Category Archives: Travelogs

On my “new” Missouri River canoe trip…

I just heard the Lower Missouri River near Sioux City was pretty low. Could it be this bad?

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Welcome to the “Georgia Wasp…”

This blog is modeled on the Carolina Israelite. That was an old-time newspaper – more like a personal newsletter – written and published by Harry Golden. Back in the 1950s, people called Harry a  “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”  (For his work on the Israelite.)

Which is now my goal as well.  To be a “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”

For more on the blog-name connection, see the notes below.

In the meantime…

This just in! My brother-from-Utah – the one I have all the travel adventures with – just came up with a great idea. A canoe trip down the Missouri River, from South Sioux City, Nebraska, down to Omaha. (Depending on the current, it should take five to seven days.) 

Which – I suppose – will also depend on how low the water is in that stretch of the Missouri. As to the question “could it be this bad,” the answer is: “That’s why they call it exploring!”

Canoe on Manitou Bluffs regionOn that note my Google-searches got me: 5 days on the Missouri River. Sioux City to Omaha – YouTubePaddling the Missouri River | Missouri River Water Trail, and Canoeing and Kayaking – Missouri National Recreational River. But first a post on some preliminary preparations.

Google Maps says it’s a little over 1,000 miles to Omaha from my home in the Atlanta Metropolitan area. I’m supposed to be there by a Tuesday afternoon, which gives me three days to get there, leaving on a Sunday. As for routes, I decided to start by going  up I-75 through Atlanta. (On a Sunday morning the Beltway traffic shouldn’t be too bad.)

Then I’ll head northwest on I-24, up through Nashville and on to Clarksville, Tennessee, to stop there for the night. (Or late afternoon, since I’ll gain an hour crossing into the Central Time Zone.)

That’s as opposed to heading west on I-20, then up through Memphis (TN) and Missouri. That’s the way I went last December-January for my mid-winter trip to Utah. (See On my road trip out to Utah, from January 20, 2020, noted at right.) And by the way, all this – the canoe trip – is an alternative to flying back to Europe this upcoming September, to hike on the Camino Frances. (With all the Covid travel restrictions, that isn’t likely to happen. As to our September 2019 hike, see “Greetings from the Portuguese Camino!”)

Incidentally, Clarksville is where my aunt and uncle lived for a few years, back when I was anywhere from eight to 11 years old. But getting back to the three-day trip up to South Sioux City. There’s one big question: Will I be able to do any sightseeing? Either going up or coming back? For example, Sioux City (IA) has some interesting sites, including the Floyd Cemetery, 2500 7th Street. That should be open, but how about any museums?

Also, on the way up to South Sioux City I’d like to stop by Paducah, Kentucky. It’s got such a great name, and a lot of history as well. (Especially during “outset of the Civil War.”) Then there are some preliminary notes I made about the canoe trip itself.

Like, as usual, we’ll do mostly primitive camping. (As in “dig a hole and squat.”) But based on past canoe trips, I noted a town called Decatur NE, about 40 miles south of Sioux City. It has a Beck Memorial Park campground, plus some restaurants in town, in what seems to be easy walking distance from the river. And a Broadway Brothers and Green Lantern Steak House. And a Tooly’s Bottle Shop for that matter. (Although we usually carry our own “O Be Joyful.”)

Further downstream there’s a “Woodland Campground, 1447 Benton Ln, Little Sioux, IA,” between 50 and 60 miles from Sioux City. (44 highway miles from Omaha.) Plus wildlife areas and refuges, so camping shouldn’t be a problem. (Not that much “private property” to worry about.)

And a positive note or two: I’ll have some new advantages this canoe trip. Like a stadium seat for actual canoe-paddling itself. In the past I’ve suffered quite a bit from paddling hour after hour with no back support, and getting a variety of “butt rash” from the hard plastic canoe seat. This improvement is a bit iffy, but I’ll report back on the results after the trip.

Coleman Trailhead II cot with side pockets. The second improvement? For this trip I bought an Ozark Trail 6 Person Dome Outdoor Camping Tent, measuring 8-by-12 feet, instead my old 7-by-7 feet two person tent. Which means that with all that extra room I can sleep on my also just-bought-for-this-canoe-trip Coleman Trailhead II Camping Cot – at left – “extra wide military style.”

It “weighs a ton” – actually 17.7 pounds – but that brings up a big difference between canoeing trips and hiking trips. You can carry a lot more “luxuries.” (Unless of course you’re hiking the Camino de Santiago, in which case you can depend on stopping at an auberge or private hostel every night, and “only” have to carry ten percent of your body weight. Unless of course you get a “pansy pack” and have your big pack shipped ahead to your next stop, but we’re digressing here…) 

Now about that bigger tent and fancy-schmancy cot. At first I had some doubts about the expense of buying these new items. Which I expressed in a preliminary email:

A folding cot would be nice, but I only have that small two-person tent. Of course I could get a bigger tent, what with my stimulus check and all, but I’m wondering how many more canoe trips we’ll be doing. (Cost-benefit-wise.)

To which my brother replied, “I too wonder about how many more canoe trips. But I would imagine we’d be able to canoe great distances longer (age-wise) than walk great distances.”

Which was a pretty good point. Another good point or so: I’m getting older, and I remember well trying to find a nice level spot to put my sleeping pad. Which usually ended up being not too successful. I usually discovered, after slinking in to my tiny “two person” tent, that there was always a big stick or rock, or set of sticks or rocks, that I hadn’t been able to find…

Which is why I sprung for the new tent and camping cot. Of course the Stimulus Check helped. That is, it provided me with some spending money, which I used to “boost the economy.”

Glad to help out! 

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The upper image is courtesy of Lower Missouri River – Image Results. The image was accompanied by a 2012 article from the Sioux City Journal, about how the low water level – eight years ago – could hurt boating and tourism. 

Re: Atlanta Beltway. See Interstate 285 (Georgia) – Wikipedia, re: the ” Interstate Highway loop encircling AtlantaGeorgia… Because of suburban sprawl, it is estimated that more than two million people use the highway each day, making it the busiest Interstate in the Atlanta metropolitan area, and one of the most heavily traveled roadways in the United States. During rush hour, portions of the highway slow, sometimes to a crawl.” That’s my hometown!

Re: “Incidentally, Clarksville…” Here’s what I first had in the main text, then moved to the notes: 

Clarksville is where my aunt and uncle lived for a few years. And where we four brothers and various elders used to visit every summer. My “Uncle Willie” was serving with the 101st Airborne Division, based in nearby Fort Campbell, Kentucky. (Which itself might be worth a visit, but which may have to wait on the return trip…)

It was a fun place to visit, but I do remember one unpleasant event. One day when I was 11 or 12 I wandered down by the river. (I thought it was the Tennessee but turned out to be the Cumberland River, which I discovered via Google-mapping of the address. “I just Google-mapped it, and see that it’s right up from the Cumberland River, not the Tennessee River like I thought.”)

I came across a wandering group of young guys, about my age or a bit older. I’m not sure how it started, but I ended up getting “beat up” by one of the young toughs, no doubt trying to show off for his buddies. In hindsight it wasn’t that bad, just mostly just humiliating. Which led me to note in an email: “And that the undeveloped brushy area where I met those local ‘toughs’ is now all built up. With a Kelly’s Big Burger where the confrontation happened. I don’t think that US 41/Alt. Bypass was there either.” But we digress…

Re: “O be joyful.” See On the Chilkoot &^%$# Trail! – Part 2. It noted “O Be Joyful” was a code-word for “ardent spirits. We started packing them – in past canoe trips, like down the Missouri River … as a way of following in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark, and other American pioneers. You see, back in the old days of our country, whiskey – for example – was used instead of hard currency:”

One of the first media of exchange in the United States was classic whiskey. For men and women of the day, the alcohol did more than put “song in their hearts and laughter on their lips.” Whiskey was currency. Most forms of money were extremely scarce in our country after the Revolutionary War, making monetary innovation the key to success.

Re: Using a “stadium seat” on a canoe. The link is to stadium seat in a canoe – Advice – Paddling.com.

The lower image is courtesy of Stimulate Economy – Image Results.

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Re:  The IsraeliteHarry Golden grew up in the Jewish ghetto of New York City, but eventually moved to Charlotte, North Carolina. Thus the “Carolina Israelite.” I on the other hand am a “classic 69-year-old “WASP” – White Anglo-Saxon Protestant – and live in north Georgia. 

Thus the “Georgia Wasp.”  So anyway, in North Carolina Harry wrote and published the “israelite” from the 1940s through the 1960s. He was a “cigar-smoking, bourbon-loving raconteur.” (He told good stories.) That also means if he was around today, the “Israelite would be done as a blog.” But what made Harry special was his positive outlook on life. As he got older but didn’t turn sour, like many do today.  He still got a kick out of life

For more on the blog-name connection, see “Wasp” and/or The blog.

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And finally, for purposes of completeness I’ve included the following brotherly advice on this particular canoe trip, at this particular time of crisis in our national history:

One thing we need to take seriously is the possibility of COVID infection. One, or both, of us, coming down with disease half-way through the Missouri River trip would be a disaster. The canoe trip itself and the driving part, which is most of it time-wise, isn’t a problem. Hotels, restaurants, bars, and bathrooms; any place with close contact with people are a problem. I did some googling about safe travel and came up with the following:

Coffee/Bathroom breaks – avoid large, travel center type bathrooms with lots of people. Aim for small single-stall bathrooms like gas stations. Bring your own coffee cup so you’re not using those fingered by other travelers.

