Category Archives: Travelogs

Countdown to Paris – 2021!

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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.)

That’s 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:

If all goes according to plan, I’ll be arriving in Paris – at De Gaulle airport – early on the morning of Thursday, next August 26. From there I’ll take the RER Train B to the Gare du Nord. (18 Rue de Dunkerque.) Then out the exit past the Starbucks, and take a left and onto Rue la Fayette. (Small world. I live in Fayetteville, in Fayette County, Georgia.)

From there I’ll hike a mile or so to my two-night’s lodging. (Before joining the trio I’m meeting on the 28th, at a swanky hotel near Notre Dame, before heading south to hike over the Pyrenees.) On that mile hike I hope to stop for my first iced coffee of the day, at “McDonald’s Stalingrad.” (So-called because it’s adjacent to the “Place de la Bataille de Stalingrad.”)

And by the way, all this is part of a plan to hike the Camino de Santiago yet again.

For the third time, actually. In 2017 my brother Tom and I hiked the Camino Francés, or French Way. Or Tom did, in the purest sense. That’s because the Camino Francés starts at Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port on the French side of the Pyrenees. (To Roncesvalles, in Spain.) The problem for me was that I’d had enough mountain hiking the year before, when we hiked the Chilkoot Trail, as detailed in the notes. And that trail – from Dyea, Alaska to Bennett, British Columbia – is called “the meanest 33 miles in history.” And I found out why, the hard way.

And so in 2017 Tom flew into Paris, while I flew into Madrid, then took a train up to Pamplona to meet him. (After he had hiked over the Pyrenees.) And had a miserable time, partly because of some nasty weather but also because he opted – for the first and last time in his adult life – to stay in one of those dormitory-style lodgings the Camino is famous for…

But we digress. I was talking about flying into Paris, to join up with the trio I’m meeting on the 28th – “before heading south to hike to over the Pyrenees.” That trio includes Tom and his wife Carol. (With both of whom I hiked the Camino Portugués, or the Portuguese Way, in 2019, as also detailed in the notes.) But this time I’ll be part of a group of four, including Tom, Carol, and Carol’s brother Ray. (Who will be hiking the Camino for the first time.)

Which brings us back to the Pyrenees, as shown at the bottom of the page.

It’s bothered me, ever since 2017, that I didn’t have the nerve to hike up and over those daunting Pyrenees mountains. And so I now feel the need to finish that “unfinished business.” And that’s in spite of the 2010 film, The Way, starring Martin Sheen. The central premise of the film is that an old, out of shape Beverly Hills eye doctor “goes to France following the death of his adult son, Daniel, killed in the Pyrenees during a storm while walking the Camino de Santiago (the Way of St. James), a Christian pilgrimage route.”

And this old, out of shape Beverly Hills eye doctor didn’t just go to France. On the spur of the moment and without a minute’s training or preparation, this Old Geezer decides to hike the entire 500 miles to Santiago. (I think they call that artistic license.) Which is another way of saying that interesting fictional characters do things no one in “their” right mind would do. (Like Sheen’s character in the film sitting on a bridge and taking off his pack, only to see it fall into the river below and float away. Or leave his pack unattended, to be stolen by a young gypsy.)

But then again, some would say hiking over the Pyrenees is something no one in his right mind would ever do. Which brings up the recent story, Human remains found in Pyrenees confirmed as those of missing hiker Esther Dingley. “Ms Dingley, 37, had been walking solo in the mountains near the Spanish and French border and was last seen on Nov 22 last year.” The story added that there was “no sign of equipment or clothing in the immediate area … and the details of what happened and where still remain unknown.”

Which in turn brings up the old saying, “Never hike alone.” And I won’t be hiking alone…

Then again, I probably wouldn’t be flying over to Paris this year if not for Tom’s suggestion. Or Carol’s actually, since she hasn’t hiked the Camino Francés (French Way), but did get a kick out of hiking the Portuguese Way. (Starting in Porto, Portugal – home of Port wine – back up to Santiago from the south.) Which brings up another point.

Since I’ve hiked to Santiago twice now, and get nervous away from home more than a month, I won’t be going the whole way. I’ll hike over the Pyrenees, and get that off my List of Things to Finish. Then through Pamplona, over to Burgos, where I’ll part ways. As the rest of the group goes on for another 29 days of hiking – with days off at intervals – I’ll take the train back to Madrid. And spend some more quality time there, possibly visiting the Prado again.

But first comes Paris.

As I write this, I’m making a list of things to do in my four days in Paris. Two of those days I’ll be on my own; the other two I’ll join the group at a Swanky Hotel across the Seine from the Cathedral of Notre Dame. (Or what’s left of it.) But there is one place on the outskirts that I definitely want to visit. (Via Metro.) As I recently learned, Choisy-le-Roi is where Henry Kissinger conducted secret negotiations with Le Duc Tho to end the Vietnam war, in 1972.

But back in 1979 it was also home to a youth hostel, and on the grounds of that hostel I and a young lady named Janine camped in a little tent, between the Seine and Marne Rivers. With the moonlight shining through the tent flap… (Can you say, “romantic interlude?”)

Google Maps says that hostel isn’t there any more, and I’d like to find out what happened…

Some things ARE sacred, you know!

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Central pyrenees.jpg

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The upper image is courtesy of Paris City Of Love Image – Image Results. It came with an article, from “travelfeatured.com,” which for some reason I couldn’t latch onto. But you could search “paris city of love and lights.”

For more on the 2017 “French Way” hike, see Training for the Camino, “Hola! Buen Camino!” – Revisited, and “Buen Camino!” – The Good Parts.

For more on the 2016 mountain hike, see Remembering the “Chilkoot &^%$# Trail!” With links to two earlier posts.

For more on the 2019 Camino hike, see “Greetings from the Portuguese Camino,” Here’s that second post on the Portuguese Camino, and “They sell beer at the McDonald’s in Portugal!”

Re: “Never hike alone.” The link is to 11 Reasons Why Hiking Alone Is Actually A Bad Idea, as opposed to “Never Hike Alone,” the Friday The 13th film created by Womp Stomp Films. (Never Hike Alone | Friday the 13th Wiki | Fandom.)

For more on the secret negotiations in Choisy-le-Roi, see KISSINGER MEETS THO FOR 4 HOURS – The New York Times, December 5, 1972. Or search “choisy-le roi secret negotiations kissinger duc tho.”

Re: My visiting Choisy-le-Roi. Google Maps indicate that I have a choice of Metro stations. I could get off at the Ivry-sur-Seine station, then walk due east across the Pont-d’Ivry bridge, toward the Gendarmerie Nationale. Then from that area – where the youth hostel used to be – head back west over the Port à l’Anglais Bridge. Unfortunately the whole area now looks extremely built up, with what appears to be an interstate-like cloverleaf where highways A86 and D19 intersect.

The lower image is courtesy of Pyrenees Mountains Image – Image Results.

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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 69-year-old “WASP” – White Anglo-Saxon Protestant – and live in north Georgia.  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.

On “Re-living the Florida life-style…”

 

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For some reason this April 2021 post is now a main page when you Google “georgiawasp.” The notes give more detail, but there is a newer post,Recalling Week 8 of the COVID shut-down, above right. I’ve tried working on the problem, but without success. In the meantime, this glitch* seems to be something I and the reader will have to live with…

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(Another note: In the original post I had a photo that I took, along with a caption describing a big part of my recent visit to Florida: “Can you say cheek by jowl? Except for the undeveloped lot…”

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Two weeks ago I drove “back” down to Florida…

Specifically, “back” down to the Kissimmee-Poinciana area. My “brother from Utah” – who now lives in Massachusetts* – went down to check out some investment property. So, he and his lovely wife rented a condo for a week, and they invited me to come down and join them for a visit. (Along with my brother from Peachtree City and his lovely wife.)

The thing is, I lived in Florida for 54 of my soon-to-be 70 years.* And didn’t realize how much I would not miss living there until I finally left. (With “strong urging” from my ex-wife.) Which means I got a chance to “re-live the Florida lifestyle.” And for me, four days was enough.

Which brings up cheek by jowl… That refers to the property my brother and sister-in-law inspected on Wednesday morning, April 14. They’d made a tentative offer* on the place and wanted to check it out. (I was scheduled to leave for home that very day, after lunch, having arrived the previous Sunday evening, as described below.)

The four days’ experience gave me a strong sense of “deja vu all over again.” To ee what I mean, go to Google Maps and put in “poinciana fl Secure Connections.” That’s a security business in the area, and if you focus a bit you can see what I mean by “cheek by jowl.”

