Warm, Cold and Somewhere In-between

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August 11, 2019-

I have been back in Prescott, just shy of a month, and am finding that, even with a dearth of day-to-day work assignments, life remains very full.  Have been catching up with long-time friends and have been contacted by an interesting healer, who will help augment what I’m already doing for myself.

Looking back on the two-part journey just past, I reflect that the reactions to my presence, at different stops along the way, fell into three categories:  Warm, cold and somewhere in-between.  I felt no shortage of love for anyone, mind you.  The reception, though, depended largely on where the people were, in their own emotional and psychological spaces.

There were warm environments: A friend’s house, at Coal Mine, AZ;  Mother Road Hostel (Albuquerque);  my friends’ pondside house (Crossville, TN)*;  Not-So-Hostel (Charleston); Glick’s Greenhouse (Oley, PA)*; several friends’ and family homes in Saugus and elsewhere in Massachsusetts*; a Baha’i gathering in Pittsburgh;  two friends’ homes in Indiana*; an Airbnb home and the Baha’i House of Worship (Wilmette)*; Roy-el Motel (Wapello, IA); Honeycomb Hostel (Kansas City); Mesa Verde Motel (Mancos, CO).

There were mixed receptions at Pilgrim House (Memphis)* and Wrigley Hostel (Chicago), again, depending on where the individuals were in their own lives.  The chilliness was, thankfully, limited to a few people along the way- an angry man on the road between Ganado and Chinle, AZ; a disgruntled hosteler in Charleston and the security staff at West Point.

Restaurant-wise, I was treated like family, in Canyon de Chelly Restaurant;  Villa di Capo (Albuquerque);  Smokey Joe’s (Amarillo); Mesquite Canyon Steak House (Shamrock, TX); Cupcakes & Cravings (Rolla, MO*); T’aiChi Noodle House (Chattanooga); Best Bagels in Town (Knoxville); Huckleberry’s (Tryon, NC);  Motor Supply Bistro (Columbia, SC); New Moon Cafe (Aiken, SC)*; Hilton Head Diner; East Bay Deli(Charleston); Don Beto’s (Raleigh);  D’s Diner (Wilkes-Barre)*; One Family Deli (Newburgh); Egremont Market (Egremont, MA); The Fresh Side (Amherst, MA); Friendly Ice Cream (Southington, CT); Padamina’s BBQ, Buffet & Bakery (Danbury); Bedford Diner (Bedford, PA)*; Fricker’s (Richmond,IN); Family Square (Bolingbrook, IL); Q39 Barbecue (Kansas City); Copeland Cafe (Copeland, KS); Del’s Diner (Fort Garland, CO)*;  The Farm Bistro (Cortez) and Munds Park Resort Cafe (Munds Park, AZ)*.                                                                                         * Return visits

I mention all these, so that people recognize how important ambiance is, to a traveling soul.  There are some RIP’s, from my previous trips, and I’ll miss Chez Duval (Granada, CO) and Artful Dodger Cafe (Harrisonburg, VA), in particular.  While I’m at it, Feast Bistro, in Ojai, CA, though in the opposite direction, is on that list of RIP’s.  Establishments come and go, I know- yet it is always the people who work in them and other patrons, who remain in my heart.

 

Back Along A Golden Road

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July 17-18, 2019-

It had been three years, since I was last in Colorado. In the words of a waitress at one of my favoured spots, Del’s Diner, in Fort Garland, “That’s just too long!”  Del’s had been a bit of a dive, but had remodeled and was doing just fine.  The food was every bit as good as I remember.

U.S. 160 is one of those roads that make me feel at home, regardless of where I am, along its passage.  The same thing is true of Old 66; Highway 1, along the Pacific Coast; U. S. 30, through the Midwest,; and MOST of U.S. 1.

So, I took the road, from Ulysses, Kansas to its western terminus, in Tuba City, AZ.  A side hop was necessary, for me to take in Sand Creek National Monument.  From La Junta, though, I zipped down to Trinidad, then back up I-25 to Walsenburg, from which I could re-visit my favourite part of 160:  Colorado’s southern tier.  Thus came dinner at Del’s and a long search for a place to stay that wouldn’t mean my budget would need a budget.  Colorado seems to be even more popular than usual, this summer.  That does my heart good.

