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Jaisalmer

01 – 04 February 2018 Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India

We left Jaipur at midnight to Jaisalmer taking a 2nd class sleeper. First class was filled when we booked three months earlier. Narda took the upper bunk and seemed to sleep more than me. A woman in the bunk across from me snored louder than anyone I have ever heard before keeping me awake for most of the night. Somewhere in the night she was replaced by two women covered head to toe in black with no face showing sitting on the bunk opposite and looking at me. That kept me awake most of the rest of the night. We got to Jaisalmer around noon and took a tuk tuk to Hotel Helsinki.

Jaisalmer is a former medieval trading center in the western Indian state of Rajasthan, in the heart of the Thar Desert. Dominating the skyline is Jaisalmer Fort, a sprawling hilltop citadel buttressed by 99 bastions. Behind its massive walls stand the ornate Maharaja’s Palace and intricately carved Jain temples.

Helsinki House (http://www.helsinkihouse.in/) is built as a Haveli, (rooms surround a central courtyard) and for a budget hotel is very comfortable, meaning the beds were soft, the shower had hot water, and the room was large.  View below is walking outside our room into the centre of the haveli.They advertise as being at the edge of the Gadisar Lake, however, we found the lake a bit of a trek away. This is because of a long-term drought. The photo of the walled city is at the top of this blog, from their rooftop. We ate most of our meals here and they were affordable and tasty. Affordable meaning a complete feed for two with drinks (not beer) for about 600 rupees which is about $9 USD. Breakfast was included. The people running it are really helpful, friendly and with the line ‘this is your home we are just here to make it good’, and they did. The one who built it lives in Melbourne now and his brother is running the place. Getting there is not worth the ride, walk those last few blocks. The single lane road is so rough that body parts begin to fall off by the time one gets to the hotel.

In one ride Narda held onto the driver’s child as we roared around the old city streets:Our first trek was to the fort which is viewable from our hotel. It looks like a gigantic sandcastle. It is one of the few ‘living forts’ in the world, if not the only one; filled with temples, shops, and thousands of people living within the walls.  Built in 1156 AD, the streets and houses are a journey into the past with the present everywhere (people with cell phones and free WIFI throughout the city and satellite television dishes sticking out of five-hundred-year-old homes). See our slideshow for a bunch of groovy pics showing this wonderful place at

On our second day we hired a tour guide. Going into the walled city there are dozens of men offering their services as guides. We were hounded by them yesterday and today when someone said for two-hundred rupees ($3 USD) they would spend a few hours showing us around and explaining stuff. I recorded some of what he said (see clip above) though at the end of the day the only thing I remember was him telling us how the fort was not attacked because the enemy’s elephants and camels could not make it up the steep stone climb into the city; the fort-folks “poured oil over the long ascending road” – what a good idea. The image of elephants, camels, and horses sliding down the mountain on oil stayed with me for days. I think I even had a dream about it. Very Freudian.We did a tour of temples in the walled city, such as the main Jain Temple with such incredible carvings, Paraswanath Temple, built in the 1100s. Narda bought some clothing, pants I think, I got a fridge magnet and toilet paper. For anyone who has never travelled to Asia before (any country) carry toilet paper with you as they never provide it. There are those water spray thingies like they have in Europe, details not included, but still toilet paper for those of you like me is a necessity. We bought hats for the high tourist price of 150 rupees each (almost $2) for our camel ride. In this city of narrow winding roads cows, tuk tuks, people, goats, pigs, dogs, and cats vie for navigational prominence. Here is a short clip of our tour of the fort etc.

Jaisalmer is a very hustling town. At every step someone or their child is trying to sell something or ask for money. I was hoping this dude would give me some groovy mantra or tell me I had the most magnificent aura ever but instead he put his hand out for money then was disappointed with the amount we gave. Even the animals, as in every city, go for handouts, with cows nuzzling up to you if food is in your hand, the same with goats, dogs, and some places monkeys.

Camels I freaked out about the idea of riding camels in the hot blazing sun. It was not the ride, but the sun that scared me. Terrell REALLY had his heart set on it. He is usually very laid back about everything (with the exception of all things computer related), but the camels had captured his imagination. So here we were. I bought a white scarf and a hat to hold it in place, Arabian style.

