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.

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!

Guess What We Saw!?!

On a recent trip to Salem, Massachusetts we visited the “House of The Seven Gables” I loved the book when I was required to read it in school. I re-read it before we departed for points east.

Could not resist sharing this photo with you after my last post entitled “French and Chinese “

Look at the details on this storage chest!
And yet another set of Mahjong symbols!

French and Chinese

When my husband took me to Paris I went alone into a linen shop to try to buy us some washcloths while Bob went to a different shop. I could not make the men in there understand what I was shopping for. I had extremely limited French in my memory bank. Finally my husband joined me in the shop. He explained to them in his many years of French lessons what we needed. He has laughed every since at my pantomimes in that shop. When we checked into our accommodations, the desk clerk tried his best every morning to get me to greet him with Bonjour! or other phrases. From the time I exited the shop, I was French language numb (and dumb). Could not pull out a single expression I might have known. Using public transportation I realized I could not determine what they were advertising AT ALL. I just shut down.

Now I am learning the Chinese game Mahjong online. I saw women playing it in a Satellite Coffee shop in Albuquerque, New Mexico. When I recently got bored with Scrabble I decided to try it for free. Turns out it is a matching game.

The challenge in my mind comes in trying to name the tiles I am matching. My mother used to use La Choy chinese canned foods and we especially liked the fried noodles. So I call one tile green noodles!

Do you remember these?

Then there are red noodle piles with what I call Running man, North, South, East, and West. There are tiles like dominoes only marked with six logs, or dots or dashes. Even six logs bent in their stacks. The same with two, three, etc. One game has owls. The one on my iPad looks like peacocks or phoenix.

There is a banner with an arrow. An arrangement of circles with crank handle up or crank handle down. Season and flower symbols. I am probably not even close to their original meaning, but hey! a girl has to do what a girl has to do.

I have no idea how the women gathered in that coffee shop were playing it. The online version has the tiles in differing patterns and layers. Fun game! and the levels are challenging. Give it a try.

Perhaps I ought to write to that hotel manager/desk clerk and let him know my made up language for Chinese! Nawh, probably not!

Merci!

Bluebonnets!

Do you remember the old commercial jingle for margarine, “Everything’s better with Blue Bonnet on it!” We found that was true when we toured Texas. We had never seen blooming Bluebonnets. Before we left Ohio I was so excited when I found out we would arrive there in the perfect window of time to see them bloom! And that we did!

At this point we were uncertain what we were seeing.

I was familiar with Virginia Bluebells as seen below. The bluebells also grow in Ohio, but not Bluebonnets as far as I know. We were constantly mixing up the names.

So Bluebonnets are actually closer to purple in the overgrown yard above. But when we got closer they were seriously dark blue!

We drove 35 miles south from Dallas to a tiny place called Ennis, population about 18,500. Not much to Ennis but it is famous for a Kolache Depot Bakery shop in the gas station! Of course, we had to sample their wares! Tasty 🙂 We followed the Ennis Y’all app for a map of attractions. Some fields were easier to find than others. The long horn steer were the hardest to find. Here are Bluebonnets with Apache Paintbrush.

Don’t know of any place in Ohio where you can see wildflowers growing WITH cactus!

And leaving the best for last, here are two of my very talented husband’s photos of the steer and the bluebonnets!

Yeah baby! Those are some long horns!
Hanging right above my computer!