Tuesday, October 24, 2017

We're home!

Here it is Monday, October 23, 2017 and our last day on the road. We plan to be home early tomorrow morning.

Silver City was a beautiful spot at about 5200 feet. The town was founded when silver was discovered in these mountains. Then copper was found and it is still being mined. We saw a huge area of open pit mines and hills of tailings as we drove into Silver City. Later we walked around in the historic part of town which was filled with art galleries and other shops. We also looked at the "Ditch," which is a deep canyon through the middle of town. It was formed over the years by successive flooding which kept washing away the main street of town. By the time the town people figured out how to stop the flooding it was too late, main street was gone and the whole business area had to be reconfigured alongside the ditch. Eventually they decided to make the ditch into a park and it is a lovely place to stroll – either along the top or climbing down and walking along the creek at the bottom.

The Ditch, Silver City AZ
I wanted to do some more mountain driving, but we decided we were tired of that and it was time to make tracks for home. We left Silver City and headed for Phoenix on Sunday. We got there early afternoon and found out we were now on California time (Arizona does not use daylight saving time).

Today, Monday, we continued driving on I-10. We stopped in Palm Desert to spend the night. We have had a lazy day driving around the highly developed cities of Palm Desert, Indian Wells, La Quinta, and Desert Hot Springs being totally surprised at all the development –shopping malls, condos, golf courses and resorts, even a couple of high rise apartment buildings. How things have changed in the fifty or so years that we have been coming here!
Hannibal MO
Museum in Cedar Falls IA
Betsy's house, Mankato MN

Sunday, October 22, 2017

More driving!

Friday, October 20 and Saturday, October 21 have been big driving days.  I have discovered the last two days that we are taking almost the same trip that we did when we came home from our last reunion in 2014 (dumb me for not checking my trip journals). So, I have been looking for new places to visit.

Friday we headed for Roswell NM (never stopped there). It is a prosperous looking town which trades on its UFO history and emphasizes its space industry. We discovered the Roswell Museum and Art Center which is well worth the trip (and it is free). The museum has had a long history of sponsoring artists in residence. There were several galleries featuring the work of these artists during its fifty year history of existence. The art works were all very diverse and interesting – from collages, sculptures, oil painting, pastels, lithographs; some realistic – others quite modern. They also had a room of paintings by Peter Hurd and his wife Irene Wyeth (daughter of N.C. Wyeth).

Then we did a circle scenic drive through Lincoln County to see how things looked in the 1800’s when Billy the Kid was rampaging through. It was also interesting learning about him. He was a typical cowboy drifter who got caught up in the Lincoln County War and turned to a life of crime (short though it was) after killing a man or two at that time. The war was started by two factions who wanted to control the trade in Lincoln and started shooting at each other. It took the US Army to finally bring some peace and by then most of the protagonists were dead, so nobody really won! I guess the “good old days” maybe weren’t all that good.

On Saturday we started to head for White Sands before I remembered we had also been there! So, we went through Alamogordo and Las Cruces and then north to Silver City NM. The route was through the mountains and over 8000 foot Embry Pass. It was a strenuous and beautiful drive and we are happy to be quiet for the rest of the night!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Another notch on the Capitol belt

For quite awhile we have been visiting state capitols and getting a stamp for a passport book called “Capitol Collection.” Every state capitol has a specially designed stamp and there is a page for each in the book. I have already written about visiting the capitol in St. Paul MN and this week we visited the state capitol in Little Rock AR.

When we walked up to the building I felt like I had already seen this building. It is built of white marble with a tall dome in the center, a long marble staircase at the entrance (even though you really enter through a tunnel under the stairs), and two wings for the two houses of Congress. There are four floors and a basement which has a cafeteria. The fourth floor was mainly exhibits and paintings. The third floor contained the galleries overlooking the Senate and House of Representatives chambers. On the second floor you could look into these houses and also enter the old Supreme Court chambers, the governor’s reception room, and the state treasurer’s office with its no longer used vault. You could also look up at the dome and the beautiful chandelier. The front doors are made of polished bronze (from Tiffany’s in New York) and have not been opened since 9/11. The first floor is mainly offices, security, gift shop, etc.

