Things I Experienced Recently

When we travel I usually see things I have never seen before. Sadly America has been franchised to where the little usual shops and restaurants have largely disappeared. There are still things that amuse me though.

At the airport we saw eleven Amazon Prime airplanes. Upon our return we saw a large fleet of Amazon vans parked in a storage area and one making a delivery in our neighborhood. Some folks say Amazon wants to take over the world. I suppose as part of that effort, they are taking over their delivery services, too.

Did you know that the Ace Hardware store in Hyannis, Massachusetts has clamming gear? Without checking, I would bet the Ace Hardware in Montgomery, Ohio does not carry clamming gear!

It is said the Mica schist on Mt Washington is over 100 million years  old. Maybe it should be called really old mountain instead?

We traveled in and out of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire all within about 2 hours. Granted we were along the borders of some of those states. Yes, the travel distances in the Eastern States are so much different than Ohio, Texas, California, etc.

Barley house Restaurant, Chicken pot pie, perfect supper for traveler!

Kencamagus and Pemigewasset, just two examples of spelling and language challenges in New Hampshire! Perhaps I am just much more familiar with Akron, Cuyahoga, Miami, Olentangy, Ohio and Wapakoneta. My bad.

When we drove through Colorado it was not unusual to hit an elevation of 11,000 feet. In New Hampshire they were quite proud of their Lake of the Clouds that is at an elevation of 5,050 feet. Turns out there are several places in the USA names Lake of the Clouds. As I have never been a true hiker, it is unlikely I will visit those lakes. I live at an elevation of about 705 feet.

Weird Thoughts Again

So we drove past a woman and man setting up their harvest decorations in front of their house. Now tell me if you think this is strange? Maybe it is just me, but the Wizard of Oz confirmed, for those of us brought up in the city, that a scarecrow is stuffed with straw. The craft stores for the past decade or so have sold ready made scarecrows stuffed with pretend straw, but they hope it will look like straw to you.

How weird is it that an item built from human looking clothing and filled with straw is then seated upon a bale of straw? Isn’t that like go to the morgue and get a bunch of organs, pile them up and then have your photo taken while sitting upon them? We are such a weird society.

I love candy, but halloween is just weird overall.

Once I was invited as a room mother to attend the halloween march in costume where the kids paraded through the elementary school. When I got there all the other room mothers were dressed as witches. I was dressed as the Holy Ghost, complete with a white sheet, white face, white keds and wooden cross around my neck. As we went room to room I invited the kids to touch the least scary ghost EVER and told them about my role in God’s plan. Needless to say, I was called the following week by the principal. I almost asked if she called the witches representing everything reprehensible to my faith. I was encouraged when we went in one room and the teacher had donated New Testaments to the kids. They were proudly displayed on their desks. Wonder if that is even allowed these 36 years later?

Travel Humor

When we travel I find things that amuse me. Here are a few from our recent trip to the Northeast.

There was a sign for “Maple Springs.” Gosh! I thought, they must not just tap sugar maple trees! They actually have a place where it comes out of the ground from a spring.

In Boston they do not have manhole covers, but “raised casting ahead.” I had to watch to see what it actually referred to. I guess in this day and age the sign at home would be reworded “Worker hole cover ahead.”

On Peter Pan bus line do they sing “I gotta crow” and serve peanut butter?

See the source image

Peter Pan

And they must kill lots of pigs though I saw not one pig farm up there. Everything is this ham and that ham. Chatham, Eastham, Hingham, Dedham, Waltham, Framingham and last but not least wearing pig skins at Wareham!

At home the engineers are installing “Roundabouts” to replace intersections. In New England they are called rotaries. Go figure.

I learned that “Plows use caution” means there is a bridge overpass coming up on the road.

How about this one? Took me a long time and Bob’s help to figure it out!

Refers to dump trucks in construction area. Who knew? Not me! Actually the sign we blew past on the freeway in Massachusetts only said “Body down” and had me totally stumped!

Keep being amused! Lightens life’s loads!

Smoky Mountain Trek

As Bob wrote in his travel journal regarding Days 27, 28, 29 and 30 (of our miles long adventure). “We left Nashville and headed towards Townsend where we had rented a small cabin in the woods – a final stop in a familiar and loved area.We had not been here in 3 years. The ride was easy and the start of the Appalachian Range was welcomed. Far different than the Rockies, but the lush forests and green valleys were delightful. The redbuds were beginning to bloom and the dogwoods were in full flower.”

Some ask us why we go back so often? For us, wildflower hunting is similar to seeking shells on an Atlantic Ocean beach. The trillium are fairly obvious. Southern Appalachian are very large. Wake Robin is similar to Sweet Betsy trillium to me. Yellow is know as Yellow Wake Robin! I just know it is erect and easy to see in a passing car! But the Jack in the Pulpit, not so much. I find myself as we hike looking for the leaves or the curve of the neck on the Jack. The violets in purple, white, lilac and yellow show themselves. The Dutchman’s Britches are not so obvious as they look like the Squirrel Corn. One has to look closely to see the ginger pots under the Ginger leaves. And the Little Brown Jugs must be discerned, too. Yellow Bellwort grows high on Rich Mountain Road. Spiderwort is the rock clinging one I believe.