Restaurants – avoid restaurants, except possibly uncrowded outside dining areas, otherwise, bring our own food or get take-out meals. Avoid hotel buffet-style breakfast bars where who knows how many fingers have passed over the food, plates, etc. (get a McD’s take out instead).

Bars – NO BARs! Liquor and sound judgment do not mix. We bring our own libations to enjoy in the quietude of our room or on the banks of the Missouri.

Hotels – Avoid places where close contact with people is possible, like elevators (take the stairs). One website said to bring your own linen (sheets, towels, etc.), a bit overboard, I think. But bring your own pillow would be doable–so you’re not laying your head down on a pillow 50 billion other people have been drooling on for the last half-century.

Masks, wipes, gloves, hand sanitizer, hand washing – Bring these and use often. In hotel rooms, use wipes or sprays to sanitize doorknobs, faucet handles, TV remotes, flat surfaces around sinks, toilet handles, nightstands by beds where sick people are likely to put their snotty Kleenex. If you can’t find hand sanitizer there’s an easy receipt – mix 2/3 cup of 91% alcohol with 1/3 cup of aloe vera gel in a travel bottle. You can get this stuff in any pharmacy. And of course, the best is to wash with soap and water–often.

Again, I’m taking this very seriously, and I’m hoping you will too. We don’t want to be searching for ambulances and hospitals in rural IA/NE or bringing the plague home to share with loved ones.

Some “remembrances” on better times…

One such “remembrance” – about an adventure in old age: Hiking the Camino in Spain…

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Welcome to the “Georgia Wasp…”

This blog is modeled on the Carolina Israelite. That was an old-time newspaper – more like a personal newsletter – written and published by Harry Golden. Back in the 1950s, people called Harry a  “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”  (For his work on the Israelite.)

Which is now my goal as well.  To be a “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”

For more on the blog-name connection, see the notes below.

In the meantime…

I did my last post on June 6, almost three weeks ago. (“Random thoughts (on ‘Socialism,’ etc.“)

It started off with a note that we were then in the “12th full week of Covid-19,” and that we also had to process the George Floyd protests. (Based on his May 26 death.) So I proceeded to remember back to a May 24 post, a “hark back … to This time last year – in Jerusalem!

Which was – as I noted – most likely “an exercise in escapism.” That is, a “mental diversion from unpleasant or boring aspects of daily life.” Another note: “Escapism may be used to occupy one’s self away from persistent feelings of depression or general sadness.”

Or when the world as we know it seems to be “Going to hell in a handbasket.”

So here we go again. This time I’m harking back to another variation on a theme, back to 2017’s post Last year at this time. Which in turn went back to one year earlier. Here’s what I wrote:

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Stephen Dobert standing on rock near False Summit looking south toward Skagway, Alaska.Last year at this time [June 2016] I was training for a four-day “hike” on the Chilkoot Trail.* ([D]eservedly known as the “meanest 33 miles in history,” and illustrated at right.)

I was also getting ready – last year at this time – to canoe 440 miles down the Yukon River, in Canada.* That canoe-trip started three or four days after the hike, and took 13 days.

This year at this time [2017] I’m in training to hike 450 miles in 30 days on the Camino de Santiago, in Spain, in September.

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I made it to Spain in September, 2017, and have now hiked the Camino de Santiago twice. Once in 2017, from Pamplona, and again last September (2019), from Porto, in Portugal. (Where Port wine comes from.) And by the way, we’re now in our 15th full week of “the Covid.” (Also BTW, for an explanation of the asterisks after “Chilkoot” and “Canada” in the rehash above, see the full post.)

Which brings up the fact that before the Covid struck, I’d hoped – this next September, 2020 – to go back overseas. Back to either Israel or Spain, for yet another pilgrimage. But it was not to be. Instead, my “adventurous brother” – from Utah – just came up with what could be the only viable alternative. The idea of canoeing five days or so down the “lower” Missouri River. (Basically retracing the Lewis and Clark Expedition as they were heading back home from the Pacific, in the late summer of 1806, memorialized above left.)

Accordingly I’d planned to do a “before” post, with preliminary information on the trip. But that will take some time, and a new post is way overdue. So instead I’ll present this and other  “Remembrance(s) of Thing Past, in the form of 2018’s Last year the Meseta, next year “Porto.”

That post has a lot of details on what my brother and I experienced on October 4, 2017. We got into León, in northwest Spain, “for our second one-day break after 20 days of hiking:”

The good news was that once we reached León, we had to switch from hiking to bicycling. (We were running out of time.)  The bad news?  That change just led to “a different kind of hell.” (From Dorothy Parker’s famous quote, “What fresh hell is this?”  In our case, it only meant a change in where we got sore…)

The other good news? We were finally done with the Meseta part of the hike. That is, hiking through the “Meseta Central plateau part of Spain – and it’s dry, dusty and hot. In fact, it’s the part that some people recommend Camino pilgrims skip.  (If they want to be all ‘wussified.’)”

So by October 4, 2017, we’d hiked 250 miles from Pamplona for 20 days, and got to León. And aside from taking a day off in León, we rented two 15-speed mountain bikes. “With them we covered the remaining 200 miles to Santiago de Compostela in seven days. Even though neither of us had ridden a bike in 40 or so years…”

Which is why it wasn’t really surprising “when my right handlebar took out – smashed the heck out of – the side-view mirror of some poor slob’s nice new car,” heading out of Leon. And in a second mishap I literally “ran my ass into a ditch.” (See “Hola! Buen Camino!” – Revisited.)

Those were some great times. (As shown at right.)

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But getting back to 2017’s Last year at this time. That post spoke of the the idea of “65 being the new 30.” (Or as just checked, of 70 is the New 50. Whatever. I plan on being around a while.) And on my then-just-turning 65, and so being eligible for Medicare. I noted that either way:

There’s a lot of living left to do after age 60…

Or after age 69 for that matter. And to help make that happen – and maybe get a date with Christie Brinkley – I did the posts A Geezer’s guide to supplements, Part I and Part II

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Christie Brinkley: Still Stunning in a Swimsuit at 60!

Or “Yours truly at 69” – come this next July, 2020…

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The upper image is courtesy of Pilgrimage – Image Results. And no, that’s not a picture of me. The image goes with an article, An Ancient Religious Pilgrimage That Now Draws The Secular (NPR), about the Camino: “A 1200-year-old European pilgrimage route is experiencing a revival. In recent years, hundreds of thousands of modern-day pilgrims have followed in the footsteps of their medieval forebears, trekking across France to the Spanish coastal city of Santiago de Compostela.”

Another thing about the “Chilkoot.” I use quote marks because – all things considered – it’s not really a “trail” at all, “it’s one big frikkin’ pile of rocks after another.” Except for the glaciers of course…

Re: “Remembrance of things past.” That’s an alternative title to the novel In Search of Lost Time, “in seven volumes, written by Marcel Proust (1871–1922).” See Wikipedia:

‘In Search of Lost Time’ follows the narrator’s recollections of childhood and experiences into adulthood during late 19th century to early 20th century aristocratic France, while reflecting on the loss of time and lack of meaning to the world.

Hmmm. It seems that some things never change. For some gloomy people anyway…

Re: “65 is the new 30.” There seem to be a lot of variations, but see my posts, On RABBIT – and “60 is the new 30″ – (Part I) and On RABBIT – and “60 is the new 30” – (Part II)

I borrowed the lower image from 2017’s Last year at this time. You can also see “her” at the posts A Geezer’s guide to supplements, Part I and Part II.

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Re:  The IsraeliteHarry Golden grew up in the Jewish ghetto of New York City, but eventually moved to Charlotte, North Carolina. Thus the “Carolina Israelite.” I on the other hand am a “classic 67-year-old “WASP” – White Anglo-Saxon Protestant – and live in north Georgia. 

Thus the “Georgia Wasp.”  So anyway, in North Carolina Harry wrote and published the “israelite” from the 1940s through the 1960s. He was a “cigar-smoking, bourbon-loving raconteur.” (He told good stories.) That also means if he was around today, the “Israelite would be done as a blog.” But what made Harry special was his positive outlook on life. As he got older but didn’t turn sour, like many do today.  He still got a kick out of life

For more on the blog-name connection, see “Wasp” and/or The blog.

This time last year – in Jerusalem!

My pre-trip Google-work notwithstandingI got many a ‘tall Maccabee’ at nearby Leonardo‘s…

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Welcome to the “Georgia Wasp…”

This blog is modeled on the Carolina Israelite.  That was an old-time newspaper – more like a personal newsletter – written and published by Harry Golden.  Back in the 1950s, people called Harry a  “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”  (For his work on the Israelite.)

Which is now my goal as well.  To be a “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”

For more on the blog-name connection, see the notes below.

In the meantime:

Image may contain: 1 person, standing and outdoorWe’re ending Week 10 of the COVID-19 lockdown, and so my thoughts drift to “this time last year.” This time last year – on May 23, 2019 – I was in Jerusalem. Specifically, “today” my group visited the Wailing Wall and the Temple Mount. (Now called the “Haram esh Sharif.*”) The Haram al-Sharif houses the Dome of the Rock, which most people notice in those long-range, panoramic views of Jerusalem. (On account of the bright gold dome.)

