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 20: A Place of Resilience, Part 3- Washington Slept Here

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June 14, 2018, Valley Forge-

The area on the west side of Valley Forge National Historical Park lies between the village of Valley Forge and the Schuylkill River, with General Washington’s Headquarters and its support buildings dominating the area, during the period of regrouping.

This residence was used by the Quartermaster for the Continental Army at Valley Forge, General Nathaniel Greene.

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About a half-mile east, Washington’s main encampment was established, after he moved the Marquee away from the Artillery Park. His personal guardsmen were housed in these cabins, with a spring house immediately below.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The building below was a bakery for the Continental Army.

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Here is the house that served as General Washington’s Headquarters. The downstairs was office space and a kitchen. All officers, including George Washington, slept on the second floor.

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Here is a glimpse of Washington’s office.

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Washington slept here.

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I grabbed a late lunch and gassed up in Valley Forge Village, with Freedom Deli and Catering being right next to a Sunoco station.  I took a brief look at Freedom’s Foundation’s grounds, which I remember from Frankie Laine’s pitch on the radio, in the late 1950’s.  Funny, what sticks in your head. I didn’t get photos, as the place was closed and I would like to do it justice, on another visit.  Valley Forge left me with a deeper appreciation for the truth of all those stories of hardship and endurance, we heard in my school days.

Back to Oley, I’m headed, and thankfully there is no rain in the forecast.

NEXT:  Brotherly Love and The Wedding of the Year

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 19: A Steamtown Experience, Part 2- Turntables and Roundhouses

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June 13, 2018, Scranton-

I bypassed the Steamtown Shopping District, mostly as I was itching to get to the National Historic Site and was saving my appetite for a stop to see my friends at D’s Diner, in Wilkes-Barre.

The docents at Steamtown National Historic Site are intensely passionate about trains, and rightly so.  Until the advent of mass-produced trucks, in the 1950’s, locomotives were the most efficient way to move goods across country.  They still have staying power, and freight trains, at least, have held their own, over the last forty years.

Here, then, are scenes from Steamtown.  Please note that this site is free of admission charge.

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The Visitor Center, above, provides all that one would expect from such a place- knowledgeable docents, memorabilia and a fascinating introductory film.  Below, in the Turntable, is an Illinois Central Railroad engine car.

Below, a Baldwin #26-0-6-0 Switcher Locomotive (right) is activated, once a day, by a trained rail engineer, for the enjoyment of visitors.  A caboose is seen in the middle.  To the left is an observation car.

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Below is a depiction of rail setters, doing the backbreaking work of establishing our transcontinental network.

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This diorama shows a full-service rail yard, in miniature.  In the middle, is the Roundhouse, with its Turntable at the epicenter.

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This caboose, made of wood, served as the train’s office. It is from Rutland (VT) Railroad #28.

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This is a Spang, Chalfont & Co. locomotive, where one may peer under the vehicle’s “skin”.

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Here, we get a good view of the Roundhouse.

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This is a Lackawanna & Western Railroad wooden boxcar.

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This is where the coal is shoveled into the engine, thus burning and producing steam.

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An engine is, of course, the lead car of any train, thus the yellow bell being attached to this early model.

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Here are some views of an early passenger train.  First is a view of the kitchen.

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Below, is the dining room.

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Here is the business lounge, where smoking could also be done, after a meal.

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I spent about an hour, after touring the Roundhouse, visiting the History Museum, which has fine details about all people involved in a railroad operation- including both official (Engineer, Conductor, Railroad Security, Executive, Porter and Ticket Seller) and “unofficial” (Hobo), who actually did some maintenance work, here and there, for the railroad, in return for the security “bulls” looking the other way.  It was, for many years, a FEDERAL crime to be caught on railroad property without authorization.

The History Museum features a postal car, from the Louisville & Nashville Railway. The Pony Express was only around for 18 months.  Before, and after, the rails were the fastest way to move mail.

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As with any technological advance, there were those naysayers, who tried to sway the public against railroads.  Here is a 19th Century version of NAMBY propaganda.

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Having seen how that DIDN’T work and how well the railroads DID, I headed a bit southeast, towards D’s Diner, to see how my friends have fared in their first full year of business.

 

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.

 

 

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 14: All Along ON Route

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June 8, 2018, Montreal- 

Late this evening, I have arrived at Auberge Bishop, arguably one of the most welcoming places I’ve been in quite a while.  The people are relaxed, indoors and out. Even the House Psycho is not going to be much of a problem- I just need to remember that she hates men.

But, let’s get back to the day’s start.  I enjoyed a full breakfast, in Neill-Wycik’s cafeteria, then went up to the penthouse to get a view of downtown, as only the top of  a high rise can offer.

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I got carried away with writing, whilst sitting at a desk, in said penthouse, so I ended up checking out at  11:15.  The uber-officious Day Manager had a field day with this, and $ 25 worth of surcharges later, I left Neill-Wycik, with a promise to myself to not return.  Toronto has smaller hostels, and one of them will be my base camp, on the next visit here.

Downtown I drove, stopping briefly at Toronto’s lovely Baha’i Centre.  I was let inside by a lovely and gracious lady, who had to then leave.  I was allowed, by the office manager, to look about for a few minutes and so I share these scenes.  Anyone in the Toronto area who has a desire to investigate spiritual truth for oneself will certainly do well to attend one of the Centre’s public events.  Toronto’s Baha’i community is certainly a vibrant one:  https://www.bahaitoronto.org/

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Whilst on a trip around North America, in 1912, Abdu’l-Baha briefly visited Toronto, en route from Montreal to Buffalo.

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I was given the address for Canada’s Baha’i National Centre, in Thornhill, north of Toronto, but gauging my arrival time in Montreal, I opted to leave that visit for next time.

Ontario’s segment of Route 401 features several ON Route Service Centres.  These allowed this Yank to get my fill of Tim Horton’s fare, and keep the Elantra happy with gasoline.  There is much to see, off-highway, along this route: It is, after all, the Canadian side of the Thousand Islands sector of the St. Lawrence Valley. Again, stuff for next time.  After leaving sleepy Morrisburg’s ON Route Esso, with its wary station attendant and taciturn cashier, I was soon in Quebec. Montreal, in its majesty, appeared an hour after that.

A ten-minute Blue Tooth-based conversation later, I had deposited Elantra in a parking garage and found my way to Auberge Bishop.  Here, at least, I feel entirely welcome. At Chicha Donburi, a curry house next door, I received an equally robust welcome. The cheerful Japanese-Canadian proprietress, and her chef, never stopped moving, the entire hour I was there.  I love Katsu (Japanese-style cutlet), and this did not disappoint.

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NEXT:  Montreal’s Light and Darkness

 

 

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.