Monday, July 27, 2009

Cayuga Lake State Park, NY

Sunday, July 12, 2009
We spent a leisurely morning riding our bicycles around the campground and across the road to Cayuga Lake. I wanted to reconnoiter to see if there was a good place to launch the boat. There was. Although the swimming wasn't great, as the designated area was way too shallow, the water was much warmer than we'd experienced at Treman Falls. The rest of the day we spent gathering firewood and relaxing with our respective books. There is pleasure in doing absolutely nothing but snuggling and dozing in the back of the Casita.

Ithaca - Day 5

Saturday, July 11, 2009

After Vince left Ithaca to return to Philly/Jersey, Carol broke camp and I prepared the Casita for departure. Before going over to Tracy's house we went to reprovison ourselves at the Farmer's Market. Because it has a permanent facility, it has become one of Ithaca's great standing traditions. There are lots of food and craft vendors selling everything from organic vegetables to pottery to local estate bottled wine. Strolling through the covered arcade I found it difficult to pass the numerous bakery stalls without an oatmeal raisin cookie or two. The Market is on the water, so we sat under trees and ate our cookies, while live, spontaneous music played nearby. We ran into Knut there with Tiny. It seems he's inspired to get out and about more often. Let's hope it sticks.
Later in the afternoon we arrived at Tracy's. She has a rambling old farmhouse in the village of Newell, about 10 miles from Ithaca. She and her two daughters welcomed us most graciously. There was plenty of space to park the Casita but was one snag: the house had eleven cats. After about 10 minutes sitting in the living room, it became apparent that the cats had marked their territiory thoroughly. I started to feel nauseous. I looked over to Carol and saw she felt the same way. Tracy, Aurora and Cynthia would be leaving for a wedding in Cincinnati before the Grassroots Festival, but there were several days between now and then. This was not going to work. I felt it would be extremely awkward if Carol and I parked the Casita outside and never came in the house to socialize with them. They are lovely people but we didn't want to offend them by staying out in the Casita the whole time. We in turn didn't want to be offended by feeling obliged to hang out in the house every day. Better, I thought, to stay somewhere else until they left the following Wednesday for their road trip. The house would be vacant then, and we could go in and feed the cats, fish, hamsters and plants, spending as little time as possible in the house. Therefore, since the house was cluttered and it was apparent that it was a staging area for their trip, I explained to Tracy that we did not want to be in their way while they packed. It would be best for them not to have houseguests during this time, which was true, and said we'd go up the road to find a place on the lake for a few days. She agreed, and seemed relieved. We said our goodbyes, and Aurora send us off with some apple cider and apple donuts made fresh that morning at the orchard she works at.

Back in the van, we headed north to see if there were any campsites available at Cayuga Lake State Park, located on the northern end of this finger lake. Pulling in late in the day, after stopping first at the top of Taughannock Falls, we found the place nearly empty and we had an entire loop to ourselves.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Ithaca - Day 4

Friday July 10, 2009
After breakfast Carol and I headed back into town. I needed to pay some bills so we made our way to Starbucks and hooked into their wi-fi. Between the Blackberry and the laptop we are able to stay in contact with friends as well as pay bills and keep track of our finances. It truly is a technologically wondrous age.

Afterwards we walked the Commons in search of a good bookstore. I wanted to get Knut a couple of books on CD. I had hoped to find the “Master and Commander” series by Patrick O'Brian since Knut was an old salty dog, but none were available. Instead, I bought “The Road Less Traveled” and “The Kite Runner” for him to listen to. One side effect of the various medications he has to take is insomnia. I therefore figured a pair of engrossing and entertaining books might help better pass the time.

Meanwhile, Vince and Christie were planning an ice cream social in Knut's honor. Vince called several of Knut's old friends to come to the campground including Beth Brown, the mother of his second child, Indiana. Besides Beth, it was great to also see Bill and Tiny again, people I had met during my last Ithaca visit. We told some jokes, laughed a lot and ate more ice cream; one of the only non-macrobiotic foods Knut will eat. By the dim light of the fire, the ravages of time did not appear on our faces. The grey was gone from our hair and for a few minutes we could imagine ourselves in all our former glory.

