Glory in Perspective

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June 19, 2018, Williamsburg-

I have used the two days, since leaving Philadelphia, to visit a couple of places that Penny, Aram and I missed on an ambitious, but tortuous, road trip, in 2007.

Throwing in a short photo shoot at the closed Edgar Allan Poe House, on Baltimore’s West Side, and some scenes in the Mount Vernon section, I found used on Fort McHenry, one of the places we missed, 11 years ago.

I found the structural aspects fascinating and Francis Scott Key’s complicated story, compelling. More about these, when The 2018 Road series resumes.

My next mission was to visit Penny’s second cousin, in southeast Maryland, as she had lost her mother, four months ago. It was a cathartic and crucial two hours.

As it happens, two other events occurred, as I was leaving HI-Baltimore: Penny’s only living aunt passed away, at the age of 99 and Aram got engaged.

Today, after meandering some, as far as Point Lookout, Maryland’s southern tip, I headed for Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in the U.S. For lack of a $5 bill, I forewent visiting Point Lookout, with nearby Scotland Beach as a substitute. Just as well, as Jamestown is well worth a full four hours, or more.

This brings up the matters of nationalism and glory. Both at Fort McHenry and at Jamestown, the curators have taken great pains to illustrate the roles of people of colour in every chapter of our national story. I hope to see more of this, as the educational portion of my journey continues.

I Felt Like The Waterboy

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June 17, 2018, Philadelphia-

From Friday night until about 11 A.M., today, my bio;logical family was giving my youngest niece and her new husband the respect and honour they completely deserve.  The wedding rehearsal dinner, and all that pertained to food, last night and this morning, were among the richest and most generous culinary festivals I have seen in many years, now.

I stuck to grilled fish, as my entree, for each meal, but the hors d’oeuvres for the two dinners were an astonishing parade, and no words could do justice to the intensity of the work done by the planners, the servers and the wedding party itself.  Then, there was last night’s musical troupe, who gave their all, with a constant stream of dance-able music.  Thus, for the first family wedding, in memory, I was relaxed and out on the floor, tripping the light fantastic, rather than tripping over my two left feet.  Like Adam Sandler’s water boy, in the movie of that name, I was hearing the voice of his buddy: “You can dooo eeet!”     So I danced, almost constantly, to tunes from the 1960’d through today, though I sat out the slow songs. Some things just don’t get done, for a  long time afterward.

This weekend was special in another way:  My son and his girlfriend came, clear from South Korea, for the wedding.  So, Father’s Day was also the most meaningful in years.  We went about  taking in the historical core of Philadelphia, in particular, the American Constitution Center, parts of Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell Center.  The Korean War Memorial, near Penn’s Landing, was also of interest to Y.H., she being a Korean national.

Summer is in full swing here, sticky and hot, but the sky has been clear and calm, all three days.  After a light supper, I have to bid farewell to Philly, to my new “little family” and to the new Mr & Mrs.  I’ve watched that girl grow up and with her entry into the full bounds of marriage, I found tears coming even more readily than in betrothals past.  Long may this, and all my family’s unions, last and bring happiness.

Freedom Within

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June 14,2018, Oley, PA-

The past two days have been spent taking in some aspects of history. Yesterday afternoon, I learned about American railroads, by visiting Steamtown National Historical Park, in Scranton, PA. Today, I spent almost the entire day at Valley Forge, the place where George Washington regrouped and shored up his forces, for a more concerted run at the powerful British Army.

The knowledge of history is right up there with the natural world, in my pursuit of understanding. I regret not posting photos, but when I get my new laptop, all these visits will be reprised, with the photos I’ve been taking.

Back to the matter of freedom. Valley Forge is a symbol of fighting for freedom. There is even an active organization in the town:Freedom’s Foundation, made famous in the 1969’s by the late American singer, Frankie Laine.

My take, in a nutshell: Freedom is a state of mind and heart. Of course, as with money, one must work to secure outward freedom, and never take it for granted. Yet, even those living in a dictatorship have the option of keeping the flame of freedom alive in their heart and mind.