So, after viewing all of this I was reading the brochure and discovered that the architect was Cass Gilbert – the same architect who designed and built the Minnesota Capitol! He finished Minnesota in 1905 and started this one in 1909. No wonder they looked so much alike. However, Arkansas does not have all of the beautiful paintings, statues, and other decorative elements that Minnesota has. The house chambers are rather plain and there is no Rathskeller!
Minnesota state Capitol
Arkansas state capitol
Minnesota state capitol

So, now I have 6 more capitals to visit and I will have seen all 50 – hurrah!

Friday, October 20, 2017

Travel log!

Since I don’t seem to be catching up with myself I decided I would just write a brief synopsis of our trip so far, so here goes:

Thursday, October 12
      We visited the Amana Colonies and stayed in Iowa City IA

Friday, October 13 (Friday the 13th)
      We visited Herbert Hoover NHS, did  scenic drive, and camped along the Des Moines River.

Saturday, October 14
     We finished the scenic drive in the rain; stopped in Hannibal MO to visit a town that makes its living off Mark Twain; did another scenic drive along the Mississippi River; stopped at the Henry Lay Sculpture Garden. We stayed in Troy MO
Happy Birthday to Don from the man on the bench!

Sunday, October 15
      We traveled through the Ozarks crossing in and out of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. We stayed in Poplar Bluff MO

 Monday, October 16
       We entered Arkansas via the Crowley Ridge Scenic Byway and visited the Capitol in Little Rock (more later). We stayed near Benton AR.

Tuesday, October 17
      We visited Clinton’s birthplace NHS in Hope AR. Got off the Interstate and found lovely state highways with not too many trucks. Entered Texas at Texarkana and stayed in Sherman TX.

Wednesday, October 18
      We stopped in Wichita Falls to see the falls. Turns out they were washed away in a flood and now there is a man made falls which involves a 1 mile hike to see. We gave up on that plan. We drove to Oklahoma to drive through the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge and camped there.

Thursday, October 19

      Today is a big birthday day for Don, his brother, Fred, and my sister, Dee. We did a lot of driving, saw some nice scenery, and ended up in Lubbock TX – the home of Buddy Holly!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Visiting National Historic Sites

Another thing I like to do when we travel across the country is collect stamps for my National Parks passport. We have visited several sites on this trip.

On Friday we made a side trip to West Branch IA to visit the birthplace of Herbert Hoover, a National Historic site (NHS). We saw the two room cottage where he was born in 1874 and lived for 4 years with his parents and 2 siblings. One room was the bedroom; the other was the living area. The kitchen was separated from the other rooms (maybe for safety) and there was a back porch which often served as a sleeping area. The site also includes a Quaker meeting house, a one room school house, a blacksmith shop (his father was a blacksmith), and several historic homes. Nearby is the Hoover Presidential Library.

Don at President Hoover's birth place
Herbert’s  family was Quaker and helped settle the town. Both of his parents died before Herbert was 9 and he lived with relatives until he was of age. He went to school at Stanford. So, I learned a lot about this 31st president of the United States and was quite impressed with his accomplishments –he worked as a mining engineer in Australia; survived the Boxer Rebellion while working in China; translated a book on mining which is still used today; he was chairman of the commission for relief in Belgium during WWI; Secretary of Commerce under Warren and Harding; he was especially interested in helping children and founded CARE and UNICEF. He had many other humanitarian accomplishments primarily due to his early upbringing as a Quaker in a small town . He died in 1964.

Suzanne at President Clinton's birth home
We also visited President William Jefferson Clinton’s birthplace home in Hope AR which is another NHS. Clinton’s father died before he was born and he lived with his mom and grandparents in this house. If you look at his history he has a lot in common with Hoover – they were raised in a small town, with a loving, but somewhat broken family (Clinton’s mother remarried and they moved to Hot Springs AR). They had a good education and worked hard on humanitarian issues. Clinton was the 42nd president of the United States.

On our scenic drive through the Ozarks we were in the Ozark National Scenic Riverways (NSR). It comprises the Current and Jacks Fork Rivers. The visitor center is in Van Buren. Unfortunately, it was closed – but it was a beautiful area and worth a revisit if we are ever in the area again.

And today we did revisit an area (unknowingly). We are camping in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. It is not an official National Parks site, but is run by the National Fish & Wildlife Management.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Scenic highways and byways

I have a National Geographic book called “Scenic Highways and Byways.” Whenever we travel we try to avoid the truck dominated Interstate highways and take less traveled roads. Following the routes in this book has helped us find some pleasant and interesting spots as we travel.