That is, you’ll notice the streets in that area of Poinciana all have “themes.” In this case, lots of bird names like Hawk, Pelican and Parrot. You’ll also notice there are very few undeveloped lots in the area. The one shown above left is an anomaly. For the time being anyway…

Then you can go to “RJ Automotive Repair Shop,” at 12201 Seminole Boulevard, in Largo, Florida. That’s the area I grew up in – and lived in – those 51 of almost-70 years.* You’ll see the same “cheek by jowl” set of ticky-tacky houses all jammed together. (On the other hand, when we first moved down there in 1956, the area was mostly orange and grapefruit groves. That is, the area north of 12210 106th Street, and from what is now 105th Street down to that big lake; Lake Seminole.) For that matter, each house lot in the block – back in 1956 – had three grapefruit trees in the front yard and another three in the back…

But we’re digressing here. The point is that by the time I left Pinellas County, in late 2009, the area was a nightmare of traffic, not to mention the crowded living and “hot muggy weather.”

But I’m not alone in feeling that way. See for example, What is Living In Florida Really Like – Moving To Florida. The article describes three phases, or sets of feelings of people who move there. First comes the initial “honeymoon period,” which can last from three months to two years. Then comes an in-between period, from four months up to five years. Then finally comes the third phase, realizing “what living in Florida is really like.” (From people who’ve lived there “for many years.”) There are some unanticipated negatives “never mentioned in the glossy promo brochures.” They include: 1) learning to live mostly indoors “to avoid sunburn and the hot muggy weather,” and 2) having to maintain your pool, because otherwise “the Florida sun will turn a pool into a thick pea-green soup in days if maintenance is not kept up:”

At this point you are either in the group that has avoided or stopped doing things you loved outdoors altogether because of the hot muggy weather and will eventually leave the state … or you’re stuck because there’s no way you can afford to move out.

Or unless you are “forced” to leave the state as part of a nasty divorce proceeding. (Which turned out to be a blessing in disguise. “Thank you Jesus!” And I really mean it.)

laketohoBut to be honest, in April – at least – some parts of Florida aren’t too bad. I ended up doing three kayaking trips on Lake Tohopekaliga. (At right.) I set out for my  first kayaking – 90 minutes or so – from Big Toho Marina, on the north end of the lake. I wrote later, “It’s a big-ass lake, some 22,000 acres, about the size of Lake Oconee in GA, and four times the size of Lake MacIntosh” in Peachtree City. “Fortunately the locals refer to it as ‘Lake Toho.’ As in ‘Big Toho Marina,’ where I finally found a boat ramp.” (It took awhile to find a put-in that first early-Monday-morning.)

The next day – Tuesday, April 13 – I did two trips. The first was out of the Big Toho Marina, again. Then after a snack and bladder break, I went out for a second kayaking, this time out of the Granada Public boat ramp. (South of Kissimmee and about at mid-lake of “Lake Toho.”)

Then on the way home – Thursday, April 15, after a traffic-choked drive heading north by west over to Chiefland – I kayaked an hour or so on the Suwannee River. I had planned to put in Friday morning at the free park right by the water in Fanning Springs, but here’s a traveler’s alert.* That “free park” is now closed; to put in there I’d have to go next door into Fanning Springs State Park, which charges six dollars “per vehicle.” So I said the heck with that, and – with the Google app on my phone – I found the Log Landing public boat ramp. It’s 14 miles and some 20 minutes north of Fanning Springs, via County Road 341. And had a pleasant paddle… 

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So all in all it was a pleasant four days. it was nice being with family again, exchanging memories from long ago, and occasionally hearing a family secret I didn’t know before. And the kayaking itself was a great change of pace from the three kayakable lakes around Peachtree City. Still – and as Thomas Wolfe once wrote – “You Can’t Go Home Again.” The question is, what happens when you don’t want to “go home?” When you don’t want to go back and revisit all the trials and tribulations you had to go through to get where you are today? When right now you’re “turning 70 in 2021* – and still think the best is yet to come?”

Besides, who’d want to exchange the cheek by jowl living-in-Florida for your own private God’s Little Acre, amid the piney woodlands 20 minutes east of Peachtree City? And where you have your own private mini-herd of deer, coming through your yard in the mornings?

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The “fuller story” on the glitch is below, at the bottom of these notes. 

I took the photos for this post, of which one survived. In the original post I added, “Hopefully they’ll stay in this post,” but it was not to be. The platform photo gallery somehow lost or deleted my uploaded photos. (The photo at the bottom of the main text showed “my” herd of deer recently grazing in the front lawn, captioned, “It was so good to get back to my God’s Little Acre in the Georgia woods.”) Which means I’ll have to do some tweaking…

Re: Brother “who now lives in Massachusetts.” He’s the one I have travel adventures with, like on 2019’s “Camino” trip. (Click on the Travelogs link at right.) He recently moved to Massachusetts – at the strong urging of his lovely wife – to be nearer to their new grandson, “Little Ben.”

Re: “54 of my soon-to-be-70 years.” The family left our chicken farm in rural Bucks County PA in 1959, when I was five. I lived in Pinellas County for all but three of the next 59 years; I spent three years going to law school (1981-1984) in Tallahassee.

Re: Tentative offer. The seller accepted the offer. Which meant that after driving back to Massachusetts at the end of the week, my brother and sister-in-law packed up their fixer-upper tools, then drove back down to Florida to get the property ready to rent out. 

Re: You Can’t Go Home AgainWikipedia noted the title is reinforced in the novel’s denouement:

“You can’t go back home to your family, back home to your childhood … back home to a young man’s dreams of glory and of fame … back home to places in the country, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time – back home to the escapes of Time and Memory.” (Ellipses in original.)

Re: “Turning 70 in 2021 – and still thinking the best is yet to come.” That’s the title of my next e-book. (Which I have to finish soon, since turning 70 is like losing your virginity. “You can only do it once!”)

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Re: The “foul-up” or glitch resulting in this old (March 2021) post being made so prominent right now. Maybe it’s a sign from God? See for example Sign From God Meme – Image Results, including the one featuring various church billboards, including the one billboard saying, “Well, you did ask for a sign.”

Then too, the problem seems to be more of a “bug” than a glitch. See Wikipedia:

A glitch, which is slight and often temporary, differs from a more serious bug which is a genuine functionality-breaking problem. Alex Pieschel, writing for Arcade Review, said: “‘bug’ is often cast as the weightier and more blameworthy pejorative, while ‘glitch’ suggests something more mysterious and unknowable…

Also on the not-up-to-date main page: Here’s the original note, when the April | 2020 | The Georgia Wasp started coming up as the main page. Here’s the note I wrote for that SNAFU:

I have no idea why this old post – from April 2020 – comes up as the main page when you Google “georgiawasp.” Something happened on the evening of April 3, 2021, and I’m not sure what. I was writing up the new post, Revisiting March 2020, that I finally published on Easter Sunday, April 4, 2021…

For other more-recent posts, click on the highest-up link under “RECENT POSTS,” above right. 

On “(Some of) My Adventures in Old Age…”

To see more images of the “meanest 33 miles in history,” go to Chilkoot Trail – Image Results

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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 him a  “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.” (For his work on the Israelite.)

That’s 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:

(Some of) My Adventures in Old Age: Or, “How NICE it was to travel, before COVID” by [James B. Ford]I just published a new E-book(Some of) My Adventures in Old Age. (“OrHow NICE it was to travel, before COVID.'”) It’s published under my nom de plume, “James B. Ford.” The cover photo – at right – shows me in Jerusalem in May 2019, wearing a “shemagh.” Also called a keffiyeh, I got it at Ranger Joe’s in Ft. Benning before leaving for Israel. (To “blend in.”) I’m wearing it over my black Atlanta United ball cap, thus “blending in” the best of the old and new.

In the blurb I wrote for Amazon Kindle eBooks, I said this book should be timely – “in the middle of our Covid-19 pandemic” – because right now “lots of Americans can only dream about visiting such exotic locales in the future, when the crisis passes.”

I compared it to the 1920s and ‘30s, when so many Americans were fascinated by Hemingway’s books on France and Spain. (Like “The Sun Also Rises ” and “A Moveable Feast.”)

I’m guessing part of it was that back then most Americans could only DREAM of travel to such exotic places. (Like today with Covid…) Then too it may be because Hemingway gave all those exotic street names and local pubs and restaurants. Like my finding the “BEERBAZAAR,” in Jerusalem, in May 2019. Which makes me think I should have written down way more information when I was “over there.” Then I could do more what Hemingway did, vivid description. But I have something Hemingway didn’t have. GOOGLE MAPS!

