Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


CA Trip including Sloan Canyon NM (NV), Walnut Canyon NM (AZ) and Hohokam Pima NM (AZ)

March 27, 2019

3/7 Th – Up at 4am to catch our 6:25am flight in Dayton. Arrived at LAX at 1:15, 2.5hrs late because of a mechanical problem in Detroit. As a result, they canceled my rental car and I had to get another, which cost me an additional $165! Anyway, made it to Kate’s, Beef Brisket at We Have Noodles, and then an Uber to the Hotel Café in Hollywood to hear a performance by Griffin House. He is from Springfield and we had heard him many times before, but this was his best performance in memory. By the time we got to bed it was 3am OH time – a 23-hour day!

3/8 F – Recover from previous day! Thrift shops and playing games – Farkle, Aces to Kings, Dominoes, Skip Bo, and Yahtzee. Kate made and excellent Asian Chicken and Rice dinner.

3/9 Sat – It took 1.5hrs to drop off Bennett and get to Long Beach to catch the 9:30am Catalina Express Ferry to Santa Catalina Island. It is one of the eight Channel Islands off the coast of southern CA.

Passing the Queen Mary as we departed the harbor


The ~24mile crossing took an hour and ten minutes and we landed in the resort town of Avalon

In 1919 the entire island was purchase by William Wrigley Jr (chewing-gum magnate). Wrigley proceeded to develop Avalon into a resort. He also brought his Chicago Cubs baseball team here for Spring training until 1951. Looking across the harbor, the landmark circular building is the Avalon Casino, the Chimes Tower can also be seen center left.

We started by walking through town to the Casino

Wrigley started Catalina Pottery and Catalina Tile here in 1927

We decided to take the 1.5hr tour

Wrigley built the art deco Avalon Casino 1928-29 for 2 million dollars. Casinos have become known as gambling establishments. However, casino is defined as a building or large room used for meetings, entertainment, dancing, etc. – it is the Italian word for a gathering place. This casino was built with no intention of gambling and that has remained true to this day.

The ground floor theater was designed for excellent acoustics to accommodate the first “talkie” movies. The first shown here was “The Jazz Singer” starring Al Jolson.

The top floor contains the world’s largest circular ballroom and hosted all the Big Bands of day

Our guide Frankie, self-acclaimed professional dancer, danced with Helen and Kate

The dance floor was built for 2,000 dancers, though we were told that there were at times 4,000 on the floor

View of Avalon from Casino

View of Casino from Descanso Beach. It was too cold to swim or kayak today.

We had a fish & chips lunch and then rented a golf cart to tour the outskirts of Avalon. This is a nice view from part way up Mt Ada.

The Wrigley home on Mt Ada

Kate was our driver – they should have issued us helmets! We drove to and toured the Wrigley Memorial and Botanic Garden



Three-fourths of the island is now run by the Catalina Island Conservancy. Lovers Cove Marine Reserve can be seen on the opposite side of the Ferry Dock.

The Ferry had a mechanical problem on the way back to Long Beach and we did not pick-up Bennett at the sitter until after 9pm.


3/10 Sun – Church, breakfast at Millie’s, walked Bennett in Echo Park, and ate corn, grilled in a shopping cart covered with butter, salt, mayo and sprinkled Mexican cheese. H and K also had some red pepper put on top. Helen prepared pork cutlets for dinner and we then played more games until ready for bed.


3/11 M – 4.5hrs from Silver Lake to Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area (NV) ~15 miles S of Las Vegas (I15 to Exit 25). It was difficult to find the access road because there was construction taking place for a very large housing development. When we arrived at the trailer Visitor Contact Station, we found it closed, though it was supposed to be open.

We did Option 3, the loop trail combination of the 100 and 200 trails for 4.25 miles and 400 ft elevation gain

Trail register entering the North McCullough Wilderness Area

Climbing the first waterfall

Entering canyon

Start of second waterfall climb

Start of Petroglyphs/Rock Art area

There are over 1,700 Petroglyphs here, created by American Indians from 5000 to 200 years ago

Stayed at the El Cortez Casino Hotel in downtown Las Vegas. Had $9 Prime Rib dinners at Tony Roma’s in the Fremont Casino, and then enjoyed the laser light show in the canopy along Fremont Street. We were going to do the Zip Line under the canopy but thought it was way too expensive.


