The 2018 Road, Day 20: A Place of Resilience, Part 2- The Commander’s Chapel

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June 14, 2018, Valley Forge-

Coming around the bend,as it were, from Varnum’s headquarters, I saw a tall castle-like structure, fronting a sizable cemetery.  This is the first section of Washington Memorial Chapel that greets the visitor, from the north.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The Chapel is not part of Valley Forge National Historic Park, but being surrounded by the park, it is well-visited by thousands, in the course of a year.   It was constructed from 1904-1917, at the behest of Dr. W. Herbert Burk, a local Anglican minister, with the blessing of President Theodore Roosevelt.

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The design and materials evoke the sturdiness and timeless aura of the enduring stone churches of Europe.

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Homages to the power and endurance of history are contained, in the commemorative discs, embedded in both the outside patios and the interior floors.

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In the foyer of the chapel, there is this memorial tribute to Dr. Bodo Otto, and his sons, who staffed a combat hospital in nearby Yellow Springs. The Ottos had come to Philadelphia, from Gottingen, in what is now Germany, in the 1750’s.

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These views are of the north side of the structure.  Note the Carillon and Bell Tower, in the background.

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This is a statue of Rev. William White, Chaplain to the Continental Congress and first Episcopal Bishop of Philadelphia.  It is located in the Chapel’s courtyard.

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This Justice Bell hangs in the foyer of the Chapel.

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These arches lie on the east entrance to the Chapel.

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This Wall of Honor has names of many veterans, from the Revolutionary War to the present day.

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Here is  a view of the Chapel’s interior.

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This memorial, erected by the Valley Forge Alumnae Chapter, in 1993, represents a concerted national effort to recognize the diversity of our nation’s builders, from the beginning of America’s story.

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A small Gift Shop and Cafe is operated by parish volunteers.  The cafe was welcomed by me, after a day of exploration in the heat.

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The only identified grave at Valley Forge is that of Lieutenant John Waterman, of Rhode Island, d. April 23, 1778.  This obelisk was erected at his gravesite, in 1901, by the Daughters of the American Revolution, in honour of all those who died at Valley Forge, during the American encampment.

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Both the Chapel and the obelisk overlook the Grand Parade, where the Continental Army trained, whilst at Valley Forge.

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So, it was with humility that I stood and gave thanks for their long ago sacrifice, which started the process, far from perfect and far from finished, of building our nation.

NEXT:  General Washington’s Headquarters and the western sector of Valley Forge

 

 

 

The 2018 Road, Day 20: A Place of Resilience, Part 1-The Battlefield and Encampments

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June 14, 2018, Oley, PA-

That moniker above could apply to this little farm, where I am camped, until tomorrow morning.  It more immediately applies, however, to Valley Forge, where I spent most of the day. Like Steamtown and Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, admission to Valley Forge is free of charge.  The value of the stories it tells, though, is priceless, eternal.

The day will be recounted in three parts:  This post will focus, as stated, on the battlefield and the main encampments, which also feature most of the memorials.  Part two will focus on the Washington Chapel.  Part 3 will feature Washington’s Headquarters.

For exploration of the encampments, I chose the Joseph Plumb Martin Trail, named for a private in the Continental Army, who kept a journal of his experiences during the terrible winter of 1777-78.

The first stop along that trail takes in the Muhlenberg Brigade’s encampment and redoubt.   The commander of the Virginia Line, of the 8th Brigade, was Gen. John Peter Muhlenberg.

Several cabins were open for us to check out.

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This berm is an example of the cover used by Continental troops, to guard against any British cannon fire.

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Inside another cabin, the only source of heat for the people billeted here is shown.  Some cabins had not only the soldiers, but family members who followed the Army on its mission.

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Here is a longer view of the encampment.

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This signboard explains the situation to which I referred above. Some cabins had not only men, women and children, but household animals, as well.

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Here is a glimpse of Washington Memorial Chapel, a mile or so to the east of Muhlenberg encampment and the National Memorial Arch.

Moving further north, I found this memorial to the soldiers from Massachusetts, who served at Valley Forge.

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Here is the National Memorial Arch, honouring all who served the cause of independence.

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This small encampment, north of the present-day Arch, was commanded by Gen. Enoch Poor, of the New Hampshire Regiment.

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Here are the Pennsylvania Columns, which honour American Revolutionary War generals.  At the base of each column are bas-relief busts of Colonel William Irvine and Adjutant General Joseph Reed.