Then too – aside from my May 2019 pilgrimage to Israel – the book includes chapters on hiking the Chilkoot Trail in 2016. (“Meanest 33 miles in history,” exemplified by the top photo.) Or hiking the Camino de Santiago, twice. The first time was in 2017. I met my brother in Pamplona – home of Hemingway’s Café Iruna – and together we hiked (and biked) the 450 miles to Santiago de Compostela. (He flew into Paris and hiked over the Pyrenees, but the Chilkoot Trail had cured me of any such wishes to go hiking over mountains again so soon.)

Incidentally, the last two chapters of the book are based on my last two posts, Here’s that second post on the Portuguese Camino, and “They sell beer at the McDonald’s in Portugal!”

That last post was really long – “Word count 3450” – or three thousand four hundred fifty words. Mostly because I had a lot to fit in, but to balance things out I’ll make this post shorter. The upshot is that I wrote about a lot of great adventures, but still had more to write about. Plus those I did cover I didn’t do full justice to. (Which reminds me of the joke about the Southern lady talking to a Northern lady and ending a sentence with a preposition.*)

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There’s more on that later, but first a couple production notes on the E-book. First off, you’ll notice that on page 6 of the Introduction – right after the paragraph beginning “May 28, 2019, Tel Aviv” – the line spacing goes all kerflooey. From justified it goes to non-justified text, and the line spacing gets wider. It goes back to normal for the next one-line paragraph – “Then the COVID hit” – but the text stays non-justified through near the  middle of the next page. (It says page 6 again; there are apparently two “page 6’s.”) Then it goes back to justified text.

I tried correcting it, uploading a second and ostensibly-corrected Word document, but it stayed the same, kerflooey for a page or two. Another note: I had the “Observations” at the end of many chapters in italics and non-justified, as well as the notes at the end of the book. The program made all those justified type. And for the paperback version the publishing program required a minimum of 100 pages, so I had to add four pages to the original 96.

So I’ll try to upload a corrected version, with the additional four pages and with a proper note at the very end as to where to buy a paperback version. I’ll let you know how it goes…

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Meanwhile, back to the subject of the book not doing justice to all my adventures…

For one example, as to the Portuguese Camino hike: I only got “us” as far as the Casa Límia in Ponte de Lima. That’s only about a third of the way up to Santiago de Compostela. Then too I could only provide limited coverage of my pilgrimage to Israel, which I last covered in This time last year – in Jerusalem, in May 2020. And by the way, that post has a lot of those “image may contain” boxes, that used to be pictures I posted, to make the posts more interesting. And which in turn is a problem I address in the book. And that’s why I now use lead captions like “To see more images of the ‘meanest 33 miles in history,’ go to Chilkoot Trail – Image Results.” That makes it much easier to transmogrify these blog-posts into future picture-less book chapters.

And about that Jerusalem trip. I described the Leonardo Moria Hotel, a short walk from St. George’s Pilgrim Guest House, with a lounge sometimes functioning as a piano bar. (Once even having a yarmulke-topped pianist playing the Chicken Dance.) That turned out to be a favorite watering hole, not just for me but eventually many of my fellow pilgrims at St. George’s. (One night, for a birthday, “we” had 17 pilgrims there. I should have gotten a commission…)

So one point of this “limited coverage” business is that in the future I’ll have to do at least one Sequel. (Tentatively titled “(More of) My Adventures in Old Age.”) In it I hope to add more oversea-travel adventures, including a return to St. George’s. (Once we kick COVID’s ass.)

Stay tuned!!!

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The upper image is courtesy of Chilkoot Trail – Image Results. See also Explore the Chilkoot Trail – Klondike Gold RushThe lower image is courtesy of St George’s College Jerusalem – Image Results

Re: “Joke about the Southern lady.” Or it could be a “snobbish English teacher.” See Ending a sentence with a preposition. : Jokes: “A snobbish English teacher was sitting in an Atlanta airport coffee shop waiting for her flight back to Connecticut, when a friendly Southern Belle sat down next to her. ‘Where y’all goin’ to?’ asked the Southern Belle. Turning her nose in the air, the snob replied ‘I don’t answer people who end their sentences with prepositions.’ The Southern Belle thought a moment, and tried again. ‘Where y’all goin’ to, BITCH?'” The way I heard was, “So where y’all from?” And the Southern lady eventually thinking a bit, then sayin, “Okay, so where y’all from, bitch?”

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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 69-year-old “WASP” – White Anglo-Saxon Protestant – and live in north Georgia.  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.

“They sell beer at the McDonald’s in Portugal!”

For more images of the Portuguese Way – my last (2019) hiking adventure –  see Wikipedia

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I’m putting together a new book, and this will be the last chapter. (Chapter 14.) The book – “(Some of) My Adventures in Old Age” – will end with an episode from my last overseas adventure. The last chapter will be, “They sell beer at the McDonald’s in Portugal!”

Which I thought pretty noteworthy.

That was back in September 2019.That’s when my brother, his wife and I hiked the Portuguese Camino. So this post (chapter) continues my last post on the hike: Here’s that second post on the Portuguese Camino. (Chapter 13 in the book.) And incidentally, the photo atop the page shows the “Douro river and Dom Luís Bridge,” near sunset. (Courtesy of Wikipedia.) The morning we left Porto we hiked west, right under that same Dom Luis Bridge.

We were headed off on a 150-mile (or so) hike to Santiago, partly by way of the Coastal Camino Route. That’s the “stunning and very scenic alternative route to the classic Portuguese Camino. Starting in colorful UNESCO-listed Porto this Camino trail will take you to charming seaside towns and villages in Northern Portugal, along the superb Atlantic Coast.”

But of course – being generally “contrary” – we only went part way up the Coastal Route. We left Porto Monday, September 2. We hiked the Coastal Route for two days and got to Vila do Conde the afternoon of Tuesday, September 3. From there we “shunted over to the main Portuguese Route and headed north from there,” that is, north from Barcelos.  

My last post – “Second Portuguese” – gave an overview of the trip, noting how we got up as far as Ponte de Lima. And again, that’s about a third of the way up to Santiago. For this “chapter” – blog post – I’ll quote some Facebook posts I did on the way. (At or near the event in question.)

And again, I’ll end this book with the dramatic discovery, “they sell beer at the McDonald’s in Portugal!” Which is something I didn’t learn until we got to the “McDonald’s – Ponte de Lima.” So as in “Greetings from the Portuguese Camino,” I’ll end this chapter at Ponte de Lima.

Which means I’ll have to write at least one sequel…

So, to “start at the very beginning, a very good place to start,” here’s a list of the days and dates in question, beginning with the day we left Porto:

Monday, September 2: First day, from Porto to Cabo do Mundo, we hiked nine miles, to Casa Velha. (10.8 miles according to Tom’s calculations.) Early in the morning I wrote, “Today we left Porto behind, kinda. Our first stop came 90 minutes and three and a half miles from our start at the Cathedral. [I had] OJ and a very rich, chocolatey [dessert-like] thing. I figured I earned it.”

We hiked west along the Douro, on the Porto side, then hit the Atlantic and swung north. It’s a less traveled scenic alternative to the main Camino Portuguese. “Lots of beachside resorts, bathing beauties, and of course some old pot-bellied guys in speedos.”

I took a picture of the boardwalk section, winding along the shore, then posted:

First days hike is history. West through Porto – with shady spots and sidewalk cafes – and out to the coast. Then north. Made Cabo do Mundo, 10.8 miles. Nothing too sore. Good first hike.

Tuesday, September 3: The second day we hiked 10.2 miles to Vila do Conde, and the Hotel Brazao. I took pictures of the morning and early afternoon beachside, much of it along a boardwalk. Once we reached Vila do Conde, we left the Coastal Route and started heading east and north, over towards the main Camino Portuguese. I wrote, “Near the end of the day we negotiated a closed-in foresty place, with a narrow two-lane cobblestone road with LOTS of cars whizzing by, on the way to Vila do Conde.”

The following morning, September 4, I posted:

Good morning from Vila do Conde, Portugal. Yesterday we hiked 10.2 miles, from Cabo do Mundo to Vila do Conde. The pictures show the last stretch before we got to the bridge into town. No more beachside vistas, we’re on the main Camino now, not the scenic side route. Today a mere six miles, so we’re pillaging a bit.