It was later, after everyone had departed, while the four of us sat by the embers thinking about what a great time we all had, that I mentioned the Grassroots Festival. Since things were going so well with Knut, and one never knows when one will be in the neighborhood again, I figured, why not? Vince and Christie needed to return to Philly to finish some business but would be free to return to Ithaca next Friday. Tracy, one of Knut's caregivers, offered to let us park the Casita on her two acre home site, and so the plot was hatched. We would stay in the area for the 19th annual Grassroots Festival coming up next weekend.

Ithaca - Day 3

Thursday July 9, 2009

We (the foursome) started the morning discussing last nights events and todays schedule over breakfast at the Ithaca Bakery. Ithaca is a very cool college town. Cornell University is here, along with the energy and enthusiasm brought by young, bright, idealistic minds. The town is at the tip of Cayuga Lake, one of the 11 Finger Lakes and this whole area is very green and scenic.

Today's schedule was full. I needed to bring the van into Monro's to get a wheel alignment, oil change and a new set of shocks. One should always get the front end aligned when purchasing new tires. Unfortunately the Wal-mart in Wisconsin where I bought the tires did not offer that service. A grave oversight in their business model. Anyway, once the van was dropped off we headed back to the campground to change sites. This was a nuisance but the only way to remain at the park due to a conflict in the reservations department.

Afterward, Carol and I rode our bikes up to the swimming hole located directly under a magnificently terraced waterfall. Without our swimsuits we could only stroll around the area and admire the beauty of the setting. Later I would return and take the plunge. Diving into 65 degree river water is better than two or three cups of coffee. The jolt to the nervous system puts all of ones faculties on alert. I don't think a person can feel more alive than when they've immersed themselves into really cold water.
After our ride it was back to the campsite for another fabulous meal, courtesy of Chef Christie, and yet another night of reminiscing around the campfire. Nothing like good times with good friends.

Ithaca - Day 2

Wednesday, July 8, 2007
The next morning Vince, Christie, Carol and I drove to the Taughannock Falls and hiked up a wooded trail along the river for a good view. The whole Finger Lake district is awash in streams and waterfalls. These you see in the pictures are considered the best in the area by the locals.
Back at the campground, also one of the best in the area, Vince took out his box of old photos. Back in 1972 he was just an amateur photographer. Over the subsequent years he has gone on to become a successful professional photographer, so the pictures he passed around were more like raw movie footage. Some were blurry, some out of focus, but they all brought back great memories of our European days. During the five years I lived in Europe, Vince and I spent many of those days together, traveling along and down the European hippie trail.
That evening Vince managed to persuade Knut to visit us at the campground. We ate ice cream looking out across our meadow, and had a grand time. For awhile it seemed just like old times until Knut said he needed to be taken home before his meds wore off whereby he would start to freeze up. In spite of the shortened stay it was great to see him out and about. Eight years is a long time to be boxed up in a house.

Treman Falls State Park, Ithaca, NY

Tuesday July 7, 2009

This is a fine NY state campground. We are greeted by a smiling tree man upon entry, and have to drive over a creek to come in and out of the park.
Vince and I started the morning with a vigorous hike to the top of the Tremen Falls. He has a bad knee and I have a gimpy leg so between the two of us we set no speed records, which allowed us to truly see and enjoy nature. After lunch, we rode over to visit our friend, Knut. I hadn't seen him since I was last out this way in the summer of 1998. I first met Knut in Heidelberg, Germany around 1973. He was one of the most physically fit and healthy individuals I'd ever met. He was a serious chick magnet and had an artistic flair that I appreciated but could never emulate. He wore jewelry and flamboyant, colorful clothes. He played conga drums and loved all types of African music. Pretty much my opposite but we hit it off nonetheless and stayed in touch throughout the years.
When I returned to the States in the late seventies, he was living in Florida and invited me down to share an apartment he had near Coconut Grove. After I relocated to northern California in the early eighties and started making serious money growing pot, I called him and invited him to come to Mendocino. He came out and stayed for 3-4 years. We sweated and grunted our way through several good harvests in the back hills and woods of Gualala.
On one of his winter trips to the Virgin Islands, he met and fell in love with a girl named Patty. She was a gorgeous, blond, blue-eyed, hippie earth momma that he found irresistible. He moved with her to her farmhouse near Ithaca, New York. He soon learned she was pregnant with his first child. Ever since I had known Knut, he believed he was sterile. Now that Patty was with-child, he was convinced this was a sign from God that they were meant for each other forever. Once that occurred, things began to unravel pretty quickly. Patty took advantage of her position and it went downhill from there. I mention all of this because somewhere along the line, Knut's nerves were shot and he began to shake. Not long afterward he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. During my 1998 visit he seemed much the same as the old days. The initial stages of the disease were relatively mild and we still went hiking, biking and joked around. We three, Vince, myself and Knut went to the Grassroots festival and had a ball. He was upbeat, had an adoring child in Blossom and was still a chick magnet.

