Three weeks ago when we flew to Atlanta this little private jet was parked at the local airport. I know it looks like an airliner, but it is one man's personal jet, a new Boeing 747-400. The owner had been in town for a couple of days attending a horse auction. The ground crew loaded two van's full of luggage onto the plane, no worries about the carry on limit here. Rumor has it that the owner has an Airbus A-380 on order so that he can have the biggest and best in the sky; we are going to need a bigger airport.
Time to celebrate! It was announced this afternoon that the state of Kentucky was awarded three years of funding to create a program that DG and his program are essential to the development of. The email read, " we have been funded, congratulations on three more years of continued employment." This is the first time in two years that the "Foundation" has had secure funding to continue DG's work on behalf of seniors.
Fall was in the air a week ago, this morning it is back to 84 degrees. I watch the weather in Florida, Michigan and here in Kentucky. Not unusual it is warmer here then it is in the other two places this morning.
Fall reminds me of apple harvest season. Not much of an apple crop here in this part of the country, it snowed and froze hard in early April in the middle of the bloom. What we need are apples preserved from the prior years to tide us over at times like this. The Norman’s figured out how to do this centuries ago when the perfected a couple of delights known as Norman Cider and Calvados.
When DG and I were in Normandy in August he ordered a bottle of Norman Cider with dinner one evening. Oh my, good stuff. It has a nice fall crisp flavor with a slight scent of autumn on a farm. It is very easy to drink, and it kind of sneaks up on you, it is about 11% alcohol. When we finished dinner DG was wondering back to the wonderful hotel room and he saw a freshly cut field of wheat. Suddenly he had fond memories of walking through wheat stubble as kid, three minutes later we are standing in the middle of a 50 acre wheat field in the middle of Normandy, remembering the joys of the past and creating memories for the future.
If the cider is not quite enough for you, the Norman’s also distill it into a heavenly brandy known as Calvados. Driving back to the hotel in Normandy late one afternoon stopping at various D-day sites and memorials, we came across signs for a country fair. After a moment’s hesitation DG pulled in and parked next to a Morgan. The only one he has ever seen on the wheel. The fair was in a freshly mowed hay field behind a village church. On the left as we entered the field there was a line of local ponies with ride offered for 5 Euros. Looking at the relative size of DG and the ponies, I was glad that he decided to pass on that (though he would not have had far to fall.) The local farmers were just sitting up displays of local vegetables, cheeses, wines and Calvados. DG bought a single serving sample bottle from the farmer in this picture. It was the distilled essence of autumn in the Calvados region of France, a taste worth liberating France for.
I think DG needed another one of these this afternoon. He was up two-hours before sunrise and off over the river and through the woods for a breakfast meeting with the governor and a couple-hundred right wing nut cases. If they mentioned the all and powerful W one more time I think he might have snapped. When he had finally had all he could take he made like the cowardly lion and ran down the corridor and leapt for safety. Then there was the email. Did everyone get the memo that DG was going to be out of the office all day and this was the day to send email? In a fit of sanity, DG turned it off about 4:00 pm; the messages will all be there tomorrow.
So much of my travels are hurry up and wait that once in a while it is nice to just take my time. To indulge in this I took the slow train from Brussels to Amsterdam. The ride took about 4 hours and stopped in about 15 places. The train was full of young backpackers going to places like the Rotterdam, Antwerp and Amsterdam for what ever reason it is that young people go to these places. The Dutch allow smoking on the platform between the cars. The moment we crossed the boarder from Belgium to the Netherlands the young people started going onto the platform to smoke tobacco. At least it smelled like they were smoking tobacco. We were not across the square in front of the train station in Amsterdam when someone within sniffing distance lit up something that DG had not smelled in 25 years, oh yeah, on the side walk, in clear view at midday on a Sunday. The rules are different there (though I think this is still illegal.) Ah, yes, a nice relaxing slow moving visit (even if we were doing the forced march through western Europe.)
I am not in this picture, because I was hiding from the smell. Yes, the ancients burned, composted and recycled. From the smell of things at Fountains Abbey they also used composting toilets. It is amazing that the smell persists after all these years. I would not want to go back to living like that. No way!
Our adventure at Fountain’s Abbey began with an endless stroll through the woods. The trail was pretty and winding and ended with a climb up a steep hill and lunch (Woodchuck received an email with a picture of the ale of the day.) Boy was I ready for an ale after that climb. After lunch we went back down the hill to the ruins of the Abbey. Wow! And this is a few hundred years after Henry the VIII had the roof torn off and the place left to collapse. This shows what happens when you build to last.