That “pillaging” came from the auto-correct on my tablet. The same feature that changed each “do” or “de” – common in Portuguese – to “Dr.” Every stinkin’ time! So it had me “pillaging” instead of “lollygagging,” like I wrote. I added that tomorrow we had “a 13 mile hike, then a day off Friday. My feet aren’t TOO sore, and the 15 pound pack is pretty much adjusted, strap-wise. And that’s ‘lollygagging’ a bit. No pillaging so far…”

The Hotel Brazao in Vila do Conde was the last place on the Coastal Route for us. Google Maps said it was 6.6 miles to Villa d’Arcos, but “we” figured 6.3.

Wednesday, September 4: This morning, as we got ready to head out again, I saw a van taking luggage for some other “pilgrims” ahead to their next stop. Which meant all they had to carry – hiking – was a day pack. Not the pack we carried, 10 percent of body weight. (In my case 15 pounds.) That “10%” pack held all our worldly goods, for the duration of the hike. Tom calls the light day-packs “pansy packs.” (He actually used another, more earthy epithet, but I figure this book is family oriented.) And I wrote on Facebooke about “wussie – boys who don’t want to ‘pack their own gear.’ WIMPS! What the hell kind of pilgrimage is that?”

You know, without the sore feet, the aching back and such?

Anyway, because we had some time – a mere 6.3 mile hike to Villa d’Arcos – we did some touristy stuff in the morning. We visited the Museu de Construção Naval (Shipbuilding Museum), and also parts of the Convent of Santa Clara

The Convent of Santa Clara was closed but the Cathedral next door was open. It was there Tom made a “new bestest buddy Fernando – from the cathedral,” who “bent his ear for a good long time, much of it in indecipherable Portuguese.” I took a great picture of them as they chatted, with a view from the hilltop, with the river and ocean in the background.

We ended the day at Villa d’Arcos. It’s not a city. It’s a four-star hotel at Rua da Alegria 38. “From there we hike to Barcelos tomorrow. Tom booked the Hotel Bagoeira for two nights.” Villa d’Arcos is a shade over six miles from Vila do Conde, but as noted we got a late start. I took pictures of the aqueduct in Vila do Conde, “and some narrow streets like we had to hike through today.” And the Villa d’ Arcos itself was a “nice swanky place with a mini-bar in my room, and a local-color cafe down the road to eat. (A light snack. We had a heavy meal on the road.) So tomorrow we’ll be joining up with the main Camino hereabouts.”

Not much of a hike, mile-wise, but a “dearth of Camino signs. Plus lots of narrow walled-in streets, roads, lanes, alleys, whatever to negotiate. But we ended up in a Happy Place, with a beautiful sun setting in the west… And the morning and the evening were the third day,” of hiking that is. (See Genesis 1:13.) “Tomorrow 13 miles…”

Thursday, September 5: We stopped for lunch in Pedra Furada, “after a LOOONG stretch of nary a place to stop, in between here and Villa d’Arcos where we started.” We’d hiked about eight of the day’s total 13 miles before finding a place to stop for lunch. (We’d gotten up and started early.) During lunch I posted this on Facebook, with a picture I took of a fellow pilgrim:

Good 12:30 noonish from Pedra Furada, Portugal. We’re headed to Barcelos and a day off tomorrow, after a 13-mile hike today. Only one Super Bock for lunch, plus a cheese and tomato sandwich. I followed up the cerveza with a Lipton Pessego iced tea. [Thirsty.] Outside the front door a fellow Caminista spritzes his bald head with sunscreen, fixin’ to head north.

Friday, September 6: To clarify, we checked in for our first day off on Thursday, September 5. Friday, September 6 was that day off, and we enjoyed the sites of Barcelos and nearby Braga. Braga is home of the “Bom Jesus do Monte” church. (“Good Jesus of the Mount.”) It was quite a sight from the top of that mountain. Then we hit the road again Saturday, September 7.

That pretty much became the pattern. Four days hiking, increasing the number of miles hiked per day, with the fourth day ending after a long day’s hike. So we hiked 13 miles on September 5 and reached Hotel Bagoeira in Barcelos for our first day off. On September 6 we did some sightseeing, including a bus trip to Braga. A beautiful city, especially in the center square. Lots of marigolds and churches. But in the middle of that bus trip I had some business to attend to.

I originally booked a train back from Santiago – once the hike was over – to spend two nights in Lisbon before leaving for home. Then I changed my mind and figured it’d be better to spend one of those nights in Porto. So after the 45-minute bus trip to Braga, we split up and went our separate ways. I went to change my Comboios (train) ticket, back from Porto to Lisbon, and in the process had a 1:00 lunch of Portuguese lasagna. “Very cheesy, filled with hunks of ham, and VERY good.” Once I’d changed the tickets I posted this on Facebook:

Quite the “Mission Accomplished!” this morning. For various reasons I wanted to change my return trip plans to spend one more night in Porto and not two nights in Lisbon. But the 9/23 ticket was already paid for. Long story short, I had my was of Euros read to pay the 56.50, but the nice clerk said, “No no, same price, you already paid!”

That wasn’t supposed to be “was of Euros.” It was another example of my tablet’s “stupid autocorrect.” What I meant to say was “wad of Euros.”

Which brings up a good point. Both here and in Israel (back in May) I was often in the situation of not knowing the right rate of exchange, and so could have been easily cheated. But in general both store clerks and public officials were very attentive, and honest. Like the guy who exchanged my ticket and saw my “wad of Euros.” He could have said to himself, “I’ve got a dumb American sucker on my hands!” And charged me the 56.50 Euros, then pocketed it. Much like the guy I bought that “Tapazino” from on my first morning in Jerusalem. I was pleasantly surprised by all this, but of course wouldn’t want to make a habit of it…

After changing train tickets I had had some time before meeting up with the others, so I figured the “Mission Accomplished” warranted a celebratory cerveza. I stopped at a cafe around the corner from the Comboios station. I posted two pictures, one a selfie of me in a state of happy bliss, and one of the passing scene I was looking at.

Later we met up and took another bus ride, up to the top of a nearby mountain to see that “Bom Jesus do Monte.” Quite a site. I took quite a few pictures. After that we stopped at a sidewalk café in the Braga’s city center, with lots of beautiful fountains. Then took the 45 minute bus ride back to Barcelos. It felt good to be sitting instead of hiking. I ended the day posting, “Tomorrow we get back to hiking, a ‘mere’ ten miles, not the 13 that did a job on my feet.”

Saturday, September 7: This day we ended up at Casas da Quinta da Cancela. (Expedia says it’s in Barcelos, but it’s actually Balugaes.) If you check on Google Maps, you’ll see a large complex surrounded by a high stone wall. With no sign – on the N308 part of the Camino – to indicate how to get in. Carol wrote this later, once we got back, to accompany some photos:

After you walked ten plus miles for the day, then comes the fun (and most times agonizing) job of searching for the hotel. I am uncertain of how much land the villa had but it was surrounded by this rock wall in its entirety. On the opposite end of this wall (guessing three or four acres) was the Camino we came in on. There is a gate in the rock wall that went to the villa, but no sign to indicating such. We walked up and down the Camino [N308] numerous times looking for it. Finally [she and I] parked ourselves on a corner while Tom went down a couple of blocks. He ran into group of men and one offered to give him (backpack and all) a ride on his motorcycle to it. Tom declined and another man walked us to it. Many times, you rely on the kindness of strangers during your journey.

Which is true. The entrance is on the other side of the complex, away from the N308.

And as to finding the entrance to what turned out to be a lovely Quinta da Cancela, with separate small villas for rent, here’s what I wrote: “That’s where we had a hell of a time finding the entrance. It’s a big walled-in space with the entrance on the other side of the N308 that runs through – actually is – the Camino in that stretch.” I too noted “Tom had to walk down to the intersection with the N204 and ask directions. There was only one restaurant in that one intersection town (Balugaes), the Cantinho dos Sabores.”

That’s where we ate once we got checked in and “refreshed.” I added, “The food was pretty good, but as I remember the service was pretty slow. But there was beer…”

In fact the service was so slow that by the time we got back it was way after dark, and the gate by the N308 was locked. We had to climb over a chest-high stone wall. Tom climbed over first and tried to unlock the gate from the inside. No luck. So I had to “assist” Carol over the wall, then climb over myself. (“And no one to take a video!”)

Sunday, September 8: Today we reached Casa Límia in Ponte de Lima, a third of the way on our hike, but where this book will end. (I’ll be writing a sequel.) One thing I noted on Facebook:

Greetings from Ponte de Lima, Portugal. Sorry about the lapse, but the Wi-Fi yesterday evening sucked. This morning at 10:10 I was hiking along listening to my iPod Shuffle, and a very old sermon by Father Paul came on.