So, on Friday we decided to take the Woodlands Scenic Byway which is basically county roads (1 miserable gravel road section) from Ottumwa IA to Farmington IA in south eastern Iowa. It turns out it was the week end of the Scenic Drive Festival and many of the little towns along the drive were having craft and yard sales, book sales, craft demonstrations; there were all kinds of food events. plus musical events and a parade. Unfortunately, it was also raining, so we didn’t much feel like participating in any of the events.  It did clear up by Sunday, but we were long gone by then! We did spend some time in Keosauqua, the largest town, population 1006. It has a lovely waterfront along the Des Moines River. Many of the small towns were considered port towns at one time. We stayed in Lacey-Keosauqua State Park, a beautiful wooded park  along the Des Moines River.

On Saturday afternoon (we were out of the rain by then) we drove the “Little Dixie Highway of the Great River Road.” This is Missouri Highway 79 from south of Hannibal to Clarksville MO. It is called “Little Dixie” because it goes through an area of Missouri settled by people from the south! We had glimpses of the Salt River and lots of wooded hillsides. The trees are just starting to turn color here. We turned off at the town of Louisiana to visit the Henry Lay Sculpture Garden on county road UU.

Here I am in the Ozarks!
Sunday, October 15, found us looking for the scenic drive through the Ozarks. It was on Missouri 19 from Salem to Eminence. I must say I was a little underwhelmed! I was expecting mountains, but all we saw were low wooded hills and more windy roads without shoulders. We decided Missouri must be where old cars go to die – almost every yard was filled with junk cars! There were a lot of mobile homes and unkempt properties. It is really interesting to see the variety in our country.

Crowley’s Ridge Parkway is the final drive we have taken so far. It starts in Missouri and goes into Arkansas following a ridge formed when the Mississippi and Ohio River flowed parallel 15,000 years ago and formed an upraised ridge between them. It is only 200 to 250 feet higher than the surrounding land, but it is still an interesting geological formation.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Amana Colonies

Thursday, October 12, found us visiting the Amana Colonies in central Iowa. The community was founded in 1855 by a group of religious refugees from Buffalo NY. They had emigrated from Germany to practice their religion called the Community of True Inspiration (not the Amish or the Mennonites). They found a beautiful, peaceful surrounding in the Iowa River Valley and eventually established 7 villages. Here they could practice their belief in the Bible and quiet inward devotion They also believed that God spoke to them through special people and scribes followed these people around writing down everything that they said that seemed inspired. It sounds like a modern day prophet!

We took the loop around the villages starting in Amana which is where the most tourist stuff is. I shopped in the Amana Woolen Mill which has been weaving blankets and other cozy items since 1857. You could watch some of the weavers at work and listen to a narrative about the history of the factory. The several blocks of stores and restaurants reminded us of Solvang in California, although not as extensive. I also found a quilt shop which was another occasion of sin!

We drove past Middle Amana, bought items in the High Amana General Store (what a trip that was), drove the 4 block circle in West Amana, and continued past South Amana before moving on. The only towns we missed were Homestead and East Amana. I remember my mom and dad coming here and wonder how much it has changed since their visits and which places they enjoyed..

We finished our day with pizza in the university town of Iowa City.

Monday, October 16, 2017


On Tuesday, October 10, we headed for Mankato MN to have a Betsy-Tacy adventure.  I have been a fan of the Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace since I was a child growing up in Winnebago MN and Maud was just writing the books. They are a lovely slice of life about growing up in the early 1900’s in the family friendly town of Mankato. The homes of Maud (Betsy in the books) and Bick (Tacy) are across the street from each other and have been lovingly restored by the Betsy-Tacy Society (of which I am a member). They were not open, but we took pictures of the houses and the bench up the hill where the little girls played. We also saw the new statue of the Boy in Blue (a Civil War soldier) in Lincoln Park. This was another favorite place for Maud and her friends to come. We ended up at the Blue Earth Historical Society where I purchased some more books written by Maud and her author husband, Delos Lovelace.
Suzanne visits the "bench" in Mankato

We finished the day with a trip to Red Wing MN where I visited the Goodhue County Historical Society and City Hall looking for more records of my family who lived in this part of the state in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. I was also looking for the pottery which was manufactured here during the same time period. It turns out the plant closed in 1967 (I knew that!) and there is nothing left but a museum and lots of antique shops. I have some pieces of Red Wing pottery from my mom and would have loved to find more, but no luck.