Our camels were one-humped boys, called dromedaries. They have nice big eyes, and lovely long lashes. My camel, named Rocket (a little alarming) stood over 7’ at the top of the hump, putting my head 9 to 10 feet up! They also have soft mushy feet divided into 2 toes. The feet splay out to the size of a large dinner place I recon, protecting them from sinking sand. They walk with a gentle roll, like being on the ocean. It was surprisingly pleasant. Mind you, getting on and off…you have to lean forwards, then lean right back. All good.

We got picked up at the hotel. The driver stopped at a few villages on the way, the first one was full of kids, the second one was ruins from 350 years ago, abandoned because of a mixed marriage. A boy falls in love with a girl from the wrong caste, and all hell breaks loose. That’s the short version.

Actually, speaking of caste, the system is still alive and well in India. Our tuk tuk driver Shambu, a lovely guy, told us about his upcoming arranged (by his brother) marriage. She was from the shoe-maker caste, as he was, and so he told us that this makes life so much easier, especially when there are children. They would meet at MacDonalds to get to know each other better. He just completed building his one roomed house, and now he is ready to receive his bride. Bless them!!

I am surprised everyday in India. It is such a fascinating country. And the food……don’t get me started…..is fabulous; you don’t need to go to a fancy restaurant. The dodgiest looking little places serve the most wonderful food. Though last night I nearly had to call the fire brigade when I bit into a serve of Momos..HOT dumplings. The waiter came rushing to me with a spoon full of sugar…bless him…it helped. Back to the camels. We rode for some 2 hours, then sat in the sand and waited while the camel guys cooked us a meal over a fire. From scratch, kneading the dough; the whole thing! The ride home in the 4Wheel drive was the scariest thing. He had to ‘gun it’ to get past the sandy area, otherwise we kept getting bogged. That was definitely a ‘white knuckle’ ride. I recommend camel riding; another surprise.

Our video, not to be missed, of camels’ adventures with us

I loved the camel ride and could have gone for longer. Narda’s camel seemed friendlier, I know this because mine spit at me when Itried to pet him, and Narda’s didn’t. While our guide(s) cooked, our rides were tied to bags of something to keep them from wandering off; not sure how many or who belonged to us but there were at least five blocks around the campfire cooking, frying, laughing, a couple holding hands. We were told that the camels had to be tied up as they were males and females were in a wanting mood, and if let loose, our camels ‘would go off and party and not return for days’. The idea of camels humping one another (get the humping joke?) whilst we sat in our meditative moods on their humps did not seem so picturesque. Until sunset we sat on our own little sand dune with no one else in sight. After dark we wandered toward the fire and got our meal which was very good, though, as one would expect, there was some sand in it. Most people we met at our hotel did this for days. Narda’s son, Brendan and a gal, did an overnighter but we were not quite up to it and got back about ten pm.

Below some happy city residents of Jaisalmer that Narda caught smiling at us. We have four sources of photos: our Nikon with wide angle, regular and zoom lenses, Narda’s Samsung phone, and tablet, and my iPhone. From our room we would watch incredible sunrises every morning – see the clip below…

For a great way to end the day there is always tea at the Tibet Café inside the walls. Then we took an overnight, eighteen-hour, train to Jodhpur, the incredible Blue City, in an AC1 carriage – we had our own room. That will be the post next.

I also do this blog at our India site which is located at http://neuage.org/india and is often more up to date than this as we are too busy exploring where we are or reading. Currently Narda is reading, “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” and I am reading “Homo Deus A Brief History of Tomorrow” both by Yuval Noah Harari. I have already read the book Narda is reading. We love these books and recommend them to everyone. Any time left, which is little I post my photo textual work at https://plus.google.com/u/0/collection/E_6JaB

I post my daily thoughts at http://neuage.org/2018/

My HomePage is http://neuage.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jaipur

Jaipur in the state of Rajasthan
25 January, Thursday

 Narda slept most of the way from Agra to Jaipur. We had first class sleepers which were comfortable. I sat up the whole way (six hours) and played with some Photoshop stuff.