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Here’s a glimpse of Wayne’s Woods, named for General Anthony Wayne, who unsuccessfully tried to invade Canada, in 1775.  He didn’t encamp here, but the woods were named for him, anyway. Today, the woods are a popular picnic area.

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This marks the site where General Washington pitched his sleeping tent, when he entered Valley Forge, in December, 1777.

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The next two photos show Artillery Park, where Continental artillery was stored and repaired.

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Here is a statue of the great Prussian general, Baron Wilhelm von Steuben, who instilled unity and discipline in the Continental Army, during its time at Valley Forge.

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This house served as the quarters of General James Varnum, commander of the Connecticut and Rhode Island Brigades.  He shared the home with the Stephens family, who owned it-paying rent to David Stephens, during his stay at Valley Forge.

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Although my visit took place in the heat of early summer, a sense of what was endured by the  troops and local residents alike was easily conveyed. My tour of the encampments ended here, and the focus now became Washington Memorial Chapel, the subject of Part 2 of this set of posts.

 

 

 

 

The 2018 Road, Day 18, Part 2: The Grand Chasm of Ausable

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June 12, 2018, Lake Ariel, PA

I saw the sign for Ausable Chasm, ten minutes after leaving Plattsburgh. Remembering how I had briefly considered making a trip up to the Champlain Basin and Ausable, way back in my feckless University days, I took the exit and headed east.

Ausable Chasm, like Bushkill Falls (July, 2016), is billed as “The Grand Canyon of the East”. It is also, more credibly, called Grand Canyon of the Adirondacks. Both are relatively compact, especially compared to the Colorado River’s system of gorges and chasms. Both are privately managed, and charge a modest entrance fee-most of the time.

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Today, the ticket seller noticed my VA card, when I pulled out my wallet.  She asked whether I would be attending any special programs and i answered that I would be walking the trails.  She then admitted me for free, and thanked me for my service.

So, starting with Elephant Head, I followed the handiwork of the Ausable River, through 3.3 miles of sandstone.

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I began my walk at Elephant Head overlook, then headed back towards Rainbow Falls. After showing my armband at the main admissions kiosk, I started along the Rim Walk Trail, which offers a series of overlooks, at various waterfalls.

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Triple Falls shows how the Ausable River is flowing a bit more shallow, right now.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Nevertheless, gravity does its thing!

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I left the Rim Walk, went a little way on Dry Chasm Trail, then headed down to the Inner Sanctum.

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You can see one of the Inner Sanctum footbridges, below.

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Float trips are a big draw here. A group of twelve was getting ready to head out, as I descended from Dry Chasm.

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Once on the Inner Sanctum Trail, it is imperative to watch one’s footing, as the rock underfoot gets very slippery.

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The sheerness of the drop is impressive, from the bottom, as well as from the top.

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A set of cairns is intended to keep hikers from going into the cave, to the right.

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The narrow ledge and footbridge in the foreground are sometimes part of Adventure Trail, a more advanced exploration program.

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I stuck to the footbridge taken by the gentleman shown above.

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A short time later, I was back on the rim and returned to the Visitor Center, for a hearty lunch.  I was quite pleased with the views atop and inside Ausable Chasm. Comparing the gorges of the Northeast to the Grand Canyon is understandable, but not necessary.  These unique geologic wonders hold their own.

Intending to visit Fort Ticonderoga, I found that the hours did not accommodate a visit, today. I spent a few minutes in the town of Ticonderoga, and briefly visited the western shore of Lake George, Champlain’s little brother to the southwest. Lake George is just big enough to have its own tides, as well.

Lake George is connected to Lake Champlain by way of La Chute River.

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Ticonderoga is a somewhat busy town, with a small, hard to see traffic light, strung across the road.  I almost got fooled.

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Here are some west shore views of Lake George.

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i headed south from here, grabbing supper in the town of Queensbury and looking for accommodations, west and south of Albany.  My default spot, Port Jervis, must have had a special event. The nearest available room was in Lake Ariel, PA, a bit more than an hour from the Three Corners.  So, I spent the night in comfort, at Comfort Inn.

NEXT:  Homage to Steam

 

 

 

The 2018 Road, Day 18, Part 1: Where Young Estella Played

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June 12, 2018, Plattsburgh-

My day along the Champlain Basin would have three parts.  The first, Plattsburgh, is important in my family’s life, because here was the place my maternal grandmother, Estella Myers Kusch, was born and raised.

