The 2018 Road, Days 30-32: A Break from Driving

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June 24-26, 2018, Spring Hill, FL-

This is a photo-less,  nearly driving-free post.  I spent Sunday night in Ocala, a good stopping place en-route to/from the Nature Coast and points further down Florida’s mid-Gulf region.  Other than being tailgated around a church parking lot, by an older man who demanded to know what I was doing therpoe, Ocala was a friendly enough place.

I got to my in-laws’ house, in Spring Hill, around 10:30.  Fortunately, W was home and Mother was up and dressed.  These three days were largely spent watching old movies (TCM) and coddling the two dogs.

I did get a couple of dips in the salubrious pool, with Bella (younger dog) happily joining in the splashing and laps.  Her more cautious “older brother” was content to lay around and watch us.

The most momentous thing that happened was that I bought this laptop, its mouse and case. The device is lighter weight than the War Horse was, and thus easier to tote around.  Nevertheless, I found myself missing the Lenovo and hoping it is at least being used for peaceful purposes, if it is even still running.

The weather was a bit on the tortuous side, so none of us spent much time outdoors. W went to visit her horses, but unlike in December, I did not join her.  AC becomes addicting.  We took all of our meals at home.  Mother appreciated that part.

It’s been a peaceful break from the road. I will head out tomorrow again, with my goal being  the middle of South Carolina, by evening.

The 2018 Road, Day 29: The Cleansing Storm and Saturday’s Markets

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June 23, 2018, Tifton, GA-

After a short pass by Clemson University, which I found closed for the evening, I headed off to look for a campsite along  Richard B. Russell Lake.  Named for a conservative senator from Georgia, who was noteworthy as both a pragmatist and a parliamentarian, despite having misgivings about integrating whites and blacks at the Federal level, the lake, formed by damming the Savannah River, draws people of all ethnicities.

I chose the first campground on the South Carolina side of the river:  Calhoun Falls State Park.  The town was named for another senator, John C. Calhoun, who strode the floor of his chamber, orating in defense of slavery, whilst privately educating his own slaves back home.  Even the most seemingly venal of people can be complicated.

The Southland has always graced my camping efforts with a torrential rain, and last night was no exception.  Despite the cleansing downpour, with copious thunder and lightning, my tent and rain flap stayed put.  It also helped that the tent site is on porous ground.

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Here are some views of  the lake, looking towards the Georgia shore. Note that the soil along the shore is red.

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I made a stop at the camp store, for a bit of breakfast, before heading out.  Two sweet teen girls were minding the store and made sure I had fresh coffee and a scone, on this soggy morning.

Outside, the dock and its attendant were getting ready for a more promising day of sunshine.

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I took county roads to the town of Calhoun Falls, then to McCormick, before going on to Edgefield, the hometown of another of South Carolina’s more provocative figures:  J. Strom Thurmond.  Before Donald Trump, before George Wallace, Strom Thurmond stood for keeping things as they were, in bygone days- before coming to his senses in later years, and actually being mortified by those who cited him as an example of a man who could “keep the races apart”.

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I found numerous mementos of the Civil War, as was to be expected, and solid antebellum architecture.  Then, there was the turkey.  Edgefield’s more eclectic claim to fame is as the headquarters of the American Wild Turkey Association.  One of the men with whom I spoke had been to Prescott, and had hunted wild turkeys in our National Forest.

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I took in Edgefield’s tiny, but welcoming Farmers’ Market, purchasing a couple of gifts for my family in Florida.  Then I poked around a bit in Edgefield’s town square.

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Below, is the town’s memorial to its Confederate  war dead.  Being on the opposite side of the slavery issue, I nonetheless recognize that people of earlier times had to go through their growing pains.  Then, too, so do many of this day and age.

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Other memorials honour those fallen in subsequent conflicts.  This memorial stone commemorates World War II.

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I stopped in Park Row Cafe, for a muffaletta, which held its own with the more famous New Orleans versions of the sandwich.  I was greeted warmly by the young lady who I had met on the street, earlier.  The cafe’s manager, though, was a bit more guarded, wondering aloud about “the western Yankee”. She was quite glad to see me go.  Too bad, as the place has wonderful fare.