“Father Paul” used to be the priest at our Episcopal church. I’m not sure how his sermon got on my iPod Shuffle, but likely it was from the time I volunteered three mornings a week. I did quite a bit of work on the church Office Mac, and had an account to download music. Father Paul also persuaded me to update the parish newsletter and website, after I mentioned I had a Master’s Degree in Journalism. And working the parish website is what gave me the experience and impetus to get into blogging. Which is how I came to write this book…

So anyway, in his sermon he talked about the lousy winter weather on that long-ago Sunday, and about dreaming of days at the beach, and about one time having a casting net. From there he went to some fisherman-Apostles “dropping their nets,” then getting on with REAL life. It made sense listening to the sermon, but it’s hard to translate all that into a short blurb in this chapter. But I did note that “I got a few chuckles hiking along the dry dusty Camino.” And I thought it appropriate to hear this reprise sermon on a Sunday; I’d been routinely listening to my music on the hike and hadn’t heard it before. (“A message from God?”)

I posted on Facebook that we’d made 11 [plus] miles, “complete with an iPod Shuffle sermon from Father Paul, from a few winters ago. And had a helluva time finding this rental place. (Which seemed to happen quite a lot.)” For the second day in a row we had a tough time finding the night’s lodging; in this case, the one in Ponte de Lima. But there was a reward to come…

I added that “we busted ass today. And my sore feet can prove it!”

So about 8:00 p.m. we were on our way out to dinner at the nearby McDonald’s, “sore feet and all – and got invited to a ‘porch’ party.” There were two other couples in the three-story Casa, as I recall. They all spoke limited English, but were nice enough to share some of their libations. We accepted, then went off to the McDonald’s. It was there – at the fancy-schmancy kiosk – that I saw that they did indeed sell beer, along with Big Macs, etc. Later I posted:

We had dinner at McDonald’s, with a couple cervezas for me. Then a nightcap – or so we thought – at a bar up the street. Then ran into the party-goers from earlier, staying at the same complex. They FORCED us to have some dessert and “grava” on the way in. I suppose there’s a lesson there: Bust your ass and get rewarded – in some indirect way. BUEN CAMINO! Or, “the Camino provides!” I suppose there’s a lesson there somewhere …

In other words the party-goers we’d met on the way out were still there partying on the porch when we got back. “AND A GOOD TIME WAS HAD BY All!”

So Ponte de Lima is now known – to me anyway – as where I found out that “they sell beer at the McDonald’s in Portugal.” And where we got invited to a “porch party.” And for those who may be interested, that McDonald’s is at “Rua Salvato Feijo 17,” in Ponte de Lima.

Monday, September 9: That’s the day we headed off to Rubiães, but that and the rest of the hike’s adventures will be the subject for my upcoming Sequel…

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The upper image is courtesy of the Portuguese Way article in Wikipedia.

The lower image is courtesy of Rubiaes Camino – Image Results. It’s accompanied by an article, The Journey from Within, which included an interesting experiment that pilgrim noted, on being oblivious in everyday life. The experiment involved a “fiddler” at a major-city metro station, who played the violin while reporters observed and recorded by-passer response:

In the 45 minutes that the fiddler played, more than 1,100 people walked by, but only seven (!) stopped for at least a minute to enjoy the performance. When asked upon exiting the station, many people didn’t even recall their path crossed a musician, only a few feet away.

It turned out the man, “in jeans and t-shirt, was Joshua Bell, one of the best violinists in the world.” His normal rate of pay? “$1,000 a minute. That day at the metro, playing an incredibly difficult piece on one of the most valuable violins ever made bought Bell a total of $32.17 in donations.”

Again, a lesson there. “Stop and smell the frikkin’ roses!” And the link in the main text is to 4. From Ponte de Lima to Rubiães – Camino de Santiago.

Here’s that second post on the Portuguese Camino…

To see images of the Portuguese Way – my last (2019) hiking adventure – Google Wikipedia

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I’m putting together a new book, “(Some of) My Adventures in Old Age.”

I’ll describe some of my adventures, from back when it was possible to travel and have such adventures. I’ll end the book with my last overseas adventure, from September 2019. That’s when I hiked the Portuguese Camino from Porto “back up” to Santiago de Compostela. (I hiked and biked the French Way – from Pamplona to Santiago – with my brother in 2017.)

Which led me to the last post I actually did on the trip. Back in October, 2019, I posted   “Greetings from the Portuguese Camino.” But that post only got as far as Ponte de Lima: “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.” Since Google Maps has the distance from Porto to Ponte de Lima as 51 miles or so, and since they had the distance from Porto to Santiago de Compostela as 153 miles, that meant I only covered a third of the hike.

Which is why I ended the Greetings post with this: “I’ll be writing more about our Portuguese Camino adventure, but in the meantime: The good memories weren’t just limited to CruzcampoSagresMahou and Super Bock…” (Four Portuguese beers.) But I also wrote about the trip in my companion blog. I called it  Just got back – Portuguese Camino, and started off with the same “boy are my arms tired” schtick as the  “Greetings” post:

I just flew back from Lisbon in Portugal. “And, boy, are my arms tired!” But seriously, I did just finish a 160-mile hike* on the Portuguese Camino. I flew to Lisbon on August 28 and flew back [home] on September 25, and so technically was gone a full month.

I had some notes on flying into Lisbon and getting to my hotel room. “Another red-eye flight, just like the one I made to Tel Aviv and Israel last May.” I also learned early on that – as far as Lisbon goes – the internet lied about cheap Portuguese taxis. (Bonjour!)  Instead of a four-Euro ride to my hotel – as I’d been led to believe – it was more like 15 Euros. Which wasn’t that bad, for one ride anyway. But luckily I hooked up with the Lisbon Metro.

I took the Red Line Metro train from “Aeroporto” station and got off at Saldanha station. My “Hotel Alif” was right across from Campo Pequeno. It’s a famous bull ring togged out like one of our football stadiums, but with lots of restaurants open on weekdays. It’s circular, with the bull-ring in the middle, and all around the perimeter they have restaurants, along with stairs, restrooms and the like. Much like our football or baseball stadiums. (That first day I got yelled at for cutting through one of the restaurants, getting acquainted with the area. Next night I went back to that restaurant for dinner and got served by the same waiter. He seemed a lot nicer then.)

Also next day – Friday, August 30 – I did some touristy stuff, including a visit to the Padrão dos Descobrimentos (“Monument to the Discoveries”). That’s been a lifelong dream, or at least it has been since 1979, when I made my first trip to Europe and couldn’t make it to Lisbon.

For a small fee I took the elevator up to the observation tower.

There I heard three young ladies talking, and I could actually understand what they were saying, mostly. (A welcome change.) It turned out they were from Australia. I also visited the Museu de Marinha (Navy Museum), a few blocks up from the Monument. I crossed through the Praça do Império, the city square and park between the two museums. There was a “Loja” at the Pavilhão das Galeotas, displaying “royal vessels.” This was across a square from the main entrance. They served beer at the Loja, so before going over to the entrance I stopped and enjoyed a “Sagres.” (Which became one of my four favorite Portuguese beers.)

On Saturday, the 31st, I took a train up to Porto, coming in at Campanhã station. I met up with Tom and Carol, who were waiting at the station. (Thankfully.) I’d booked a room at the Oporto Brothers Hostel, Rua da Alegria 919. They’d gotten a place at Rua Antero Quental 374, a 12-minute walk from my hostel. It’s a 16-minute walk via the Rua da Constituição, but that’s one of the main drags in Porto. I’ve found that the name of a major street can come in handy if you get lost in a city where they don’t speak your language. But in case you can’t pronounce it right (“Rua da Constituição”), it helps to have it written down.

So, I unloaded my pack at Oporto Brothers, then we spent the next day and a half sightseeing. For one thing we visited the Casa do Infante. It featured an historical collection in the house where Prince Henry the Navigator was born.

We also went to a wine – or rather “port” – tasting, but I was a bit disappointed. One small glass, and here I was ready to forego beer for the day. (They say, “Never mix the grape and the grain.”) And we took a cruise on one of the Rabelo boats that Porto is famous for. From the boat ramp beside the Ponte do Freixo out to the Atlantic Ocean, pretty much the same way – beside the river – that we’d be hiking the next day. As for some flavor of that first day’s hike:

We hiked west along the Douro River, on the Porto side, then hit the Atlantic Ocean and swung north. It’s the lesser traveled scenic alternative for the Camino Portuguese. Lots of beachside resorts, bathing beauties, and of course some old pot-bellied guys in speedos.

