"" Writer's Wanderings

Friday, October 20, 2017

Through My Lens - A Walk In The Park

The weather this October has been spectacular. Unfortunately the dry days have not helped with the changing fall leaf colors. Many of the leaves are just turning brown or just dropping off the trees. Spectacular fall color vs. spectacular sunny weather. Tough choice but with the sunny weather comes opportunity for nice long walks together. Here's a few pictures from our walk along the towpath in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Books For The Road. . .Or Home

The weather this fall has been spectacular. Except for a few spotty days of rain and a cold day, it has been sunny and warm. When that happens, it's time to take full advantage. I've been doing some reading on our deck, a cup of coffee beside me and sunshine filtering through the waning leaves. I haven't had a lot of time to read the last few months. I've been busy writing--trying to supply some reading material to entertain others. So this weather has invited me to relax a bit and enjoy.

Here are some books you might like to indulge in on a nice fall afternoon--or if your weather is turning colder, next to a warm fire snuggled in a soft blanket. The Annie Pickels Series, The Casey Stengel Mysteries, Divide The Child and my favorite, Ruby. 

The latest release is a novella, A Pocketful Of Christmas:

When you give the miracle of love will you get double back? A small Pennsylvania town will soon discover if that is true.

In Hollitown, Joseph is not looking forward to his first Christmas without his wife. When he discovers that eight year old Keri is hurting as well from missing her father, Joseph finds that a pocketful of Christmas can bring joy again into both their lives.

A Pocketful Of Christmas is available in both paperback and kindle at Amazon. 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Have You Ever Missed The Boat?

It's probably not kind to say this but some of the best entertainment on board a cruise ship is found standing on the promenade deck and watching as people run for the ship just as the gangplank is about to be taken up. We've heard screaming, pleading, seen a husband leave his wife trying to catch up, watched as a woman discarded her shoes to run faster and more.

We've also seen those who have missed the ship and stood stranded on the dock as our ship pulled away. Two men who missed the ship threw their hands in the air and then doubled over--either from exhaustion or despair. They were met by two officials who handed them their passports, courtesy of the staff who had announced their names and waited for thirty minutes for them. They were on their own to catch up at the next port.

Another time the ship's crew lowered a boat that they use for maintenance to pick up a passenger who was crying on the dock when she missed the ship. That was an unusual courtesy and we suspect she paid for it and not just in embarrassment when, for the rest of the cruise, every time the ship's departure time was announced it was followed by "and that means you too, Mrs. ***".

So here are some tips to consider just in case you venture out on your own in port and run the risk of not getting back in time.

  •   If you want to see something in port that is quite a distance from the ship consider booking a ship's excursion rather than doing it on your own. The ship will wait for a booked excursion that is late. 
  • Take the daily program with you. The name and number of the port agent for the cruise line will be listed there. If there is a problem that's the place to start if you get to the dock and see the back of the ship as it sails away. 
  • Keep a copy of your passport with you. The cruise ship usually keeps your passport for the duration of the cruise for immigration purposes. Plus carrying your passport with you is not always a good idea with pickpockets plentiful. At least if they have not left your passport with the port agent, you will have a starting point.
  • Be sure you have a credit card with you just in case you find you need to book transportation to the next port. 
The best thing you can do for yourself is to be aware of the time you are expected to be back on the ship before it sails, account for any time zone changes that could throw you off by an hour and leave plenty of time for the unexpected, like traffic. As I say over and over, do your homework. Know how long it will take you to get to your destination and back to the ship. Then you too can stand and watch the others who run for the ship at the last possible minute.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Graffiti Art - Legal Or Not?

Have you ever stopped at a rail crossing and watched as train after train goes by covered in graffiti? We all know what it is. As Wikipedia defines it: writing or drawings that are scribbled, scratched, or painted illicitly on a wall or other surface often in public view. It goes on to say that it has existed since ancient times.

Today's graffiti in most cases is considered illegal and destruction of property no matter how elaborate the painting or design. In an effort to contain the rampant spread of would be street artists, many communities have set aside certain areas where artists can express themselves with their unique type of street art. It is said that there is an honor code and true graffiti artists will not paint over another's work.

Often times the art work is an expression of political views. I remember the artwork along the Berlin Wall. Some of it was still standing when we visited several years ago. Mostly though, it ends up simply being a "tag", someone's name spray painted on the side of a building or rail car or bridge. Those labeled as art and being recognized more throughout the art world are more colorful, designed well, and evoke the elements found in work that is considered artistic and valued.

You will see graffiti, art or not, in most any place you travel. There are some places in the world that are actually known for their artistic graffiti: Hosier Lane in Melbourne, Australia; Warsaw, Poland; Tesnov, Prague; Paris, France; Taipei, Taiwan; Zurich, Switzerland; Sydhavnen, Copenhagen, Denmark; Burghausen, Germany; and in the United States, Queens, New York and Venice, California. An article, 10 Places Where Graffiti Is Legal, is well worth reading if you are planning to visit any of those areas.

In my researching, I did find another interesting place online, The Graffiti Creator, where you can type in your name or other word and play with the colors and designs to create your own work of art. That's where my TRAVEL graffiti came from. Have fun!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Mini Road Trip - Gettysburg, PA

There are many ways you can explore the Gettysburg National Park. Self-guided and audio driving tours, bus tours, bicycling, hiking, and our choice, a licensed battlefield guide. Since John is a friend we made special arrangements with him but you can reserve a tour with a guide for up to six people for $75. It would be well worth it.