I finished my family research on Wednesday when we spent several hours in the Olmsted County History Center in Rochester MN. They have vital records, plat maps, city directories, and a nice gift shop, so it was a productive visit! We ended up back in Austin to stay overnight in their Wal-Mart. We have come full circle and ready to move on on Thursday.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Visiting the Minnesota State Capitol

Don and I were finally on our own when we left everyone on Monday, October 9. We headed for St. Paul MN to visit the capitol. I am collecting stamps in my Capitol Collection passport book and I was missing the Minnesota capitol, so I had to include that on this trip. We only had an hour and a half to tour – but that was enough to admire the 3 floors plus a ground level AND a basement. The building was just renovated and reopened in August, so we timed it well. It was designed by Cass Gilbert (who did the Woolworth Building in New York City) and opened in 1905. The Senate, House of Representatives, and Supreme Court are all in separate wings on the second floor. The dome is the second largest self-supported masonry dome in the world. The basement contains a Rathskeller, which I learned is a restaurant in the basement (keller) of the Rathouse (town hall) in a town in Germany. The stone walls were covered with German mottoes and other decorative elements with a German flavor. This shows the strong German influence in the early 1900’s. Everything was painted over during WWI and has only recently been restored.
Suzanne at the Minnesota State Capitol, St. Paul MN

Saturday, October 14, 2017

The reunions - Miller, Culver, Temple/el

We’ve been on the road for almost two weeks, so I decided it was time to let everyone know what is going on. We have had a great trip so far, but have not done much sightseeing. The weather was hot in California and Nevada, but has turned cold and rainy since we have entered the Mid West.

We left on Saturday, September 31 and spent our first night in our camper near Joshua Tree CA. The second day and night were in Las Vegas where I had fun shopping and relaxing. We only heard about the terrible shooting on the Strip later the next day as we left Vegas to head east.

The next 4 days were just a lot of driving and snacking to keep awake. We managed to listen to a whole book on tape before we pulled into my brother’s house in Dubuque IA. My brother from Milwaukee and sister from Florida soon joined us and we had a great mini reunion with the immediate family – 2 brothers, 2 sisters, brother-in-law and sister-in-law, niece and husband and their son.
A few of the Tempels, Oct. 8, 2017

The reunion continued on Saturday with all of the Culver cousins (by DNA) in Oronoco MN. We sure saw a lot of Grandpa Miller in those relatives. On Sunday the Temple/el reunion was on in full force in Hayfield MN. With trips to the cemeteries in Dubuque, Oronoco, Berne, and Pine Island we managed to zigzag all over south eastern Minnesota, covering much of the same ground more than once. But it was really great to renew acquaintance with many cousins.

We stayed in Austin MN and even managed to fit in a trip to the Spam Museum. Spam was invented and manufactured by the Hormel Company which is headquartered in Austin and they are quite proud of their history. We sampled several flavors of Spam (bacon, which seems redundant, turkey – how can that be Spam?, and several flavors only available in foreign countries where they are popular). It was really interesting learning about Spam and the museum is well worth a visit – plus you can buy any flavor of Spam your heart desires! You can even buy Spam earrings.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Touring Brooklyn

Don at entrance to Green-Wood Cemetery
Well, today is our last day in New York. We decided to make it a Brooklyn day, so after breakfast we hopped on the Subway, traveled down the length of Manhattan, under the East River, and into Brooklyn to 25th Street. We walked a couple blocks to Green-wood Cemetery in Greenwood Heights. It is a National Historic Landmark. The cemetery was founded in 1838 and has always been a fashionable place to be buried. The list of famous people buried here is huge. In 1860 it rivaled Niagara Falls as a place for tourists to visit!

It is 478 acres of hills, valleys, glacial ponds, and winding paths. We only managed to traverse a small portion of it. We trudged up Battle Avenue to see the monument to the Revolutionary War. The Battle of Brooklyn, one of the first battles between the British and the Americans, was fought here. From the top of the hill you can see the Statue of Liberty, which I thought was most meaningful.
Suzanne at Monument to the Battle of Brooklyn

We continued along the meandering paths admiring the many tombstones, monuments, mausoleums, statues, and all the beautiful plants. It was all so interesting. We stopped at one of the lakes to eat lunch and watch an egret who was looking for fish (he never seemed to find one!). We stopped in the historic chapel, which was very simple with lovely stained glass.