On the plus side – aside from fat guys in speedos – I got a picture that first morning of two lovely young fellow peregrinos. One was adjusting the other’s pack. (I’m always interested in the gear my fellow hikers are packing. I might learn something.) Later I posted on Facebook: “First day’s hike is history. West through Porto – with shady spots and sidewalk cafes – and out to the coast. Then north. Made Cabo do Mundo, 10.8 miles. Nothing too sore. Good first hike.”

That last referred to the first day’s hike. It was a nice thought (“nothing too sore”), but turned out misleading. I learned – yet again – that it’s not the first day of hiking, or even three, that wears on the feet. It’s the pounding of day after day of hiking with a 15-pound pack. (They recommend no more than ten percent of your body weight.) And it’s my opinion that there’s no way to train in advance for that – except to do the same constant hiking at home, day after day. A long hike once or twice a week won’t do it. It’ll help, but you still have to go through the agony of getting your feet accustomed to constant pounding, day after day.

Incidentally, for this trip my brother had  a copy of A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino Portugués, by John Brierley. (I still have my copy of Brierly’s Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino de Santiago (French Way). I’m saving it for our return trip, hopefully next year, 2021, at which time I’ll finally be able to say that I hiked “over the *&^%$ Pyrenees!” See Remembering the “Chilkoot &^%$# Trail!”,” and links therein.) The Brierly book had “all the information needed by modern pilgrims wishing to walk the unique route to Santiago that was used by Queen Isabel of Portugal.” 

“Brierly” also had – as Carol wrote later – “maps, routes, directions, historical information, places for a break (coffee cups on the map), Albergues (which we never used), restaurants and highlighted points of interest.” Those “coffee cups” in the map-book meant places we could stop and have a cool drink on a hot day, and usually something to eat as well. And on occasion those “coffee cups” were spaced way far apart, which meant a long session of hiking with no place to stop except the side of the path and some lukewarm water. 

As for albergues (or auberges), they’re a “shared dormitory-style accommodation.” Some people swear by them, saying that’s where the magic of hiking the Camino comes from. But Tom stayed in one back in 2017, when he started in France and hiked over the Pyrenees. That was enough. From then on – “even to this day” – he’ll book ahead for private rooms.

Anyway, in the Greetings post I talked about taking pictures with my cheap tablet, then posting them on Facebook to the folks back home. Posting pictures on Facebook with a tablet wasn’t that hard, but writing commentary was a pain. “For one thing I seem to have fat thumbs.” For another, the tablet’s “autocorrect” had a serious problem with foreign (Portuguese) names.

For example it kept changing the “de” or “do” in so many Portuguese city names to “Dr.” Every time. Here’s an example in an early Facebook post from Portugal:

Good morning from Cabo Dr Mundo. (BTW, autocorrect is having a hissy with these Portuguese names, plus my colloquialisms.) Ready for another 10 mile hike. Slept through the night. “Cozy quarters.”

That “cozy quarters” was shorthand for the apartment having one bedroom, which Carol got. Tom and I slept in the living room, me on the couch. But there was a nice restaurant nearby.

Which brings us way past the preferred number of words in a blog post. So I’ll be doing at least one more post in the near future on this adventure. I’m hoping to finish my “Old Age Adventure” book in time for Christmas. I’ll hand out the paperbacks for family gifts…

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“The Douro river and Dom Luís Bridge.” (That’s the one we passed heading out of town.)

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Notes:

First a note on images, or the lack thereof. I’ve discovered that with past e-books, and especially the paperback alternative versions, trying to keep the same photos as in the blog – even in miniature – wreaked havoc with page breaks. So for this and future books, and probably for blog-posts as well, I’ll forego actual images, at least for the original post. Instead I’ll provide a link like the one at the top of the page, by which faithful readers can view the image “on their own dime.”

Which leads to the caption of the photo at the top of the page: “A marking in a boardwalk of the Portuguese coastal way..”

Re: 160-mile hike. I’m not sure how many exact miles we hiked. Estimates varied. 153? 160?

Re: “Bonjour” See Bonjour State Farm – Image Results.

Re: Best length for a blog-post. Answer: “It depends.” See How Long Should Your Blog Post Be – The Write Practice. “Want more shares on social media? Aim for medium length blog posts between 600 to 1,250 words.” In other words, “longer is usually better for social shares and SEO whereas shorter is usually better for getting more comments.”

“The intelligent Southerner … you seldom meet…”

Atticus Finch: A quintessential “intelligent Southerner” – of a type now Gone with the Wind?

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1651350My last post – An early post-mortem – started with a note about my brother and I just finishing a four-day, 115-mile canoe trip down the Missouri River. (From Sioux City to Omaha, on July 12.)

But then I went on to take a look at “this time last year.” As a result of that, I did a combination-post using three draft projects I started a year ago. (“This time last year.”) That is, I combined those three draft-posts into Early post-mortem, to make one long post on those long-forgotten projects. (Plus the canoe “early post-mortem.”) Those three draft posts were on: 1) Gerrymandering, 2) humor as a weapon, and 3) – briefly – an ongoing book-project I’m working on, “My Adventures In Old Age.”

And why did I do that? Mainly because a “full postmortem account” of the canoe trip would “take time, and I’m long overdue to submit a new blog-post.” So here’s another delay in doing that full post-mortem.. But as it turns out, this project led to a “foreshadowing” post that I did about an earlier canoe-trip adventure…

To explain, once I got back home I started re-reading American Home Front: 1941-1942. In doing so I found a great quote for these challenging times. I’ll get to that quote later, but first want to note that two years ago I also started a review-post of the Home Front book. And in reviewing it I found some notes relating to my recent canoe-trip. Plus some good historical tidbits.

I wrote this first rough-draft paragraph for that review-post back in September, 2018:

For my recent long drive up to Canada – for my “Rideau Adventure” – I borrowed a book-on-CD from the local library: The American Home Front: 1941-1942, by Alistair Cooke(Most people “of a certain age” know Cooke for his America: A Personal History of the United States. I have both the book and DVD version of the 13-part BBC documentary television series first broadcast in 1972.)

And today, aside from having both the book and DVD version of Cooke’s “Americadocu-series, I now have the book version of his American Home Front. (Published in 2006, two years after his death.) And as noted, I started re-reading it again, once I got back from my latest canoe trip. In doing I found the following particularly relevant passage. It’s particularly relevant to me anyway, and I suspect to other people as well. People who may wonder “where did that guy go?”

The intelligent Southerner gives an impression you seldom meet elsewhere in America of having his own standards and of respecting you as a mature stranger while he keeps his own reserve.

“Intelligent Southerner?” “Respecting you as a mature stranger?” “Keeps his own reserve?”

Those phrases don’t come readily to mind today, whether after a session on Facebook or viewing a host of bumper stickers with sentiments like “Liberalism Is A Mental Disorder.” (To which you might reply, at least rhetorically, “Of course the only thing worse is a grumpy, bloated old white man threatened by change in the world.”) Which brings up Cooke’s comparison of that intelligent Southerner to most of the civilians he found around Louisville, the nearest big party town to Fort Knox – illustrated above right* – in March, 1942.

Cooke compared his intelligent Southerner (now mythical?) to the swarms of young people he saw as civilians in Louisville. And to the swarms of soldiers around town, from nearby Fort Knox. He said the civilian high-school boys he saw were “gawky and lifeless,” while the faces of their female companions were “innocent of any flicker of intelligence.” But to his credit, Cooke admitted – of this American town – that this was “an atmosphere that  no European need feel strange in. For it is the seeping seediness of English provincial towns.”

And just as an aside, it seems to this Old White Man – old but not grumpy – that way too many Americans these days have chosen that “seeping seediness.” But as for me and my house – or at least for me – “I will choose the way of the Intelligent Southerner.” Or try to anyway.

Nope, this “Georgia Wasp” still gets a kick out of life. And from now on I’ll cling to my own standards, while at the same time keeping my own reserve, and also trying to respect other all Americans as mature strangers. That’s going to be the hard part…

But getting back to my “Rideau Adventure.” Here’s a quote from the notes:

Another note: For the next canoe trip I’m getting a bigger tent and a cot. (No more sleeping on the ground for me.) But that trip won’t happen until at least 2020, as next summer my brother, his wife and I plan to hike the Portuguese Camino

Which turned out to be right on point. The next canoe trip did happen in 2020, and it happened despite the fact that I fully intended – this summer of 2020 – to either join my brother and his wife on another Camino hike in Spain. Or – if that didn’t happen – to fly back to Israel to Walk the Jesus Trail. Of course neither overseas flight-plus-adventure happened this year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But who could have seen that coming, back in 2018?