John met us and we spent a little time catching up as we walked to our car. He got behind the wheel and started us out with maps on which he'd drawn the battle lines for the three days of battle that were fought here, explaining the advancements and retreats. With the information from the movie and the museum, we felt a little more prepared and able to understand.

It was nice to have John driving. It gave Bob the opportunity to look around rather than have to concentrate on where he was going on the road. John began with some stops to see some of the Ohio monuments that were in the park since he knew that was our home state. All of the states that participated whether Confederate or Union are represented in the park. Each of the regiments usually have a monument placed at the spot where they held the lines or advanced.

When the battle took place of course there were not as many buildings and roads and as John explained, there was less undergrowth and trees. More open space meant that you had less cover to hide behind. The hills of Gettysburg were instrumental in the Union winning the battle. They had most of the high ground and with cannons that fired a little better than the Confederate side's they held their position.

Still the Confederate armies made a valiant effort, pushing back the Union soldiers in some spots and advancing. Over the three days however, there were 51,000 soldiers dead, wounded or missing. Not long ago after reading Gods and Generals, I looked up the toll the Civil War took on our country. There were 620,000 that lost their lives, more than World War I and II combined.

Each time we stopped at a different vantage point and got out of the car, John would explain what part of the battle took place in front of us on which day. It began to make some sense as we compared it to our maps.

Our last stop was at the Soldier's National Cemetery. It is adjacent to the Evergreen Cemetery which is the cemetery for the town of Gettysburg. The general public is not allowed in the Evergreen Cemetery but that is actually where Lincoln gave his Gettysburg Address. He was invited to speak along with Edward Everett. The dedication of the Soldier's National Cemetery could not take place at the actual spot where it is because they were still in the process of the reinterment of the soldiers from other hastily dug graves. On November 19, 1963, Edward Everett gave his two hour long speech followed by Abraham Lincoln's mere 272 words that obviously made a much bigger impact.

The cemetery is in a half circle surrounding the Soldier's National Monument. Many of the graves are marked "unknown". We were surprised to learn that there were actually some Canadians who also fought in the Civil War and are buried there.

It was a beautiful fall day and a wonderful three hours spent with a very knowledgeable friend who joined us for dinner as well. Bob still was looking for ice cream though and since it was a Friday night we thought we would try the ice cream shop again. To his delight it was open.

We never questioned why the shoppe might be called the Cannonball Old Time Malt Shoppe. As we stood outside while Bob ate his ice cream, a family with some young children came out and a man with a flashlight engaged them with some information about Gettysburg. Then he centered his light on a spot just above the door to the shop. There stuck in the brick was a small cannonball. It had been shot toward the town from a distance of 1800 yards according to the man who it turned out was a historical interpreter who dressed during the day in the period and gave talks to passers by.

It was the perfect ending to a wonderful day. I was amazed at the information I'd taken in. If only history had come alive for me in high school I wouldn't have struggled so much with it. I might even have enjoyed it.

 John R. Krohn is the name of our friend who is a licensed Battlefield Guide. He has a lineage that dates back to the Civil War and because of that it created the desire in him to learn more and eventually become a guide. You can contact him for reservations at the address and number on his card pictured here.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Mini Road Trip - Gettysburg, PA

After an eight hour drive from Waynesville, NC to Gettysburg, PA, we checked in to our hotel and found a nearby restaurant. Our dinner was disappointing so Bob decided we needed to finish off the evening by finding some ice cream. With his handy dandy TripAdvisor app, he found an ice cream shop in the historic area of Gettysburg. It sounded quaint and we found it easily enough with our GPS. The only problem was that it was closed.

Surely, we thought there had to be some ice cream somewhere so we left the car parked and wandered around a bit. There was a large circle in the center of town and we walked around it noting that most places were already closed with the exception of a few restaurants. As we completed the trip around the circular town square we came upon a historical marker that pointed out that the brick building before us was the Wills House. It was here that Abraham Lincoln was the guest of David Wills on November 18 and 19 in 1863. He met with the governor and other public figures and was said to have finished his Gettysburg Address there.

Eventually we ended up at Dairy Queen for ice cream which was a real "scream." I've never seen one so fully decked out for Halloween. You had to duck the ghosts circling overhead from the fans.

The next morning as soon as we'd finished breakfast we drove to the Gettysburg Park Visitor Center. It had been at least 30 years since we last visited Gettysburg and things had changed immensely. A beautiful building now held a movie, a cyclorama, and a huge museum to look through. Our friend, John, who was to be our guide in the afternoon had suggested we do all three in the morning to reacquaint ourselves with the history of the battlefield.

We purchased a ticket to see all three of the center's offerings. (To see film, cyclorama, and museum was $14 for seniors. Museum only tickets were $9.) The film, A New Birth Of Freedom narrated by Morgan Freeman, was well done. While the cyclorama's history and artistry was interesting, I was not as impressed with that presentation. The cyclorama is a huge painting mounted in a circle around a viewing area. There is a narration that tries to put you in the position of someone actually viewing the battle. It dates back to 1884 and was a major restoration project that was finished in 2008 and opened to public viewing along with the new visitor's center.

It took us two hours to go through the museum. I had not expected it to be so large and so inclusive. There was everything imaginable that had to do with the Civil War and the part that Gettysburg played in it. It was quite enjoyable as museums go but I was really looking forward to getting out and exploring the outdoors.

We lunched on the outdoor patio of the cafeteria and enjoyed some warm sunshine on the cool autumn day. Then it was off to meet our friend who is a licensed guide with the park. It would be good to see him and glean from his wealth of Civil War knowledge.

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