Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


Winter Get-Away and J.N. “Ding” Darling NWR – FL

March 20, 2021

Dick and Jan invited us to share their rented house in Port Charlotte for a week in March.  We had a 2.25hr direct flight from Dayton to Punta Gorda, checked out the house, and were on Englewood Beach on Manasota Key that afternoon.

The next day we attended the All Florida Rodeo Championships in Arcadia and then set our sights on the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island.  The 80 degree weather, EVERDAY, was wonderful!

We did a 4-mile loop starting on Wildlife Drive and then returning on the Cross Dike and Indigo Trails.  Jan and I hiked, while Helen and Dick biked.

Wildlife Drive

Osprey Nest

Mangrove Boardwalk

Horseshoe Crabs

Biker Chick




Sanibel Islands Lighthouse

St Patty’s Day

2.2-Mile Punta Gorda Harbor Walk – followed by a quart of Hershey’s Cold-Brewed Caramocha Ice Cream!

Cincinnati OH and Ohio River on return flight


National Park Road Trip Part 2 – DC, VA, WV

December 1, 2020

Continuation of National Park Road Trip Part 1 – posted November 2020

11/8 Sun – I was up early and drove from the NJ Rest Area to Greenbelt Park outside of Washington DC – a busy day.  I had been to most of these sites before but wanted pictures of myself at those locations for my records.  Sorry about all the pics of ME!

I then went to three NPS sites in DC I had not been to before. The first was Battlefield National Cemetery

This is the burial site for 40 Union soldiers that were killed when Confederates, Under Gen. Jubal Early, attacked nearby Fort Stevens on July 11-12, 1864.  The only attack on Washington DC during the Civil War.

A short distance S is Fort Stevens

President Lincoln rode over, from his summer cottage at the US Soldier’s and Airmen’s Home, to observe the battle. He is the only sitting President to come under direct enemy fire during a time of war.

My next stop was Meridian Hill Park, center right side of this map

The W Street NW entrance has a beautiful cascading waterfall – when the water is flowing!

Not many people are aware of this 12-acre park. Thomas Jefferson wanted to establish an American Meridian (Longitude 0” 0’), through both poles and the White House, from which all U.S. land would be surveyed – to reenforce Americas independence from Britain. He reasoned it would also aid American map making and navigation. Today, there are many meridians running through different continents, but the Prime Meridian is still located in Greenwich England.

Nearby is a monument to the 15th President of the US (1857-61) – James Buchanan who preceded Lincoln. He was our only bachelor president.

This inscription lets you know that he was James Buchanan of Pennsylvania

At the top of the double staircase is a statue of JEANNE D’ARC, LIBERATRICE, 1412-1431 (19 years old!)

Just east of Joan, is a statue of Dante Alighieri, author of The Divine Comedy, dedicated on his 600th birthday – December 1, 1921.

16th Street entrance to Meridian Hill Park


It was a ten-minute drive to Carter G. Woodson Home NHS on 9th St NW

There is a small triangular park with statue of Woodson around the corner. I am pretending to take a book off the shelf

Woodson is known as the “Father of Black History”


Ten more minutes and I was at Ford’s Theater NHS. It was Sunday morning, and the country was in the middle of a pandemic. So, it was easy to drive around DC and park.

House across the street, where Lincoln died


I then walked to the World War I Memorial, which is east of the White House and was under construction. We were here in October 2018 as well – see that month on Blog for additional pics. The location is also known as Pershing Park – for General John J. Pershing.

This Sherman statue is located across 15th St NW, from the World War I Memorial

As I continued, I walked past the Department of the Treasury

and a statue of Col. Thaddeus Kosciuszko, a Polish military engineer, who constructed outstanding military fortification for the Patriot cause during the Revolutionary War

I then continued walking around the White House.  A new security fence had expanded the area around the White House and was covered with Anti President Trump, Black Lives Matter, Count Every Vote, Equality, Justice for George Floyd, Not My President, etc. posters. President Trump was refusing to concede former Vice President Joe Biden’s election victory.

Pics of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building and White House from the south


One of my main objectives today was to tour the new Dwight D. Eisenhower N MEM – the newest National Park Unit.  The first view is of the NE corner. The Memorial is on Independence Ave in front of the Department of Education, this was my 421st National Park Unit.

This view is from the NW corner – Eisenhower “The Boy”

Homecoming speech in Abilene KS, 1945

There is a “Normandy Coastline Curtain Façade” on the Education Building – it is best seen at night

Eisenhower was the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during World War II (1941-1945)

34th President of the U.S. (1953-1961), quote from Ike’s second inaugural address


The Ike Memorial visit was followed by three quick stops, see Blog for October 2018 for additional photos – World War II Memorial


Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, FDR, our 32nd President, contracted polio in 1921 and used a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

Bread Line during 1930s depression


Vietnam Veterans Memorial – notice everyone wearing masks because of the pandemic


I then drove across the Potomac River to the U.S. Air Force Memorial in VA, which is between the Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery


It was dedicated in 2006 – “The three memorial spires range from 201 feet (61 m) to 270 feet (82 m) high and appear to be soaring; its array of stainless steel arcs against the sky evoke the image of ‘contrails’ of the Air Force Thunderbirds as they peel back in a precision ‘bomb burst’ maneuver.’ Only three of the four contrails are depicted, at 120 degrees from each other, as the absent fourth suggests the missing man formation traditionally used at Air Force funeral fly-overs.”


