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Archive for January, 2014

The Birdwatcher In Us!

Posted: January 28th, 2014 by

Central Park

"The deceptively cute Gray Jay is one of the most intrepid birds in North America, living in northern forests year-round and rearing chicks in the dark of winter."  www.allaboutbirds.org

“The deceptively cute Gray Jay is one of the most intrepid birds in North America, living in northern forests year-round and rearing chicks in the dark of winter.” www.allaboutbirds.org

Let’s face it, there’s a little birdwatcher in all of us. Stop and think for a moment; do you remember when you looked skyward and wondered where that flock of geese was flying to as they headed southward? How about the time you saw birds of a feather swoop from one set of tree tops to another; or watched the antics of a Blue Jay taking possession of its space, or a Mother bird feed her young amid their gaping beaks, twitters and peeps. Yes, you were bird watching!

Mountain Desert Island, Maine - a year-round birding paradise - Wikimedia Commons

Mountain Desert Island, Maine – a year-round birding paradise – Wikimedia Commons

I’ve never actually considered myself a birdwatcher per se, but I do remember quite a few years ago, while touring the Florida Everglades, encountering a group of tourists who were actually on a bird watching tour. They disembarked quietly from their tour bus in single file with binoculars in hand. At first, I couldn’t help wonder what they were doing, but then it was evident as they dispersed and quickly raised their binoculars toward the tree tops. I could barely hear their whispers, but imagined they were pointing out one bird or another. You could see the fascination and quiet excitement on their faces. I watched three or four congregate near some Palmetto’s as they peered around the prickly green pointed Palmetto, and in hushed tones speak of some great feathered find.
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The Dream Continues . . .

Posted: January 19th, 2014 by

Dr. Martin Luther King Memorial, Washington DC

Dr. Martin Luther King Memorial, Washington DC

2013 was the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s infamous “I Have a Dream” speech, a milestone marked by many remembrances and memorials. As we approach this January 20th, set aside to honor MLK, we are reminded once again that we should never give up on our dreams, which are as varied as the people who dream them.

Tower of old Jamestown Church, ca 1639, shown in  1854 image, Wikimedia comons

Tower of old Jamestown Church, ca 1639, shown in 1854 image, Wikimedia comons

. . . including dreams that go back as far as 1607, when the English (some 100+ men and boys plus 39 crew members) established Jamestown as the first settlement of the Virginia Colony, traveling across the ocean to fulfill their dream of religious freedom and a better quality of life. Today Jamestown, and nearby Williamsburg, are a testament to these early settlers’ fortitude, and what once was their first home reminds us of America’s early history, which have also become popular tourist attractions, drawing people from all walks of life.

1870, Crouffit's Great Transcontinental Tourist's Guide, Wikimedia Commons

1870, Crouffit’s Great Transcontinental Tourist’s Guide, Wikimedia Commons

May 10, 1869 marked another milestone in American History, where the dream of the first Transcontinental Railroad was finally realized thereby enabling Americans to travel virtually from one coast to the other overland, connecting with the existing Eastern U.S. rail network at Council Bluffs, Iowa. The dream may have actually begun with Asa Whitney, the widely-traveled cousin of Eli Whitney (inventor of the cotton gin) who said, “[It] would bring all our immensely wide-spread population together as one vast city; the moral and social effects of which must harmonize all together as one family; with but one interest – the general good of all.” Others, like Dr. Hartwell Carver kept the dream alive, with an article published in 1832, where Carver advocated the building of a transcontinental railroad from Lake Michigan to Oregon.

Although the initial building of a transcontinental railroad was very much for commercial purposes, as it evolved it is also provided a means for tourism.
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I Now Know What Sea Legs Mean . . .

Posted: January 10th, 2014 by

Sunrise in Cozumel, Mexico, from the bow of the Breeze

Sunrise in Cozumel, Mexico, from the bow of the Breeze


You probably guessed: I just recently went on a week-long cruise which I can easily describe as a dream vacation. You know, where the skies were pretty much sunny, the air was warm and a calliope of chatter (in about a dozen languages) and laughter filled the air wherever we were… the sights were fantastic, the food was hmmmm very good, and there was plenty to see and do.

swans 2As memories go though, there were three or four standouts. First, there were the towels mimicking various sea creatures. Yes, I did say towels! You see, each evening, when we came back to our cabin after the sumptuous evening meal, we were greeted by a clean room and a towel sea creature sitting atop the bed. As I remember correctly, we had a frog, a penguin, a sea turtle, a stingray and I presume a pelican. There was also two swans kissing, representing a heart, to celebrate my daughter’s birthday.
sentinel
This simple gesture, provided by our daily housekeeper, who cleaned our room, not once, but twice a day, was actually something unexpected but eagerly anticipated after the first evening’s surprise. Although I am sure the overall cost of the cruise includes what some might think nonsensical; I on the other hand thought it to be a thoughtful and genuine state of hospitality, something often lacking in any vacation, be it on land or sea. By the way, the towel brigade was in full swing the morning of our final full day at sea when the pool deck had an array of towel-sea creatures sitting atop lounge chairs, much like I imagined soldiers would look, all bedecked in white uniforms, guarding their charges of blue.
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