We got to Jaipur after eleven pm and took the first tuk tuk driver we spoke with. For 100 rupees he got us to our hotel and along the way he told us that he had fallen on hard times and he would give us a tour for the day for 500 rupees (less than $8 USD). He did not have a card or website (very few do) but he gave us his brother’s phone number if we were so inclined. I did write it down, but we never got in touch again. The reason being that every time we walked out of our hotel, restaurant, shop, there would be dozens of tuk tuk drivers offering their services. When we said we were just going for a walk people would walk alongside us offering tours, guides, rides, marijuana, hash, even opium, along with carpets, and textiles to view and purchase.

The Anaraag Villa (http://www.anuraagvilla.com/) was quite a change from our place in Agra. Both were around $20 USD but this place was heaps better with a garden that filled with peacocks in the morning and evening (I counted twelve once). And the food was excellent for the whole week.

We spent most days wandering around our neighbourhood, a couple of times we took a random bus ride into town and one day we had a tuk tuk drive us around.

The famous places are the forts, which we went past but not inside, and the Pink City. I bought a new suitcase as the wheel fell off the one I have used for the past couple of years, Narda got dresses and scarves and generally we just chilled.

We walked for a couple of hours in the Pink City (the paint was produced from a calcium oxide compound), where, once, long ago, everything was pink, though now it is all a bit of a mildewed brown. At a restaurant we met a couple of fellas from Albany, New York, which is where I am from, I grew up twenty miles away in Clifton Park, New York, though I left there in 1965. Narda and I taught in Albany, New York 2002 – 2007 so I did have another run at that town. We saw them again several days later in Jaisalmer and had a chatty evening with them. We are on one of the tourist treks between cities that people go to one after another, but it is still interesting to see people from one’s obscure hometown.

Below is the Hawa Mahal (palace of winds) which is really just a front – there is no building in back. The Mahal was constructed by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh in 1799. Word on the street is that the Mahal was constructed to enable the Royal women of Rajput family to view the happenings in the city.

Below is the Hawa Mahal (palace of winds) which is really just a front – there is no building in back.
Jaipur Pink City

Amer Fort...

Amer Fort…

Getting around Jaipur tuk tuks

Amer Fort…It was constructed by Raja Mansingh in the year 1592.The red sandstone and marble stone construction reflect a blend of Hindu-Muslim architecture. We didn’t go inside but we got a lot of photos of the outside.The Anaraag Villa has been a real treat. The building is beautiful, 3 stories with lovely wall and ceiling frescos and marble floors. In the back a shady garden, peacocks grazing and tables and chairs where you can eat and relax. Only issue is the flute player who comes during breakfast times, playing his wooden flute to a mechanical drone. It was truly horrible. He played scales over and over again, never changing key. ….for 1 ½ hours. It drove me crazy. I actually asked for him to stop while we had our breakfast and to the credit of the staff here, they accommodated Miss Grumpy!

Jaipur has been nice. The air is much cleaner, the weather fantastic. We have slept well and done some explorations of the Pink city, a section of town with craftsmen and even visited a guru, who told us a whole lot of crap.

Yesterday we decided to go real local and took the bus across town to the World Trade Park. Enjoyed a movie “The Post”…loved it. Took our first Uber home. A nice easy ride.

World Trade Park is an amazing modern plaza for this part of the world. We have not seen anything like this yet. We saw a movie here and ate in there tripped out dinning area. The Uber ride we took cost 200 rupees ($3 USD) for a 45 minute drive.
Elephants take cargo and tourists up the mountain. Elephants take cargo and tourists up the mountain. We went up with a tuk tuk. The driver asked for 200 rupees for three hours of showing us around, we gave him 300 ($4.50 USD). We went to the various carpet shops, dress and scarf shops and worse of all an idiot guru. Our tuk tuk driver told us how he had been ill for years – some stomach thing – and he went to this famous guru who reads auras and the dude sold him some gem and then he was well. The ‘guru’ had a jewellery shop and we were parked in front of a glass case filled with silver and ‘amulets’ and the good ‘guru’ said a lot of stupid things to both of us and we left. (For example, he said I had dementia in my aura – which I ‘decided myself’ to quickly forget; of course, if I purchased some stone – it would help). We were extra upset to discover our poor tuk tuk driver who told us he had a crippled daughter plus two other children at home, his wife had died, and his elderly mother was home looking after the children. This ‘guru’ who had read his aura had sold him an amulet for 3000 rupees to heal him. The tuk tuk driver is lucky to get a couple of hundred rupees in a day. India is filled with sad stories. Everyone we meet has a list of dead people, troubled home situations and just difficult lives. People plead with us to show us things; to hire them for a couple of hours. There are so many more tuk tuk drivers than passengers. We hear stories of drivers getting no passengers for days. This is their livelihood. Then so called ‘gurus’ hustle illiterate people for all they can get from them.