Next stop, the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial (Iwo Jima Memorial). The first photo is from June 7, 1968. Helen and I were married on June 8th. My brother Mike is on the left and brother Pat is on the right.

Flag at half-mast for the death of Robert F. Kennedy, who was assassinated on June 6, 1968 in LA.  Martin Luther King had been assassinated on April 4, 1968 in Memphis TN!

The memorial depicts the raising of the American Flag on Mount Suribachi on February 23, 1945 during World War II. Almost 7,000 Marines, sailors, and soldiers were killed or missing during this one battle and almost 20,000 were wounded.


The Netherlands Carillon, a gift from the people of the Netherlands (1954), is in the process of renovation. It originally had 49 bells but then in 1995 a 50th bell was added on May 5th to mark the anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands from the Nazis.




It took me awhile to get to Arlington National Cemetery, because Google Maps kept giving me directions that did not work! Many roads and access points had been closed and I had to figure out how to get there from my maps.  This photo was taken from cemetery looking across the Arlington Bridge to the Lincoln Memorial.  The Washington Monument is in the center.

“Our Nations Most Sacred Shrine”

There were tight COVID-19 restrictions and I had to wait in line (six feet apart with mask) for about a half hour before they took my temperature and allowed me entrance

Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial

Eternal flame at grave of John F. Kennedy, 35th President, assassinated in Dallas TX on November 22, 1963

Grave of Robert F. Kennedy, assassinated on June 6, 1968 in Los Angeles, when he was running for President

View of DC from Arlington House

Most Americans are familiar with the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery, but few know about this monument near the Arlington House where 2,111 Unknown Civil War soldiers are buried


The second “main” objective of the day was to visit Arlington House (Robert E. Lee Memorial) in Arlington Cemetery – my 422nd National Park Unit, of 423

Newly renovated but not yet opened because of the pandemic

Construction started in 1802; built by slaves, free blacks, and indentured servants

Lithograph shows Arlington Plantation in 1838

Parked along the George Washington Memorial Parkway and took the footbridge to Theodore Roosevelt Island.

This island nature preserve, in the middle of the Potomac River, is a fitting memorial to the 26th President (1901-1909). Theodore Roosevelt established national parks, monuments, forests, bird reserves, and game preserves.

There are more National Park Units devoted to Theodore Roosevelt than any other person – his Birthplace in NYC, his summer home on Long Island (Sagamore Hill), Elkhorn Ranch in ND (part of Theodore Roosevelt NP), and his inaugural site in Buffalo NY.

I made a brief stop at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts as I began my drive west to the Shenandoah Valley. I slept in the parking lot of a Nursing Memory Care facility in Staunton VA, which seemed appropriate.


11/9 M – took Rt-250 E to the Northern End of the Blue Ridge Parkway at Rockfish Gap and started driving S

The Northern End of the Blue Ridge Parkway is the Southern End of Skyline Drive in Shenandoah NP

Rockfish Valley

Appalachian Scenic Trail markers at Humpback Rocks; it crossed the Blue Ridge Parkway there

I hiked the Humpback Rocks Loop, which includes about four miles of the AT

Blue Ridge Fall Color

Twenty Minute Cliff, I drove 30 miles of the parkway, exiting at Whetstone Ridge


I then drove west, taking I-64 to the Sandstone Visitor Center for the New River Gorge National River in WV

Sandstone Falls of the New River

New River Gorge National River

One lane Bluestone River Road to former village of Lilly on the Bluestone National Scenic River

“Ye Ole Swimin Hole” – with rope swing

Bluestone National Scenic River

Foot in river – see, I’ve been there

Little Bluestone River (left) flowing into Bluestone River

I hiked a short distance on the Bluestone Turnpike Trail

Another beautiful day


Next stop, the Canyon Rim Visitor Center for New River Gorge National River WV

We did a fun family rafting trip on the New River in June 2000


Last stop, Gauley River National Recreation Area WV

Summersville Dam on this trip

Dam in October 2000, when they were doing a release for world class white water rafting, note the snow on the trees

Gauley River Overlook, rafters starting their adventure

Carnifex Ferry Civil War Battlefield is located nearby

How West Virginia became a state – On September 10, 1861, the Federals prevailed, and the Confederates retreated from western Virginia. In 1863, West Virginia became a Union state, Virginia remained in the Confederacy

In 2000, we did the trail to Pillow Rock Rapids, you can see how it got its name

Rafters knocked out – Rescuers on rock

Woods Ferry access

My Sleep Machine


5hr drive to Springfield, arrived home at 11pm


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!!!