The Spanish Peaks are a fine greeter, just east of Walsenburg.

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The San Juan Mountains, between Del Norte and Pagosa Springs, are a reminder that snow regards the Rocky Mountain State as its summer home. (I’ve been in Colorado, at some point, each month of the year, and seen it snow, each and every month.)

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I stopped briefly in South Park, just west of the formidable Wolf Creek Pass, and found a Cal King was the only bed available.  Since I’m not part of a package deal, up and over the Pass I went.  Going through the pricey resorts of Pagosa Springs and Durango, the night drive came to an end at Mesa Verde Motel, Mancos.  There, I was generously offered a room at discount.  It is a “dog room”, the owners being pet lovers, but there was no sign of dog hair anywhere in the room.  Mesa Verde’s owners are just gentle, laid back people, and I  recommend the place for anyone finding themselves tired and on the west side of heaven.

The home stretch began with a stop at Mc Elmo Creek Flume, an irrigation channel, built in 1921.

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Seeking to stretch my legs a bit, before lunch, I walked around the City Park, in downtown Cortez.  A laid-back Ute gent, seeking to impress some ladies in his company, started to mock me, while I was walking up the hill. When that had no effect, he asked if i were a veteran. “Yes, I am, and you? ” “You know it, Bro….. Devil Dogs!”  He had the tattoo of a Marine, and though I recall the name being used specifically for those in the Corps, who fought at Belleau Wood, during World War I, I gave him a pass on that.  Everyone deserves a semblance of dignity and respect.

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Lunch time was here.  I sadly noted that my go-to place, Jack and Janelle’s, had gone belly up.  A walk downtown showed that there was someplace fairly new:  The Farm Bistro.  I gave it a shot, and am glad of it.  Alex and crew are spot-on, with great cuisine and set a spunky, welcoming ambiance.  Each party selects a plastic animal for its table, as a cue to the server.

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My visit to Cortez came to a close, and shortly, thereafter, I was back in Arizona.  Along the drive down the Navajo Nation, I noted that two once grocery-deprived communities, Red Mesa and Dennehotso, now have local markets.  One place that has nothing is Baby Rocks, yet this little village, east of Kayenta, could easily be the next big outdoors thing.

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This little wonderland is close enough to tourist-mecca Monument Valley, that a Dineh entrepreneur could easily remove the “Best Kept Secret” label from Baby Rocks.

Going onward, for four more hours, I brought this phase of Summer, 2019, to a peaceful conclusion.  Carson City, and my  Nevada extended family, await next week, after a few days of meetings here at Home Base.  My eyes and heart are always open, to what counts most in life:  Love of humanity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honour and Hubris at Sand Creek

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July 17, 2019, Eads, CO-

The sign clearly stated “Walk in silence and respect”, as I approached the ridge, overlooking a valley of hallowed ground, where 230 Cheyenne and Arapaho people,  mostly women and children, were killed by a regiment of U.S. soldiers, on November 29, 1864.  John Chivington, a colonel in the U. S. Army, orchestrated and led the attacks, turning a blind eye to atrocities committed by many of the men under his command.  Some white settlers who had befriended the First Nations people were also beaten or killed, by garrison troops at Fort Lyon who were in league with Chivington’s forces.  Several men in the garrison refused to participate in the slaughter.  Two of them wrote to higher authorities about the incident.  One of these, Silas Soule, was assassinated by other soldiers, on the streets of Denver, after he testified to a Commission of Inquiry about the massacre.