Situated in the middle of Mansagar Lake is the groovy Jal Mahal. It was built by Maharaja Jai Singh II in the 18th century, as a hunting lodge and summer retreat. Not visible is the high level of pollution in the lake with lots of rubbish – I enhanced the colours a bit on my photo to give more blue and less grey and less yuck in the lake.In the evening, as we do at home (wherever that may be at any given time) we watch TV series. We have yet to figure out how to watch television, though we have tried in several cities, so we watch our Netflix series on our laptop. Currently we are finishing up the “The Good Fight” season one; which is an extension of “The Good Wife” that we loved except for the series ending, which sucked.

Narda was back to her Delhi Belly ways so we went to the local chemist and got a repeat of the pills we paid about $35 a piece for in Australia for $1.50 USD for a pack of ten. We didn’t need a script, like going to the chemist in China, if you know the name of the drug, they will sell it, no questions asked.

even with Delhi Belly shopping is good

even with Delhi Belly shopping is good

And there is always someone to ask for directions, even if everyone points a different direction.

I also do this blog at our India site which is located at http://neuage.org/india and is often more up to date than this as we are too busy exploring where we are or reading. Currently Narda is reading, “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” and I am reading “Homo Deus A Brief History of Tomorrow” both by Yuval Noah Harari. I have already read the book Narda is reading. We love these books and recommend them to everyone. Any time left, which is little I post my photo textual work at https://plus.google.com/u/0/collection/E_6JaB

I post my daily thoughts at http://neuage.org/2018/

 

 

 

India2018: Agra

Travels through India with Terrell Neuage and Narda Biemond. India 2018 itinerary   Previous blog: Delhi

Wednesday 24/01/2018 Agra

We were up at five am after not sleeping well all night from waking up constantly to be sure we were awake at five am. We had our phone alarms on (my wake-up ring tone is a Dylan song ‘She belongs to me’ and Narda is enough to drown out a freight train) plus the hotel was to bang on our door but we were up before then. Still we worry.

We got a tuk tuk to the train station that even at 6:30 am was crowded with zillions of people all over.

We had a nice chat with a couple of police people while we waited. They helped us get on to the correct carriage, which in our case was first class seats for the two plus hours. See  below.

The train seats were comfortable – not Amtrak comfortable but Indian good. Our first train on this three-month trip. We got breakfast served (cornflakes, milk, coffee, and a hot meal of eggs and something which we declined as we had breakfast at the train station. An uneventful couple of hours with some reading done. Shambhu, our tuk tuk driver for the next three days greeted us with our names on a sign and we settled into Hotel Sheela near the Taj Mahal and after eating at the hotel we slept. The hotel is quite basic, we had booked the basic room for $23 USD for two nights, but apparently it was too basic for us uptown folks (no hot showers, and small) so for $53 USD we got a hot shower and a larger room for two nights. We thought the beds in India were going to be too hard, so we brought a couple of blow-up mattress and a pump which puts our luggage over weight for internal flights. The beds so far are good, thick foam, after two stays we gave them away to Shambhu.

With Delhi we were tossing out blogs a day, videos, photos galore, now we are too busy to do any such thing. Or we were, I am writing this on the night train to Jaipur, with Narda, and everyone else in our carriage asleep. When we get there I will be stuffed, but then I should sleep, Narda will be reading her Kindle for the rest of the night. The last couple of days have tested every fibre of this seventy-year old and I am sure Narda-the-younger feels exhausted also. Of course, she has been asleep for the past three hours on the berth above me. And this morning I woke her at eight am, so we could get out the door; such is the life of an old person.