Now back to the present, walking into his living room on this July day I was in for was a shock. He looked like an old man. Knut had lost his vitality along with a good 25 pounds. He shuffled and stammered like a geriatric patient. Vince had warned me of the change but I was not fully prepared for this transformation. The only time we could visit with him was between 7 and 9 pm when his medication kicked in. It was sad. In the last 8 years he essentially had not left his house. After about an hour of kicking around some old memories, I saw that we were tiring him so we left.

Meanwhile, Carol and Christie had a grand time shopping and dining in and around the Ithaca Commons, a premier location for such activities. Although they were excited by the sights and sounds of their expedition, I was a bit subdued that evening, contemplating the vagaries of life.

Niagara Falls, Canada

Monday, July 6, 2009

Monday morning coming down. . . The festival's over. We probably would have lingered awhile longer at the campground but Nicky had to be picked up and we had reservations that night in Tremen State Park in Ithaca, New York. Clearly there was work to be done.

The ride south was not without incident. We got lost in and around Toronto and witnessed a fiery wreck on the Interstate. Not sure how it happened but it looked bad. Although the accident occurred on the northbound side, traffic on the southbound side was backed up for miles. What is it about humans that we are so drawn to the misfortunes of others? I took my time passing the wreck, as well. The entire car was engulfed in flames.

Before crossing into the USA, we stopped on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls to have a look-see. Most everyone has seen these falls on television but the little screen does not do them justice. They are so much more impressive in person. The breadth and scope of their power just cannot be conveyed on a screen. Even though the town on the Canadian side has been turned into a Las Vegas style tourist trap, I'd still like go back some day and spend more time in the area. For now, Carol hopped out of the van to snap these photos.

I was a little apprehensive driving across the International Bridge and lining up to go through customs. I thought there might be some interest to see inside my trailer, but fortunately we were waved through within a few minutes.

Vince and Christie, although they left the Bass Lake campground around the same time we did, had arrived at Tremen State Park in five hours rather than the ten it took Carol and I. So late were we that Vince had alerted the park ranger to look for us outside the park and escort us to our campsite after dark. Naturally, Christie being the gourmet chef that she is had a splendid hot meal waiting for us. The next morning we awoke to find ourselves the sole occupants of an absolutely beautiful picture perfect meadow.

Mariposa - Day 3

Sunday, July 5, 2009
We finally got to the festival earlier in the afternoon, rather than just before the main acts opened at 5pm on the Main Stage. We were rewarded immediately for our efforts by catching Luke Doucet in the beer tent. We wiggled into second row seats and just had a ball. There's nothing like being up front to get a more personalized experience. It just makes all the difference. Turning to Carol, I saw the same expression on her face indicating something to the effect, “why didn't we do this sooner?”.

I kind of resisted going into the beer tent because I assumed it was going to be more about drinking rather than music. This proved to be an unworthy conclusion because the next act, April Verch, was incredible. She played old tyme Virginian reels mixed in with newer material on her fiddle and tapped danced while playing, to boot. With just a stand up bass man and acoustic guitarist she brought the house down. It was an epiphany.

By the time we met up with Vince and Christie it was time to head over to the Main Stage. The last three acts were extraordinary. The first was April Verch. We were hoping to see an even greater performance that the one we had seen under the tent but that, I suppose, could not be topped. She was excellent, but unable to eclipse her earlier, hand clapping, foot stomping musical romp. She was followed by Valdy. He is some kind of Canadian legend something akin to a cross between Pete Seeger and Gordon Lightfoot. I liked his acoustic set, his banter and musical stories. I would even consider buying one of his cd's if I found one in a second hand store. He is one of those artists that appears to have actually lived the life and I applaud him for that.