3/12 Tu – Millie made us a wonderful breakfast at her home in Henderson, just S of Vegas. We then drove 5hrs to Walnut Canyon National Monument, 10mi E of Flagstaff AZ. I had been there in the 1960s but could not find any photos. So, I thought it would be fun to return, get some photos, and enjoy the place with Helen.

Visitor Center

Nice View from Visitor Center

Did the 1-mile Island Loop Trail

Starting down

Good view of the “Island,” a kind of peninsula created by a bend in Walnut Creek

Continuing down

The “Perfect” Shelter

Walnut Canyon’s cliff dwellings were occupied between 1125 and 1250

Looking back toward Visitor Center

Snow from previous night, elevation here is about 7,000 feet

A Community Sharing the Land

Starting back up to the Visitor Center; nice paved trail then steps

Once on top, we did the Rim Trail

End of Rim Trail viewpoint

Did a little loop back to the parking lot passing the Pueblo and Pithouse Ruins

It was raining when we got to Flagstaff, so we played Farkle in the Flagstaff Mall and had Chinese for dinner before arriving at our Airbnb at 6pm. This was the second year in a row that we stayed with Kyrie and Chris. Helen and Kyrie made brownies and Chris had made an iPad spreadsheet for keeping Farkle scores.


3/13 W – woke to 3 inches of snow and more coming down. We had an organic breakfast and then Chris shoveled a path in the snow to our car.

The first half of the drive to Phoenix was slow due to the weather. We passed through Phoenix and then I followed a map I had found to Hohokam Pima National Monument. We exited I17 south of Phoenix. I then followed dirt roads until I was unable to go any further toward the location on the map. I decided to walk to the location. Helen did not want to go, so she stayed in the car and cross-stitched.  I found the location a short distance away. The village known as “Snaketown” was excavated in the 1930s and again in the 1960s. After the last excavation it was completely covered. The monument is on the Gila River Indian Reservation. As I walked back to the car, I saw there was a police car next to my rental. As I approached, a second police car arrived.

The officers were upset with me and asked how I got there. I explained that I was doing National Park Units and was following my map. One took my license to his car and the other explained that I was trespassing on the Indian Reservation. I stated that I did not see any No Trespassing signs along my desert route. The second officer explained that the area was sacred ground, that they had a problem with “pot hunters,” and tribal permission was necessary to enter the area. I told him I totally understood and apologized for being there. He went to speak with the other officer. When they returned, I was given a warning ticket for trespassing on the reservation. They suggested I go to the Huhugam Heritage Center for information on the NM site and gave me directions.

The museum was under renovation; however, we were able to walk the grounds and speak with an administrator. I discovered that, since the National Monument had been closed, going to the Cultural Center was considered as having been at the Hohokam Pima NM site.

The Gila River Indian Community is made up of two tribes – the Akimel O’otham and the Pee Posh. In general, American Indians are very proud of service in the Armed Forces. Perhaps they pride themselves on being warriors.

Since the Heritage Museum was not open, it was recommended we visit the Huhugam Ki Museum of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. They even printed Google Map directions for us.


On the way to the Marriott we saw the exit for Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous winter home and school in the Sonoran Desert from 1937 until his death in 1959 at the age of 91. It is Scottsdale’s only National Historic Landmark.

All the tour slots were taken, but we were able to walk the grounds

It took an hour to drive through heavy traffic to our hotel. We checked in and then walked to Caramba’s where we shared a beer and a Fajita dinner


3/14 Th – It was a 4hr drive to get to the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area in CA, just south of the Salton Sea. This is a BLM area

We saw a couple of dune buggies driving across the sand, but most were stopped and waiting because of the high winds

The flag states – “Trump 2016, No More Bullshit.” How ironic, Trump is a habitual liar.

The dunes continue south all the way to the US-Mexico border


Another hour brought us to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. We came here for the wildflowers. There was a “super bloom” this year because of all the rain and snow during the winter. The wildflowers themselves have their season as well. So, we saw some we had not seen when we were here in March 2005 and others, we had seen then, were either past bloom or had not yet bloomed.