After this we got back on the subway and went to Smith Street where we visited a new book store, Books are Magic. They had shelves of books published by the New York Times Book Review which I had never heard of.

We continued our walk along Smith to Atlantic Avenue which is one of the main shopping streets of Brooklyn. We finally ended up at the subway on Court Street and headed back to our hotel.

Our last adventure was trying to find a deli restaurant where Don could have pastrami and I could have chopped liver. I can’t believe that it was so hard to find one in New York City! We ended up taking the bus back to Ben’s Deli at 209 W. 38th St. and had a wonderful meal. I would definitely recommend this restaurant.
Can you find the egret?

Sunday, July 9, 2017

The week end in New York City

Well, here it is Sunday, July 9 and we have one day left in New York. I have not felt well all week end, so our activities have been minimal!

On Saturday we met Hildie for lunch at Benares, an Indian buffet which has very good food. Then we went to see the play “Oslo” at the Vivian Beaumont Theater in Lincoln Center. This is a very dense play about negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis brokered by the Norwegians in the early 1990’s. It was very well acted and they attempted to insert humor into the tension among all of the players. It would have been better to study up on the situation before going because a lot of the dialogue was lost to me! It was nice being together, anyway!
Suzanne at Lincoln Center

On Sunday I went to mass at St. Paul the Apostle Church which is just a couple of blocks from here. I expected a good choir, but it was just a cantor. Oh, well, it felt good to be in church!

We also visited a couple of flea markets this week end. After visiting the Cooper-Hewitt, I had a new appreciation for old iron and pottery. However, I decided I didn’t want to take heavy stuff home with me, so I just bought some jewelry made out of old stuff!

We are always looking for the best pizza restaurant. We learned today that our favorite deli, Arties, had closed, so we tried the pizza at Big Nicks. So far that is the winner. We also liked Justinos Pizza, but not the pizza at Saccos.

Tonight we took in a concert at Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center. It was a chamber music concert with a terrific clarinetist, strings, and piano. They played Beethoven, Weber, and Schumann - all so beautiful, well worth the price of admission.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum

Friday, July 7, we were planning to go to a new museum, called the Met Breuer. It is part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which has been extended into the building where the Whitney Museum used to be. However, I wasn’t feeling too well and it was pouring down rain in the morning, so we did not go.
Sistine Chapel exhibit at the Oculus

After lunch I was feeling better and the sun came out, so we decided to salvage the rest of the day and visit the Cooper-Hewitt Museum on 5th Avenue at 91st Street. We were there years ago, but they have changing exhibits and the current one is called the Age of Jazz.

The museum is a former Carnegie Mansion which was extensively remodeled to accommodate the design collection of the Hewitt sisters and their grandfather, John Cooper. We could still see many of the lovely features of the old house, the wood paneling –ceilings and walls, stained glass windows, grand staircase, chandeliers, etc. The museum is the Design Museum of the Smithsonian.

So, all of the exhibits featured beautiful designs for all sorts of familiar and exotic objects. The Jazz Age featured items from the 20’s and 30’s. I really love the clean lines of that period – beautiful silver tea sets with square shapes, wood desks with open shelves and minimal decoration, chairs with metal arms and legs. Of course, my favorite was the jewelry and other decorative items. There were lots of jeweled, enameled, gold & silver boxes and cases. The art deco pieces were also lovely. There were paintings, book covers, clothing, piano scores, wall paper, on and on. It was really almost too much to take in. Plus there were pieces from the original Hewitt sisters collections. The wrought iron bird cages were particularly interesting, and also the models of spiral staircases.

An interesting feature was the special pen that they gave us. We could use it to quickly download the descriptions of any items we particularly liked. They put it up on their Web site after we returned the pens and we can look at the items on our own computer. This is another place I would highly recommend visiting.

Looking for new activities

We always like to find new things to do in New York. However, on Wednesday, the day after the 4th we repeated a couple activities. We met Hildie in the  afternoon and spent a couple of hours walking
Hildie and Suzanne on the High Line
in the High Line Park. We did this a couple of years ago, but it has really changed – I’m not sure for the better. All of the plantings have matured, but somehow they did not seem as beautiful as before. The meatpacking neighborhood has become very “in” and consequently many of the lovely old buildings have been torn down and an architectural variety of high rises are being built. I’m sure it will quickly become an expensive and highly desirable place to live! Because of all the building there were many scaffolds all along the park which obstructed views and detracted from the art work. After our walk we had dinner and saw a musical, “War Paint,” starring Patti Lupone and Christine Ebersole.