I will have more to say about this,later, but I am getting tired,after a wonderful day, capped by a lovely dinner with a new friend.

Grama in Time

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June 12, 2018, Plattsburgh-

My maternal grandmother, Estella Myers Kusch, was born here, in 1892 and passed on in 1960, in Stoneham, MA. It’s been a long-standing desire of my siblings and me, to spend time in this area. Last night, and this morning, I got the chance.

Sunday brought me back to Auberge Bishop, which now takes its place among the places where I feel a special measure of love. These places exist in every part of the world I’ve visited and are sure to grow in number. As another friend pointed out, the opposite is also true. Yes, every place has its shadows, as well as its light. I was, however, enormously comforted by my young friends at Bishop, forming a cordon of love around me on Sunday.

Monday came and went, nicely. I had no problem getting cleared by theU.S. Consulate to leave Canada. The auto glass replacement took mu h of the day, but it, too, got done. I fetched my bags from Auberge Bishop, then navigated my way to TC-15 and the border. By 8 p.m., I arrived here, my Grama’s hometown.

Grama was an anchoring presence in my first decade of life. She watched my sister and me, when our parents went shopping on Saturday morning, always warning us to behave, lest Mom get “terry”-her term for being angry. I loved going up to her house, about a mile from our duplex, from which we moved when I was four. In fact, the first time I caught a hair brush to my backside, was when I walked up there alone. I was three. I can only imagine my Mom, crying and trembling, even as she tended to my punishment.

I saw several people around Plattsburgh, who resemble my Grama, my maternal Uncle Jim and few others in the Myers-Kusch family.

The town itself is a most picturesque place, with a compelling story, especially relative to the War of 1812.

I will have photos of Plattsburgh, nearby Ausable Chasm, and all the places before and after, when I get my new laptop and The 2018 Road series resumes.

She became seriously ill, when I was eight years old and I didn’t see her anymore after that.

Dear Thug

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June 10, 2018, Montreal-

You thought you got the drop on me, yesterday, waiting until I was far enough away from my car that I didn’t hear the smashing of window glass, did not witness you taking my seven-year-old laptop and my passport. To the extent you thought of me at all, you probably imagined a terified, whimpering American tourist, who was wondering “Oh, whatever shall I DO?”.

So, let’s get real about what this means, for each of us. I spent The rest if my Saturday being assisted by your better neighbours: A confident and dedicated young police officer, who knows her role in society, far better than you know yours; a strong, but gentle, young man who is a Muslim, by the way, and who carefully and diligently removed the bulk of the glass you left in my car, following your act of rage; two hostel workers who called around, for a space for me, to no avail. It is one of Montreal’s signature weekends, after all: Formula One Grand Prix.

Today, I am back at my favourite place to stay in Montreal. I made my car fitted with protection from the elements. I gave back to the young people who have so gracefully welcomed me into their community. I got a fine haircut from Irina. I am singing along to Eddie Vedder’s “I’m Still Alive”. Tomorrow, I will move forward, with new glass on my car windows and clearance from my government, to cross back into the land of my birth. In two years’ time, I will be back in Montreal.

So what of you? Perhaps, you are bragging to your friends and associates, about how you took advantage of a stupid Yankee. You may find someone who can break my laptop’s encryption and enable you, or your “employer”, to read my posts, to harass me or, God forbid to use the device for more nefarious purposes. You may try to sell my passport to the wide world of imposters. You will, in the long of it, fail. You are probably well-known to the Montreal Police Department, and the young officer took evidence with her. You are certainly known, at least in terms of your actions, by the people who live around McGill University. Their patience is running thin.

So, we both move forward. I will continue to live a life that values people and a Higher Power. You have a choice to make. Give up what is not yours or face one element or another, of civil society.

Sudden Leghold

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June 9, 2018, Montreal- 

I will remain here. In a mostly majestic city, for two more days, and possibly three.