Down the road, and a bit north of the river, is Aiken.  It is home to another Xanga friend, who was not at home when I visited downtown.  I can see the attraction, though.  Aiken had a larger Farmers’ Market than Edgefield, and was considerably more vibrant.  I spent most of my time here in New Moon Cafe, a fortuitous discovery, as I was missing Artful Dodger.  I sat, nursing a Haitian pour-over, absorbing the positive energy.  I found this magnetic little cafe a great excuse for returning to Aiken in the future, even if Xanga friend is not around.  Here is a small hotel that might be of interest to those not inclined to camp.

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New Moon is all about power!

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I took this photo from a discrete distance as, underneath the signage, another patron was relaxing with coffee and the paper.

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Leaving salubrious Aiken, I wanted to make fairly good time getting to north Florida, before turning in. So Augusta, Lake Oconee, Macon and Andersonville all wait for another time.  I made a mental note, as to the exquisite beauty of Oconee and its Reynolds properties.  There is much also that Georgia has to tell, regarding the struggles of men with one another.  Americus showed the way towards amity, whilst Andersonville chronicles the flip side of Maryland’s Point Lookout, being the site of a POW camp for Union soldiers, just as the latter was for Confederate POW.

So, I stopped here, in Tifton, just off I-75, enjoying chicken salad at a Zaxbe’s.  I still am determined to make it at least to Ocala, tonight.

 

The 2018 Road, Day 28: Falls Park Afternoon

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June 22, 2018, Greenville, SC-

I spent several days here, in and around this small, but bustling, commercial hub of western South Carolina, in late February and early March, 1987.  One of my brothers and his family lived near here then.  I can recall the Museum of Christian Art, at Bob Jones University, and Falls Park on the Reedy, as highlights of that visit.

My journey today, led me back to Falls Park, to meet an old friend from Xanga days. K is a military veteran, whose son is currently serving as well.  She lives in a city not far from Greenville, and so agreed to meet for lunch and a walk around the park.  It took several minutes for us to find one another, with confusion on my part, as to what she meant by the “park entrance”.  There are actually three, so I went to the one closest to the West End Historic District, where she found me.  We enjoyed a fine lunch at Smoke On The Water, overlooking the Reedy River, and swapped Xanga tales.  Then, it was time to revisit the park, in earnest.

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There are multiple places for people to cool off, in the running water.  This fountain, on the grounds of River Place, drew several families, as the day was heating up.

This footbridge leads into Falls Park, from the north.

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Here is a view of West End, which has been revitalized since I was here last.

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We enjoyed this, and other, views of the Falls, from Liberty Bridge.

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With many people taking one another’s photos, including us, K and I were glad to be in this one selfie.

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That led to another shot of the Falls.

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The flowers at Falls Park were not at their peak, but diligent care has kept the gardens well-balanced and adorning the grounds.

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The lower park, closer to the water, is always among my favourite parts of a river walk.

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Nature offers some strange scenes, of suffering and resilience.  Looking at the trunk of this tree, from this vantage point, I can almost discern a face.

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We continued to head back to the park entrance, as K had to avoid afternoon traffic.  Above the falls, the river offers as much beauty, as below.

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These cataracts, close to Liberty Bridge, help control the flow of water, in times of flooding.

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Ten Artispheres, by John Acorn, commemorated the tenth anniversary of Greenville’s Artishphere Festival, in 2014.

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After K left, I spent some time along the river, close to the place where I had parked.  Ducks and geese were more plentiful, in the serenity of upriver.

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This view of downtown shows the variety of architectural styles is present, even in a smaller city.

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Near an overpass, I spotted the testimony of the timeless.

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These geese were also glad to find the shade of the bridge’s underpinnings.

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The Peace Center Amphitheater and Wyche Pavilion was empty, this afternoon, but is sometimes used for weddings and other special events.

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Greenville has polished itself a fair amount, in thirty one years, and like many former textile centers, has used the rivers which once generated their mills to generate a thriving economy, based on tourism and other outdoor-based enterprises.