And where you sometimes see men having to wear these cover-all long brown “dresses.” Just in case they forgot the rule about “modesty” when visiting Islamic holy places? (And wear shorts instead?) But we digress…

May 23, 2019, was a Thursday, and I felt a bit overwhelmed. The visit was part of a pilgrimage, a course given by St. George’s College, Jerusalem. (The “Palestine of Jesus.”)  There were some 40 people in the whole group, and about 20 came from my hometown church in Peachtree City, GA. Nine of us had left Atlanta late Friday night, May 11, and arrived in Tel Aviv about 8:00 the next night, Saturday May 11. That Sunday was my first full day in Jerusalem, which I spent alone; we had to get our own lodging until the course started Monday night.

That’s when I discovered the BeerBazaar Jerusalem, on Jaffa Street. That was a good day…

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, people sitting, child, hat and outdoorSince that Sunday we’d done a lot of traveling and pilgrimage stuff, mostly by bus. We started the morning of Thursday, May 23, 2019 by getting bussed to the Dung Gate. It’s at the lower end of the Old City in Jerusalem. (And guess what went through there?) Then we went on to the Haram esh Sharif (the “Noble [Muslim] Sanctuary”). You have to go through that “Muslim section” to get through to the Jewish “Wailing Wall.” (A message there?)

That’s also known as the Western Wall, but getting back to the point: The rules for going through the Haram esh Sharif – to get to the Western Wall – call for “modest dress.” For women that means skirts below the knees, and for men that means no shorts. Women with skirts above the knees have to put on these doofy-looking long brown skirts.

But they definitely suit the women better than they do the men…

I reviewed the trip in “Back from three weeks in Israel,” posted on June 14, 2019. That was mostly about my disastrous last day in Israel; specifically, Tel Aviv.

I was “all cocky” from my smooth trip from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv the day before. And on miraculously finding some others in my group. (Rather than heading home, they were going to Petra, a “historical and archaeological city in southern Jordan.) I also reviewed the beginning of the trip in My first full day in Jerusalem. (In my companion blog, on the trials and tribulations of that first day of my pilgrimage. That included hearing a mysterious “explosion” at 4:08 on the morning of Sunday, May 12.)  But back to “this time last year,” May 23, 2019…

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing and outdoorThere was a long line to get to the Wailing Wall. We started on a ramp – seen at left from down near the Wall itself – then had to negotiate up, to and through the Haram esh Sharif, then around to the other side. (We saw Israeli soldiers escorting a Jewish family through the Muslim section of the complex, to avoid trouble no doubt.) Then – before going down to the Wall itself – deeply spiritual people (like myself) go through a form of water-ritual-purification.*

It was definitely crowded – in part because of the number of bar mitzvahs held that morning, as shown in the photo above left – but eventually I found a niche in the Wall. I stuck my own set of “paper and prayers” into the niche, then leaned up against the Wall, left hand out and on it, for quite a long time. A few minutes later I went back and leaned my forehead against the wall. (Like some of the locals were doing.) It was a very moving experience…

Now about that Leonardo Hotel, shown at the top of the page. It’s catty-corner from St. George’s College, which turned out to be very convenient. Briefly, before I left home I did some Google-mapping to find the closest bars to St. George’s, on Nablus Street. I just wanted to make sure I could get a nightcap if the need arose.

Those bars all seemed to be all clustered about a mile southwest of the college. But as it turned out, the Leonardo Hotel was a mere two-minute walk from St. George’s. It also turned out that there was a “Bistro” at St. George’s, but it closed a lot earlier. It also served Taybeh, the local Palestinian beer. The Leonardo served Maccabee, in tall drafts. (Wikipedia said Maccabee is 4.9%, but my souvenir bottle said it’s 7.9% alcohol.) Thus the “many a ‘tall Maccabee’ at Leonardo‘s.”

Officially it’s the Leonardo Moria Hotel, and aside from those later hours, the lounge sometimes functioned as a piano bar. Like one evening when the yarmulke-topped pianist played the Chicken Dance. But I seemed to be the only one in the place who’d heard it before…

Fortunately – because I “felt a bit overwhelmed” and all – we had a free afternoon that May 23, 2019. (I walked back over to Davidka Square, also on Jaffa Street, for some brandy “just in case.”) The next day we walked the Via Dolorosa (“Sorrowful Way”), then visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. That’s where my brother – part of the Peachtree City group – got “escorted” out of line by a big burly Orthodox monk. For taking pictures when you weren’t supposed to?

But that’s a story for another post…  (“Boy, some of those people are strict!“) 

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Image may contain: one or more people and outdoor

Some of my fellow St. George’s pilgrims at the “Wailing Wall…”

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The upper image is courtesy of Leonardo Hotel Jerusalem King George Street – Image Results. See also Leonardo Hotel Jerusalem | ex. Novotel Hotel Jerusalem. I took the other photos- including the one below right – of “deeply spiritual people” going through a “form of water-ritual-purification.”

The “Haram esh Sharif” is also referred to as the Haram al-Sharif. 

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Image may contain: 1 person, standing, outdoor and indoorRe:  The Israelite.  Harry Golden grew up in the Jewish ghetto of New York City, but eventually moved to Charlotte, North Carolina.  Thus the “Carolina Israelite.”  I on the other hand am a “classic 68year-old “WASP” – White Anglo-Saxon Protestant – and live in the Atlanta metro area.  Thus the “Georgia Wasp.”    

Anyway, in North Carolina Harry wrote and published the “israelite” from the 1940s through the 1960s.  He was a “cigar-smoking, bourbon-loving raconteur.”  (He told good stories.) That also means if he was around today, the “Israelite would be done as a blog.”  But what made Harry special was his positive outlook on life.  As he got older but didn’t turn sour, like many do today.  He still got a kick out of life.  For more on the blog-name connection, see “Wasp” and/or The blog.

A final note: While this post is “dated” May 24, 2020, I actually posted it at 9:15 p.m. on May 23.

Looking back on “the summer of ’16…”

The Verrazano Bridge – over the “Narrows” I kayaked across – “in the summer of 2016…” 

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Welcome to the “Georgia Wasp…”

This blog is modeled on the Carolina Israelite.  That was an old-time newspaper – more like a personal newsletter – written and published by Harry Golden.  Back in the 1950s, people called Harry a  “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”  (For his work on the Israelite.)

Which is now my goal as well.  To be a “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”

For more on the blog-name connection, see the notes below.

In the meantime:

What Happens When You Unfollow On Facebook 19Yesterday I learned to unfollow on Facebook. I applied that knowledge to some fellow classmates from my high school “Class of 1969.” Here’s what happened…

Back in October I thought about going to my 50-year high school class reunion. SO, I got in touch with a number of “old” classmates via the Class of ’69 Facebook page.

It was then I learned how way too many of them had turned way too old, grumpy, frustrated, whiny and/or negative geezers. (“What happened to those bright-eyed youngsters, all full of hope and hormones?”) I ended up not going to the reunion, but still tried to keep in touch. (For one thing it was my Christian duty to try and “bring them back from the Dark Side.*”)

But then it got to be too much. I kept losing sleep, trying to think of snappy comebacks, ways to “reach those people” through clever rhetoric and Christian patience.

I did think of some snappy comebacks, but usually six or so hours later. By then “they” had posted even more negative items, which kept on coming, and coming, and coming. Of course I didn’t want to tell any new Facebook “friends” that I’d “un-friended” them. I still wanted to reach them, if possible. But on that same “yesterday” I did note – on Facebook – that I was taking a break from politics. And on that note I posted a “remembering” photo from my recent Camino hike in Portugal. (Featuring some bikini-clad lovelies on a beach north of Porto.)

So – in that same vein – I hereby offer up in this blog a similar meditation, on some happy times back in the summer of 2016, BT. (Before Trump.) Like the time I kayaked across the Verrazano Narrows, from Staten Island to Brooklyn, and back. I covered the story in “No city for Grouchy Old White People,” and “No city for Grouchy Old White People” – Part II.

The posts were about a visit to New York City, while staying in Staten Island and taking the Ferry back and forth to Manhattan. Their point: “New York City is a refreshing reminder that there’s more to this country than just the right-wing wackos so prevalent back home in ‘The Bubble.’” (To wit: my area of Georgia.) And speaking of Facebook, here’s what I posted about the trip:

Ever since last Saturday, September 17, we’ve been taking the Staten Island ferry into and back from Manhattan Island. So that’s eight times – twice a day for four days now – that we’ve seen the Statute of Liberty, off in the distance…  And I don’t remember ONCE seeing a sign that said, “the heck with your tired, your poor,” those “wretched refuse … yearning to breathe free.”  WE’RE GONNA BUILD A FRIKKIN WALL!

There’s more in that vein in the Grouchy Old White People posts. But on Thursday, September 22, while the rest of the family left for further adventures on their own, I packed up and then kayaked across the Verrazano Narrows.  (Mostly following the Bridge of the same name.)  

So here – at left – is a photo I took, from the kayak, about half-way back to Staten Island.  You may notice the waters are fairly choppy.  And I can tell you those waters got WAY choppier than when I started.  In other words, I seem to have started out – that fine Thursday morning – on pretty much of a neap tide.

It only took me 20 minutes to get from Staten Island to Brooklyn, and I like to do a full two hours of kayaking a week.  So on the way over I toyed with the idea of cruising along the Atlantic side of Brooklyn for awhile. (And maybe even reaching Coney Island.) But I decided not to, mostly because I figured it’d be better to start back to the put-in side while I was still fresh.