Which brings up an email exchange shortly before we both left home to meet up in South Sioux City. (My brother from Utah, me from the ATL.) He reminded me of things I needed to bring, including a tent. He then added, “There would also be room for a folding cot…”

I wrote back: “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.)” He answered, “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. The question is, is the interest still there.”

Just for the record: First, that was a good point about being able to canoe great distances longer than walking great distances. (At our age.) And second, the interest is definitely still there. That combination of Coleman Trailhead II Camping Cot and Ozark Trail 6 Person Dome Camping Tent made all the difference in the world. (Measuring 8-by-12 feet, instead my old 7-by-7 feet “two person” tent.*) That larger tent came in very handy on Saturday night, July 11. That was the night after my brother’s tent got destroyed by an 80-mile-an-hour windstorm…

But more on that in a later post!

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This gives some idea what happened at 1:10 a.m., early July 11…

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The upper image is courtesy of Atticus Finch – Image Results. Which leads to the question: “Why don’t we see more Southern Gentleman like him anymore?”

The “intelligent Southerner” quote is at page 40 of the Grove Press paperback edition of “American Home Front,” first published in 2006 “by the estate of Alistair Cooke.” For a New York Times review, see The American Home Front: 1941-1942, “Alistair Cooke’s America, Explored in Wartime,” or The American Home Front: 1941-1942 (Smithsonian.)

Re: “Fort Knox … above right.” Wikipedia caption: “A tank driver at Fort Knox in 1942.”

Re: Walking the Jesus Trail. A hike offered by Saint George’s College Jerusalem:

This course, new to St. George’s College in 2020, offers an exciting opportunity for pilgrims who wish to experience the land from an entirely different perspective: walking. The course will spend five days following segments of the Jesus Trail in the Galilee [(www.jesustrail.com] from Sepphoris (Zippori) near Nazareth to Capernaum, staying each night in a guest house or hotel along the way. Walkers will only carry day bags; luggage will be sent to the next guest house via the bus.

The lower image is courtesy of Windstorm In A Tent – Image Results. It was said to be accompanied by an article in the Kathmandu Post, “Storms compound lives under tent.” But when I clicked on “View Page,” I was advised, “Sorry, the page you are trying to access does not exist. But maybe the search gods can help you find what you’re looking for.” So I typed in the “storms compound” headline and got kathmandupost … storm-compounds-lives, from May 23, 2015. The subhead read, “High winds and thundershowers on Saturday evening added to the hardships of people taking refuge in tents in open spaces after the April 25 earthquake displaced them.” I’ll explain the differences in the two situations in a later post, but for now let’s just say that our situation involved only my brother and I, two people in two separate tents. But the photo does give you some idea what we went through, from 1:10 to 1:50 a.m., that Friday night/early Saturday morning, July 10-11, 2020. (Also, note the alternate spelling, “Katmandu | Bob Seger.”)

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For some reason I put this note from a “president unfit” search in an early version of this post: “I got to that article (3/30/20) in The Boston Globe by starting to Google ‘a president ignored,’ based on a Washington Post article I’d just read. (See A president ignored: Trump’s outlandish claims increasingly met with a collective shrug.) But right after I typed in ‘a president’ the Google-phrase ‘president unfit for a pandemic’ came up. That led in turn to a number of media outlets reporting the Globe’s story; I saw 34,800,00 ‘search results’ from the Google-phrase. (Incidentally, the subtitle to the Globe article: ‘Much of the suffering and death coming was preventable. The president has blood on his hands.'”

I’m not sure what I originally intended that quote to relate to. (Freudian slip?)

An early post-mortem – and “a look at last year…”

Independent voters try to keep the Ship of State from keeling over – here, ‘too far to the right…'”

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My last post was On my “new” Missouri River canoe trip, back on July 5, 2020.

Canoe on Manitou Bluffs regionMy “Adventurous Brother” and I completed the trip. (115 river miles down the Missouri River, from South Sioux City to Omaha, Nebraska.) We left South Sioux City at 2:30 the afternoon of July 9, and got to Omaha at 5:00 the afternoon of July 12. In between – and before, for that matter – there were distractions, complications and near-disasters. (An 80-mile-an-hour windstorm for one.) But we came through, “Mission Accomplished!” The only problem is that a full postmortem account will take time, and I’m long overdue to submit a new blog-post.

So, I decided to take a look at “this time last year.”

What I found was three year-old draft-projects that I never finished, so here goes. One project was “On partisan gerrymandering,” on the then-just-released Supreme Court case, Rucho v. Common Cause. (Of which more later.) The second unfinished project was the start of a new book – composed of a series of posts herein? – tentatively titled.”My adventures in old age.” Of which the recent Missouri River canoe trip was an example. Meanwhile, the original title of this post was supposed to be “Wanna beat Trump? Laugh at him!” And it featured the “Independent voters … Ship of State” lead image and caption at the top of the page.

That unfinished post was based in part – and was a partial review of – a book, The New Rules of War: Victory in the Age of Durable Disorder, by Sean McFate. (“82nd Airborne veteran, former private military contractor, and professor of war studies at the National Defense University.”) 

The book offered ten “new” rules for victory, and Rule Five is “The best weapons do not fire bullets.” And one of those non-bullet new weapons was – humor. There’s more on other such weapons in the notes, but the key point came in this set of observations:

Google “humor as a weapon,” and you’ll get sites like Humor is a weapon – so you better learn how to use it. Which offered the following quotes:  “The human race has only one really effective weapon and that is laughter,” by Mark Twain. Also “Wit is a dangerous weapon, even to the possessor, if he knows not how to use it discreetly.”  (Michel de Montaigne, the French writer (1553-1592) “one of the most significant philosophers of the French Renaissance, known for popularizing the essay as a literary genre. His work is noted for its merging of casual anecdotes and autobiography with intellectual insight.) Then there’s this full quote:

Authority is a natural target the world over for comics. Remember it, cherish it, use it. People all around the world hate their leaders, their systems, the powers they have to labor under.  This humor is nihilistic – no one is too powerful or too pure to be beyond reproach. Just remember lots of people have sympathy for the underdog, so direct that hostility upwards.

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Now about that draft post – from a year ago – tentatively titled.”My adventures in old age.” It had links to past posts on such adventures as my canoeing 12 miles off the coast of Mississippi, and into the Okefenokee Swamp, as well as hiking the Appalachian Trail (in small part) and the Chilkoot Trail. In toto, that is, all 33 of the “meanest 33 miles in history.”

For the full set of links see the notes below, but I wanted to focus on one link I found. It’s on the adventures of other people in Old Age, The Top Ten Late Bloomers Of All Time | Psychology Today. And from which I draw inspiration. (Heck, I just turned 69 years old. Or young!)

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And finally, the third draft post from a year ago had to do with “SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES (Rucho v. Common Cause). The main question: “Is North Carolina’s 2016 congressional map an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander?” The Supreme Court basically punted, saying the issue was one for state courts. I concluded in turn that the net holding was not to allow such partisan gerrymandering in all cases. It merely “kicks the issue back to the states.” (“Much as would be true if the Court overrules Roe v. Wade,” which remains to be seen.)

And – I wrote – some states were beginning to do just that. (Outlaw partisan gerrymandering.) I cited Supreme Court’s ruling on gerrymandering doesn’t directly affect Florida: “In its majority opinion Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court referenced Florida’s Constitution in asserting that states have the ability to solve this issue themselves.” I also cited Another View: Florida’s amendments thwart partisan gerrymandering.

Which made me thankful that our 50 states are now just the “laboratories of democracy” that may yet save this country. The phrase was popularized by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis in New State Ice Co. v. Liebmann (1932). The phrase describes how “a single courageous State may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.” See Wikipedia.

It springs in part from the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which says, “all powers not delegated to the United States … are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” That is, the 10th Amendment “assigns most day-to-day governance responsibilities, including general ‘police power,’ to the state and local governments.” One positive result? Because of the “diverse patchwork” of non-federal governments, the several states and/or localities are free to try different public policies to solve problems. In turn, ” If any one or more of those policies are successful, they can be expanded to the national level by acts of Congress.”