NEXT:  Camping in the Rain and Two Saturday Markets

 

The wave of nationwide strikes, protests and uprisings in the cities of Iran — Freedom Star

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This article is based on reports and videos sent by PMOI/MEK activists inside Iran Iran, July 31, 2018 – Tuesday has been the scene of numerous protests and demonstrations in cities across Iran. Strike, Protest in Isfahan: Beginning this morning, Tuesday, July 31, truck drivers and owners as well as large group of people and youth in […]

via The wave of nationwide strikes, protests and uprisings in the cities of Iran — Freedom Star

Janus in July

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July 30, 2018, Prescott-

I will return to the chronicles of my summer road trip, in a few hours. First, though, I want to note this month’s activities, closer to Home Base.  The three weeks following Independence Day were mostly relaxing, yet had their share of joyful activity.  We celebrated the birthday of  a generous and humble friend, in what was supposed to be a surprise.  Our efforts came as no surprise to her, but she was nonetheless delighted.

I learned that my left knee does not take kindly to being idle for long stretches on the road, at least while my carcass is undergoing chiropractic adjustment, between now and March.  There is some connection between the two, so with Fall coming, I will need to get in at least one vigourous walk per day.  That will give my knees the workout they seem to crave.  Planet Fitness and Deep Blue ointment are also helping.

I have, at long last, taken the time to pay a few visits to Firehouse Coffee and Black Dog Coffee Shop, virtually completing “discovery” of our town’s java joints.  Both are fine purveyors of brew, but Firehouse wins the cinnamon roll contest.  Black Dog focuses on scones.  The Saturday after I got back was my son’s 30th birthday.  After wishing him a great day, long-distance, I went to Game Night at Wild Iris-enjoying Uno and a dice game, with the regulars at this event.

This past weekend, though, was a special cap on this bountiful summer.  I did three days’ Thursday, Saturday and Sunday) service at Bellemont Baha’i School, west of Flagstaff.  All three days featured “gully washers”. Saturday had the added excitement of a heavy hail shower.

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Even with a borrowed tent, and large tarpaulin, there was much to be done later, as I had to use a wet/dry vacuum cleaner to siphon the small pond that had threatened to ensure no sleep that night.  As it was, I had a dry tent, by nightfall, and slept very well.

The service in question was on behalf of over 50 middle school-age children, from the Phoenix area. Many of them had not been out of the metro area, so being in the woods was a fabulous experience,  to say the least.

The camp was open for a half day, today, but I came back to Prescott, last night.  Three days of preparation and “welcome back” gatherings at Prescott High School will get another year of concerted effort at learning underway.  So, it’s ten months of joyfully getting up at 4:30, knowing that we will provide at least some stability and learning opportunities for eight young people who, rather like me at their age, cannot count on their own bodies to remain calm and focused, without assistance.

2018-19 will be a monumental academic year.

The 2018 Road, Day 24: Baltimore, Part 1- A Shiny Mount Vernon and Poe’s Hardy Neighbours

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June 18, 2018, Baltimore-

I came to this sometimes struggling, but always fascinating harbour town last night, settling in to Hostels International- Baltimore, in its historic Mount Vernon neighbourhood.  The hostel is clean, comfortable and staffed by friendly folk.  The night manager moved his car over, so that I could fit mine into the relatively safe space, behind the hostel.  This little patio, if a bit cramped looking, was a relaxing spot for breakfast.

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I had last stopped and spent time in the city in 1972-what seems like eons ago. Then, it was to visit with an Army buddy and his family, in the suburb of Essex. I had arrived too late at night to call on them , but fortunately found a kind soul who put me up for the night, in Mount Vernon, as luck would have it.  I lost track of my buddy, only knowing that his brother died, three years ago and their parents, who I treasured, sometime back.

Bal’mer, though, has kept on, and keeps itself rather polished.  I took a short walk around Mount Vernon, this morning, taking in The Basilica of Baltimore, its Roman Catholic Cathedral and a few other sites at the northern edge of downtown.  The Basilica of the  National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as it is officially known, was completed in 1837, thus its late Federal Period architecture. It is the first Roman Catholic Cathedral built in the  United States, having been built by John Henry Latrobe, the “Father of American Architecture.”

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Enoch Pratt, a  local industrialist and philanthropist of the mid- 19th Century, helped establish Baltimore’s Central Public Library, in 1882.  It is another anchor point of Mount Vernon and Cathedral Hill.

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The New Unity Church Ministries is a balance to the large presence of the Cathedral.  Beyond, you can see the high rises of downtown’s edge.