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This campaign of  slaughter, of course rooted in ignorance and greed, would result in the resignation of Colonel Chivington from the U. S. Army, whilst he and many of his men were regarded as local heroes, by the more conservative settlers of Colorado Territory, particularly in Denver and Colorado City (now Colorado Springs).  To be fair, there were constant attacks and depredations by both Whites and First Nations people, prior to Sand Creek-and afterward, but none were carried out by women and children.  The matter of ownership of land has resulted in far too much death and destruction.  In the end, no one has ownership of land, in perpetuity.  Indeed, it’s a dark irony, and a fitting one, that Bill Dawson, who owned the land on which the masacre took place, returned it to the Cheyenne and Arapaho Nations, in 1999.  The National Park Service would compensate Mr. Dawson and his family for the land, but there was none of the acrimony among area residents that their predecessors had shown, throughout the remainder of the Nineteenth Century.  There was a consensus that this was hallowed, sacred ground, and that justice was finally being served, to the extent still possible.

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To me, there was no choice, but to sit in reverence and prayer, overlooking the massacre site.  As I was leaving, a pair of photojournalists arrived, preparing to make a brief video on the Massacre.  We were all startled when a car  pulled up, a door slammed and a perky Ranger loudly greeted the men and inquired about their prior visit to Bent’s Old Fort, another NPS Historic Site that is associated with Sand Creek.  It had been a still, solemn visit, and was now turning into business as usual.

I walked back to the Visitor’s Center, waited for the 1:00 presentation, and left at 1:30, when it was clear that I was the only lay visitor, and there would be no presentation.  I know the spirits were grateful for my visit.  A hawk feather had been laying on the ground, just off the first part of the trail between the Visitor’s Center and the massacre overlook.  The sight of  a circling eagle or hawk, or of a raptor feather on the ground is a sign, to many First Nations people, that one’s presence is acceptable to the Spirits. I circled the feather, clockwise, and silently prayed.

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Leaving the National Historic Site,  my route took me past the now-deserted railroad town of Chivington, its buildings mostly looking to fall over, with the next keening wind.  Eads, some twenty miles west, is a more thriving town, whose residents approve of the National Historic Site.

I will long be mindful of the continuing need to remember atrocities, such as Sand Creek, as examples of what happens when people fail to honour, respect and listen to one another, over a period of months, years, decades.

NEXT:  The Way Back to Home Base

 

Wilbert’s Fantasy and World Class ‘Q’

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July 15-16, 2019, Kansas City (MO) (and Olathe, KS )-

In 1959, Wilbert Harrison, a rhythm and blues singer from Charlotte, delivered the signature rendition of the whimsical tune, “Kansas City”- imagining a visit there would bring him romance, which would change his life.

Of course, it was pure fancy and the real Mr. Harrison probably spent no more time in KC than anyone else who didn’t live there.  He did have a good idea, though.  Kansas City has long been a place through which I have driven, en route to somewhere else.  I visited the Truman Presidential Library, in nearby Independence, in 2011, but the big city eluded me-until today.

KCMO, simply put, has the most welcoming hostel in which I’ve yet stayed.  Considering that I have had great experiences in all but one of the hostels I’ve visited in the past four years, that’s saying a volume.  Honeycomb, and its owner/host, Elsa, make every guest feel like family.  This is a woman who has lived a full life, most recently having made an interesting attempt to climb Mt. Everest, which she says will NOT be her last attempt.  Then, there is Max, the house dog, who has his own skateboard, on which he can barely fit.

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Max does his skateboard trick, for a piece of cheddar cheese.

There is much to see and do in Kansas City, so this will not be my last time stopping here.  There were two immediate goals for this trip, though:  Finding signature barbecue and getting a handle on downtown.

The first goal was achieved when,courtesy of Elsa, I headed towards Q 39, a medium-sized barbecue palace, in mid-town, and in a strip mall,yet.  There are more stately-sounding barbecue restaurants, recommended by Lonely Planet and Fodor’s, but I’d come back here again, in a flash.  Burnt tips have become this steak lover’s favourite, and no one does them better than Q 39’s kitchen staff.

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Upon my return, the conversation with Elsa and three other guests, young men who are here for an extended work-visit, left me thinking that a need to slow the cross-country engine down, and actually spend 2-3 days, or more, in a place like KC, as I do in Massachusetts and Carson City-Reno.  Family is as much in the mind and heart, as it is on a tree of ancestry.  No, I’m not implying following Wilbert’s whimsical example; most women I encounter on the road are perfectly content with the men who are already in their lives.  I am seeing the wisdom in matching my intensive mode of exploration with an actual time frame that fits.