She was a comforting influence in our early lives, helping my young parents, in what was not the easiest of times for a new blue-collar family. That she had earlier left all she knew, for the uncertainties of New England, in the 1910’s. is a testament to my Grandma’s hardiness.  Then again, Plattsburgh, in those days, was no picnic.

It’s a pretty place now, though still largely a company town:  Georgia Pacific greets the visitor, on the west side of town.

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Scomotion Creek Trail leads the foot traveler into town.

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A key chapter in the fortunes of our country, during the War of 1812, also resonates, along the water front.  Commodore Thomas Macdonough led the U.S. Navy to its signal victory over British, in the Battle of Plattsburgh, August-September, 1814.  The Riverwalk, and the lakefront, help to commemorate this key boon to our nation’s success in fending off attacks even worse than the sacking of Washington.

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This obelisk marks the resiliency of American forces in this area. New York and Vermont militias formed a unified front, under Commodore Macdonough.

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Here is the Saranac River, on its way to Lake Champlain.

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The lake itself looks calmer, this morning.

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The top of this driftwood almost looks like a figure from Angkor Wat.

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This is the ship’s bell from the USS Lake Champlain, which fought valiantly in World War II.

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Like many American towns of the Nineteenth Century, Plattsburgh is graced with fine stone architecture.  Here is the Roman Catholic Church of St. John the Baptist.

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The First Presbyterian Church is also impressive.

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Plattsburgh City Hall fronts the Riverwalk area.

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Plattsburgh’s bustling downtown,

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leads to its Romanesque county courthouse.

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Through all the hustle and bustle, this solitary creature whiles away its days.

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I am favourably impressed with the Myers family’s hometown.  One of my brothers once expressed a desire to visit Plattsburgh. I would heartily recommend such a visit, and would be glad to join him here.

NEXT:  Ausable Chasm, the “Grand Canyon of the East”.

 

The 2018 Road, Day 17: Resilience and The Sixth Great Lake

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June 11, 2018, Plattsburgh, NY-

Being in full recovery mode, this Monday morning, I headed out from the hostel around 9, going first to the U.S. Consulate.  It took less than ten minutes to get clearance to cross the border, as I have two government-issued photo IDs.

Next up was the glass repair shop, which was clear across town, but I found it easily. By 3:30, I was back on the road, wending my way, through the beginnings of Montreal’s evening commute, to southbound National Highway 15.

The visit at the border station lasted no more than three minutes, and by 6 PM, I was at Rip Van Winkle Motel, on Plattsburgh’s north side.   It proved a very comfortable spot.  I did meet some interesting characters here, but there was not a hint of menace from anyone.

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Dinner was a short walk away, at Gus’ Famous Red Hots Restaurant.  The Red Hots are apparently the founder’s spicy sausages.  I found gentler fare was fine, for the evening meal.

I got in my good long walk, afterward, heading for Lake Champlain.  Plattsburgh, and a fair length of northeastern New York, lie on the west shore of the “Sixth Great Lake”, with the east shore touching Vermont and a brief north shore in Quebec.  There was low tide, this evening, as I joined about two dozen other people, taking in the gorgeous evening. Few bugs were out and about.

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The Green Mountains loom to the east.

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Here is a view of Plattsburgh’s center, of which more in the next post.

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Here is the quiet community of Cumberland Head, just northeast of Plattsburgh.

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I was exhilarated by my time in Montreal, the unpleasant burglary aside.  Being with youth is always a revitalizing experience.  I am ready for the next set of wonders.

NEXT:  Grandma’s Girlhood Hometown

 

The 2018 Road, Day 15: Montreal, Light and Dark

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June 9, 2018, Montreal-

The gargoyles came to life, this afternoon.  My Lenovo, my warhorse, which has been with me across the country, five times, to Alaska, Hawai’i, British Columbia, western Europe, now has a new “owner”.  Whilst I was walking to and from the polyglot neighbourhood where Montreal’s Baha’i Centre is located, one or two interlopers broke into my car and rummaged through the backseat, finding the laptop case, underneath two backpacks. Nothing else was taken, but the drivers’ side windows were shattered.

A police officer came, after about 45 minutes, and took down the relevant information, as well as a sample of the shattered glass.  She dusted a bit for prints, and filed a report, giving me the number, by which I can send the laptop’s serial number, from my files, once I get back to Prescott.  This has all been explained earlier, in “Dear Thug”.