And it’s a good thing I did.  As I was paddling back toward Staten Island the tide started going in. Which wasn’t so bad, since at worst it would have swept me in toward Hoboken…

Long story short, with the change of tide and all, I ended up having a mere 13 minutes left of my two-hours-of-kayaking-a-week quota. That’s when I finally got back to where I put in, at Roosevelt Beach on Staten Island.  (And got dunked “coming in for a landing.”)  But it could have been worse. The tide could have been going out.  (As in, “out to sea…”)

And that was pretty much it for my visit to New York City.  I drove home via the Cape May Ferry and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge–Tunnel, and got home Saturday, September 24.

Put another way I was lucky I kayaked across “the Narrows” at neap tide, so I wasn’t either swept by the currents into New York Harbor, or swept out to sea past Sandy Hook Bay

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brooklynsideVN

My view of the Brooklyn side of the “Narrows” Bridge…

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The upper image is courtesy of Verrazano Bridge – Image Results. See also Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge – Wikipedia, including the link to the Narrows, the “body of water linking the relatively enclosed Upper New York Bay with Lower New York Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.” The image was accompanied by a New York Post article, “Did you know the Verrazano Bridge is spelled wrong?” The correct spelling is “Verrazzano,” with two z’s and two r’s. For a video of a similar adventure, see September Paddle: A Clockwise Tour of NY Harbor – YouTube

Re: “Summer of ’16.” A familiar Meme, here alluding to such media events such as Summer of ’42 (the 1971 “coming of age” movie), Summer of ’69 (the 1984 song by Canadian musician Bryan Adams), and/or Summer of 84 (the “2018 Canadian horror mystery film“).

Re: “Unfollow.” See also How to Unfollow Someone on Facebook: 14 Steps (with Pictures).

Re: “Bring them back from the Dark Side,” and Christian duty. See Ezekiel 3:16-21A Watchman for Israel: “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me.” Et sequentes.

And also Dark side of the Force | Wookieepedia | Fandom.

Re: “Neap tide.” See Neap tide | Definition … at Dictionary.com, “either of the two tides that occur at the first or last quarter of the moon [or month] when the tide-generating forces of the sun and moon oppose each other and produce the smallest rise and fall in tidal level,” and also Tide – Wikipedia

When the Moon is at first quarter or third quarter, the Sun and Moon are separated by 90° when viewed from the Earth, and the solar tidal force partially cancels the Moon’s tidal force. At these points in the lunar cycle, the tide’s range is at its minimum; this is called the neap tide, or neaps. Neap is an Anglo-Saxon word meaning “without the power”, as in forðganges nip (forth-going without-the-power).

Re: “Swept out to sea past Sandy Hook Bay.” As noted, I thought about cruising along the south side of Brooklyn/Long Island for a while, and maybe reaching Coney Island, but luckily turned back. I could feel the tide changing as I paddled back toward Staten Island. 

I took the photos including the “Brooklyn side” of the bridge, but not the Facebook image.

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Re:  The Israelite.  Harry Golden grew up in the Jewish ghetto of New York City, but eventually moved to Charlotte, North Carolina.  Thus the “Carolina Israelite.”  I on the other hand am a “classic 68year-old “WASP” – White Anglo-Saxon Protestant – living in north Georgia.  Thus the “Georgia Wasp.”  Anyway, in Charlotte Harry wrote and published the “Israelite” from the 1940s through the 1960s.  He was a “cigar-smoking, bourbon-loving raconteur.”  (He told good stories.) That also means if he was around today, the “Israelite would be done as a blog.”  But what made him special was his positive outlook on life.  He got older but didn’t turn sour, like many do today.  He still got a kick out of life.  For more on the blog-name connection, see “Wasp” and/or The blog.

On my road trip out to Utah…

As it turned out, I managed to drive 3,600+ miles to Utah and back, without a major mishap…

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I haven’t posted anything since November 28, “last year.” One big reason? (Aside from preparing for the Christmas holidays.) Last December 27 I got in my car and drove 1,800 miles out west, “in the bleak midwinter.” (At right, a truck stop in Grand Island Nebraska, snowed in 12/29/19. See also the notes.)

I drove out to visit my brother in Utah, and his wife. (My “hiking buddies” from the Portuguese Camino. See Just got back – Portuguese Camino!Their son and daughter also came out – from Back East – along with my new (as of June 2018) “nephew by marriage.” (See On a wedding in Hadley – and John, Peter and Paul.) It was a great 14-day road trip.

To start at the end, I made it back to Atlanta on Thursday, January 9, “safe and sound.” That day I drove 566 miles in 12 hours, starting in Conway Arkansas. (Northwest of Little Rock.) And that was even though I lost an hour crossing into Georgia from Alabama. (4:25 Arkansas and body-clock time, 5:25 God’s Country time.) I had to be back to work the next day, Friday the 10th.

IMG_20191229_182623Those great memories from the road trip included getting snowed in at Grand Island Nebraska, as shown above right, and at left, as explained further below. (Westbound I-80 was closed.)

That was on Sunday, December 29, two days after setting out. Something like a hundred trucks were lined up on the side of the road, along with cars in the Motel 6 parking lot…

The day had started out well.

I left the Motel 6 in north Kansas City – where I had to pay a $40 cash deposit the night before* – and made good time…  I figured I was making such good time that I could afford to stop and do some “touristy stuff” before reaching my goal. That is, getting to Morgan, Utah by 3:30 or so on the afternoon of December 31. (Followed by a trip to Salt Lake City airport to pick up other guests arriving by plane.)

The weather was good, and the Weather Channel hadn’t given a clue about what was about to happen. Then the snow hit. The first clue came as I drove west on Nebraska state road 136, west of Brownville, just across the Missouri River. I cut over to avoid the “up and over” to Omaha. Then I saw another car, at first behind me but then it passed on the right.

It’s roof was covered with snow.

Anyway, I’d hoped to make North Platte, Nebraska that night, but ended up stopping early at Grand Island. (I did make it to North Platte next day, but in doing so covered only 146 miles “as the crow flies.” But the crow didn’t have to go around the closed I-80 via back roads, down to Hastings, then west on US 34, then back up to Lexington via State Road 23.) 

After checking in at Grand Island and getting settled, I walked – gingerly – through the snow, ice and slush from that Motel 6 to the big truck stop next door. While doing laundry I enjoyed two tall beers, a burger and conversation with the other stranded motorists, as shown in the image above left. (Those are my glasses, next to my half-empty glass of beer.)

Other memorable moments from the trip? Later on the way out I stopped in Wyoming for coffee creamer and other goodies at a Walmart. The price came to $6.66, which led me to think, “OH HELL NO!” So I bought some Tic-tacs to change the price. (See Revelation 13:18.)

But the best memory of the trip came on the night of Friday, January 3, at the “Old Manse” atop the family hill south of Morgan. “The girls” had gone to bed and the guys had stayed up and chatted. And drained a bottle or two of wine. (Next day we were to go skiing at Snow Basin.)

Eventually the drain-a-bottle-of-wine talk led to my brother and nephew swapping boot-camp-slash-Marine-slash-Army stories. (My brother served in the Marines in the 1960s, and my nephew served several tours in the Army, and is now in the Reserves while attending Penn State.) Like the Advanced Infantry Training that old-time Marines got after Parris Island boot camp. When the new Marines got to drink lots of beer at lunch, for a change. But then the “powers that be” had them line up in parade formation in their dress greens. Then they had to wait for hours in formation, “and the inevitable consequences thereof.” Or Matt sharing a story about taking a wrong turn down that back alley in Seoul, South Korea. “Further affiant saith not!”

BTW: We all slept late the next morning…

Good memories!

In the next installment you’ll see how I cracked a rib while skiing at Snow Basin…  And got a speeding ticket driving through *&^% Haysville Kansas!

But for tonight I’ll go back to the memory of getting snowed in at that Motel 6 in Grand Island, Nebraska. With a view of the near-frozen North Platte River from my motel-room window, next morning and as shown below. But it also included that great burger and two draft beers at the Thunder Road Grill at the truck stop next door. (As shown in the notes.)

So the way I figure it, “there’s some kind of lesson there!

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One of three branches of the Platte River, the morning of 12/30/19…

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The upper image is courtesy of Road Trip Winter – Image Results. It was accompanied by an article on safety tips for winter road trips, by Elaine Schoch. Among the recommendations: Keep your gas tank half full, “to prevent gas line freeze-up.” Which I didn’t know, but kept filled up whenever the gauge got to half-full, figuring it might be nice to have enough gas to keep the heat on, while stopped and as necessary. Also, “kitty litter,” for traction in the snow. (My Utah brother recommended sand.) Plus other advice such as “stay calm if stranded.” Including “Run your vehicle’s engine and heater about 10 minutes each hour to keep warm. Open a downwind window slightly for ventilation and clear snow from the exhaust pipe to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.” I’ll read up on that article again if and when I do another road trip “in the bleak midwinter.”

On that note, see In the Bleak Midwinter – Wikipedia, about the “Christmas carol based on a poem by the English poet Christina Rossetti. The poem was published, under the title ‘A Christmas Carol,’ in the January 1872 issue of Scribner’s Monthly. The poem first appeared set to music in The English Hymnal in 1906 with a setting by Gustav HolstHarold Darke‘s anthem setting of 1911 is more complex and was named the best Christmas carol in a poll of some of the world’s leading choirmasters and choral experts in 2008.”

I took the “Grand Island” photos, including the one of my glasses on the bar next to a half-empty glass of draft beer. The Motel 6 in question was at 7301 Bosselman Ave, Grand Island, NE. The full link to the “Thunder Road” website is Thunder Road Grill | Pizza, Wings & Burgers | Grand Island, NE.