No details, and I am safe. In fact, thanks to the Grand Prix that is taking place here, I am alone in a big, empty palace.No one else wanted it, and I had no place else to go, so here I am, for one night. Tomorrow, it’s back to a hostel. I am without a computer, for several days, so The 2018 Road series is on hold.  No details beyond that, for the time being. I am safe. I have a car that works  and now, I am going to sleep. See you tomorrow.

The 2018 Road, Day 10: Reckoning with Destiny

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June 5, 2018, Elkhart- 

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My morning was spent, very well, at Tippecanoe Battlefield Museum

.  After viewing a film on this unfortunate event, it occurred to me that, had Tecumseh not been taken in by the British, he may have reached some sort of accommodation with at least enough of the west-bound Americans, that Harrison would be remembered as other than as the President who served the shortest term, before dying of the lingering effects of pneumonia. Tecumseh, also, might have lived to promulgate the Federation of Native Americans that he so treasured.  The Prophet might also have figured in the spiritual renaissance of the confederated people.

It was not to be, though, and the Battle of Tippecanoe might easily be regarded as the opening salvo of  the War of 1812.

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This diorama shows a Wea couple, as they may have appeared in their home, at a village similar to Prophetstown.

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Nearby, is a more heartening place.  The Wabash Hertiage Trail stretches from this engaging Nature Center

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This surreal scene was taken from behind  a one-way mirror.  The birds and rodents could not see me, but I think a  red-billed woodpecker saw its reflection in the window and rammed the glass with its bill.

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After a few minutes of watching the action, I took a 3-mile round trip hike, along the Wabash Heritage Trail, going as far as Barnett Street Bridge.  The full trail goes to Fort Ouiatenon, a ruined fort, 13 miles to the south.

Here are some scenes of this northern segment of the trail.  It follows Tippecanoe Creek.

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Black lace wings kept me company, at various points along the trail.

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The creek had to be forded, at one or two points along the trail, but it was more muck than running water, at those points.

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Finally, I turned around at Barnett Street.

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As it was 87 degrees outside, this was enough.  My reward, about three hours later, was a home-cooked meal, courtesy of an old friend-and a new one, who was grill–master for the evening. Then, I found my way to a true Budget Inn, here in Elkhart.

 

 

The 2018 Road, Day 9, Part 2: Tenkswatewa’s Bequest

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June 4-5, 2018, Prophetstown State Park, IN-

I spent the day and night here at this underrated, but magnificent little Indiana state park.  The weather was just right, and I actually avoided the storm system which passed to the north of us, then, unfortunately, went southeast and wreaked havoc on eastern Kentucky and West Virginia.

Prophetstown was a settlement of Wea people, who were part of the Miami Nation, with several French and British traders living among them, in the period immediately following the end of the American Revolution.  The Europeans exercised some influence over Tenkswatewa (popularly known as The Prophet), the spiritual leader of the Wea, and his brother Tecumseh, who was the Wea’s military and political leader.

The settlement was closely monitored by American forces, led by General William Henry Harrison, a native of Virginia, who had interests in American expansion into Indiana and Illinois.  In 1811, tensions were again mounting between the United States and the United Kingdom, basically over the rights to these very territories. The British, in what is now Michigan-and Canada-, were feeling boxed in, by the fact of the Louisiana Purchase.  American fur, and other agricultural, interests were pushing hard for a westward land link to Louisiana Territory.  As always, the indigenous people were caught in the middle.  Tecumseh and Tenkswatewa thought their lot lie with the British, so they held firm against any American approaches.  The upshot was that, on November 7, 1811, Harrison’s troops retaliated for what turned out to be a contrived, British-led attack on American settlers and attacked Prophetstown.  They found one old Wea woman there, and after moving her to a safe location, the American troops burned Prophetstown.  This was one precursor to the War of 1812.

Without further ado, some photos of the park, as it exists today.  Both Wea and more contemporary American buildings are preserved here.  The Wea structures shown are the chief’s house and the Longhouse, or Council House.

