Friday, June 23, 2017

与勇士一起走 - Walking with the Warriors

Sculpture of dancing prince and princess
When I booked this trip I had only a few things on my ‘bucket list’ that I was going to check off and the Terracotta Warriors were one of them. However, the more I learned about the Xi’an area, the more excited I got to visit this city. When we arrived, it appeared that we were going to have some clear days, but that didn’t happen. As with Beijing, smog is a significant problem, and for all of the same reasons; the mountains never did make an appearance, but what we did see was jaw-dropping.

Friday, June 16, 2017

踏上上海 - Stepping out in Shanghai

What a mix of old and new…On one side of the Huangpu River are the colonial buildings
Protective dragon
that mark Shanghai as a world banking center since the 1930s. On the other side are new high rise office and apartment buildings rivaling any city with a vision of the future. Touring this city may have been my favorite part of the trip.

Friday, June 9, 2017

跳到荆州和武汉 Jumping over to Jingzhou and Wuhan

Jingzhou was believed to have been built by Guan Yu at the same time he made the earth.
Wall outside of Jingzhou
And while this may not be strictly true, it has been a transportation hub and commodity distribution center for more than 5,000 years. Because of its location, Jingzhou served as the capital for 20 kings from around 1046 BCE until 256 BCE. This rich history has provided archeologists with numerous sites to explore. Within Jiangling County are ruins of five Chu cities, 73 sites containing Chu Culture items and more than 800 ancient tombs, including those of 18 Chu kings; there is also a well-preserved 2,000-year-old male corpse. The city walls, city gates, watchtowers, and battlements have been well maintained.

Friday, June 2, 2017

穿過重慶和三峽 Chugging through Chongqing and the Three Gorges

Chongqing, once called Chungking, is one of the Five National Central Cities in China. It is traditionally associated with the State of Ba and the Ba who arrived in the area in about 316 BC. As with Beijing, it underwent the same sort of wars and name changes from the late 200s BC through the Ming Dynasty. The area was eventually conquered by the Manchus during the Qing Dynasty with immigration to Chongqing and Sichuan in support of Qing emperor.  Foreigners were first allowed into the area in 1890 when the British Consulate General was opened. The Japanese, French, German, and US consulates were opened in Chongqing between 1896 and 1904. The big excitement came during the Second Sino-Japanese War when Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek made Chongqing his provisional capital. The mountainous environment was protection from bombs leading factories and universities to relocate here. Coming into this area made me realize why so many Chinese pieces of art show mountains shrouded in clouds. Chongqing has over 100 days of fog per year with 68 of those days occurring during the spring and autumn. Of course it’s not all fog. Chongqing is among one of the ten most air-polluted cities in the world; the list includes Beijing, Jinan, Lanzhou, Shijiazhuang, Taiyuan, and Urumqi.

Friday, May 26, 2017

在北京 - Being in Beijing

Although I always wanted to go to China, I didn’t know much about the country except that it
Bell Tower
had the Great Wall, a Forbidden City, some Terracotta Soldiers, and the ancestors of Charlie Chan. What I found on this trip was a rich history, engaging people, and a much wider variety of foods than I had imagined. Dave and I started our trek in the capital of China, Beijing. With its population of 21.5 million, China’s second largest city has thousands of years of history.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Bounding to Burleson

It came to my attention rather recently that although we visit Burleson frequently, I’d never
Decorated fence
written a blog about it. Burleson is the closest ‘city’ to Vince; this is where he does most of his shopping. It has lots of chain restaurants, some ‘big box’ stores, and medical facilities. It was also the location of my first venture into the job market. I was about 16 and had just gotten a driver’s license so I needed money to support the life-style to which I wanted to become accustom. While the other students in my high school were driving into Fort Worth to work as salesclerks, burger flippers, or other jobs suitable for that age group, I went to work on Saturdays for a medical doctor; I also worked there in the summers. It seemed like a good idea at the time and did give me a chance to decide if I really wanted to work in the blood, tears, and other bodily fluids that could on occasion spew forth from a human being. The answer to that question was a profound, ‘No’!