Re:  The $40 cash deposit, at the Motel 6 near the airport, north Kansas City. In all my 68 years of travel and motel-stops, I’d never had to do that before. A general rule: Motel 6’s in or close to big cities seem to be rather “dubious,” while those in or near small towns are well worth the savings. 

Re: “Further Affiant Sayeth Naught.” That’s a “centuries-old statement that is still used on some legal documents such as pleadings as the final declaration prior to the affiant’s signature.”

“Greetings from the Portuguese Camino!”

The Lisbon metropolitan area; the Setúbal Peninsula is south of the Tagus River

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I flew back from Lisbon, Portugal, on September 25. “And, boy, were my arms tired!” But seriously, I did finish a 160-mile hike on the Portuguese Camino in September. (I flew to Lisbon August 28.)

Which means the “Greetings from the Portuguese Camino” is a bit of an anachronism. (A “chronological inconsistency in some arrangement, especially a juxtaposition of persons, events, objects, or customs from different periods.”)

But it seems like yesterday…

Part of the trip’s charm was that before, during and after the 18-day hike I greatly enjoyed the Iberian beers. Including CruzcampoSagres, Mahou and Super Bock. See Beer in Portugal – Wikipedia and its long history, “as far back as the time of the ancient Roman province of Lusitania, where beer was commonly made and drunk.”

I hiked with my Utah brother and sister-in-law. We started in Porto, then hiked “back” to Santiago. (My brother and I hiked the Camino Frances in 2017, and came to Santiago from the east.) This time we three came into Santiago from  the south. I wrote about that proposed pilgrimage on August 2d, in St. James – and “my next great pilgrimage.” (My companion blog.)

In 2017 … my Utah brother and I hiked [and biked) the most popular “Camino,” the French Way… But a month from now – September 2, 2019 – my brother and I will start hiking the [160] or so miles, from Porto “back” up to Santiago, via the Portuguese Way. And this time we’ll be joined by my Utah sister-in-law.

That Portuguese Way is another name for the Camino route passing through Portugal. You can begin in either Lisbon or Porto. “The Portuguese way is the second most popular route after the French Way and the Portuguese coastal way” – which we took, hiking west from Porto – “is the seventh most popular.” See What Is The Coastal Portuguese Camino De Santiago Like?

If you start your Camino in Porto and really want to be by the water, you have the option of spending your first day [or two] walking the unofficial but easy-to-follow route alongside the beach between Matosinhos and Vila do Conde… Towards the end of the following day, the route heads inland and unless you take a detour or two, you won’t see much of the sea until you get to Galicia.

Which is pretty much what we did.

10.8 miles from Porto to Cabo do Mundo the first day. (And by the way, the tablet I used to both take some pictures and post them on Facebook had a problem. It had autocorrect, which changed a name like Cabo do Mundo to “Cabo Dr Mundo” every time. It got to be aggravating after a while.) Then 10.2 miles to Vila do Conde. (Same tablet problem.) From there it was a mere six-mile to Arcos. (A rare short hike.) From there 13 miles to Barcelos, where we took our first day off. Which was pretty much the pattern: Our three days off were always preceded by one long hike.

Which – by the way – was prompted by my brother’s booking our hotels – auberges, whatever – a good six months in advance. And that made us different from most Camino pilgrims.

All the good books on the “magic of the Camino” focus on the wonderful people you meet and mingle with in the dormitory-style auberges. But my brother had that experience once – in 2017, crossing the Pyrenees, before we met up in Pamplona – and that was enough for him.

And me too, as it turned out. (I took his word for it.)

I like my privacy, and being able to get away from “mingling” after a long day’s hike.

So anyway and to repeat, we started out on the Coastal Route after Porto, then shunted over to the Inland Route. There – among other rivers – we crossed the Lima river at Ponte de Lima:

For the inland route, Ponte de Lima‘s bridge is used. The later bridge possibly dates to the 1st century and was rebuilt in 1125… [The bridge] is named after the long medieval bridge (ponte) that passes over the Lima river that runs next to the town.

Or as Arlo Guthrie might have phrased it, “that’s just the name of the bridge, and that’s why they called the bridge the Ponte de Lima.”

That’s a quick look at the first part of this Camino hike, with few scintillating details or photos. (Except those at the top and bottom of the main text.) But we’re digressing here, and getting to the end of the recommended number of words in a blog post. That leads to a final note.

Remember how we used to peel the skin off our back and arms after a bad sunburn? Back in the old days, when we were young and before today’s fancy-schmancy creams and lotions that prevent such peeling? Something like that happened to the soles of my feet once I got home.

By the time we reached Santiago the soles of my feet were like shoe-leather, tough, blister-over-healed-blister and callused. (Or “cayused,” as one cute Farmacia lady said.*) But then since I’ve been home, I’ve peeled off several layers of that tough, leathery skin. So apparently the affected parts of the physical body – like the soles of your feet – go through a process of “decompressing” after such an adventure, just like you do mentally.

Which I suppose is just another way of saying that when you engage in such a pilgrimage – or any life-changing experience – you can expect both good times and times that aren’t so good.

I’ll be writing more about our Portuguese Camino adventure, but in the meantime: The good memories weren’t just limited to the CruzcampoSagres, Mahou and Super Bock

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Re: “Beach” alternative. See What Is The Coastal Portuguese Camino De Santiago Like? it included a little blurb about the charms of “mingling” with other pilgrims: “One of the endearing aspects of walking the Camino, and possibly a reason people become addicted to it, is the joy of meeting fellow walkers, their support and encouragement and the friendships you make along the Way.”

Re: Cruzcampo. The link – Cruzcampo Pilsener | Grupo Cruzcampo SA | BeerAdvocate – included some definitely negative reviews, but I liked it. I had at most one or two samples on this trip, but on the 2017 Camino Frances hike, I especially enjoyed an ice cold can on the train ride from Madrid up to Pamplona, where I met my brother, who’d hiked over the Pyrenees. I’d had enough of mountain hiking, since we’d hiked the Chilkoot Trail the summer before.

Re: The number of miles hiked. I originally wrote 140 miles, but it turned out we hiked 160.

Re: “Alice’s Restaurant.” See Arlo Guthrie – Alice’s Restaurant Lyrics | MetroLyrics: “This song is called Alice’s Restaurant, and it’s about Alice, and the restaurant, but Alice’s Restaurant is not the name of the restaurant, that’s just the name of the song, and that’s why I called the song Alice’s Restaurant.”

Re:  “Cayused.” It happened first thing one morning on the hike. We stopped at a Farmacia, as my sister-in-law wanted something like Band-aids for her blisters. She looked at one brand in Portuguese, but the lovely clerk said “those are not for blisters, they are for – how you say? – cayuses.” Which is how the Portuguese pronounce “calluses.” It was very cute, and very memorable…

On a wedding in Hadley…

rehearsalwalk

“Day before” wedding rehearsal.  (I’m sure there’s no “body-language hidden meaning…”)

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Two weeks ago I got back from three weeks in Israel.  Then right away I had to make a dramatic transition:  From free-wheeling world traveler to “weird uncle of the bride.”

Town Hall and First Congregational ChurchWhich is being interpreted:  After my adventures in Tel Aviv – getting lost hiking to the train station, taking the wrong train (away from the airport) and going 26 hours without sleep – I had to begin preparing for an 1,100 mile road trip up to Hadley, Massachusetts.

There my “favorite niece from Utah” was getting married.

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My latest adventure started after church on Sunday, June 16.  By the time I got out of church and gassed up, it was noon in PTC.  That afternoon I got as far as Knoxville TN.  I wanted to make it to Dandridge, but had a bit of a mixup trying to online-register for a Super 8 there.  (After pulling over during one of several traffic tie-ups on I-75, northwest of Atlanta…  Among other things, to check alternate routes via more scenic but slower back roads.)

To  make a long story short – and after yet another traffic slowdown coming into Chattanooga – I took a fallback position:  I picked up a delightfully-retro Travel Coupon booklet at a convenience store.  (Another bladder break and coffee.)   Then I “proceeded on,” taking more back roads around the south part of the city.  (The good news:  Now I know where the Social Security and county farm offices are in south Chattanooga, should the need ever arise…)

Lonnie Donegan.jpgNext day – Monday, June 17 – I made the Motel 6 in south Harrisonburg VA.  I had considered taking my time and getting to Hadley around noon on Wednesday, but by that Monday night I’d had my fill of motels.

So next morning I got up at 5:00 a.m. and left Harrisonburg in the dark.  I made the West Virginia line by 7:02, the Maryland line by 7:24 and Pennsylvania by 7:34.  Then – at the exit leading to Cumberland Gap Park – the “radio*” started playing “Cumberland Gap,” by the 1950’s Skiffle singer Lonnie Donegan(Best known for his hit single, “Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavor (On the Bedpost Overnight?”)  I figured it was sign from God…  (That “all is well.”)

From there the going was pretty good – until I got through Chambersburg PA.  There was a bad accident on I-81 north of Lebanon and yet another traffic tie-up.  Then a sign beside the interstate noted another lane closure at Mile Marker 117.  So I took more backroads to “bypass resistance;” state roads 443 and 61, over to Pottsville and back up to Interstate 81.  (Well past Mile Marker 117.)  I passed through some cute little Pennsylvania towns and stopped for gas – and another bladder break – in Schuylkill Haven.  There I also got a ready-made chicken salad sandwich on a kaiser roll.  Despite being made at a gas station, it was pretty dang good!