The Festival's headliner and closing act was Buffy Saint-Marie. Man, has she changed over the years. She's got to be in her late 60's and is a dynamo. With a big band behind her and several Indian women singing back up vocals, she was on fire. I'm not too keen on the Indian rights material, songs lamenting the poor treatment of native Americans (they call themselves The First Nation People in Canada) but “Universal Soldier” and some of her other hits were terrific. Carol liked all her native whooping, finding it very intense and powerful.
She is coming from a good place and means well enough, and I'm sure I would feel likewise if I'd been born a native American, but I wasn't. I'm a descendant of the invaders, the conquering people. I just don't have the same sentiments as the original people who were essentially invaders themselves. In fact, I think the Canadians made a mistake in allowing the Indians to call themselves The First Nation. That sort of sets up a precedent that inverts the actual social order. I don't think Indians should be persecuted, nor should they be placed on a pedestal and revered for their affinity with mother nature. All their talk about remembering former abuses should be remembered and regretted, but once they get on to having the land returned to them is where I draw the line. Native Americans need to get over the fact that they were invaded and conquered. For better or for worse, it happened. Their desire to turn back the clock is not going to change a thing. In fact, I think they should be satisfied with the outcome. Throughout history conquered peoples were either enslaved or exterminated. Moving the Indians onto reservations though surely not a pleasant experience must be considered better than what the ancient Romans or Mongols did in the wake of their expansion. Anyway, Buffy ended the night with a great song to help us realize that we are all a part of the living whole. Amen to that.

Overall, I have to say the Canadians are a tame lot. Once the encore ended, the stage manager told everyone to pick up any trash nearby and go home. They needed to be out of the park before the 11pm curfew. Not so much as a whimper from the crowd. We all went back to camp, exhilarated and exhausted.

Mariposa - Day 2

Saturday July 4, 2009

We started on this trip vowing to stay in shape, hike, bike and jog daily. Unfortunately, the best intentions are more easily said than performed. This morning was our first jog. Afterward, to celebrate this milestone, we went to breakfast with V&C and I consumed a large platter of pancakes. Carol had something equally calorically challenging.

Vince and Christie went straight to the festival and tried to encourage us also to get there earlier, but we returned to the campsite to digest, and didn't get to the festival until later in the afternoon. Part of the problem is the Casita. It is very comfortable and easy to hang out in. Combine that with great books, an indolent nature, a procrastinators heart as well as a contemplative desire to ponder the vagaries of the universe, well that explains everything.

Meanwhile, when we got to the festival the sun had made an appearance, lifting everyones spirits. Vince and Christie had our lawn chairs at the ready. Once again, we confined ourselves to the Main Stage, only venturing forth to get food or look over the craft vendors wares. The musical line-up was mostly unknown to us, with the exception of The Proclaimers, the identical twins with the #1 hit “Walk 500 Miles”. That aside, we looked forward to discovering new talent and expanding our musical horizons. The group “Le Vent Du Nord” (The North Wind) was obviously French, and were energetic and well received. Steven Page, formerly the lead singer/songwriter for the Barenaked Ladies, was laconic but entertaining. I think he was still trying to figure out what direction to take next. He seemed to be less than thrilled about having been a pop star and was now contemplating the vagaries of life.

Daniel Lanois was the closing act (pictured here). He had a great band, kind of on the loud side for my taste but Carol, who is much more knowledgeable about these things, thought he was fantastic. Therefore, I will defer to her wisdom. He was fantastic. She said, “Finally someone who rocks!”.

Mariposa Folk Festival - Day 1

Friday, July 3, 2009
We started the day with an unfortunate task: boarding Nicky. Since pets are not allowed at the festival, Carol found the nearby Royal Pet Hotel to house the Nickster while we enjoyed the music. It's never easy to put the dog up for even a few days, as our little Pomeranian has made herself an integral member of the pack. However, knowing she would be in good hands made the process easier.
Finally, some music. Although there were only five-ten thousand people attending at any given time, there were lots of bands, workshops and mini stages to fill ones entire day. Not being familiar with many of the names of the various performers, as they were all Canadian, we stayed pretty close to the Main Stage to see and listen to the featured acts. Vince and Christie got to the festival several hours before Carol and I arrived and they had our lawn chairs placed in a great spot not too far from the main stage.
Having attended the Mariposa several times previously, Vince and Christie were old vets here and knew to arrive much earlier and catch the acts playing in the smaller venues which were more intimate and nearly interactive. Carol and I would have to wait until Sunday to experience that for ourselves. Meanwhile, the groups we did see on the Main Stage were very good. The Skydiggers were excellent. Apparently they are a well known and respected band that has several successful albums. Basia Bulat came on at sundown and was very impressive. She might very well turn out to be the next Joni Mitchell. With startling good looks, great musicianship and lyrics, she has the complete package. It will be interesting to follow her career and see if she emerges from the provincial to the international stage. The closing act, Luke Doucet, was another great live performer. Great guitarist with a sort of rockabilly look and feel, he also could find fame and fortune south of this border.