Tuesday morning I left Honeycomb around 11 a.m. and headed to Union Station, far more than a place to catch a train.

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As the skeleton implies, here is a top-notch Science City, which is offering a Stonehenge exhibit.  Having been in Carnac and to Cahokia Mounds, I passed this one up, but for the small children going in with their parents, it had to have been a blast.

The interior lobby, though, gives Grand Central a run for its money.

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The lobby has a couple of nice little food nooks, so I got a sandwich from Harvey’s, following up with a fine latte and fresh scone from Parisi.  That set me back on the road, for a forty-five minute auto tour of downtown.   Following this excursion, KC’s nice system of boulevards and parkways made wrestling with the construction zones at I-70’s on ramps completely unnecessary.  I was past Kansas City, KS within a half-hour.

Continuing notes to self:  Kansas is making a concerted effort at increasing its foliage.  I make it a point to record all such scenes as I encounter.

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NEXT:  Solemnity and Noise in Eastern Colorado

 

Father of Waters and His Diligent Children

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July 14-15, 2019, Wapello, IA-

Almost as essential as a visit to the Baha’i House of Worship, when crossing the country, is some time spent in the vicinity of the Mississippi River.  Its residents, whether north or south, have a temperament, a work ethic, and a resilience, all their own.

My meeting with a steadfast and inspiring friend lasted about forty-five minutes. Afterward, I prayed in the House of Worship for a half hour further, then made my way out of Chicagoland, stopping for lunch and to do laundry, in Bolingbrook, on the Metropolitan area’s southern edge. A horrific accident, coupled with ongoing roadwork,  had left I-59 backed up, on the northbound side, for at least four miles.  I would have felt fine, had we southbounders shared part of our road with our hapless fellow-travelers.  The heat, this afternoon, was back, with a vengeance, after two days of fairly mild temperatures.

On we went, though, and my necessaries were done, after two hours.  Bolingbrook is a cosmopolitan little place, the type in which I am quite comfortable.  The genial, but imposing, laundromat manager kept order by circulating among the families, stopping to comfort a boy of about ten or eleven, who was crying after having somehow disappointed his mother.  She wasn’t acting angry nor was she scolding him. It was just that love which a child has for a parent, in which feeling like the parent has been let down, is the worst feeling in the world.  Mr. D. seemed to know this, and had the boy calmed down, by quietly getting to ht heart of the matter.

I stopped, briefly, in Peoria, to say prayers for the memory and soul’s progress of a native of that town, who had been a friend of ours in Dinetah, for several years.  Nancy went back to Peoria for her final year or so, before passing on, earlier this year.  The Clock Tower was about the only part of the River District  that wasn’t blocked by construction, so it serves as a stand-in for the historic downtown area.

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From Peoria, it was on to the Mississippi, in its northern segment.  Crossing into Iowa, I found my first Riverside encounter in Bettendorf, the northwest quarter of the Quad Cities. (The other three being Moline and Rock Island, IL and Davenport, IA.)

The playground at Leach Park looks like it would engage a variety of child age groups.

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Having had a childhood fascination with conical roofs, I would have gravitated towards that building, had it been in my local playground, way back when.

The Mississippi, though, remains the main draw.

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This lodge-type structure is on Rock Island Arsenal, an island on the Illinois side, just west of the city of Rock Island.  From the looks of things, it seems to have a role in flood control.

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I was getting tired, as I passed through Davenport and Muscatine.  When little Wapello appeared, I was grateful to see Roy-El Motel, just off the highway.  As  tourist traffic is light in these parts, the owners were glad to see me, too.  This is a view of downtown Wapello.  The town is named for a mild-mannered chief of the Meskwaki people, who led them to this area and enjoyed harmonious relations with the white settlers of the  river front. I had a light breakfast at Chief Brew, where local farmers and retired folks gather, “three days a week, so we don’t get tired of one another.”  The men were surprised to see someone from Arizona.  I explained that I enjoy stopping along the River, to which one man said- “Bet you’d change your mind, after seeing one flood stage.”

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There was no such deluge, this Monday morning, though.