There are certain second trips that have to be made. No logical explanation, someone just has to go. A second visit to an exotic location is generally going back to a revisit a place that someone really enjoyed visiting the first time. But, what about going back to visit someplace that was ok but held no special memories? DG used the explanation for returning to Amsterdam that he needed find out if it was the city or the company on his first visit that left him feeling ambivalent about the city. He felt compelled to return. WH coined the phrase, psychically redeeming the city. And so we were off for a quick overnight stay in Amsterdam.
In the vein of trying to decipher if was the city or the traveling companion that was a pit in 1991, there were a couple of things we had to do. We stayed in the same hotel, under new ownership, but as wonderful as ever right on the square across from the main train station. The hotel was not the issue with Amsterdam; it was and is very nice, very comfortable and very accommodating. Next, we had to take a boat tour of the canals. DG even bought a picture of us boarding the boat, to go next to the one taken 16 years ago (he has aged and picked up a couple of pounds; but his hair is about the same.) The boat tour was nice, probably nicer in the winter, the greenhouse windows made it a bit warm for we Antarctic types.
These things being accomplished we looked for differences. The first trip DG flew in landing in the fog with near zero visibility and out with a quick taxi ride to and from the airport. This time we arrived by slow train. Between Brussels and Amsterdam the train made about 15 stops in about four hours. We slowly cruised through Dutch countryside passing idyllic villages, modern and traditional windmills. On the first trip DG failed to see a windmill, because you have to leave town to see one. Fear and insecurity kept DG and his traveling partner 16 years ago from straying from the very well beaten tourist path. Then we explored the city. Now Amsterdam has a colorful side, some would say seedy side. For many this is part of Amsterdam’s appeal, for others it is the source of great concern. The first time DG visited there was great concern about turning down many of the narrow shadowy side streets. This time the attitude was different. Not careless, or reckless, but willing to stop, look, listen and proceed. Other then being solicited by a couple of working girls (boy were they barking up the wrong tree) things went very well. The journey to rediscover Amsterdam was also a journey of self discovery for DG.
Bottom line, Amsterdam is still a strange town. Not on the list of places we want to return to over and over again (we do need to go back and see a museum or two that we lacked time for on this trip.) At the same time Amsterdam is an interesting city that will help you see and understand yourself just a little better.
There is a raging debate going on in Atlanta over a proposed local ordinance that would make it a crime (punishable by a fine of up to $500 and up to 6 months in jail) to wear pants hanging so low that the wearers' “private parts or but cleavage” would be exposed. As one commentator pointed out, thank god most of them wear underwear. Another person pointed out that she had seen too many pairs of boxers and one thong (on a man) was more then enough THANK YOU! Now it is important to point out that the style trend of very, very low rise jeans does not appear to have reached Atlanta as yet (when the world comes to an end you want to be living in the south, it takes a couple of years longer for things to catch on there.) The controversy is about young men wearing oversized pants that hang low (in many cases falling off) exposing generous amounts of underwear. I know this style is passé in modern parts of the world, but still very common in Atlanta.
One burning question, if this ordinance becomes law, what about penguins? Will I be free from arrest in the subway stations when I return to Atlanta?
Squirrel is right, it is humid a squirrel shit in Atlanta.
When we finished touring the cathederal in York with Bert and Someone, it was tea time. We consulted the maps, and searched the memories for a great place for tea. Here I am taking an up close and personal look at a bronze model of the city in front of the Cathederal. Finally it was decided to try the National Trust tea room. We arrived and were told that tea and coffee were available, but no cake. We were mere minutes to late for them to serve cake. Strange rules in England, I had heard about odd pub rules about serving hours (that appear to all have been reformed) and have apparetently been replaced by cake rules in the National Trust tea rooms. No problem, we went next door where Someone was met by the most freightening tea lady in York. She said yes, tea, coffee, cake, but you have to finished in 20 minutes (or what?) She was so scarey that Someone was afraid to ask her, or what? He ordered quickly, service was fast, and afternoon tea was completed precisely on schedule. At that point the staff was someplace in the back room, no where to be found, no one to take back the tray of empties. We slipped away before the dragon lady came back to life.
DG and I are off to Atlanta for a confernce. The next update will be Sunday or Monday.
It has been two years and roughly 165 postings since I started sharing my adventures with my friends here on The Adventures of Travel Penguin. I have done my best to take you along on my memorable, if somewhat unconventional adventures. I hope that we have kept you entertained and made you laugh once in a while. I hope we have not made anyone cry. DG tells me that he has enough pictures stored up to post a couple of times a week for the next 3-4 months. In that time we will be in the air to Atlanta, Washington DC twice, and San Diego gathering new material to keep us going.
We really love reading your comments. Even when you hijack my blog, it is fun to read. (Hint, post more comments, PLEASE!)
When you have a minutes join me in a toast to celebrate 2 wonderful years and many more to come.