Now to the draw of Montreal- its majesty, as a city.  I came here in the first place, because of my memories of the city, when I visited in 1972-73, as part of a college tour group.  I had also told my seat mate, on the way back from Europe, in 2014, that I would visit this year.  She may well have forgotten, and was not even here, this weekend, but I did visit a branch of the restaurant in which she works:  La Panthere Verte.

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I was pleased that it was just a short block from Auberge Bishop.

Also in the vicinity of the hostel are the facilities of  La Musee des Beaux Arts, along Sherbrooke Avenue.  The Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul is in the midst of these properties.

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The church even has a “guardian”!

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Below, is one of the museum’s  main buildings.

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Mount Royal Park’s eastern flank is not far from this complex.

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Walking back towards the hostel, I spotted Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, mounted on a mighty steed.

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Here is the bright side of my ill-fated walk of this afternoon, which took place after I had checked out of the hostel, with every intention of beginning my drive south, to New England, this afternoon.  May I present Mc Gill University, Victoria Hospital and the Montreal Baha’i Centre:

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Victoria Hospital now has a different campus.  This is one of the main buildings on the original campus.

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Montreal Baha’i Centre is a small, but graceful building,  I spent only twenty minutes here, as, ironically, I wanted to still find the Baha’i Shrine,  a house where ‘Abdu’l-Baha stayed, during His 1912 visit to Montreal.  That did not happen, on THIS visit. Here, though, is the modern centre of our Faith’s life in this great city.

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On the way back to my car, I had this view of Montreal’s downtown.  In the foreground is McGill’s soccer field.

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In the end, one gets up, dusts self off and moves forward with gusto. No one knew this better than Montreal’s bard.

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So, in honour of Leonard, I made the most of my unexpected Montreal Sunday, returning to Auberge Bishop and taking in one of the city’s historic districts, in the afternoon.

 

 

The 2018 Road, Day 13: Toronto The Good

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June 8, 2018, Toronto-

Of course, I pulled into Canada’s largest city at rush hour.  Hey, what fun is there in empty streets?  With my phone telling me there is no Internet access in Ontario, I drove to a Starbucks, where there was indeed Internet access and a wonderful pair of baristas, who wrote out the directions to Neill-Wycik Backpackers’ Hotel.  Turned out, the place was in the Garden District, past downtown.  So, I negotiated my way down there, finding the high rise building, then finding its parking garage, in twenty minutes’ time.

Being a large enterprise, in one of North America’s most officious urban centres, Neill-Wycik is chock full of rules and regulations, with a full security staff, uniformed and ready to enforce each and every rule.

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My room was on the ninth floor.  There are 26 floors, in all.

After  settling in and enjoying two huge slices of pizza, prepared by an elderly Chinese “multicultural chef”, I set out for a look at the Garden District.  The first place I spotted was Jarvis Street Baptist Church.

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Allan Gardens is an indoor botanical conservatory, the centerpiece of the District. A spacious outdoor park abuts the facility.  It was being enjoyed by a wide cross-section of Toronto’s society, on  Thursday evening. A few of them were okay with being photographed, from a distance.

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The outdoor gardens are a riot of botanica, leading some of the locals to remark that the place needs work.

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The east end of the conservatory is a Children’s Section.

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I next headed towards the south end of the Garden District, where a number of great churches may be found.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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Above is St. Peter’s Catholic Church.  Below, CN Tower is put in perspective, from back at Allan Gardens.

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Here are a few more scenes, from the northeast corner of the park.

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Here is another view of Toronto, old and new.

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Ryerson University, a private institution, is the driving force of the Garden District. It owns Neill-Wycik’s building.

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St. Michael’s Cathedral, now under renovation, is Toronto’s diocesan center.

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Like any vibrant city, Toronto has its share of murals.

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Not far from St. Michael’s, the Anglican Cathedral of St. James holds sway.

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The Metropolitan United Church completes the ecclesiastical triad.

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So, my evening walk around the Garden District came to an end.  The rest of the evening was spent with fellow hostelers, around the lounge television, watching as Ontario’s voters chose a vocal conservative, from a prominent family, as their next Provincial Premier (Canada’s counterpart to an American state governor).  People, regardless of locale, are more alike than different-and people these days are often motivated by fear.

NEXT:  Toronto to Montreal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 5: Scenes of White, Red and Green

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May 31, 2018, Limon, CO- 

A drive from Salina to Green River, Utah entails being mindful of all things road trip-related. First and foremost of these are gas and water, the latter for both the car’s radiator and for its passengers.  Having lived in the arid Southwest for 34 of the last 40 years, I am one of those who does not leave home without plenty of both.