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The Father of Waters was enjoying his siesta.  I headed on west, with the destination being Kansas City.

NEXT:  Wilbert Harrison had it right.

 

 

A Temple and Its Concentric Circles

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July 13-14, 2019, Wilmette-

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I have made it a practice, when going back and forth across North America, to stop at least once at the Baha’i House of Worship, in this leafy North Shore suburb of Chicago.  Often, it is only for two or three hours, before I’m off again, to whatever awaits.  This time, though, I took an Airbnb room, near Wilmette’s Village Center, the better to meet with a trusted friend at her convenience.

The House of Worship is, rightfully, a point of pride for Wilmette’s residents, regardless of their faith, or lack thereof.  The town has a full complement of Christian denominations and an active Jewish temple, as well as several Muslims.  My host, an Iranian-American, who is not a Baha’i, spoke well of our Faith and of the Temple.

My day started, in Wrigleyville, with my helping the most vibrant of the group of hostelers, whom I mentioned yesterday, to charge her phone.  The Hostel’s breakfast master whipped up some incredible pancakes and waffles. Then came the navigation from the parking garage I used, to curbside near the hostel.  A distance of two blocks required me to go around Cape Horn, figuratively speaking.  At one point, I stopped, twice, at the same STOP sign, then inched forward, only to be chastised by a traffic control officer for not stopping a THIRD time.  No ticket ensued, after his partner rolled her eyes at him and signaled me to turn.  That’s Chicago traffic, though, and never anything personal.  A police officer at another spot let me turn onto Sheffield, and I found the perfect spot for loading my car back up.

No freeway was necessary, going to Wilmette.  U.S. 41 North gives one a  nice slice of Chicago’s northwest side, at a leisurely pace, without a humongous amount of traffic, of a Saturday morning.  A fine lunch at Potbelly Sandwich Shop, amongst an eclectic crowd, set a fine mood for the rest of the drive to my evening’s abode.  The ambiance is as important to me as the food itself.  Listening to Ella Fitzgerald’s rendition of “Sunshine of Your Love” was a bonus.

Above a Persian carpet shop sits a modest apartment.  There, I took the spare room, and headed up to the House of Worship.  My focus, after prayers and meditation, is always on the gardens, which surround the Temple, on each of its nine sides.  I have shown these, in detail, in earlier posts.  Here, though, is a small sample.

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This is the North Shore Channel, which empties into Wilmette Harbor, between the House of Worship and Gillson Park, which has the village’s lovely beach.

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I availed myself of two restaurants here in Wilmette: Ridgeview Grill, which I visited last summer, gave the same excellent fare and service on Saturday night; Walker Brothers Pancake House offered the finest of Sunday breakfasts. (Yes, San Diegans, your very own Richard Walker is a member of this family, and his superb Pancake House is a West Coast extension of the Wilmette establishment, which also has six other branches around Chicagoland’s North Shore.).Suffice it to say, I am getting spoiled by two days in a row of great pancakes.

With breakfast done, and 10 a.m. rolling around, I bid farewell to my host, J., and headed over  to the House of Worship, to meet my friend. On the way, I encountered a crew fixing a broken water main, so prayers were offered for that situation as well.  The Baha’i House of Worship in Wilmette (1953) was the second such Temple ever built, the first being in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan (1908). (It was confiscated by the Soviets, in the 1920’s, then was destroyed by an earthquake.  The property remains vacant, under Turkmenistan government control.)  There are now seven other Baha’i Houses of Worship – one for each continuously-inhabited continent, plus one in Samoa and one in Panama.  National and Regional Baha’i Temples are being built, in several places around the globe.  Each House of Worship is open to all, regardless of Faith.

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Wilmette, this time, felt a lot more like home.  The ripples of love and acceptance are radiating outward from this truly divine edifice.

 

The Joy In Wrigleyville

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July 12, 2019, Chicago-

Being a lifelong Red Sox fan, I nonetheless, being a holistic thinker and inclusive by nature, I also have had a place in my heart for the Chicago Cubs.  I was as happy when they won the World Series, as I was when my Home Team earned their title.