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I left Mount Vernon, around 10 a.m. and headed off in search of Edgar Allan Poe House. It is in a mixed income neighbourhood, at the edge of a public housing project.  The area residents were a bit surprised at my presence there-mainly because the house is only open from Thursday-Sunday, and then only from 11-4.  Nonetheless, today was when I was here, and so I did get a photo of the exterior.

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With this brief, but pleasant, visit to central Baltimore a fait accompli, I headed to this day’s main focus:  Fort Mc Henry.

The 2018 Road, Day 23: A Father’s Greatest Joy

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June 17, 2018, Philadelphia-

We began the day with what was billed as “A Farewell Brunch”-and it was enough to last me, at least, until late afternoon.

Here are a couple of scenes from the morning.

Son is explaining to his  second cousin about his work on a ship in the Navy, whilst YH and the little guy’s parents look on.

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My younger brother, Mom and the lovely bride are enjoying the morning.

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Once we had indeed made our farewells to the family, Aram, YH and I headed over to the Korean War Memorial, just inside Penn’s Landing.

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We headed back towards the Independence Historic District.   A few late model buildings caught our attention. The Ritz-Carlton is mostly high rise, but uses this domed structure for its lobby, convention center and main dining room.

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Here, you get a view of Philadelphia City Hall.

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We took in the Alexander Hamilton exhibit at The Constitution Center.

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Then came a visit to the Liberty Bell.

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I managed a selfie with the former Pennsylvania State House bell, now a national symbol.

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We then returned to Independence Hall, checking out the East Wing and courtyard, for a bit.

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The last act of the day was to head to Jones Restaurant, on Chestnut Street, and enjoy a Midday repast of  tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich, hearkening back to my childhood.          The best present, though, was having Aram here and getting to meet his love.

Leaving the happy couple to enjoy the Philadelphia evening, I headed south, to Baltimore.

 

 

The 2018 Road, Day 22: No Greater Heights Than This

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June 16, 2018, Philadelphia-

It doesn’t surprise me, in the least, that this family of mine has given my mother’s youngest grandchild a spectacular launch into her own little family unit.  She is much loved, across the board and has maintained a solid, unifying presence among us, and well before the advent of social media. B helped me with her aunt, when I had to get Beloved to a restroom, down a freight elevator, and through an obscure section of an old hotel, years ago. She maintained contact with those of my nephews who were off, alone, at colleges that were some distance from the rest of the family.  She kept in touch with my son, when it would have been easy to leave him to his own devices, in the days of his naval  basic training and early regular duty.

So, we all came to Christ Church, expanding our family by one new grandson-in-law and one future granddaughter-in-law for our blessed matriarch to cherish.

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The above should give readers a frame of reference.  We were asked, by the rector, to not photograph the ceremony or the inside.  The newlyweds have plenty of photos to share, in that respect, and I leave it at that.

The ceremony did not start, however, until 4 P.M., so there was time for me to look further around the Independence Historic District, before Aram and YH were ready to meet for lunch.  Here is Congress Hall, where the Federal legislative branch met from December, 1790- May, 1800. .

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The Main Gallery of Independence Hall is below.

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Next along my walk was the Liberty Bell Pavilion, of which more tomorrow.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Here is Old City Hall, which also served as the first U.S. Supreme Court Chamber.

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Below is the Second Bank of the United States Portrait Gallery.

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Here is a view into the Independence Hall courtyard.

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Having to meet Aram and YH, I hurried on over to the Center for Art in Wood.  They were suitably impressed by the gallery and by its shop.

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The three of us enjoyed a nice lunch at Cafe Ole, across the street from CAIW.  We then strolled around Betsy Ross House and briefly considered purchasing a 13-star flag.

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For now, though, this shadowy replica of the original Stars and Stripes will suffice.

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We will keep the wedding photos within the family, but I do want to share a few of the reception venue:  Knowlton Mansion.  Once again, the staff did their parts admirably, as did the band and vocalist.  As for me, I cut loose and danced more this evening than I have in about eighteen years.

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I do wish to share the intact wedding cake- always an affirmation of  good fortune and fertility.  The first, I wish for the new branch of the family.  The second is their business, alone.

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In any event, this day will long live as among the most beautiful with which I have had the pleasure of being involved- in at least seven years.