We began our visit at the Ocotillo Wells Discovery Center on Hwy 78. The volunteers were very helpful giving us a Desert Wildflower Guide and maps that indicated where the wildflowers were blooming. Our first stop was the Ocotillo Forest. Yellow desert dandelions were in bloom as well as some cacti, but the red flaming flowers of the Ocotillo – the tall thin mix between a cactus and a shrub had not yet opened.

There were metal sculptures in the desert all around Borrego Springs – camels, horses, elephants, dragons, etc. The tourists were as interested in these as the wildflowers – lots of folks out taking pictures. Fossils of Columbian Mammoths have been found in here.

In general, I don’t like these sculptures unless they have some historical context. But I did like the Dragon/Snake. This picture does not do it justice, as two more smaller curves of the tail were on the other side of the road.

Our next stop was north of Borrego Springs on the Coyote Canyon Road where there were fields of yellow dandelions on both sides of the road

Our next stop was along S22 east of Borrego Springs where there were hillsides covered with wildflowers. The purple sand verbenas were close to full bloom.

I felt it a privilege to walk through this beautiful setting.  White Desert Lillys and a close-up of a Sand Verbena


Our last stop was in Coachwhip Canyon.  After we had driven as far as we could on the 4WD road, we were rewarded with blooms of Arizona Lupine and yellow Brittlebush

It was a 3hr drive to Silver Lake where Kate had a delicious Asian Chicken dinner waiting for us


3/15 F – Kate and I did the 4mi Hill Walk this morning. The route went over the hill to and around the Silver Lake Reservoir and then back by way of Sunset Blvd. Went to Maria’s for lunch and then the Hollywood Cemetery – interesting People,


and Stories. For example, I learned that the LA Times Building was bombed in 1910 resulting in the death of 21 newspaper employees! Domestic terrorism is not new –

Helen showed Kate how to make spinach and cherry pita. We played games into the night. Kate, the Yahtzee Queen, had 4 Yahtzee’s in 3 games!


3/16 Sat – Did the Farmers Market at Sunset Triangle Plaza and then the Silverlake Flea Market off Sunset Blvd. Helen repaired and replaced the buttons on her faux leopard coat for Kate.

Had In and Out Burgers (Animal Style!) on our way to Santa Monica. It cost a fortune to park and go to the ArcLight movie Theater there. The National Geographic movie/documentary, “Free Solo,” about the first free climb of El Capitan in Yosemite NP by Alex Honnold, kept us on the edge of our seats. If you like rock climbing, you will love this movie!


3/17 SunSt Patty’s Day: Saint Francis of Assisi church for mass, breakfast/flea market in church hall (Tom Hawaiian shirt, Kate mixer), and then a Celtic Art lesson at the Barnsdall Art Park. We were asked to draw/color a picture using the first letter of our first name. We were given some examples of mythical Celtic figures to use in our drawing. Leprechauns, shamrocks, green beer, etc. were not mentioned! You can tell who has the art talent in our family!

We listened to Irish music while playing games. Helen and Kate made, one of my favorites, potato pancakes for dinner.


3/18 M – 1hr to Saint Francis Dam Disaster National Monument and National Memorial; it is located in Angeles National Forest NE of Santa Clarita. This is a new (2019) National Memorial and is the only one administered by the USFS. We proceeded up Francisquito Canyon Rd to a Los Angeles Dept of Water and Power site where there is a plaque describing the disaster. When the Visitor Center is built it will tell two stories; (1) the story of the aqueduct system providing LA with water, and (2) the Saint Francis Dam Disaster.

A little further up the road is the site of San Francisquito Power House No. 2 where there is additional information on the disaster. This Power House was 1.4 miles below the dam and was destroyed when the dam burst on March 12, 1928.

A bit further up the road is the old Francisquito Canyon Rd, which is now blocked off but can be hiked to the dam site. We continued past this point to where the old road re-joins the new road north of the dam site. We parked the car and started to walk down the old road toward the dam site but found it covered with water. I then drove back about a half mile to a point where I could access what remains of the earthen part of the Saint Francis Dam and parked along the road. The reservoir behind the 200-foot high concrete dam was part of the new Los Angeles Aqueduct system built to bring water 233 miles from Owens Valley on the east slope of the Sierra Nevada Mtns near Mono Lake to Los Angles. It had just filled when the dam burst sending a wall of water 54 miles down Francisquito Canyon and then the Santa Clara River to the Pacific Ocean. It is estimated that about 450 men, women, and children died as a result of this disaster. This is a view of the area, including parts of the dam, about a half mile downstream from the dam site – note the white crosses.