Most elusive are the Lady’s Slipper. As I wrote earlier, we found pink that had not opened yet. One clump of lovely yellow were sweet. Sadly, people dig them up (stealing from the National Park) thinking they can take them home to grow the. These lovelies have very particular growing needs. So we tell almost NO ONE where we have seen them. A Ranger at Sugarlands Park Office told us that about 3 miles up Sugarland trail they burst out in abundance after the fires a few years ago. Sadly, that is too much hiking for me.

Fire pinks, crested dwarf iris, showy orchid, wild geranium, fringed phacelia, squaw root, and the list goes on! Such Fun.

Bob wrote about the Good Friday drive along Tremont Road following the Middle Prong of the Little River , “So much rain had fallen that it was more full and rapid than we had ever witnessed. It was violent, frenzied, untamed, wild, and raging. It reminded me of the Niagara rapids below the falls. Water careened along its banks and exploded over the rocks. Waterfalls disappeared except for the ones coming down the sides of the mountain that were barely contained. And it was LOUD! Everything in the area was a soft green and dripping. Giant Trillium sat and listened to Jack preach to them and the rocks above. It was glorious. Who said rainy days are not fun? And we only put 60 miles on the car.”

The next day was only 46 degrees but the rain had stopped so we were up for another hike. Bob’s journal continues “Easter Saturday – the day between the grief and the glory – we drove to Tremont and the Middle Prong Trail. We love this trail as it closely follows the Middle Prong of the river and builds to a crescendo with a cascading waterfall. The joy for me is walking a small path that leads to the crest of the falls. Water rushes towards it and explodes over the top of the boulders below.”

On Day 31 we drove home to Ohio. 7,000 miles, a month on the road sitting side by side in the Toyota Camry Hybrid. We were still friends and still smiling. I imagine you might be tired about reading reports of this adventure. We have not tired of telling it though. There are likely more details in my blog and his travel journal than we could recite to you today, in person, without notes!

Our next adventure was a seven day flight to and around New England to pick up some of the places we missed on a previous adventure there. It is nice to be approaching 49 years of marriage completed and still enjoy one another’s company. May all of your journeys be joyous!

Photo by Robert M Dutina

After Bluebonnets Onward Ho! to Tennessee

Have you driven across Texas? There was not time on our Spring 2019 adventure to explore the southern cities of Texas or Gulf Coast. Basically when we finished with the Bluebonnets we were ready to travel to our annual or semi-annual adventure of hunting wildflowers in the Smoky Mountains.

Did I mention DYC?

We saw these yellow flowers in the distance in Texas. Did I tell you this already? Well, it bears telling again for a chuckle. We asked a guy who looked like he might be a local farmer what that crop was we were seeing this distance in this photo. He said, “Oh that is DYC.” We asked what is DYC. He explained, “Damn yellow cross-pollinators.”

We found Texas basically a boring drive, though we did spot much more of the DYC on our journey. We hurried across the state traveling about as many miles as we could manage in a day, heading for Tennessee.

Saddened recently to hear about the shootings in Midland and Odessa where we had traveled. Five people were killed and 21 others injured, including three law enforcement officers. The violence in this country is sad and startling. I will never get accustomed to it.

We delighted to reach Smoky Mountain National Park. We had rented a cabin for several days to collect our wits after so many weeks on the road. Decided on the first day to attempt our longest hike, uncertain if we could make it to the Lady Slipper area after Bob’s illness and my continued deterioration from arthritis. We made it! We only saw one clump of Yellow Lady Slippers. Photo by Robert Dutina

Robert M Dutina

Did you notice the tendrils down the sides of the Lady’s Slipper?

Robert M Dutina

We also went to the area for pink Sippers. Unfortunately we were too early to see them open.

Photo by Molly
Photo by Molly

Since I could not enjoy full blooms on Lady Slippers, I did delight to say Hi there! to this little guy all covered in dew.

Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.

John G. Whittier

Basically our visits to the Smoky mountains have this effect upon me!

One of My Very Best Treasures!

Last evening we celebrated 49 years of marriage, so today is the start of our 50th year! We reminisced about what a wild ride we have had together. after several years we learned that someone at our wedding was making bets that we would never last. Obviously, we have come a long, long way from that misconception! Who ever they were.

So here are some photos over the years of my best friend and wonderful husband!

Bob learning to use the Kitchenaid mixer. I love this man SO much!!

He likes my current haircut, but says when we were married and my hair was to my waist, THAT was his favorite haircut. I don’t know, an old lady with long gray hair and hot flashes might not be so attractive now!