So, after a fine night’s sleep, at Ranch Motel, in downtown Salina, I greeted the motel’s maid (not exactly a morning person) and went down the street to Mom’s Cafe.  The hostess was much more cheerful and served up a scrambled eggs, sausage patty and pancakes platter that would see me through the whole day.

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After my morning repast, I took a couple of views of downtown Salina.

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Prep work for the long day’s drive then took over.  I said farewell to the Ranch Motel folks.  I really would stay there again.  Morning grouchiness aside, they are a nice family. Across the street, Barrett’s Market had ice and a few food items that I needed.  NAPA Auto parts had a couple of items for my project to secure the rear panel that is still taped in place, from last October’s mishap, outside Gila Cliff Dwellings, NM.  Finally, I stopped at Fast Gas, for the most important item, and I was on my way.

There are several scenic view pullouts, between Salina and Green River.  Three of them were my photo stops:  Salt Wash, Devil’s Canyon and Spotted Wolf Canyon.  A fourth, Ghost Rock, is one I am saving for an extended Utah visit, that will occupy October, 2020. More about that, later.

Salt Wash is the largest of the three sites I visited this morning.  Here are a few of the scenes that awaited me.

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The top two scenes show the limestone that sits atop so many layers of sandstone, which forms the nearly endless canyons of our region.  The various layers are visible, in the third photo, above.

Salt Wash had a sizable display of Dineh (Navajo) art and crafts.  I purchased a lovely bowl, as part of my gift for the wedding which is taking me to Philadelphia, in mid-June.  When I got to Devil’s Canyon, a few blankets were laid out, with necklaces and such, all lovely, but I had what I wanted.  Here are a couple of views from this second viewpoint.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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You can see that, with just the passage of a few miles, a slight change in elevation brings a drastic difference in landscape and plant life.

At Spotted Wolf Canyon, the easternmost of the scenic viewpoints, there were no vendors, just a news photographer, out of Salt Lake City, plying his craft.  I worked around him, and got these scenes.

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This is the beginning of the relentless maze of canyons and eroded bottomlands, that make southeastern Utah, and much of nearby northeastern Arizona, such a major desert trekking haven.  I am looking to do justice to Utah’ s great parks and reserves-thus, a plan to spend all of July, 2020, beginning with the Goosenecks of the San Juan River and moving through Arches, Canyonlands and westward, ending at Cedar Breaks.

I made my next stop in Grand Junction, western Colorado’s regional commercial hub, intending to gas up again and get the car washed.  The car wash attendant had to manually restart the system, both for me and for the gentleman who came after me.  I ended up spending nearly two hours in Grand Junction, with not much to show for it, but the car was clean.

As luck would have it, my second cousin, in Denver, was working and I know my sister-in-law, with two jobs, would likely be unavailable when I got there.  So, I stopped in Glenwood Springs and had dinner at 19th Street Diner, a westside spot where another friend works.  She wasn’t there, but I was well-treated.

Along the way from Glenwood to Denver, the Colorado River shows its relative health.

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It will be a fine day, when this level of vitality is again visible, for the length of this great river.  Alas, man must drink.

Wind, furious at times, was my companion from Denver to Limon, Colorado, where I would spend the night.  It was a minor adventure, gassing up in the small town of Watkins, just east of Denver International Airport.  The clerk inside was blase about the wind- “Well, we are in the Plains.”  True enough, and so it would continue, as I moved through Kansas.

 

 

 

 

What If

5

April 10, 2018, Prescott-

We went over to the local YMCA,

this morning,

and the students did several elements

of gymnastics.

I confined myself to the trampoline pad,

doing five rounds of three minutes each

and a rest in between each.

Cardiovascular is critical to good health.

What if I had hung from the high rings

and jumped into the foam pad pit?

I have thought, quite a bit,

of through-hiking,

when I am about 74 or so,

perhaps the Pacific Crest,

or the East Coast Continental,

which subsumes the AT

and Florida Trail.

Maybe, I will get really

ambitious, and walk

from Nordkap to Gibraltar.

A veteran through-hiker

says it takes lots of money

to do any of  this.

I suppose one could argue

that it takes lots of money

to do anything worthwhile.

What if I did it on a shoestring?

These are random thoughts,

on a languid Tuesday.