319bridgeI ended up making it to the rental house in Northampton MA – across the Connecticut River from Hadley – by 6:00 PM.  (At right.  As you can see, it was cloudy, overcast and subject to passing bands of rain, as it had been for most of the drive up.) 

To review that part of the trip on the way up:  It took me 54 hours to make about 1,100 miles.  Interstate 81 was – as usual – a pain, with clusters of tractor-trailers trying to pass each other like slow-moving turtles that blocked both lanes so well.

On the other hand, Interstate 88 east from Binghamton NY was much better.  It passed through beautiful rolling hills, and farmland – and not much traffic.  And the New York Thruway (I-90, around Albany and south over to Massachusetts) was a very pleasant surprise.

The Tuesday night I arrived, my brother and sister-in-law were over at “the Kelly’s” – the future in-laws – doing their early part of getting ready for the wedding.  So I puttered around the rental house, finding the washer and dryer – much needed – along with how to get my stair-stepping equipment easily into the basement.  Not to mention a place to store my kayak.

On that note, the early part of Wednesday (6/19) I spent two hours and 24 minutes kayaking on the Connecticut River.  (Which runs between Northampton and Hadley.)  I put in near Elwell State Park, which has a footbridge from the Northampton bank to an island in the middle of the river, then onto the Hadley side.  For that bout of kayaking there was SOME sun, but not much.

Later that Wednesday we all had dinner with the future in-laws.

tentOn Thursday we got down to work.  The main wedding party started working on “favors.”  I helped most by staying out of the way.  (As in “Lead, follow or get the hell out of the way.”)  And by reading a first (1908) edition of Kipling’s “The Light That Failed.”

I made up for it on Friday by helping set up a tent-full of tables and chairs.  (As shown above left, completed.)  Then the wedding rehearsal finally started.  (A good bit after the scheduled 6:00 p.m. start time, but the happy couple was “not hung up on that deadline thing!”)  That’s when I took the photo of the father of the bride and bride-to-be, heading down the “aisle,” as shown at the top of the page.

Then came the final preparations the morning and early-afternoon of the wedding day, June 22.  Then came the count-down:  4:52 p.m. “It shan’t be long now!”  Then the Officiant getting some last-minute instructions, as shown by a photo in the notes below.

And finally – at or about 5:43 p.m. – it became official.  They were married!

And then – It was TIME TO DANCE!

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dancepic

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I took the upper-photo image on June 21, 2019.

The Wikipedia caption for the Hadley MA image is “Town Hall and First Congregational Church.”

Re:  “The radio.”  I do have a radio in my car but mostly listen to Sirius Satellite Radio.

Re:  Lonnie Donegan, and his “Skiffle” style.  Wikipedia:  “With a washboardtea-chest bass and a cheap Spanish guitar, Donegan played folk and blues songs by artists such as Lead Belly and Woody Guthrie.  This proved popular,” beginning in 1954.  Later Donegan “went on to successes such as “Cumberland Gap” – later to be the sign from God, as noted – and “Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavour (On the Bedpost Overnight?), his biggest hit in the U.S…  He continued in the UK charts until 1962, before succumbing [sic] to The Beatles and beat music.” lastminuteinstructions

Re:  “Final preparations.”  They included the Wedding Officiant – to the right, with beard – getting last-minute instructions.

“Back from three weeks in Israel…”

The night-dining area, St. George’s.  (28 shekels at the bar – lower left – gets you a Taybeh…)

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Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, people sitting, child, hat and outdoorI did my last post on May 3.  Since then I spent three weeks – 18 or 19 days – on a pilgrimage in Israel.  (Including traveling to and from.  I left the night of May 10 and got back the night of May 29.) 

And while I got back home on May 29, since then I’ve been preparing for a two-week road trip, up to Massachusetts, for my niece’s wedding, in June.  I’ve also posted My first full day in Jerusalem, in my companion blog.  (About the trials and tribulations of that first day of my pilgrimage, which included hearing a mysterious “explosion” at 4:08 on the morning of Sunday, May 12.) 

This post will focus on my last day in Israel.  (In Tel Aviv, where I got lost walking, took the wrong train, and later spent some 26 hours straight without sleep before finally getting home to the ATL.)

So anyway, the pilgrimage was part of a course given by St. George’s College, Jerusalem, thePalestine of Jesus.”   And a side note:  For visits to many churches and all Muslim areas in Jerusalem, you’re expected to “dress modestly.”

Ladies showing bare knees – like those shown above right – get brown cover-leg skirts.

The Jerusalem experience was wonderful, overwhelming, intimidating and enlightening.  But like I said, let’s start with the most recent “cluster” – half a word – part of the pilgrimage that happened.  It came on Wednesday, May 29, the day I spent 11 hours flying back home.  (And, considering the time change, 26 hours straight without sleep before I got back home.)

The problem was that I got all cocky from the day before, when I’d made an easy connection from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv.  (On Monday the 28th.)  That is, after parting ways with the other pilgrims in my church group, I made a fairly-easy two-mile trek from the College to the central bus station in Jerusalem.  (Lugging 30 pounds in a back-pack and large gym-bag to be checked at the airport.)  Then from the Tel Aviv bus station I hiked a “mere” mile, to my night’s lodging at “Yavne 26.”  (They list the street number last.)  On the way I managed a visit to the Haganah Museum, right around the corner from Yavne 26, at “Rothschild Boulevard 23.”

Later that evening I managed to hook up with eight or nine fellow pilgrims from Georgia, who – unbeknownst to me – were staying at the Abraham Hostel in Tel Aviv, two or three blocks from my place.  (And despite the fact that the guy at the front desk wouldn’t take a message, let alone make contact, so I had to check the local eateries, and found them basically across the street.)

Unfortunately my visit to the bar at Abraham’s was cut short because I was all hyped up to get to Ben Gurion airport early enough to get through the vaunted Israeli airport security.  All the guides said that you should get to the airport at least three hours ahead of time, so since my flight was at 9:55, I figured I should be at the airport by 6:55 a.m.

Image may contain: 1 person, standing and outdoorAnother side note:  Gentlemen who wear shorts – or otherwise show their knees at “many churches and all Muslim areas in the city” – are also given “skirts.”  (Like the two dumbasses at left.)

So anyway, to get to the airport on time, I got up at 4:00 a.m. and started hiking back to the Haganah train station on Levinsky Street.  (Where I’d just hiked up the previous day.)  But I missed the intersection – “wool-gathering” I suppose – and had to double back.  As it turned out I hiked an hour – with the same 30 pounds of baggage – but got to the train station right about six a.m.

Then the real trouble started…

I got a ticket easily, but only after gashing my left forearm.  (I was rushing to “unpack” at yet another security check-point, just inside the train-station entrance.)  To make the lugging easier I’d tied together the upper arm straps of my pack with a knotted handkerchief, but after a sweaty hour’s walk it got “un-tieable.”  So to get the pack off I had to lift it up over my head, and in the process gashed my forearm.  And got blood all over the upper-leg portion of my jeans.  (I could just hear Israeli security:  “And where have you been to get all that blood all over you?”)

Then I got on the wrong train.  It was on Platform 3, like the ticket guy said, but it ended up going the wrong direction.  The train I got on – at the wrong time, it turned out – went to Lod.  That’s a beautiful city 9.3 miles southeast of Tel Aviv, but it’s not the Ben Gurion airport.

Once I found that out – after finding someone who spoke English – it seemed like forever to get back to the central station.  On the way a friendly uniformed Israeli suggested I take a taxi from the central station; about 65 shekels, or 22 dollars.  I was all set to do that, but getting off the train another Israeli – in blue jeans and flip-flops – fell down right behind me, missing the first step down.  I helped him up and asked if he was all right.  Then he asked if I was trying to get to the airport.  (He probably overheard my plaintive cries for directions somewhere along the way.)

He helped me get on the right train, the 7:09 going in the right direction, so I suppose there’s a lesson there.  Then while waiting for the 7:09 train, two lovely young Israelis in brown uniforms sat next to me while we waited.  (Incidentally, I’d done a lot of praying on the train to and from Lod.)  Then the 7:09 got delayed an extra six or seven minutes, so I got to enjoy their company even longer.  (Another note:  Tel Aviv in general was a nice change from Jerusalem, appreciating-the-opposite-sex-wise.  I.e., there were fewer women all covered up with burkas and such.)

That pleasant “accompaniment” wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t gotten on the wrong train, going the wrong direction, so I suppose there’s a spiritual object lesson lesson there too…

The end result was that despite getting to the airport at 7:35 a.m. – instead of 6:55 like I should have – I got through the numerous layers of the “vaunted Israeli airport security” in plenty of time to get to Gate C-6.  (I had time to relax for 30 or 40 minutes, and finally have some breakfast:  Mango juice and a “lox” croissant.)  And to remember the time I’d just spent in the company of two lovely Israeli Female Soldiers (Not unlike the one shown below, from 1948.)

I’ll be writing more – lots more – on other lessons learned (and experiences experienced) from my pilgrimage to Israel.  But for now it’s enough to enjoy the comforts of home once again.  Here, on the functional equivalent of “my own back doorsteps,” I can – a la  John Steinbeck – finally come to think about all I’ve seen in the last three weeks, then “try to arrange some pattern of thought to accommodate the teeming crowds of my seeing and hearing.”  In other words, to make some sense of all I’ve seen, heard and experienced those last three weeks.

