

One of the attractions is the Grand Canyon Railway. The original Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway were completed in September 1901. After declining ridership, it was eventually purchased by private investors in 1988 that restored the faculties and passenger cars. Since that time, the railroad has taken hundreds of passengers to and from the south rim of the Grand Canyon on a daily basis.

Grand Canyon Railway – the create a nice experience to the South Rim.

The Grand Canyon Railway on it’s way to the south rim

Other highlights include the Grand Canyon Brewing Company,

Seems there is always a local brewery in every town we visit.

AZ Wine and lots of shops with Indian and local artist creations.

This Chevy is parked outside this place very day. Lots of car parts both inside and out of this shop.

We had a nice time just wandering around and visited one of the original Route 66 Trading Posts for southwestern native jewelry and pottery. Tomorrow the Grand Canyon!



9-9-19 Historic Jamestowne Virginia

Historic Jamestown, just a few miles away from our place in Williamsburg, seemed like a nice spot to visit on a lovely September day. With Ryan and Chris on board, we headed out to visit this site.

The Welcome Sign f

As we were getting in line for our entrance tickets we discovered that Tony and Gloria were also there – and just in front of us – and it was great to visit with them again. (they were at the 50th anniversary celebration that was held the prior evening).

Tony, David, Gloria, Janeen, Ryan and Chris – a beautiful way to spend a few hours and learn about American History.

Jamestown was the first permanent English settlement in the Americas. Started by the Virginia Company of London as “James Fort” on May 4, 1607 along the banks of the (now) James River (originally Powhatan River). The location was chosen as a site in a secure place, where Spanish ships could not fire point blank into the fort. Within days of landing, Powhatan Indians attacked the colonists. As a result of the hostilities, the newcomers spent the next few weeks working to create a wooden fort.

This is a depiction of what the fort might have looked like based on the excavations completed.

It is inside this fort that England’s first permanent colony took hold.

The Jamestown Tercentenary Monument, erected in 1907 to commemorate the three hundredth anniversary of the settlement, stands 103 feet tall.

Of course it wasn’t easy. Disease, famine, and sporadic attacks from the neighboring Powhatan Indians took a tremendous toll on the early population, but there were also times when trade with the Indians revived the colony with food in exchange for glass beads, copper and iron tools. Relations with the local Indians quickly soured and the colonist would eventually annihilate the Paspahegh in warfare over the next four years.

The original number of colonists was 105 “men and boys” but despite the Virginia Company sending more settlers and supplies, including the 1608 arrival of eight Polish and German colonists and the first two European women, more than 80 percent of the colonist died by 1610. The site was abandoned for several years, the remaining colonists returned from nearby encampments after a resupply convoy arrived.

Ranger Bill gave a great talk and brought the area to life for us.

The first representative assembly in English North America convened in the Jamestown church on July 30, 1619. The General Assembly met in response to orders from the Virginia Company “to establish one equal and uniform government over all Virginia” and provide “just laws for the happy guiding and governing of the people there inhabiting.” A few weeks later came the first unsolicited arrival of Africans to Jamestown, marking the beginning of de facto slavery in the colony.

With the introduction of tobacco and the arrival of the first indentured slaves Jamestown created an economy that was able to survive and expand.

Janeen leaning on a corner post of a partially recreated wall.

As Jamestown grew into a robust “New Towne” to the east, written references to the original fort disappeared. In 1676 a rebellion in the colony led by Nathaniel Bacon sacked and burned much of the capital town. Jamestown remained the capital of Virginia until its major statehouse, located on the western end of the island, burned in 1698. The capital moved to Williamsburg in 1699, and Jamestown began to slowly disappear above the ground. By the 1750s the land was heavily cultivated farmland erasing all the above ground structures.

The fort has been recreated based on all the research done over the last 20 years.

In 1893 Mr. and Mrs. Edward Barney owned the property that was Jamestown. The Barneys gave 22-1/2 acres of land, including the 17th century church tower, to the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities (now Preservation Virginia). By this time James River erosion had eaten away the island’s western shore; the common belief was that the site of 1607 James Fort lay completely underwater. With federal assistance, a sea wall was built in 1900 to protect the area from further erosion. The remaining acreage on the island was acquired by the National Park Service in 1934 and made part of the Colonial National Historical Park.

David, Chris, Ryan and Janeen

In 1994 an extensive survey of the property was done which resulted in finding the foundations of the original fort. These excavations revealed 1.5 million artifacts and greatly increased the understanding of this first chapter in American History.

Just a sample of some of the artifacts that have been recovered

Work continues trying to discover additional artifacts during restoration work.

Some of the artifacts on display in the museum.

Today, the Preservation Virginia Society and National Park Service jointly operate Jamestown.   Upon our arrival ,we learned that Ranger Bill would be doing a talk in a few minutes and we arrived in time to listen in. Ranger Bill brought to life much of the history of the area and pointed out various significant points of interest. After our introduction talk we walked through the recreated fort, visited the museum with all many of the artifacts on display and generally had a very nice time.

Ryan by the Captan John Smith memorial. He was the original leader of the group.

After we left, and had posted a few pictures on Facebook, we learned that Chris is related to some of the early Jamestown settlers. It seems that on his mother’s side of the family, his great grandmother…..the Slaughter line from Upper Slaughter, England help settle Jamestown. John Slaughter came over from Upper Slaughter about 1610-1612. His wife and son, John, joined him about 1615-1617. John, the father, was killed in an Indian massacre outside of town. His wife died and is buried in Jamestown. John, the son ,married and had 3 sons in Jamestown. Who knew that Chris comes from such old and hearty stock? The Slaughter Family is listed in the settler’s books of Jamestown.  Nice surprise to learn all of this after having visited the place.

Chris – our ‘Junior Ranger’ for the day. Who knew he was related to some of the early settlers of Jamestown!