We did the Taj Mahal thing Wednesday morning, a very foggy morning – barely saw it. An hour later when sun decided to shine and chase away the fog we got a couple of photos. It is somewhat impressive, the fact that it has lasted so long is a testament to something.

I have always liked cows, from living on a dairy farm in Australia to not eating them since my parents may have slipped something onto my plate in the early 1950s and throughout the early 1960s that may have had cow chunks in it, cows have been an interesting topic of observation for me. My email image of the past ten years has been with me walking alongside a cow in Goa.  In Delhi, Agra, and now Jaipur I have had many photo ops with cows. So many in fact that Narda has put me on a cow-band. I will include a couple here just to remind myself of these days.

We met our tuk tuk driver in the afternoon and went to a carpet weaving place.

Shambhu was recommended to us by Narda’s work colleague, Brother Rob. He has been using his services and those of his family for a period of about 30 years as he made frequent trips back to India. This family of tuk tuk drivers has become very special to Rob, and he has many great stories to tell.

We visited Shambhu’s village. One of our favourite visits, ‘the real India’ he said. The video below is a bit blurry, something I blame on very poor internet for uploading but it does give an idea of this village. Shambhu is getting married in a month and he explained the process to us. His brother arranged a girl from the same class; in his case the ‘shoemaker class’. They meet at McDonalds. He asked if she like him and with an affirmative she asked if he like her, and thus began their romance. They met one-another’s families and when we met Shambhu he was in the process of building his new home; an add-on room to his brother’s home. There will be no floors, outside of what the earth provides, he has the bricks and has started digging out the sandy soil for a foundation. They have a well for water for their area, provided by Brother Robert, who brings students from his school in Australia. It will cost some 50,000 rupees to build his new home; about $776 USD. Shambhu is working hard with this tuk tuk business to raise the money. If he can not build his house in the next two months he will lose his bride as her father wants her provided for. She is 19, he is 25. He is also raising funds for the marriage. I forget how much it is but it is supposed to be a three day affair with a horse and bands and lots of celebration. Travel gives us such a different view of life-styles. Narda and I met on the internet, from the day we physically met at the end of 2000 until now we have rarely been apart. My marriage proposal was one night when, in the middle of the night, not even knowing whether Narda was awake or not, I said, ‘let’s do this thing’. That was it. I could not even use the word marriage for a long time. We did the deed with family present at the end of a pier, and I called it ‘JettyDay’. At the time I didn’t have a car, I was a single-parent, a few bucks in my pocket, and I didn’t even give her a ring. What a contrast to an Indian hitch.

The class thing takes awhile to get one’s mind around, but we have heard people mention it wherever we go. People will tell us on first meeting, ‘I am of the Brahmin Class’ which I believe is a priest class and they feel they are at the top of the heap. It seems strange to identify with birth as the totality of one’s place in life. Of course, it is easy for me as a white male from a western culture (with my duel citizenship of USA and Australia) to say one can achieve whatever they wish. I sure have. I realise I need to get over myself and understand how society has limited people by race, gender, place of birth, belief systems. I always thought by now, 2018, the world would be more homogenous. Maybe religion would be replaced by doctrines of love without doctrines. We would treat each other equally. I think it is getting worse. America First as well as anyone else who proclaims themselves first is putting us back into the class systems. Everyone is to get in the back of the line. I must be careful when I think a tuk tuk driver is over-charging me 150 instead of 100 rupees ($2.33 instead of $1.55 USD). A cup of coffee in most shops in Australia is about $4 (204 rupees), a beer in a pub starts at $8 (408 rupees). Our daily budget for food in India is $20 USD (sorry about switching between USD and Australian Dollar) for the two of us which is about one meal if we are doing it on the cheap in Australia. We feel good about ourselves giving a beggar a twenty rupee note until we realise we just gave away 30-cents. India is tough on a western consciousness.

Narda even played a bit of cricket with the children.