At least until my next pilgrimage, to the Camino Portugues in September…

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A “Haganah female officer in 1948…”

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The upper image is courtesy of St. George’s College Jerusalem Israel – Image Results.  See also Home | Saint George’s College Jerusalem for more on available courses and staff members.  The course in question was “The Palestine of Jesus.”  (See the link at “Home” page.)  Another note: This post is substantially similar to the one on my “spiritual” blog, DOR Scribe – Expand your horizons

Re: Taybeh.  See Taybeh Brewery – Wikipedia, on the “Palestinian brewery founded in 1994[, at] the West Bank village of Taybeh,” 22 miles north of Jerusalem.  “It produced its first beer in 1995 and has since developed a global following.  It is the first microbrewery in the Middle East.”  The other beer available to St. George pilgrims is “Maccabee,” brewed by Tempo Beer Industries “Maccabee (Hebrew: מכבי‎) is a 4.9% ABV pale lager that was first brewed in 1968.  It is distributed in Israel and is also marketed in the United States and Europe.”  I found Maccabee on draft at the LEONARDO MORIA CLASSIC HOTEL, Jerusalem 9 Georges St., a mere four-minute walk from St. George’s.

Re:  Cover-leg skirts.  Ladies are also cautioned not to have bare shoulders or visible cleavage.

Re:  “Vaunted airport security.”  The link is to What To Expect At Israel’s Airport Security. | Bemused Backpacker.  See also Leaving Tel Aviv: My Experience Through Airport Security, or Google “vaunted Israeli airport security.”  Also, I found out the next  morning – Thursday the 30th, at home – that Lod is actually pretty close to Ben Gurion airport.  It’s a little over two miles as the crow flies, but walking the route involves “restricted usage or private roads.”  See also Lod Airport massacre – Wikipedia, about the “terrorist attack [on] May 30, 1972, in which three members of the Japanese Red Army … attacked Lod Airport (now Ben Gurion International Airport) near Tel Aviv.”

Now they tell me!!!

Yet another note:  “Wadie Haddad, the primary organizer of the attack, was assassinated by Mossad in early 1978.”  (Those guys don’t fool around.)

Re:  “Pleasant accompaniment.”  In the sense of “something incidental or added for ornament, symmetry, etc.”  See Definition of Accompaniment at Dictionary.com.  The image is courtesy of Israeli Female Soldier – Image Results.

The Steinbeck reference is to the Penguin Books paperback version of Travels with Charley:  In search of America, detailing his 1960 road trip travelogue, at pages 108-109.  He described the feeling – “like constipation” – of being overwhelmed by his experiences, as in going to the “Uffizi in Florence [or] the Louvre in Paris.”  In yet another memorable passage he made an apt comparison:

Maybe understanding is only possible after.  Years ago when I used to work in the woods it was said of lumber men that they did their logging in the whorehouse and their sex in the woods.  So I have to find my way through the exploding production lines of the Middle West while sitting alone beside a lake in northern Michigan. [Emphasis added.] 

Re:  The Camino Portugués, also called the “Portuguese Way.”  It’s the collective name of the “Camino de Santiago pilgrimage routes starting in Portugal,” beginning in either Porto or Lisbon (My companions and I will be starting in Porto.)  As Wikipedia noted, the Portuguese Way is the “second most popular route after the French Way,” which my Utah brother and I hiked-and-biked in 2017.  See – from October and December, 2017 – “Hola! Buen Camino!” – Revisited, and “Buen Camino!” – The Good PartsA review of the posts shows that some of my pictures got  “screwed up…”  But they’re still good for reference and informational purposes.

The lower image is courtesy of Haganah – Wikipedia.  Caption:  “Haganah female officer in 1948.”  For more on the topic, Google “Israeli women soldiers brown uniform.”  That led me to sites like Pictures of Israeli Female Soldiers In and Out of Uniform, Israeli female soldiers are not afraid to reveal their assets, and 18 Pics Of Hot Israeli Army Girls IDF | Female Supermodel

Remembering the Okefenokee…

An “alligator mississippiensis,” prevalent in the Okefenokee Swamp – where I kayaked – twice

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Okefenokeelocatormap.pngThis May I’ll be making a two-week pilgrimage to Jerusalem (As part of a local church group.)  Which makes this a great time to remember some past pilgrimages.  Like my two separate overnight-camping ventures into the Okefenokee Swamp (Shown at left.)

I wrote of those Okefenokee trips in several posts:  Operation Pogo – “Into the Okefenokee” (11/7/15), “Into the Okefenokee” – Part II (11/15/15), “Into the Okefenokee” – Part III (11/24/15), “There he goes again…” (5/30/16), and “There he goes again” – Revisited (5/31/17).

The original Operation Pogo noted that my fascination with the Okefenokee started – at age 10 or so, back in the 1960s – when I saw the movie Swamp Water, starring Walter Brennan:

The part I remember best was watching Walter Brennan getting bitten in the face by a snake.  In the scene, he kneels over and parts the bulrushes to get a drink. (Of  “swamp water,” while hiding from John Law in the Okefenokee.)  As Walter [kneels], the viewer can see a grinning cottonmouth off to his right.  (The viewer’s left.)  The grinning cottonmouth then proceeds to bite him “right on the cheek.”  I’ve been fascinated ever since…

Part of that fascination also came from the old Pogo comic strip.  (It ran from 1949 to 1975.)  It starred Pogo Possum, was set in the Okefenokee, and featured “social and political satire through the adventures of its anthropomorphic funny animal characters:”

Pogo is set in the Georgia section of the Okefenokee Swamp;  Fort Mudge and Waycross are occasionally mentioned.  The characters live, for the most part, in hollow trees amidst lushly rendered backdrops of North American wetlands, bayous, lagoons and backwoods.

Also, note that my original “Pogo” post was very long.  It clocked in at over 1,600 words in the main text, and over 2,000 words including the notes.  Since then I’ve cut down on blog-post wordage, mostly because the average reader has the attention span of a gerbil.  (You could Google “ideal number of words for a blog post.”  One site – Forbes – said that for one thing, “most people only read between 20% to 28% of a post” anyway…)

1445698042386Revisited” noted my second fun trip into the Okefenokee, from the west entrance into the Okefenokee east of Fargo, Georgia (In the “tagalong” combo at right;  a kayak with a rubber dinghy trailing behind.)  “Among other things I saw some fifty alligators during the first hour of paddling.”  After that I stopped counting…

I camped at the CANAL RUN shelter, “some nine miles in from the Foster State Park launch site.”  And … because it was so early in the season the canoe-only trails were much vegetated-over.  Which meant that many times I had to “butt-scootch” my kayak over a barely-sunken log, and sometimes had to stick my hand out, grab another log and finish pulling the kayak [over].  The last time I reached my left hand out I saw a patch of white.  It turned out to be yet another gator … “smiling” nicely at what he no doubt thought was a tasty new snack.

In case I’m being too subtle, that “tasty new snack” would have been my left hand.

And speaking of “pilgrimages” – and why I do things like camp overnight in the Okefenokee (twice) and fly to places like Jerusalem:  I addressed that topic in my companion blog.  See for example, On St. James, Steinbeck, and sluts (The “sluts” came from Robert Louis Stevenson.)

That post noted that on a true pilgrimage – usually by and through such things as “the raw experience of hunger, cold, lack of sleep” – we can quite often “find a sense of our fragility as mere human beings.”  (And to that might be added, mosquitoes, snakes and great numbers of alligators.)  The post added that a true pilgrimage can be “one of the most chastening, but also one of the most liberating” of personal experiences.

I certainly felt “chastened” at almost having my left hand chomped by a “smiling” gator.

1445624973384And speaking of being chastened:  “One thing I learned is that – in the Okefenokee – there are precious few places to stop and take a break…  The shelters – for day use or overnight – are few and far between.  As a result, the ol’ keister got extremely sore by the end of the second day.  (Not to mention blisters on my palms…)”  That is, in this swamp there are few “shores” to speak of.  Just a “line of reeds that an alligator can mash down.”  And where a wandering kayaker – for example – steps off at his own peril, as shown above left.

Also, one time I was paddling through a very narrow canal when I saw a big bull gator – who eventually submerged. This was on the canoe trail to Monkey Lake.  As I paddled over the water where the gator had been, I could swear he came up and nudged the bottom of my kayak.  I figured it was an accident, at least the first time.  (But the second time?)

That added some spice to the trip.

Then there was the time I miscalculated my canoe-speed, and ended up paddling – late in the dark of night – through what seemed like miles of water lilies.  (Well after 8:00 p.m., as noted in Okefenokee … Part III.)  Which led me to think, as I paddled through the swamp in the dark:  “That Monet guy can take his stinkin’ water lilies andstick ‘em where the sun don’t shine.’”

That is, the canoe only trail to the Cedar Hammock Shelter is – or was – loaded with water lilies…

I discovered a nasty thing about water lilies.  They’re hard enough to paddle through during the day, when you can see what you’re doing…  [But] in a kayak – in the dark and in a hurry – your paddle tends to grab great wads of swamp weed.  Then the paddle tosses the soggy lily-entrails – wet and cold – all about your head and shoulders.

But such are the things that make for a great pilgrimage!  (At least in hindsight…)

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SwampWaterPoster.jpg

Poster for the 1941 film, Swamp Water.

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The upper image is courtesy of Alligator – Wikipedia.  The caption:  “American alligator (A. mississippiensis).”  For more on the upcoming two-week pilgrimage, see “On to Jerusalem!”!”