So, when Wrigley Hostel came up, as a place to spend a night in Chicago, I was ecstatic.  As it happened, when Hostelworld bumped my reservation date back to June 12, I didn’t notice.  I got here in mid-afternoon and was lucky that there was a spot available for tonight.  From now  on, I know I need to double check any reservations I make, using an online consortium.

At any rate, Wrigley Hostel, essentially one block east of the stadium, is a large and homey place, with plenty of room for about 60 people.  My spot is in the room right next to the front desk, very close to the kitchen. The group of hostelers is relaxed, inclusive and fun-loving, as should be the case.  The staff, save for one out-of-sorts desk clerk, is caring and friendly.

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The kids went off to events like Taste of Chicago.  I got my own Taste, at Shake Shack, south of here and equally close to Wrigley Field.  There was a goodly crowd on Clark Avenue, as the game had let out, a few minutes earlier.

I feel fortunate to have two good shots of Wrigley.

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After the very filling Chi-burger and mango shake, I took a stroll down to the edge of Lake Michigan.  It’s always a soothing sight, especially from the serenity of Lincoln Park.

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This expanse of greenery is a solace to many- from the water’s edge to Jarvis Bird Sanctuary, and, yes, to Lincoln Park Zoo.  I spent about twenty minutes here, contemplating Chicago’s majestic side.

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Along Addison Avenue, going back to the hostel, are several architectural gems.

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I can’t look at a water tower in this city, without thinking of the Fire of 1871.

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Conical roofs are appealing, both on apartment blocks and on churches.

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I am just glad for one thing:  I don’t have to drive in Wrigleyville as a daily routine.  I think that would be way above my pay grade.  It’ll be enough to navigate out of here, tomorrow morning.

Stirrings In The Heartland

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July 11-12, 2019, Richmond to Goshen, IN-

I stood in the small drive, next to a fence, and observed a mother donkey carefully watching over her seemingly forlorn baby.  One of the girls on the farm made a move to check on the little one, whereupon the foal got up on all fours and dashed off to a further spot in the meadow.

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Stops in certain areas have become part of my itinerary, over the past several years.  There are people I enjoy seeing, or to whom I feel drawn, and whether I visit them or not, depends on their circumstances on the ground.  Two young women, whom I love like daughters, were obviously busy and nearly overwhelmed by life, this time around, and so I gave visiting them a pass.  Others, like a waitress at Bedford Diner, in southwest Pennsylvania, are always good for an hour or so of bantering.  So, my breakfast yesterday featured some of the finest breakfast sausage anywhere, great hotcakes and the wisdom and humour of K.

After the Baha’i Holy Day commemoration, to which I alluded in the last post,  my route towards the Midwest took me through the backstreets of Homestead and McKeesport, then to I-70, Wheeling and Zanesville, where dinner at a Bob Evans to which I am also drawn, when in that area, was served by similarly engaging young ladies.  Zanesville has made some positive strides, in terms of civic pride, in the two years since I last visited.

I crossed Ohio without further ado, choosing Lewisburg, just shy of the Indiana line, as my rest stop for the night.  Despite some rough characters also taking the evening air at the motel, I had no trouble.

This noon, I was one of the first people to take lunch at Fricker’s, just off the highway in Richmond. It is party place, similar to the Dave & Buster’s chain. Mothers with their young children were enjoying the arcade.  Old duffers, with ball caps and white beards, were sitting at the bar, dispensing grandfatherly advice to the young servers and bantering with the forty-something bartender.  I took a bistro seat, and got prompt, attentive service from J., a shy but caring teen.  I could easily find my way back here.

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By the time I left, Fricker’s lot was full.  On  a whim, I stayed on U.S. 35, to Muncie, another Indiana city about which I had often thought.  Walking about downtown, I saw several references to “Chief Munsee”, who was a Munsee-speaking Lenape and whose real name was Tetepachsit.  In the early Nineteenth Century, there was a brief flurry of  witch-hunting activity, which resulted in his trial, being found guilty and execution.