Shambhu and his sisters made us a meal. We were concerned about getting to the train on time. He kept saying we would be there on time, and he did do it. Was I feeling uneasy being waited and eating a meal surrounded by about twenty children. I said feed them first and we were told there was plenty for them. What I saw didn’t seem like it. The meal was cooked in their kitchen, a small open fire on the ground with a few vegetables. Letting go is such a difficult thing. Perhaps this is what I will learn in three months of being in India.

We were told that the school situation was good for people with money, they could send their children to a private school. Public school was a different story. Teachers are paid a salary. They do not show up, except a couple of times a year when there is an inspection. When we were there on what should have been a school day, children were all over the place. We went up to the roof and 360 degrees around us there were children on the rooftops waving to us. We did not share a language but they were smiling and we all laughed together. Narda taught them a song – see the clip below.

Village visit =

Shambhu took us to the local market with everyone smiling and saying it was OK for me to take their photo. We didn’t buy anything, no one seemed to worry. Around historic sites it is a different story with so many people asking for money, selling tours, trinkets, pity. What would I do in their situation? I have had my hardships, tragedies, failures, and success in life but nothing compares to the stories we get and the situations we see. I feel I get beggar fatigue. But I feel somewhat good about animal life in India. I am sure I will go on about this too many times. Unlike cultures of animal-eaters (goody-two-shoes vegetarian for decades me gets a bit judgemental in this space) the animals in India receive more respect. Cows are holy. They wander everywhere. Nutritionally their life is crap as they forge for themselves among the garbage, but they get to live their lives, hangout with each other. The calf is not separated from the mother at birth so we can steal the milk, pigs and chickens are not forced to live in such totally unnatural conditions where they can barely move, let alone socialize, so we can slaughter them to get fat on.

We had no intentions on purchasing a carpet – what would we do with an expensive new rug in our home that we are trying to get rid of stuff from? We watched how rugs were handwoven, months of works, and such an array of amazing colours. Then we thought of our home back in Adelaide. A bit dated, needing new style, something different than our Chinese collections of things dotted around, then we remembered how we have no second thought of replacing a camera or computer for a thousand dollars every few years; phones, television, constant car/caravan servicing, etc. A handwoven carpet should last for a long time. We were told it also would help several families.

This is the carpet we bought. We will now need to redecorate our lounge; oh wait, the house, the next day we bought three more: two for our bedroom and one for the hall. We need new curtains, we will paint the lounge when we get home, maybe even some new furniture. It is amazing what one can do a month after saying no more spending on the house.

the two for our bedroom: handwoven months of work,

And the one for our lounge;

And the one for our hallway (in the middle)

We were told this took five months and three-months of work to make. That is about how much we had to work to make the money to pay for it (not really – but they were not Walmart rugs.

Carpet – here is a video we took of them making a carpet:

We went to a music store where we were given a sitar concert and Narda was taught how to play a sitar in a few lessons. Of course, they wanted us to buy one but we didn’t.

We went to a marble shop and saw how marble pieces were inserted into tables and things. Tuk tuk drivers get a small commission for taking tourists to places like this. There is no pressure to buy anything; we did go nuts at the carpet place, but other places we just look and make it clear for the start we are not buying. They are happy to show their wares and the tuk tuk driver gets something and we learn from everyone we meet and there is always my ever-present camera taking photos or video. I made a rather uninteresting video which can be seen here Marble factory

Agra Fort video

Agra Fort is in the city of Agra. It was the main residence of the emperors of the Mughal Dynasty till 1638, when the capital was shifted from Agra to Delhi. Compared to the Red Fort in Delhi it is much more spectualar. The fort in Delhi was going through a reconstruction cycle but even without that the Agra one is bigger and better. It was India Tourism Day so we got to have our photo taken with some foreigners. Narda got them all to do a round of “Aussie Aussie Aussie” and them to say “oi oi oi”. I did not get my camera up in time to record it so just imagine it.

Video Clips are HERE

Terowie

5 April 2017
Terowie, South Australia

Terowie, South Australia

Terowie, South Australia

Robert said he heard his mate calling him from mid-north SA. So he and his wife packed up, and moved there. They bought a house for $90,000 opposite Robert’s mate’s garage. He told us about the murders in Terowie.