Friday, May 12, 2017

History on Headstones

Headstone art
Dave plays golf at a number of clubs in near Keller and never likes to take the same route to them more than a couple of times. This means that he see some out-of-the-way places, discovers things of interest and gets lost a lot. Old cemeteries catch his attention because of the artwork on the monuments and the sometimes odd places they are located. One day neither of us was content to stay home, so we went to visit two of these graveyards that had aroused his curiosity.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Looking around Lantana

Entrance to Lantana
Lantana is a community that was developed around the Lantana Golf Course. There is not much history to it since it was established in 1999. Near-Normal Traveler, Dave, discovered it when he met a group of men to play golf at the course there. What neither of us realized, until we explored the area, was that is site ‘cheek by jowl’ with Bartonville.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Going to Glen Rose

It’s not lions and tigers and bears, but reptiles and water and mud, Oh My! One of my
Old tree and blue sky
memories from the 1950s is traveling to the Paluxy River to see the dinosaur tracks. I thought that the tracks were made the day before and was rather disappointed when I was told that they were trace fossils; I wouldn’t see any actual dinosaurs lurking in the woods. We clambered down the side of the river and stared into the muddy water to see holes in rocks. My other disappointment was that there had been lots of rain and the water was too deep for me to sit in the tracks. I was underwhelmed. I’m fairly sure that I hadn’t been back to Glen Rose until this last visit. This time, although there had been rain, the water was clear and the tracks were visible, plus it was a warm day with a bright, blue, Texas sky – it was worth the drive!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Out in Oakland and Reviews

Across the Bay Bridge is the municipality of Oakland. As complex as San Francisco, it has a
Getting on the Bay Bridge
completely different flair. There are neighborhoods rather than Districts and the downtown has a much more industrial feel to it. With the same background as the other cities (Huchiun Indians then Spanish settlers, then part of Mexico, and finally claimed by the US) Oakland was originally called encinal, Spanish for ‘oak grove’, because of the extensive oak forest that covered the area. The Oakland Long Wharf at Oakland Point and the major terminus for the Central Pacific Railroad proved the wisdom of Horace Carpentier, Edson Adams, and Andrew Moon in establishing the city in the mid-1800s. Other entrepreneurs, such as Francis "Borax" Smith developed a streetcar company; other such innovations as electric service and telephones connected Oakland and Berkeley, making both cities desirable places to live and work. By 1920, Oakland boasted many manufacturing industries, including metals, canneries, bakeries, internal combustion engines, automobiles, and shipbuilding. A short nine years later, Chrysler added another automobile manufacturing plant, making Oakland the ‘Detroit of the West’. Thankfully, it has not suffered the same fate as Detroit. 

Friday, April 14, 2017

Berkeley Byways

When Teri was a young child living in Texas she told her parents she wanted to go live in
View of San Francisco Bay from Lawrence Hall of Science
Berkeley. Twenty years ago she made this dream come true. She and John live in a pretty house that is often visited by opossums and skunks raiding the cat food dish on the back deck. And the wild turkeys still get the right-of-way on the hilly streets. Whatever I expected the Berkeley area to be, a home to wild animals wasn’t in the picture. Looking up into the hills you see houses surrounded by lush vegetation, while in the other direction there is a wonderful view of the bay. Perched nearly at the top of a hill is an iconic institute: Lawrence Hall of Science. Out of this organization come the underpinnings of innovative science education programs that have been adopted around the country. Before I left academia I was privileged to participate in the distribution of one of these programs, FOSS. I still believe that the best method for teaching science and for getting students intellectually involved is through experimentation; FOSS develops both intellectual involvement and curiosity to support life-long learning. Teri has one of the best jobs on the planet; she writes and tests the curriculum for the FOSS modules.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Open Your Golden Gate!

Swarovski crystals and gift bags
Again this year I traveled to the City by the Bay (see Sashaying around San Francisco) to do some Beading by the Bay. Our wonderful instructors were Maggie Meister, Sherry Serafini and Liisa Turunen. I’m sorry to say that I have yet to complete even one of the projects the delightful women taught, but I am working on them! Like many large cities, San Francisco includes a bunch of ‘districts’ that give it even more color and texture. And thanks to good friends Teri and John, I was able to sample more of the area than just around the hotel. We had some wonderful adventures and ate some outstanding food!