Back at the campground that night, we sat around and reflected on the days events. One of my first impressions was that there was little traditional folk music on display. So far, everyone we heard and watched played with a full “plugged in” band rather than anything like an acoustic set. Once Dylan went electric at Newport, I suppose the folk scene was changed forever.

Orillia, Ontario

Thursday, July 2, 2009 Orillia
Orillia is a picturesque little town in Ontario, nestled between two lakes. We spent part of the morning strolling down its main street checking out the stores and natives. Carol, world class shopper that she is, managed to find a shirt to buy while I searched for an espresso. Friendly people inhabiting a friendly town is always a delight. Later we drove over to the festival site. Vince introduced us to more of the organizers while we strolled over the site. Certainly one of the most impressive facilities, great looking main stage, park-like setting situated on a penninsula jutting out into one of the lakes.
That evening we all had a fabulous dinner at Jerry's moms house. Met some more festival organizers and watched a great Leonard Cohen video of a recent concert in London.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

French River, Ontario Canada

Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Woke up in the parking lot of the French River provincial park in Ontario. We walked up to the visitors center and took a look at the exhibition artifacts. Carol went in while I stayed outside with Nicky. Most the contents had to do with early missionaries, trappers, river life, and Indians. There was, however, an interesting trail down to the rapids. After a short hike, about a mile we found ourselves in front of a gorgous set of wild rapids. The layout of the French River is such that it has never been dammed so the wildness of the scene is intact. The only way to pass the rapids was to portage. Although the trail is being reclaimed by nature, parts of the way are still evident.
On the return leg, we noticed a narrow suspension bridge spanning the gorge below the visitor center. Taking that trail we came to the worlds longest and most expensive privately built snowmobile bridge. Yeah that's right! Seems the Canadians are most passionate about their snowmobiles and cringe at the thought of having their route shortened. The solution, of course, was to build this very attractive bridge to link their trail. In summer it is used as a foot bridge for tourists to gawk at the hardy folk who are either canoeing, kayacking or running the rapids. The donation box at the foot of the bridge was, I thought, a little tacky.

So it goes. We hopped back into the van and motored on to Bass Lake, just outside of Orillia, and our long awaited reunion with Vince and to meet Christie. Vince and I go way back. We met in Heidelberg, Germany in the spring of 1972, but I'd never met Christie. She and Vince have been together for the last seven years but due to a variety of factors, we were perfect strangers. Vince is one of those rare friends that regardless of the span of time between our last visit, we immediately fall back into our old rhythms and banter as if we had last parted hours ago rather than years. So it came as no surprise that both Carol and I soon felt the same way about Christie. She welcomed us with hearty hugs and a splendid hot meal. Vince had made the campground reservations weeks in advance so we had adjacent spots. Soon we were joined by Jerry and Sandy, two of the festivals' primary organizers. The wine flowed and the laughter rang out through the night. It was great to finally reach this destination, and to be among friends and catch up on each other's lives.

Entered Canada

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Rolling into the Falls of Saint Mary's I couldn't help but thinking about the early settlers and trappers who first explored this part of the country. The flat land probably appealed to farmers while the woodlands were undoubtedly teeming with marketable wildlife. It must have been exhilerating to travel through vast tracts of virgin territory. Anyway, the city of Sault Ste Marie now exits on both sides of the rapids that once prevented ships from passing between Lake Superior and the lower Great Lakes. Now there are locks that permit such travel.
After stocking up on supplies and gas, we headed for the Canadian side of the city. This photo shows the view as we crossed over a canal that connects Lake Huron to Lake Superior, and separates the US from Canada. Crossing a long bridge we soon found ourselves in line to go through customs. After a short wait it was our turn. The custom agent who greeted us asked the usual questions then waved us through. The trick now was to find the road that would take us to Orillia and the Mariposa music festival. This, however, proved to be no easy task. The first obstacle was that the Canadian Sault Ste Marie is much larger than its American namesake, and secondly, the Canadians have an altogether different approach to alerting the motoring public as to the location and directions to the major arteries. After an hours worth of wandering aimlessly through false turns and detours, we finally found our bearings. Once we were out in the Canadian countryside all of of recent travails faded away and we were awash in the beauty of the ever changing landscape of rolling hills and tidy farms.
We drove another 200 miles before deciding to stop in a rest area just south of the French River.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Wisconsin & Michigan

Monday June 29, 2009.