Don on the One Step Bridge
The next day, we did find something new to do. We had never been to Snug Harbor on Staten Island so decided to do that. We took the free Staten Island ferry to the island and then the bus for a short ride to the gates of Snug Harbor, Old Sailors Home. It was built in the 1800’s as a home for old and weary sailors. After many permutations it is now owned by the city and called the Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden. It is truly a beautiful spot. The buildings are old and in need of renovation, but the gardens are gorgeous. We especially enjoyed the Chinese Scholars Garden. It is a replica of one built in China and we had fun pointing out the features we had learned about in our trip to China; the moon gate, one-step bridge, tile patterns on the floors, meandering stream, tea house, windows framing views of plants,strange shaped rocks, tiled roofs with interesting water spouts, a seemingly endless variety of patterns. I would definitely recommend this as a spot to spend an afternoon.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Going to the movies in NYC

Our hotel is in a rather spectacular location for the activities that we like to do – close to Lincoln Center, Columbus Circle and Central Park, Carnegie Hall, and Hell’s Kitchen. So, on Monday, July 3 we headed over to Lincoln Center to see what was going on. We approached it from the back (10th Avenue) and actually entered through a part we had never walked on before. We saw there was an Asian Film Festival in one of the new film theaters, the Francesca Beale Theater. So we bought tickets for the 6:30 show. We had time to do some shopping and eat before we were back for the movie, Okja. It was a delightful Korean film with an ecological message involving a super pig, a 10 year old Korean girl, and an evil corporation run by Tilda Swinton and her twin sister! I hope it has some commercial success.

Tuesday was the Fourth of July, so we figured we had to find some non tourist things to do. We bought a one week subway pass (the world’s best bargain for $16, senior rate.) We actually ended up doing a lot of walking. We visited Grand Army Plaza at 5th Avenue and Central Park. The statue of General Sherman has been newly gilded and the Pulitzer Fountain in front of the Plaza Hotel was running – two beautiful, old monuments. We also looked at the temporary outdoor art installation consisting of several concrete chairs, sofas, and free standing windows emulating the sitting room of a torn down 5th Avenue mansion.
Don sitting in "The Living Room"

Suzanne admires Morpho's Nest in the CadmiumHouse

We then walked to Park Avenue to see an installation of painted concrete slabs in the median. That left us rather cold! But the better thing was when we decided to see the movie “Wonder Woman” at a nearby theater. Paying $17 each for tickets to sit in a lounge chair and watch a big screen film did rather set us back on our heels! By the time we got back to our hotel we decided the best thing would be to watch the fireworks on TV and that WAS the best!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

2017 trip to Washington DC and New York City

Samantha & Suzanne relax on her deck
 I can’t believe that we have been gone for over a week! This is our third year to spend a week in Washington DC attending the DAR Continental Congress and then spending the following week or so in Manhattan. I have procrastinated writing this blog because I wasn’t sure I had much new to say!

We left Santa Monica on Saturday, June 24 and flew direct to Washington. Samantha S was kind enough to offer her newly purchased house as our staging ground for the week in DC.  Even though she had to go to work, she was the perfect hostess. We had our own room and bath and the full use of the kitchen. Her parents, friends from LA, were also visiting so we did lots together.

Our time was spent going to the National Archives I and II and the Colonial Dames and the DAR Libraries to do genealogy research. We attended several evening activities in Continental Hall, I sang in the DAR chorus, and we went to the Schools Luncheon on Friday. All in all it was a successful trip.
Suzanne at Madonna of the Trails statue in Bethesda MD

On Sunday, July 2, Don and I moved on to New York City via the train from Union Station to Penn Station. From there we found our way to our hotel, the Fairfield Inn on 58th Street between 10th and 11th Avenue. We have a compact room on the 13th floor with a view of the office building across the way! We had dinner at a Greek restaurant around the corner and readied ourselves for a week and a half of activities in the City. 

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Impressions of Amsterdam

     I wrote a few impressions about Amsterdam before we left, so I will send these now.