Friday, March 31, 2017

If the Creek Don’t Rise

Village Creek
My first memory of this tiny place involves the actual rising of the mighty waterway, Village Creek. It had rained for days and this small tributary of the Trinity River not only overflowed its banks, but took out a bridge or two. My parents drove around the area looking at how far up the roads the water had progressed. To my young eyes, this was a forecast for a flood of Biblical proportions; I stared out the window of the car looking earnestly for Noah. What I didn’t know at that time was that Village Creek was not only a waterway, but a rural community.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Sashaying through Savannah

Azaleas and a gazebo in one of the many squares
Savannah, Georgia is a wonderfully historic city, and three of us were delighted to find that the QuiltCon East was to be there. We joined just a few of the 21,000,000 US quilters to enjoy this extravaganza. Only one of us, Barb, is an experienced quilter but that didn’t mean that Linnea and I weren’t enthusiastic fabric collectors. Someday we’ll get a quilt completed! In any case, Savannah is a wonderful city to explore, the weather was perfect, and the food was great!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Rounding on Retta

Eons ago, when I was very young, my parents needed something for me to do during the
Retta Baptist Church with original bell
summer. In many southern towns the main activity to keep out-of-school children busy was Bible School. And that was how I was introduced that that far off and exotic place called Retta, a whopping two miles from home. I think I went to three or four of these entertaining and instructional week-long events, but what I remember most from my sojourn to Retta was that we were outside most of the time to do crafts and sing songs since none of the buildings of the Retta Baptist Church was air conditioned.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Home of the Bulldogs

Near-Normal Traveler, Vince, began his career in education teaching science, coaching, and
Open field on the outskirts of Everman
picking up classes that no one else was available to teach at the Everman School. Once he even got to teach an art class because he was the only person who had instruction: it was a class he had in high school! A few years after he taught at this school, I began my education in this district. However, long before we entered the picture, the area was common to the Apache, Kiowa and Wichita tribes until the mid-1850s when the first Anglos arrived. They established two little hamlets, Oak Grove and Enos. Although Enos is long gone, Oak Grove (see Flying in and out) is still around.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Flying in and out

Many of my formative years were spent with a couple of families who lived in Oak Grove,
A part of the Graham homestead
Texas. At the time both of my parents worked and getting me to school was sometimes an issue of timing. At the Graham’s I was inducted into a family of six children, which, being and only child, was much like being dropped into a three-ring circus. This organized chaos was a great preparation for public school. While Oak Grove used to be an independent farm community it’s now one of the multitude of suburbs of Fort Worth. Named by three brothers from Kentucky in 1866 for its large stand of oak trees, there wasn’t much more than farming and ranching in the area for another ten years.  At that time a post office branch opened and in 1885 Missouri Pacific railroad came to the area. However, as soon as rail service cease, the community failed to grow. It wasn’t until the 1960s that excitement returned to the area: the Oak Grove Airport was established.

Friday, February 24, 2017

It’s Itasca

Left to Right: Lina & Sol Smith, Hige & Fleda Smith -1948
When I was very young my grandmother, Fleda Starr Smith, talked about having friends a long way away in the big city of Itasca. Vince says he remembers going there to see them, but he doesn’t remember who they were or where they lived. He’d not been back since, and I’d never been, so we were off on the road to Itasca. This small town, at head of Richland Creek, is on a natural watershed that divides the Brazos River and Trinity River basins. It is named after Lake Itasca, at the head of the Mississippi River in Minnesota. Railroads played an important part in the creation of the town when a station for the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad was needed in 1881; four years later, Itasca was incorporated.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Covering Covington

Many little towns in Texas sprang up because of rail lines crossing the state. This part of the state was short-grass prairie. This means that it’s a good place to raise cattle and that the
Cattle country
land will support crops. Farming, ranching, and the ability to get produce to larger distribution centers let towns such as Covington thrive. Covington, in the north central Hill County, began its life through the efforts of James J. Gathings. This Mississippian came to Texas in 1852, buying thousands of acres of land, then building a large and successful farming and ranching concern. He set aside 100 acres of his ranch for the town of Covington, which he had named for his wife. Any family who agreed to make a home in the area and to help build a school was offered a lot in town. They were also offered jobs in Gatherings’s other businesses. Quickly the town, and the businesses, grew generating a factory that produced boots, clothes, flour, saddles, wagons, and pretty much any other items the settlers needed. A steam mill and gin made Covington an attractive place to do business and made Gathings wealthy.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Ricordi Italiani