I decided to hike up a steep slope to get access to the top of the Dam; Helen stayed with the car – view looking back toward our car.

Walking toward the canyon and dam site

Remains at the top of the concrete and earthen part of dam

Dam is gone, Francisquito Creek is in the canyon below

This photo was taken about a mile downstream from the dam site. The dam site can be seen in the center right of the photo with Francisquito Creek in the lower right.


Helen wanted to see the poppy fields Kate had told us about. So, we continued north on San Francisquito Canyon Rd toward Lancaster. After we passed through Green Valley, we found the hills covered with poppies.

Continuing toward Lancaster we came across a dense field of poppies. We drove a dirt track to get closer and then hiked up into the amazing color.  It reminded me of the poppy field in the Wizard of Oz.

We continued through Lancaster and then discovered Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve State Park. We started to drive in but found it packed with tourists. We much preferred the “private time” we had already experienced with the poppies, so we continued toward our next destination on Rt 138.

We connected with I5 south and then took Rt 126 west to Santa Paula to see the Saint Francis Dam Disaster Memorial Marker there. The dam burst just before midnight. About 1.5hrs later an urgent message reached the police department here of the imminent disaster. Two officers rode through the night to warn citizens in low lying areas that a torrent of water would soon inundate their homes. Their ride ended at 3:05am when a wall of water swept through Santa Paula.

Persian dinner at Raffi’s Place in Glendale


3/19 Tu – LAX 1:15pm, arrived home at midnight

End of our CA+ Trip.  We really enjoyed the time we were able to spend with Kate



Madison WI, Donny and Marie, Cantigny and the Kankakee River

September 2, 2014

Visited Vera and Bill in Madison, enjoyed good company, food and local sites.  Bike rides of 10 and 15 miles provided for a close-up view of the city.  I thought this bike service area with rack, tools and pump was a good idea.


Camp Randall stadium – this is a column of footballs


where the “Fighting Wisconsin Badgers” play,


and is named for Camp Randall, which was located here.  It was a staging area for 70,000 WI soldiers during the Civil War.


Confederate prisoners of war were also housed here and about 150 are buried in this cemetery.


We were told that the WI state capital dome was the largest in the U.S. and 4th largest in the world.




Impressive interior, and parts of two of four wings that are laid out in line with the cardinal directions of a compass


We were able to walk around the outside base of the dome – great view and statuary


Dome and statues made from Vermont granite


Perfect day



Donny & Marie – their Las Vegas show

Next, drove to Chicago – had dinner at the Rosebud in Naperville with Jim and Cathie


and then saw the Donny & Marie show at the Paramount Theater in Aurora IL; a high energy, well done and enjoyable show



Cantigny Park, Wheaton IL

The next day we visited Cantigny Park in Wheaton IL outside Chicago.  I’m embarrassed to say that, though I grew up in Chicago, I didn’t know this place existed!


Cantigny Park was endowed with $55 million by Robert R. McCormick in 1955 when he died and includes his mansion,


extensive grounds and gardens,



a Tank Park; showing, with actual tanks, the evolution of the U.S. tank up through Desert Storm



and a First Division Military Museum – the 1st Infantry Division is known for its continuous and distinguished active duty since its organization on June 8, 1917.  Col Robert McCormick, editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune, was an artillery unit commander in the First Division and renamed his estate from Red Oaks to Cantigny in honor of the Battle of Cantigny in France on May 28, 1918.  It was the first American victory of World War I and a defining moment in his life.


The museum has excellent displays and information related to the American soldier from the Revolutionary War through the War in Iraq



Kankakee River IL near IN border

On Labor Day we were invited by Dave and Suzette to their refurbished summer cottage on the Kankakee River for a pontoon boat ride and a steak dinner!  We have to dutifully record here, that though Little Dave warned his father that he was going to run out of gas if he went too far or fast, we ran out of gas about a hundred yards from the dock and started drifting backwards with the current.  Fortunately, we were rescued by another boat and towed to shore.