Drove thru Wisconsin & Michigan. Slept in rest stop. Got new tires.

One might think this title tells all one needs to know, but reader, reconsider. There are things to say even about the most mundane of human activities. Take for example purchasing tires. Finding oneself on the road in a different state and in need of a very essential item can be nerve wracking. Breaking camp on that Monday morning I checked over the rig and noticed both front tires were balding on the outer edges and the steel belts were starting to show. Not good, thinks I, and so we start looking for a tire store. Nothing in Spring Green or anywhere near it. Finally, in desperation, I head for Oshkosh, the closest Wal-Mart some 75 miles distant. All the while I'm thinking, if one of these suckers blows, I'm going to be really steamed. Why did I wait so long, trying to squeeze out the last bit of tread? Why didn't I just replace them in Sierra Vista before leaving on such a long trip? Frugality I suppose. Carol would say cheapness. Someday this trait might lead to my ruin but today was not going to be that day. We rolled into the Oshkosh Wal-mart and had the place to ourselves. In and out in 40 minutes.

Unfortunately, this little diversion and detour cost us more road time than one might expect and thus we did not make it into Canada as we had hoped. Instead, we settled for a Michigan rest stop that prominently featured a sign stating that overnight parking was not allowed. Since we were on the Upper Peninsula, away from any metropolitan area with numerous road signs warning us that we were more than likely to encounter deer on the road, we decided to take our chances with the rest stop and pulled over.
Climbing into the Casita bed we both reached for our current books. Carol is reading a metaphysical treatise called “Ask and it is Given”. This is a channeled book by Ester and Jerry Hicks. Carol claims it is one of the best books she has ever read. She isn't so much concerned where the information comes from, as long as it is sound and intelligent in its essence. According to Dr. Wayne Dyer of PBS fame, it is “. . . one of the most important books ever published”. Impressive, to say the least. Since by nature and training I'm somewhat skeptical of channeled books, I will nevertheless add this one to my queue. I, on the other hand, am reading literary chocolate. Fictional fantasy that is so good but essentially worthless that it is similar to a guilty pleasure. I'm referring to George R. R. Martin's epic saga, “ A Song of Ice and Fire”. I'm on the third volume, “A Storm of Swords”. For these books I have to thank Julian Gross, a fine upstanding individual, married to my favorite niece, Jill. It all started back in March when Carol and I visited them in their San Francisco home. We were laughing and discussing favorite novels and I happened to mention that I absolutely adored Patrick O'Brian's “Master and Commander” series and lamented that there were only 19 books, and that I'd read every one and was now lost at sea. Julian, who had also read the O'Brian books, reached back to his bookshelf and handed me “A Game of Thrones”, the first in the Martin series. He did caution me that I needed to set aside a substantial block of free time before beginning the book. I wisely held his counsel, not starting the first volume until a week before the trip. Now I am so engrossed in these novels that I lay awake at night after I can read no more and further ponder the trials and tribulations facing the Stark family.

Taliesin, Frank Lloyd Wright's Wisconsin home

Sunday June 28, 2009
Taliesin. Frank Lloyd Wright's home is a thing of beauty. I'm not one to easily part with $110 but the tour of this home and grounds was extraordinary. The design, spacing and overall aesthetics made one feel contemplative whether one felt so inclined or not. It just had a magical and captivating feeling. Walking through the rooms and workspaces one gets the feeling that they created something very special in this environment.

A decade ago I was in the MOMA standing in front of a Picasso. I had this overwhelming sense of bearing witness to greatness, knowing that Picasso had at one time stood before his masterpiece. That was sort of what I felt going over and around Frank's place. He was a genius, no doubt about that. There's a certain refreshment one gets being in the vicinity of such people, people who are not bound by conventional thinking, morality or religion. I add religion because, on reflection, particularly after listening to Richard Dawkins' “The God Delusion”, I have to agree with many of his conclusions. Most of the great thinkers throughout history were either non-religious, agnostic or outright atheists. Religion, on the whole, has been an overall blight to humanity no matter how the apologists try to spin it. Genius, throughout the ages, has had to be circumspect in the best of times or covert in the darker eras in whatever they were working on, so as not to ignite the fire of religious backlash. I do hope the upcoming century sees science in the ascendancy and religion falling out of favor. Far too many people have been deceived, oppressed and killed in its name, whereas society can be quite moral and ethical without it. In this enlightened age, can we not dispense with the fear that is at the core of man-made, organized religion? To think that Darwin's “Origin of Species” was first published in 1859 and is still being condemned by evangelical sophists!
Oh, but I do go on. We spent a pleasant day here at Taliesin and will take the special feeling of this place home with us.