“Just like Snowtown”, he said, “Maybe worse. These victims were buried in a wall.” (any American reading this may like to Google “Snowtown murders, South Australia…chilling reading)

It was a warm Saturday night, around 8 o’clock when all the young ones are out partying, or having expensive dinners. Not in Terowie. There was one young one. We saw her sitting on the swing in the local, nicely kept, playground. This was in the afternoon, on the Saturday. We returned later and she was still there, swinging.

But the boys were out, with cans of West End, sitting on upturned buckets and some old car furniture, shooting the breeze with Robert’s mate. This was where and when we found them. We had just set up camp on the nearby railway siding. We were feeling quite pleased with ourselves, with our shady little spot, free, and our new bike rack.

Then we discovered one major puncture in one of our bikes. Bugger. We remembered passing this servo on the way in, so we walked along the main street till we found it. And there they were. Action in Main Street. Having nothing to lose we asked the mechanic (Robert’s mate) if he might have time to fix the hole.

He said, “No worries”.

Nice bloke. He was the only one working, among the boys and their West End cans. We returned later and joined the friendly banter. That’s when we learned of Robert’s life story, his mortgage, the murder and many other things. In the end the mechanic refused to charge us. Blimey. We felt a little humbled.

That is Terowie. A little town at the end of its life. In its hey-day there were 2000 folks living there; a town of lovely stone buildings, a bustling railway town, where broad gauge trains have to unload their passengers, their animals and their goods, and reload them onto narrow gauge trains, heading north.  Now the town is sad. A few buildings; the blacksmith, the old post office, and the old general store have been converted into museums, but there’s no-one there.

And yet, it keeps on. A big “RV friendly town” sign welcomes you as you drive in. The toilets in the main street are kept clean by an unknown person, for the convenience of Grey Nomads, who camp at the railway siding for free. The mechanic, who is also the owner of the large Victorian hotel, used to offer counter meals. He recently decided to stop, because “the pub in the next town is also struggling, and there are not enough customers for us both”.

Why is this? There is a giant wind farm only 20 minutes south, with millions of dollars invested in hundreds of giant wind mills. Why is this not bringing some wealth into the area? Robert, who knows such things, told us that the money goes to NSW, and we don’t get any benefit as a state, certainly none as a town.

Hallett 2 Wind Farm Mount Bryan

Hallett 2 Wind Farm Mount Bryan

 

So there it is. We spent three days there; but it made quite an impression. The town has treasures, like absolute silence; what an unusual gift, and clear black skies where you see the colours of planets. It is enough. And if you’re wondering about the bodies in those walls, ask Robert. We have no idea.

ask Robert

ask Robert

Our Video – with kangaroos and real outback footage and heaps more – for first time internet users click on the white arrow in the image below – everyone else do the same.

Our first stop, real stop, not counting Elizabeth twenty-minutes from home was in Saddleworth, in the Gilbert Valley, approximately 100 kilometres north of Adelaide.

Wanting to be accurate I looked up Krispy Kreme store-locator. I am sure it is Elizabeth but I wanted to be sure. Perhaps their IT department needs to work on their location finder. It said the nearest one was in Missouri and Google provided a map to there which was most helpful.

Krispy Kreme location finder

Krispy Kreme location finder

 

Saddleworth is definitely a town that looked worth exploring. There is a caravan park there but we did not see a free site so we kept going.

saddleworth

Saddleworth

We were having a bit of a bother with our Pajero which had an engine light warning. We had it looked at and some minor repair but ‘Billy’, our Pajero (our caravan is “Holiday”) was feeling a bit under the weather and the further we went the worst he felt. By the time the trip was over we could barely make it up a small hill even in first gear. Currently Billy is booked in for surgery next week and Holiday is at the caravan shop getting a review of her situation with some add-ons such as solar panel so we can go further afield and do more free camping. We did limp into Terowie, a town we had passed through several years earlier. I even bought a fridge magnet there. This time the town was very quiet and though the entrance sign boasted 150 residents, most of those have since gone and places are for sale at bargain prices. We looked at the post office that was for sale for $105,000 with land, four bedrooms, all modernized with beautiful floors – I want to be the mayor of Terowie and being a Leo is really all the qualifications I need to succeed and Narda could be the post master.