It was a fun day.  After dessert, we headed back to Springfield.





Family Visits

June 25, 2012

June 17 – Father’s Day – Tom made “Oh Boy” waffles and we covered them with Helen’s home made peach and cherry syrup from our peach tree and neighbor’s cherry tree.

Drago Man and Chad

June 22 – Canoeing 6.5 miles on the Mad River

Ham Hoggies for lunch

Sarme (cabbage rolls) for dinner

June 23 – Family Reunion – started with Peter, Kate, Chad and Al playing Reid South golf course

Pita and healthy snacks

Lamb dinner

Family photo

June 25 – Hopewell Culture National Historic Park 

Coat of Arms on Seal of Ohio includes this mountain view taken from the Adena Mansion in Chillicothe Ohio, Ohio’s first capital

Took the back stage tour, had the buffet dinner and then attended a performance of “Tecumseh” that evening


Dragomir Aleksandar Martin

October 16, 2011

Dragomir Aleksandar Martin was born at 11:05am on 10/10/11.  He was 8
lbs 8 oz and 20.75 inches long.  Baba Martin was there for the delivery and Gummy arrived four days later.


Fall Break 2008

October 20, 2008

After celebrating Leva’s second birthday in Columbus, we continued to “The House on Harmar Hill” B & B in Marietta.  We ate at the local Harmar Tavern and had their specialty – the “Soon to be Famous” Grilled Bologna sandwich.  The next morning fog covered our view of Marietta College.

After breakfast we took the Fenton Glass Company tour in Williamstown WV and then drove back roads to Athens.

We then visited Ash Cave State Park and did some trails at Old Mans Cave State Park in the Hocking Hills.



Lottery Tickets and Bats

April 7, 2008

Tom – We did our regular walk around Kandy Lake early this morning.  I took a picture of two men, one, box on his head, was selling lottery tickets. 

The next picture is that of bats roosting in a tree above the lake. 

The rest of the day was spent preparing for our workshops that will take place over the next four days.


Polonnaruwa UNESCO World Heritage Site

April 6, 2008

Tom – We spent five hours this morning touring this historic site.  These ruins are spread out over about three miles.  The oldest ruins are from the 10th century Chola or South Indian dynasty (Hindu).  However, a hundred years later the site was conquered by the Sinhalese Buddhists.  Remember, these people (Hindus and Buddhists) have been killing each other for over 2000 years.  The pictures are as follows:

  • Breakfast at the Polonnaruwa Rest House

  • Helen entering Nissanka Malla’s Palace

  • Tom in the King’s Council Chamber

  • Monkeys

  • Bather in river

  • Washing laundry in lake, Rest House in background

  • Double moonstones at Royal Palace

  • Bathing pool at Royal Palace


  • Notice elephants on bottom, lions in middle and dwarfs on top

  • Polonnaruwa Quadrangle ruins

  • Vantage, fine guardstones

  • Finest moonstone in Polonnaruwa

  • Shiva Devale #2, Hindu Temple from 10th century

  • Rankot Vihara, largest stupa (dagoba) in Polonnaruwa

  • Lankatilaka brick Buddha

  • Lotus in lotus pond

  • Gal Vihara Buddhas carved from granite, 21 ft standing, 42 ft reclining entering nirvana

  • Gal Vihara seated carved Buddha 

Helen – We started the day with a fattening western breakfast of eggs, toast, coffee, and fruit…better than rice and curry which they usually have.  The museum didn’t open until 9am so we had an hour to walk around the ruins that backed up to our hotel.  Again we decided not to get a guide because we wanted to go faster, so we could get home before dark, but then a nice man approached us.  At first we said no, then reconsidered again, and were so glad we did because we get so much more each time we have a guide.  It was good that we had a car because the entire site covered several miles.The guide suggested that we do the road sites first in case it rained. 