Now, if we can just get a state to kick COVID‘s ass. Or get those Feds out of Portland

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Did the 2016 U.S. presidential election create a  monster? Time will tell…

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The upper image is courtesy of Yachting Keel Over – Image ResultsAccompanied by an article “Real-life Bond performs daring boat stunt off the Isle of Wight.”  See I’m 007 and I won’t keel over! Real-life Bond performs (March 2012, but also ‘Show-off’ businessman caused Isle of Wight boat crash, BBC News, from March 2017).  Click on I’m 007 and I won’t keel over!  Then the “Read it” icon.

Re:  Ship of State. See Wikipedia, noting the “famous and oft-cited metaphor put forth by Plato [circa 400 B.C.] in Book VI of the Republic (488a–489d).”  But which can also be traced “back to the lyric poet Alcaeus (frs. 6, 208, 249), and it is found in Sophocles’ Antigone and Aeschylus‘ Seven Against Thebes before Plato.”  Sophocles appeared to be a relative contemporary of Plato, while Aeschylus and Alcaeus (“c. 620 – 6th century BC”), appeared to predate him by 100 to 200 years.  

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Re: “There’s more on other such weapons.” Here follows – down to the next four asterisks (****) – a lot of notes on McFate’s book that may confuse a reader or lead him astray – if not set off by the aforementioned asterisks. But note too that the next set of notes, including the source of other images, will begin with the next set of four asterisks. 

First, for our purposes, McFate noted the “declining utility of force” (as in Russia’s Putin “weaponizing refugees rather than threatening firepower,” indirectly, by bombing Syria, which drove tens of thousands of refugees into Europe and “stoking anti-establishment policies across the continent…  Right-wing nationalist parties, once shunned as neo-Nazis became popular … for the first time since the 1930s”.) Then McFate moved to “Warriors of the Mind.” As in, Get a Mac – Wikipedia, and Case Study: “Mac vs. PC” Advertisement Campaign – Hannah’s Media Leap BlogThe campaign had a huge impact, tripling computer sales and becoming iconic “to this day.” How did Apple do it? “The secret is simple: denigration. Going negative is powerful, but the trick is to make the target look like the wrongdoer… It’s beautiful ridicule, highly manipulative, and it works.”

From there McFate spoke of the “humor” weapon against ISIS, and others:

ISIS and its successors would shrivel like the Wizard of Oz if the Muslim world could belly laugh over them…  Putin’s cult of personality would whither [sic] under the power of denigration.  In fact, he’s easy pickings, given his naked bear-riding habit…  This works especially well against autocracies because they are often built on a cult of personality and the infallibility of leadership.  Make such leaders fallible.

He went on to note that one key is gaining information superiority, first through monitoring (“know your enemy”) and second through discrediting:  “pinpointing fake news, alternate facts … false narratives, viral memes and negative frames, and then exposing them.  Myth-busting must happen, otherwise people may start to believe the spin.  This task is especially critical for democracies…” And finally, counter-attacking, “and this is where Western countries grow weak in the legs.” (For that matter so do “polite” liberals and moderates.) Again, the prime method of counterattack is denigration, while looking like the good guy, conveying empathy, aligning with “preconceived knowledge” and being “funny but not stupid.”

For other reviews Google “the new rules of war sean mcfate.” Of particular interest: The new rules of war. Sean McFate – The Junior Officers’ Book Shelf, and Reviewing The New Rules of War – The Strategy Bridge (“A critical reader might also find inspiration here. As McFate presents them, however, the new rules are a starting point and far from the last word on victory or how to get there”).

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Re: “For the full set of links see the notes.” The first one listed in this post was Canoeing 12 miles off the coast of Mississippi.  (From 7/19/17.) That cited On canoeing 12 miles offshore, from May 2015. See also On “A Walk in the Woods” – Part I and On “A Walk in the Woods” – Part II, on an overnight hike on the Appalachian Trail. I’ve written about my Okefenokee adventures 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). And see Remembering the “Chilkoot &^%$# Trail!”

The lower image is courtesy of Laboratories Democracy States – Image ResultsThe image is accompanied by an article, If States are the “Laboratories of Democracy,” Then Young Frankenstein Runs California. The article was from Legal Insurrection, “one of the most widely cited and influential conservative websites… Our work has been highlighted by top conservative radio personalities, such as Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin.” But see also Legal Insurrection – Media Bias/Fact Check: “These media sources are moderately to strongly biased toward conservative causes through story selection and/or political affiliation. They may utilize strong loaded words (wording that attempts to influence an audience by using appeal to emotion or stereotypes), publish misleading reports and omit reporting of information that may damage conservative causes. Some sources in this category may be untrustworthy.” Note the article was written before the “Covid,” so for an alternate view see California coronavirus: What the state is doing right – CNN

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And finally, the original “laugh at him” post contained notes from an apparent “cultural elites” file. It was about those “cultural elites” that Trump supporters love to hate. The notes below are in rough form, include some personal observations, and are included solely for purposes of completeness:

acts of deliberate transgression against what many Trump supporters have come to view as the supposedly stifling ethics of our cultural elites

sending ” those damn media types into a tizzy”

a given act is actually praiseworthy and brave if it draws condemnation from the despised left-wing media.

just another handy weapon for triggering the pearl-clutching libs.

Send Her Back! Send Her Back! – The Bulwark

That portion of American society that has pretty much ruled America during the latter half of the 20th century, and the 21st century as well, up to Election Day, 2016.

Since the end of World War II, the rest of the world has looked at America as that “city on a hill” it has claimed to be since the beginning.  And America has responded – by and large – by accepting the mantle of world leadership.  And because America is a land of such promise, people from other countries keep trying to come here.  But – by and large – they are no longer white, English-speaking and mostly European.  Which frightens a large segment of American society.

Aside from that the mantle of world leadership is heavy.  It means not going off half-cocked.  It means being responsible, and thinking through what we say and do.  And many Americans seem to think we should act more like Russia, imposing our will on the rest of the world by sheer force.  Which – from all accounts – is what we used to do in the days of Teddy Roosevelt.

And it could be that the Americans who support Trump would love to see a return of a bit of American imperialism.  (On the other hand, if that’s true, why did Russia try so hard to get Trump rather than Hillary elected?)

Class warfare between workers and elites explains Trump …

What’s happening in America is an echo of what’s happening in democracies around the world, and it’s not happening because of Trump. Trump is the symptom of a ruling class that many of the ruled no longer see as serving their interest, and the anti-Trump response is mostly the angry backlash of that class as it sees its position, its perquisites and — perhaps especially — its self-importance threatened.

Trump’s dislike of — and desire to be a part of — the ‘elite’

Trump has since made a name for himself — in New York City and, more unexpectedly, in Washington. As he reminded his Minnesota supporters, he won the presidency — which by one definition automatically puts him among the elites: “a group of persons exercising the major share of authority or influence within a larger group.”

By all accounts, Trump supporters – or as Hillary called them, “the deplorables” – exercise the major share of authority and influence within the Republican Party, which is the governing party in the United States. The group’s values on racial issues, the economy, immigration and other cultural issues has a louder and bolder advocate in the Oval Office than at any other time in recent history.

But perhaps the reason it is difficult to embrace that definition is because Trump and many of his supporters believe that winning isn’t all that matters.  It matters that you be viewed as a winner.  And for a president who has been quick to lob the label “loser” at those with whom he didn’t find favor, knowing that there are many Americans who don’t want him in their club is a great source of anger.

Elite – Wikipedia  a small group of powerful people who hold a disproportionate amount of wealth, privilege, political power, or skill in a society. Defined by the Cambridge Dictionary, the “elite” are “those people or organizations that are considered the best or most powerful compared to others of a similar type

a relatively small, loosely connected group of individuals who dominate American policy making. This group includes bureaucratic, corporate, intellectual, military, media, and government elites who control the principal institutions in the United States and whose opinions and actions influence the decisions of the policymakers

Why a lot of Americans resent the cultured “New York City elite.”

I think this feeling was shared by some of the voters who went for Trump – as well as Brexit beforehand.  Trump, a masterful populist, has manipulated this very real bitterness, raising his 18-carat pitchfork against “liberal elites” for his own political gain.

a cultural elite may be disliked for reasons that are as not particularly economic: college professors, experts, NGO staffers and psychotherapists are not corporate titans, after all. It’s a new variation of an old-fashioned populism that is anti-intellectual and anti-expert.

Trump and his family may be mining this anti-elite anger, but they are, of course, preposterously upscale, living in Trump Tower, attending expensive private schools, flying about in private jets (now with in-flight Secret Service) and dining in five-star restaurants.

Republicans are benefitting from the cultural resentment of their non-elite electorate. They also aren’t proposing anything that could make life better for the people who actually live in small towns or in “flyover” states.

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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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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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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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.

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.