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Those who have followed this blog, for several years, may recognize a resemblance between this longhouse and that at Mission San Luis, in Tallahassee.  There was, in fact, much communication and trade between the nations of the Southeast and those of the Midwest, as well as with other regions.

Below, is a model of the village of Prophetstown, in miniature.

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Below, is one of several units for fur traders.

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Between the indigenous and white settlements, a section of short grass prairie is preserved.

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The next few scenes are those of the familiar Midwest farm settlement.

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Below, is a mound, possibly a burial mound similar to those found across the Midwest-such as the ones found near Chillicothe, Ohio and Cahokia, Illinois.

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Western Indiana is one of the areas where tall forest meets prairie.

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So, there is the background for tomorrow’s post:  The Battle of Tippecanoe, whose site I will visit, then.

The 2018 Road, Day 9, Part 1: Purdue’s Two Hosts

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June 4, 2018, Lafayette, IN-

Today began, and ended, down on the farm. Oak Ridge Farms, a dairy enterprise combined with a resort, has a “farm to mouth” restaurant, and a huge presence in the area between Lafayette and the Calumet region of northwest Indiana.  It was too early in the morning, for any of the facilities to be open, so I went about the grounds and share these scenes:

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The Farmhouse Restaurant being closed until 10 a.m., I headed to Rensselaer, down the road a piece, and had my own repast at Janet’s Kitchen.  Breakfasts in much of the Midwest are very basic, but flavourful and filling.  That was the case here.

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I went shortly afterward to downtown Lafayette looking, as always. for  solid buildings and interesting scenes. Various art forms share the space here.

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Tippecanoe County Courthouse is reminiscent of the equally solid courthouse we have in Prescott.  It has a couple of extra spires, though.

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I was taken with this avant-garde bench, on one of Lafayette’s side streets.

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After doing my laundry at West Lafayette’s large tanning salon/laundromat enterprise:  Levee Tan & Laundry, I took a short walk along the main drag of Purdue University, which is the pride of both cities, and of west-central Indiana as a whole. Purdue has plenty of both ivy-covered traditional structures and state-of-the-art, modernist buildings.

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With that, I headed south, to Indianapolis, and had an enjoyable, if brief, catch-up session with an old friend and her son, at a north side Einstein Brothers.  Curiously, though no surprise to me, I took the exact exit I needed to take, without knowing where we were to meet.  There is a lot of energy out there, guiding this often clueless wanderer.

The day ended, as it began, with me on the farm.  Part 2 of this post will look at one of western Indiana’s best-kept secrets:  Prophetestown

 

The 2018 Road, Day 8: A Day of Being Blocked

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June 3, 2018, Lowell, IN-

I set out, in earnest, for the Baha’i House of Worship, Wilmette at 9 a.m., fully intending to meet a mentor- friend who lives north of there, in a timely manner.  The problem was, I left at 9 a.m. from Carthage, on the west side of Illinois.  I stayed within the good graces of the law, clear to a point about 20 miles south of Rockford, getting there about 1 p.m.

Inching eastward, using a variety of state highways, I got to Wilmette way too late to visit with said mentor-friend.   So, takeaway # 1:  Never stay more than 2 hours from Chicagoland, if the goal is to meet someone in Chicagoland, the next day-even from Saturday to Sunday.  In fairness, the same holds true for New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco and even Philadelphia, where I will stay in the center of the city, in two weeks’ time.

Other things got done, spiritually. It is my eleventh visit here, and this is the first-and last-time that I have tried to make a same day visit to the Temple, from outside the 50-mile radius.  I also had a lovely full meal at Ridgeview Grill, a wonderful place on the west side of Wilmette, served by engaging and attentive Lisa D.  I think that will be my dining place of choice, in future visits to the House of Worship.

Needless to say, there are no photos from this Day of Being Blocked. I made it to a campsite here, in Lowell, IN, around 9 p.m.  Amen!