NEXT:  Father’s Day, Full Tilt

The 2018 Road, Day 21: In the Streets of Brotherly Love

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June 15, 2018, Philadelphia-

Once upon a time, a teenaged girl looked at her uncle, and wondered aloud whether anyone would care to attend her wedding, when the time came.  Uncle said, unequivocally, that he would be there and that anyone who called themselves his family would be there, too.

In reality, there was never any question. Everyone from her youngest cousin (my son) to the family matriarch (Mother) made the wedding, that will take place tomorrow, a top priority.  It’s been a few years since B was a teenager, but there has been no break, whatsoever, in the love I feel for that compassionate and powerful young lady.  She has made a solid life for herself, following her father’s example of being largely self-reliant and choosing the field of education-which probably had little or nothing to do with her uncle and aunt, on the other side of the country, being educators. I’m glad she chose teaching, anyway.  She’s darn good at it.

I arrived in Philadelphia, around 2, by way of Camden.  This was a simple matter of not getting good directions from Google Maps, finding myself on the bridge to New Jersey and turning around to get cash from a bodega, near the Camden side of the bridge.  Once that was done, I picked up my pre-ordered wedding gift and headed to the Alexander Inn, my residence for the next 2 days.

With time to spend, until the Rehearsal Dinner, at 6 p.m., I ventured to check out Philly’s street art.

Here are  a few of those scenes, from the west side of the Independence Historic District.

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Here, a father is showing his little girl the power that comes with community working together.  I found this appropriate to the present situation.  My brother has been a guiding light to all three of his children.

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The above long mural has a caption that speaks of the eternal juxtaposition of right and wrong.  The young man in the foreground is giving this matter a lot of thought. From the look in his eyes, I would say he will choose right, more often.

Well, the dinner was second to none.  The Panorama Restaurant, right on Front Street, did it up fabulous.  I am admittedly an hors d’oeuvres hound, anyway, and the grilled ahi tuna did not fail to satisfy, either.

Tomorrow, greeting Aram and meeting his sweetheart, then attending the wedding of the year (sorry, Harry and Meghan), will be a most assuredly full day.  Good night, all.

 

The 2018 Road, Day 16: Unlocking Myself

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June 10, 2018, Montreal-

The thieves gave me more than they took, actually.  An extra day to enjoy the comfort of Auberge Bishop’s community and to spend twilight in downtown Montreal were unexpected delights.

Here are some scenes of Montreal’s old and new, around the Cathedral of Mary,  Queen of the World and St. George’s Anglican Cathedral.  Statues honour Sir Wilfrid Laurier and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, as well as a row of figures atop the Roman Catholic Cathedral.  Below is a scene of the cathedral’s cupola, with CIBC Tower to its right.

 

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The great tower also watches this gate to the cathedral’s grounds.

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The Cathedral’s own watchmen are also quite vigilant.

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Here is a memorial to the city’s fallen, in World War I, World War II and the Korean War.

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In addition to the excitement of Formula 1 Grand Prix, there is a dazzling amount of construction here.

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This abstract piece graces the Garden of the Cathedral of St. George, an Anglican house of worship.

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This statue honours Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Canada’s Prime Minister during the Fin de Siecle, the turn of the Twentieth Century. Sir Wilfrid promoted both the expansion of Canadian territory and a retreat from Federalism.  He espoused increasing harmony between English and French Canadians.

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The “Mounties” are honoured here.

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This likeness of Robert Burns celebrates Canada’s debt to Scotland, as regards its settlement.

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With the dark looming, I headed back to the hostel.  There, as an offbeat round of Bingo was beginning, I took a seat at one of the “audience” tables. The “winners” of a call had to perform a silly act. One young man came up and meowed at me. A few calls later, a pert young woman was to ask an audience member to dance.  So, I accepted her motion and let myself move to the beat.   At that moment, I realized why this extra night in one of my favourite cities happened. Business as usual, with no break-in, would have had me on the road, charging full speed ahead, to New England,  It was essential, in fact, for me to slow down and get off the treadmill. So many “daughters” have appeared these past few days, from Toronto to here, offering messages of support and encouragement, in big ways (the policewoman) and small (this pleasant dancer).  I went to bed, two hours later, feeling safe among the young.

NEXT:  A fine repair and Grandma’s roots.