There is a statue of a Plains Indian, at the southern entry into Muncie.  He is not Chief Tetepachsit, whose forebears hailed from the Delaware Valley of eastern Pennsylvania. Several assimilated Lenape moved west with  European settlers, some settling in Ohio and others, including Tetepachsit’s family, landing in the White River Valley, of which present-day Muncie (named for the Munsee people) is a part.  I could not find a parking spot near the statue, so it is not part  of this blog. More solid buildings, downtown, like this telecommunications office, were walkable from a spot near a coffee house, The Caffeinery.

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First Baptist Church presents a fortress-like image.

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This building houses the Downtown Housing Development Program.

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I saw flashes of artistic revival, on my brief walk around downtown.  This engaging ceramics studio and shop, had a well-attended class in session, at the time of my visit. Anyone is free to come in and paint their own ceramic piece.  I selected a lovely, sale-ready plate as a gift for my evening’s hosts.

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A bright mural, which has been restored, following vandalism, graces the side of another downtown.  It is a response to the Orlando nightclub shootings, and thus is a manifestation of an inclusive mindset.  A man and his 12-year-old daughter were taking this in, just prior to my visit.  It is a testament to the quietude of the area, that I would come across them twice more, taking care to reassure the father that I was NOT following them around.

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I headed towards my place of rest:  Mishawaka, encountering a slog along their development’s main street, due to the other access road’s having buckled from the heat.  After dinner, we took a stroll around their neighbourhood.  Narcissuses are a point of pride here, as are these Tropicana roses.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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My Plant Snap identifies these as Hosta Tardiana.  Anyone think differently?

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I had lovely visits with my hosts in Mishawaka and the next day, here at a farm in Goshen, where the donkey shown above was among the new denizens.    There will, no doubt, be a far different environment waiting for me at the next stop, Chicago’s Wrigleyville neighbourhood.  It’s all great, though, and part of a quite fascinating world.

 

Bastion of Honour

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July 9, 2019, West Point, NY-

My father, before his passing, expressed a desire to visit the United States Military Academy, at this wide spot on the west bank of the Hudson, 57 miles north of New York City.  I don’t know if he ever made it there, but in case he hadn’t, I was determined to visit on both his behalf and as part of marking my own 50th anniversary of having joined the U.S. Army.

Unlike either of the still extant posts at which I served,West Point does allow visitors.  The security check involves both a written document and a personal interview, lasting 3-5 minutes.  Once those are accomplished, a visitor is given clearance to go to the Cemetery, to Trophy Point and,  parking space available, to the fortress-like dormitories.

I set aside 3 hours, this afternoon, after being cleared by security, to look over the areas mentioned above.  West Point, despite a handful of peccadilloes, over the years, remains largely a bastion of honour.

The Museum is the first place one sees, upon entering the Visitor Center parking lot. I save that great edifice for another time, preferring to get out and take in the out of doors sections of the Academy.

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From the edge of the parking lot, one may take in a serene view of the Hudson.

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On to the Visitor’s Center, with its display which depicts the quarters of a cadet, and of the cadet’s four years.

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The quarters are spartan.

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Once cleared by the dour and seemingly exhausted security officer, I drove to the Cemetery parking lot and took in a variety of mausoleums and tombs, reflecting our nation’s military heritage.  Soldiers from George Armstrong Custer to William Westmoreland are laid to rest in these grounds.

Here is a montage of the statuary and resting places of West Point National Cemetery.

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The Old Cadet Chapel, seen below, was brought here to the Cemetery Gate, from its prior location near the dormitories.

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From here, I walked to Gees Point, from which one may take in more serene views of the majestic Hudson River.

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This Helipad is primarily for the use of dignitaries, coming and going.

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This small house invokes the gentler side of the Academy.  It serves as an officer’s residence.

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This is one of two paths, from the Main Road to Eisenhower Hall, that are “Use at own risk”. I took the risk.

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Below is a view of  the Catholic Chapel.

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The Gothic dormitories could only be photographed from a distance, this evening, due to a dearth of parking.

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The legendary football/soccer stadium stands next to the dorms.

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Finally, the statue of Tadeusz Kosciusko stands watch, gazing towards the Hudson.

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So ended my first visit to my former superiors’ alma mater.