The temples were fantastic, each one offering different joys.  We learned more about the religions and discovered that these temples had Hindu statues on the outside but Buddha statues on the inside; therefore, paying homage to both.  We then went back to the museum and he showed us where we were and how the reconstructed sites would look when completed.  The museum was more meaningful after seeing the sites firsthand.  The whole tour took four hours which meant we were leaving at 1 o’clock.  Tom estimated the trip home would take about 4 hours getting us there before nightfall.


DRIVE FROM HELL:  Tom had inquired about the roads before we left and also from our last guide…they all said that yes a secondary road and then the major highway A26 provided a shorter route back to Kandy and were in good shape, plus we would get to see some beautiful mountain scenery!  Now, remember that we are in the mountainous central part of the country and nothing is as it seems!!!  We grabbed a couple of those veggie rottis and some drinks to eat in the car.  We couldn’t find the recommended cafe so had to scout out another one which took some time.  When I ran in (Tom waited in the double parked car) there was only one rotti in the showcase…no problem…the man just went around the restaurant and took some off the other patrons’ plates so that I would have five.  No one blinked an eye…funny how things get accomplished and we didn’t have to wait to have more made which takes some time.


OK, we are on the road (if you can call it that)…it was mostly dirt with the biggest holes you have ever seen…we averaged about 10 miles per hour when finally one of those buggers tore some protector panel from the bottom of the car.  Tom tried to pull it off and couldn’t (thank heavens!!) but then it made a grating sound so he decided he needed to find someone to take it off (get real!!! it was Sunday and there weren’t any towns on this road!!).  We go along for awhile, and to my amazement, we find a garage (sort of) but it is closed for the day.  We stop anyway and ask if someone can help us.  The nice young man who owned the shop and lived next door came out to look and said that he would have to change his clothes to have a better look.  As it was, the piece could not be removed because it was needed (good thing Tom was unable to tear it off) and so he wired the piece to hold it until we could get home.  It is now 5pm and it starts raining.  The road (major highway on the map) is incredibly steep, narrow and full of giant pot holes.  It is so narrow that in places two cars could not pass without one pulling off the side of the road – and in some places that was not possible because of the drop off!!!   In addition to that, you wouldn’t believe the number of trucks and buses racing up and down scaring me to death!!!


NEED A TOW???  The rain is coming down harder, night is approaching, and it is darker in the mountains because of the trees.  We are discussing whether to try and stop for the night but that never seems like a good idea on roads such as these…so Tom thinks that we should just keep going…Oh well, it is already after 6 (should be home by now!!) and the man at the garage estimated 3 hours from there which would get us back about 8pm.  The road was unbelievable, when it finally became paved, you would pick up speed to about 18-20 mph and then out of nowhere the pavement would end with holes that could swallow the entire car!!  These were extremely difficult to see with the rain and the darkness. 


I am pretty miserable (you can imagine) with my stomach tied in knots and nerves on end when we come upon two young men with a broken down Tuk-Tuk.  My first thought is don’t stop because you can’t be sure about intentions…but Tom the good Samaritan, not only stops, but offers to take them to the next town.  They say that they can’t leave the Tuk-Tuk.  Tom suggests taking one of them while the other remains.  They say, it is too dangerous to be out there alone at night.  What to do???   Of course they want us to tow them to Kandy, which is still about an hour or more away.  Tom suggests towing them to the closest town and so they tie up to the car with an old rope.  I, meanwhile, am getting madder by the minute…what if the rope breaks and they plow into the rear of our rental car…the roads are bad, you can’t see, it’s still drizzling.  We start towing going slow, but pretty soon the rope breaks and now we need a new plan. 


The road seems to be on a decline, so Tom suggests that they coast down with us behind them to protect them from the other traffic (There is other traffic, but no one stops to help).  This worked for awhile until the road began to go uphill.  They get out to push and the going gets tougher…I get out to help them push but then it just becomes too difficult, so we stop.  We can’t continue this way much longer.  Finally they decide to leave the Tuk-Tuk near a small bus stand and drive with us to the closest town for help.   As we drop them off they say “God bless you” and we continue on our way.   Thank heavens the road is now paved and we arrive home at 9pm.


As I come into the house, the landlords tell us that they were anxiously waiting for us.  I tell them that this was my last adventure, that I am not taking another long trip in that car and that I am going upstairs to shower and go to bed.  Thank God the day is finished!!!