     In addition to the cold & wind (which I was unprepared for), I had trouble dealing with the drug culture. Our hostess in Enkuizen had told us that she was a social worker and spent most of her time dealing with drug addicts – not marijuana but hard drugs. So, I really wonder what the cause and effect is. I can’t say everyone does it because there are tons of people in the street doing everyday activities, but there seem to be “coffee houses” (places to use marijuana) on every block, plus other stores selling products related to various drugs. I just do not find that very interesting or pleasant to walk past.
     However, I do love the canals.
Many of the canals have houseboats docked along both sides. People started living in them in the 60’s when housing was scarce and now they have become a fixture and quite expensive. The city provides all the utilities for them. They actually don’t look that comfortable, but I think it would be a fun place to live.

     I also love the architecture.

There are older (the east side) and newer (west side) versions of the four or five story town houses (row houses) built from when the city was in its golden period in the 1600’s, Many of them have statues or some kind of sign depicting the original owner. They are quite narrow because originally people were taxed on the width of the house. They also may have been taxed on the number of windows, so many have shutters which can be closed to hide the windows. Because the interior stairs were quite narrow and steep, almost all have some kind of pulley mechanism at the top to raise items up to the top floors. This was often because merchandise was stored in the attic if the owner was a merchant. Now it is used to get furniture up to the top floors! So, some homes were built leaning forward a little to facilitate this activity. Others may be leaning to one side. That is because all the original homes were built on wooden pilings pounded through the mud and sand to harder ground. Most of the time the pilings have stood up, but some have deteriorated. The tops of the homes are mostly false fronts of many shapes and decorations. This hides the steep roofs of the buildings.
     Historically Amsterdam has been a place of refuge for many people and accepting of all cultures and life styles. That leads to a great diversity in restaurants, shops, and the look of people walking in the streets. We noticed a lot of young men dressed in black, and a lot of tall people! I guess people watching was one of our pass times as we did have to rest a lot.
    We came home on Tuesday, April 25. Other than the airline losing our luggage, it was an uneventful trip! And it is always nice to be home after a wonderful vacation.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Touring Amsterdam

     On Thursday, April 20 we said good-bye to the River Voyager and dragged our suitcases to our new hotel, the Bank Hotel. We had a beautiful 5th floor room with a lovely view of the city roof line.
We were there until Saturday, April 22 when we again dragged our suitcases almost due east to our last hotel, the Crown Hotel which is right next to one of the smaller canals.
     So, we have spent the last three days getting to know the city and trying to take in some of the more popular sights. However, this has been somewhat difficult because the city is very crowded now with people celebrating spring and getting ready for the King’s Day celebration next Thursday. In addition we seem to be spending most of our walking time dodging bicycles! This is really a bicycle culture-there are more bikes than people in Amsterdam. You not only have to watch for people riding bikes, but you need to walk around all the ones parked on the sidewalks or where ever their owners drop them. We saw a 3 story bike parking garage next to the train station which was totally filled with bikes!

The Central Station

Places we have visited while in Amsterdam:
1. We first went to the Central Railroad Station to scope out the train system. You can take the train to almost any city and it is quite easy and fast. This is a large Neo-Gothic building built by the same architect as the Rijksmuseum. It was built in the late 1800’s and has two towers, one with a clock, the other with a weather vane.

2. Then we walked along Damrac to see the canals, all of the restaurants and shops along that street, the Stock Exchange Building, and ended up at Dam Square. Here we saw the National Monument, built to honor WWII veterans, and an amusement park which obscured all the other magnificent buildings!
3. We found the Amsterdam Museum, but decided not to visit it. We did look at the interesting paintings in the gallery at the entrance and we had breakfast in the cafeteria.
4. We visited the Begijnhof. I found the Catholic Chapel very moving with all the paintings and relics of St. Ursula.
Suzanne at the Begijnhof
5. We saw the Amstelkring Museum which gave us an idea of what the inside of a town house looked like. In the attic of this building we found the “hidden church” – a beautiful Catholic church built for worship when Catholics could not openly worship in a church. What a fascinating story.
The Hidden Church
6, We toured Rembrandt’s House which is the home that he lived and worked in for almost 20 years. It is located in the Jewish Quarter of town, so we also walked around there for awhile.

7. We walked around the Red Light District – but it was too early for the prostitutes to be out, so all we saw were the red curtains that they stood behind later in the evening.

8. We managed to get a spot in the Van Gogh Museum and found it most beautiful, but very crowded.

We are leaving tomorrow, April 25, so I will have to send my last post from home. We have not had good Internet in this hotel!