Pogo - Earth Day 1971 poster.jpgRe:  “Pogo,” running from 1949 to 1975.  Cartoonist Walt Kelly (1913–1973) fell ill in 1972, and was unable to continue the strip.  The strip continued for a short time with reprints, and cartoons from other artists.  But Kelly’s widow ultimately decided to discontinue the strip “because newspapers had shrunk the size of strips to the point where people could not easily read it.”  Also, one of the reasons I liked the strip was because – in hindsight – it seems rather prescient, as seen at left.

I took the photograph of the alligator basking on the “line of reeds.”  (From a safe distance.)

The lower image is courtesy of Swamp Water – Wikipedia.  That article noted the 1941 Jean Renoir film “starring Walter Brennan and Walter Huston, produced at 20th Century Fox, and based on the novel by Vereen Bell.  The film was shot on location at Okefenokee SwampWaycross, Georgia, USA.  This was Renoir’s first American film.  The movie was remade in 1952 as Lure of the Wilderness, directed by Jean Negulesco.”

Remembering the “Chilkoot &^%$# Trail!”

The “Chilkoot Trail” isn’t really a trail, it’s just “one big pile of &%#@ rocks after another!!!

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Back in 2016, my brother, nephew and I hiked the Chilkoot Trail.  People call it “the meanest 33 miles in history,” and I found out why – the hard way.  After that adventure, my nephew – just out of the Army – headed back east to start the fall term at Penn State.  My brother and I went on to take two canoes “up” the Yukon River – paddling 440 miles in 12 days.

Once back home I posted “Naked lady on the Yukon,” on August 28, 2016.  (The events of that trip were still fresh in my mind, for one reason or another.)  I later posted Chilkoot &^%$# Trail! – Part 1 and Chilkoot &^%$# Trail! – Part 2, on September 7, 2016.

I guess I’ll have to revisit “Naked lady” in more depth later on. (Deep sigh.)  But for now it’s enough  to say:

I just got back from two weeks canoeing the Yukon River…  And the “mighty Yukon” is the last place on earth I would expect to see a [naked] lady sun bathing.  But one moment, out of nowhere, there she was…

You can see the full story in the 8/28/16 post.  But for the metaphorical lead picture above left, you’ll have to imagine no sand.  “(And no ‘Bikini Bottom,’ for that matter.)”

Which brings us back to the “Chilkoot &^%$# Trail!”

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The “Chilkoot” starts in Dyea, Alaska.  And Dyea is pronounced “DIe-eeee,” maybe prophetically.  (Like, “that’s what you feel like doing once you get on the &$%# Trail!”)  It ends in Bennett, British Columbia.  That’s where you end up waiting, a long afternoon, with other hikers who’ve shared your ordeal. (Of four days or more.)  There’s only one train, at 3:15 in the afternoon, so all the footsore hikers get a chance to sit on something besides rocks, and pitch their tents to dry out.

Which brings up the fact that the number of hikers is strictly limited; you have to get a special permit to even start.  And they keep track of who gets where and when.

Like on the second afternoon – on the way to “Happy Camp,” seen in part at right.  That late afternoon I was “dragging tail” and the light started fading, so a nice lady ranger came out to help me, along with a nice husky young gent who carried my pack the rest of the way.*

That’s when I experienced the phantom pack phenomenon.  It’s not unlike the “phantom limb” sensation, but leaves you weaving and rolling like a drunken sailor.

That was one time I got to “if I could have cried I would.”  (Hey, I’m secure in my masculinity.)  

Another thing:  The nice lady ranger felt so bad for me she let us three stay in her private facility – the one above right – which meant we didn’t have to pitch our tents in the dark.  (She also gave us juice boxes, like “heaven on earth.”  I could have sworn they were raisin juice, but my older brother later said raisins are just dried-up grapes. It may have been the delirium, or the relief…)

Another excuse?  “Hiking the Chilkoot Trail is sheer torture for someone – like me – with only one good eye and and thus no depth perception.”  (For more detail see the February 2017 post, On that nail in my right eye.)  So my word of advice:  If you have only one good eye and no depth perception, take it slow and easy, and be ready to let the other hikers pass you by.

More good advice:  Anyone hiking the trail is advised that if they have to get airlifted out – like for a twisted ankle or such – the cost will be a cool $28,000.00.  Which brings up another point rangers make in the process of getting your permit to hike the trail:  Watch out for the bears!

A historical note:  The Chilkoot’s claim to fame started with the Klondike Gold Rush of 1896–99.  That “transformed the Chilkoot Trail into a mainstream transportation route to Canada’s interior.”  Also, the only other route to the gold fields was through White Pass.  (Up to 1899, when a railroad was built from Skagway to the Yukon.)   So which route was better?  Pioneer Mont Hawthorne said there wasn’t much difference:  “One’s hell.  The other’s damnation.”

13 Dead Horse GulchAnother side note:  White Pass was also called “Dead Horse Trail,” apparently renamed by Jack London:  “Nearly 3,000 pack animals died.  Drivers rushing over the pass had little concern for beasts.  Exhausted horses starved, were hurt on rough ground, became mired in mud and fell over cliffs.”

Which also gives you a feel for “hiking the Chilkoot.”

Which in turn brings up the question:  Why the hell would you do such a thing?

One answer can be seen in a post from my companion blog, On St. James, Steinbeck, and sluts.  It spoke in part of the “value of such pilgrimages in general.”  For example:

We were speaking of pilgrimages.  More to the point, of why an otherwise-relatively-sane 65-year-old [at the time] would either hike the Chilkoot Trail or spend 12 days canoeing 440 miles on the Yukon River.  That of course brings up St. James the Greater

And James is the Patron Saint of Pilgrims.  On that note, the post cited the book Passages of the Soul: Ritual Today. (James Roose-Evans.)  It said a pilgrimage – like a 12-day canoe trip on the Yukon or a “hike” on the Chilkoot &$%# Trail – “may be described as a ritual on the move.”

Further, the book said that through “the raw experience of hunger, cold, lack of sleep,” we can often find a sense of our fragility as mere human beings.  (And that’s especially true when the “majesty and permanence” of God’s creation included “all those &$%# rocks!”)

Finally, the book noted that such a pilgrimage – such ritual on the move – can be “one of the most chastening, but also one of the most liberating” of personal experiences.

I certainly felt “chastened” after we got back to Skagway from the Chilkoot Trail.  (Although the 10-of-12 beers that my nephew and I shared – of the two six-packs I bought – helped a lot too…)  But as I said in I pity the fool, “I pity the fool who doesn’t do pilgrimages and otherwise push the envelope, even at the advance stage of his life.”

Besides, my Chilkoot Trail experience made the Happy Camp “raisin juice” taste great!!!

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To repeat, the Chilkoot Trail is just “one big pile of &%#@ rocks after another!!!

(And this is one of the smooth parts…)

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The upper image is courtesy of Chilkoot Trail – Image Results.  From a post, “What the Chilkoot Trail Taught Me about Leadership – Pt. 6,” posted on , “b.”  A highlight:

We endured miserable weather throughout the day – cold, rainy and very windy…  At times, especially hiking up to and down from the summit I was quite frightened as I was afraid we would either be blown off the mountain or slip careening down the mountain.

I knew the feeling…  Also, this review-post borrowed liberally from On the Chilkoot &^%$# Trail! – Part 1 and Chilkoot &^%$# Trail! – Part 2.  

Re:  “Up” the Yukon River.  Like the Nile River, the Yukon flows north, which makes it unusual.

Re:  “Husky young gent who carried my pack the rest of the way.”  My brother and just-out-of-the-Army nephew also took turns carrying my pack part of the way to “Happy Camp.”  

Re:  “But as I said in I pity the fool…”  There followed a loose translation of Ralph Waldo Emerson‘s saying, “Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist.”

Re:  The book Passages of the Soul: Ritual Today.  The book also noted that a healthy sense of ritual “should pervade a healthy society, and that a big problem now is that we’ve abandoned many rituals that used to help us deal with big change and major trauma.”

Re:  The negative tone of this post.  My brother thought my post “Hola! Buen Camino!” – Revisited was also too negative; too “complaining” in general.  So I posted “Buen Camino!” – The Good Parts.  

Some people reading “Hola! Buen Camino” might think I had a lousy time in my five weeks hiking the Camino de Santiago in Spain.  For example, there was my comment on the first 10 days – after starting in Pamplona – being “pretty miserable.  My left foot constantly throbbed, until it blistered up and got tough…”  But there were lots of good things that happened during those 30 days on the Camino…

But “fun stuff doesn’t make for good drama.”  See What Elements Make for [Good Drama]?

If your drama doesn’t have a juicy, complex, emotional, heart-wrenching, personal, intelligent, connectable role for an actor – it’s dead in the water.  And as a side note, don’t be afraid to inject some comedy into your dramatic scenes.  Except for Schindler’s List, every single drama listed above has more than one moment of levity.  However, there is one thing that every good drama needs no matter what the story is.  It’s more than a trend – it’s the mandatory ingredient – CONFLICT.  Drama is based on conflict.  And not just any conflict, but one that is powerful, relatable, and complex enough to propel a story forward… 

And BTW:  That hike on the Camino de Santiago in Spain took place in the fall of 2017.

The lower image is courtesy of Chilkoot Trail National Historic Site – Parks Canada:  “The Chilkoot Trail is a 53 kilometre / 33 mile trip through history and one of North America’s most fabled treks. The trail crosses the international boundary between the United States and Canada and is co-operatively managed by Parks Canada and the US National Park Service.”