The Plastino family having a party
It’s been an unusual week. I’ve spent most of my time with my head stuck in a computer rather than out on the road experiencing interesting places. So what does an addicted traveler do when she can’t travel? I think about trips I’ve taken! And just to add fuel to the memory fire, a friend asked if I’d help her son with a report on Italy. My first trip to that wonderful country was in 1985 and I’ve been in love with the people, food, and history ever since. That year I met my relatives who live in Cleto, a small town in the Calabria region located on the instep of the boot, and although I’ve been back to Italy several times for work, I’ve not gotten to see them in Cleto since.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Beaders on the Road

It was a beautiful winter day in Texas, bright sunshine and temperatures in the mid-60s,
Interesting door design,
downtown Temple
when three of us hit the road to Temple, Texas for fun with likeminded artists and artisans. Temple is a relatively small town fairly close to the center of the state; most of its ‘good stuff’ is hidden from the view when you’re on the freeway. Last year we nearly missed the town because of the highway construction; this year the construction seems worse but we found the correct exit with only one detour. What can you expect from an area suffering/benefiting from a rapid growth in population?

Friday, January 27, 2017

Cowtown Art

Well fine. Evidently everyone in Fort Worth knew that the Kimball Art Museum entry was half
Top L to R: Monet poster, Child drawing, Court Lady
Bottom: Assistance dog
price on Tuesdays; we didn’t. So we joined the rest of the grey-hairs and the bus loads of school students to view the early works of Monet. At this time in his career, the waterlilies were only buds. However, there were some other amazing pieces to be enjoyed. If you click on the Monet link just above, you’ll be able to see some of these paintings. All of these pieces came from other museums. The picture of Monet’s son asleep in his bed came from the Glyptotek in Denmark (See Går rundt Copenhagen del to), and we’d actually seen it there this summer. While we couldn’t take pictures in the Monet exhibit, we were allowed to photograph the Asian Collection. This is a permanent exhibit with some lovely pieces that caught the attention of one young patron. She positioned herself in front of a vase and proceeded to draw a fairly good representation of it. I was surprised that there were no rabbits gracing any of the screens since they are such a prominent animal in Asian cultures. There was, however, one animal that was attracting attention: one of the visitors had with her an assistance dog.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Riding around Rio Vista

Nolan River
If you are an old-time Texan you know the name of this town is Rye-o Vista not Ree-o Vista! It’s not unusual that Texans pronounce the names of town a little differently than what one would expect, although during some trips I have believed that Waco (Wandering in Waco) should be pronounced Wacko. But I digress…It’s time for the Fort Worth Stock Show and the weather is always iffy, so it didn’t disappoint us when it was a rainy and nasty day. Our drive took us out through what is still cattle and ranch country. It was in this area that cattle were raised to feed the soldiers in both the Confederate and Union armies during the Civil War. The beef was then shipped by rail lines to both sides. The tiny town of Rio Vista hasn’t changed much since then, and there are still only about 650 people in residence.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Keeping up with Kennedale

Village Creek was the biggest ‘river’ I’d ever crossed in my young life and at flood stage it
Open field in Kennedale
gave me respect for the power of swiftly moving water. In those days the forested area made me think I saw fairies or even Native Americans moving stealthy through the shadowed green. And one exciting day another car was motionless in the narrow two lane track; as Dad pulled carefully around the vehicle, the reason for its position was apparent. What appeared to be a Great Dane was standing with its front feet on squarely the hood peering through the windshield with a look of joy only a puppy can have at the amused driver. Village Creek road was one of those mystical lanes we traveled along on our way somewhere else.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Now Where? Proposed Adventures for 2017

Hammock at Sunkist Cabin
It’s January and I haven’t been anywhere yet…Actually I have, but that’s for a later blog. One of the things I do in the early part of the year is speculate on where the wanderlust may lead me in the months to come. Some of my friends have asked if I have a ‘Bucket List’. I do in a manner of speaking. There are essentially three lists at this point: Places I Really Want to See, Places I’d Like to See if the Opportunity Arises, and Places I to Which I’d Like to Return. Until I wrote them, I thought the first was fairly short; it’s about the same length as the other two. Not surprisingly, the lengths of these lists ebb and flow as I learn about different parts of the world. Several trips are already planned for 2017 and more are in the works.