Entered Wisconsin

Saturday June 27, 2009
We finally reached one of our scheduled destinations, namely the Wisconsin River Resort. We choose this particular destination for its proximity to Frank Loyd Wright's home, Taliesin. The campground was clean and well managed. We finally had a full hookup which means, among other things, running water and electricity. One of the drawbacks of spending the night in rest stops as we have been, is that one uses the trailer battery for lights and the water pump which can be a significant drain. At any rate, we pulled the bikes off the rack and took a quick tour of the area.

The town of Spring Green is a typical small Wisconsin town, with lots of shops selling cheese and wine, and hand crafted goods. There was even a town nearby called the Amana Colonies that was devoted to Amish furniture makers. It was so picturesque that at first I thought we had wandered onto a movie set. However, after several passes we concluded it was an actual living town that had found its niche. Still, I wonder just what these Amish folk are really up to. Could they truly believe it's God's will that they shun modern conveniences? I have difficulty with rational beings swallowing such nonsense. Are they a kind of cult that has developed a strategy which allows them to maintain their patriarchal culture, while masquerading under the guise of religious freedom? I don't know. At least they are harmless enough, and very kind, but I don't see their brand surviving the 21st century. The advancement of science and the Internet is going to make it difficult to keep succeeding generations on the farm. Keeping people ignorant can only work in a completely closed society. I saw a couple dressed in Amish clothing on cell phones. Oh No! Their descendents might very well make a living as reenactment actors rather than actually living in authentic Amish communities.

Crossed the Mighty Mississipp'

Friday, June 26, 2009.

A Drive Through the great state of Iowa. Now I'm not sure if there are any particular Iowa highlights but I'm sure glad the state exists. Through the looking glass of a windshield, I'd say Iowa was corn fed, white and mostly middle class, hardly the likely choice to give Obama a shot at the presidency. However, I think it's safe to say that had Obama not won the Iowa caucuses, he would not be our president today and for that reason I'll always be grateful for their political astuteness. The landscape was also far more scenic than we had expected. Crossing the Mississippi River at Dubuque was a highlight.

NM to Colo to Kansas

Thursday, June 25, 2009

One of the advantages of having a trailer as opposed to tenting is the speed in which one can leave a campground. One of these days I'm going to actually experience this, but alas it was not going to be this day. By the time we rejoined route 285 again it was well past noon. Meandering north, we passed several small towns and ranching communities. Each part of the country seems to specialize in a different lifestyle and southern Colorado was no exception. Pickup trucks spewing bits and pieces of straw were near ubiquitous. Turning east on route 160 was a familiar road from our motorcycle touring days. At Granada we turned north again on 385 to pick up Interstate 70 and enter Kansas through the great portal of Kanorado. (Only in the USA do they come up with such names.)

Ojo Caliente, New Mexico

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

North of Santa Fe we took route 285 to visit our friend, Sunny, presently working as a masseuse in the Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort. Famed for its healing powers since 1830, we enjoyed ourselves immensely as we soaked in the waters and caught up on each other's lives. Sunny and Carol had met while working in Tombstone several years ago. The campground was thinly populated principally due to the swarms of mosquitoes that came to feed every morning and evening.

The next day we hiked above the hot springs and explored an ancient Anasazi settlement called Posi Ruins. There's not much left but a few pottery shards and the outlines of a dwelling or two. However, one could readily see why that particular location was selected. Nestled on a cliff, overlooking a free flowing stream and the hot springs themselves, the Anasazi more than likely spent many hours taking in the waters just as we had. Human beings, regardless of epoch or culture, are more alike than revisionists and imperialists would like us to think.

Later that evening, Sunny treated us to a fabulous dinner at the resort's restaurant, famous for its southwestern cuisine. Afterwards, walking back to the casita (our little trailer), the night sky was full as were our hearts and stomachs. We said our goodbyes, for in the morning we would part company; Carol and I to resume our journey north and Sunny to resume the rhythms of her life.