We were alone at the free-camping along the rail-line the first night and the second night there were four others. The area was so large that everyone was very spread out and we did not have any contact which is fine with me but Narda likes to meet people and get stories such as above. I just want to be in a quiet place to write a novel or another version of my memoirs. (you can read my  original version of ‘Leaving Australia’ @ http://neuage.org/e-books/

We chose this town in part due to the flatness of it. After six-weeks recently in Holland and riding every day – even in the snow (this was January – February 2017) we were up for riding more. Our house in Adelaide is in a bit of a hilly area so we rode heaps – though there was not far to go; one end of town to the other – well there is five-minutes of our life gone. We did ride around the ‘suburbs’ which took another fifteen-minutes. This is a photographer’s dream place. I did not get anywhere near the amount of photos a ‘real’ photographer would have gotten. There are four or five old churches on one street, not Main Street, a couple old pubs and lots of buildings.

This was an important train stop between Adelaide and the North. One of their main claims to fame here is that General Douglas MacArthur paid a visit here with his family after WW II. For Australians MacArthur was some military dude for the USA, a five-star general – which is a lot, who was quite important during the time he was important.

General Douglas MacArthur

General Douglas MacArthur

We decided to go to a place called ‘World’s End Reserve halfway back to Adelaide. Due to a combination of not getting internet where we were and our GPS, which hates us (I have spoken of this in a previous blog) we got hopelessly lost on a gravel road and never did find the place.

World's End Reserve

World’s End Reserve

We got to Eudunda, found some free camping spot: changed gas bottles, started cooking, smelt gas, panicked, drove home, got home two-hours later, and realised how good life is, once again.

Two ponts and a castle

30 January Monday DAY 66 of trip

Previous to this trip videos: Riding on Rienk’s boat through the canals of Utrecht https://youtu.be/Per0jb8JszU Sep 17, 2012 / ‘Hup Holland Hup’, Narda and friend at the Dalian International School singing the song supporting the Dutch soccer team – https://youtu.be/9rrMeajC6v0 a classic not to be missed / another old Utrecht one – a minute and a half – https://youtu.be/7sGJR_jNymg that we uploaded Aug 28, 2009. We have done heaps over the years and maybe will post those later.

Netherlands > Belgium > Germany Road-trip

Video @ https://youtu.be/6AdcUP7g054

We left straight after breakfast on Monday morning to have a little foray into another country; a road trip. So ‘first thing’ was around 11am, not bad. We set the GPS to ‘no freeways’ and drove through many lovely towns and villages; almost all had a central very old church, and some surrounding cobbled stoned; old towns. We crossed rivers twice by ferry; quite a surprise. The ferries are ‘ponts’ in Dutch, in case you were wondering. The ‘castle’ loomed and surprised us completely. We’d actually become quite lost amongst the market gardens, with lit up glass houses, fascinating; no idea what was being grown, perhaps flowers, and then there it was! So we accidently found the best preserved castle in the Netherlands, built in the 1300s and restored recently. Just beautiful.

Castle Ammersoyen (in Ammerzoden in the Bommelerwaard region in the province of Gelderland) http://www.kasteel-ammersoyen.nl/

Castle Ammersoyen (in Ammerzoden in the Bommelerwaard region in the province of Gelderland)

Castle Ammersoyen (in Ammerzoden in the Bommelerwaard region in the province of Gelderland)

Castle Ammersoyen (in Ammerzoden in the Bommelerwaard region in the province of Gelderland) http://www.kasteel-ammersoyen.nl/

The castle was originally built in 1350 by Dirk van Herlaer along the river Maas. 
Ammersoyen was a unique castle as it was built using a fixed plan, 
which was unlike other castles built during this era. 
The design included four wings that were constructed around a center court. 
Each corner had its own heavy tower for extra protection. 
The castle included a gatehouse and was originally surrounded by a moat. 
At the time, it was one of the finest defensive structures in the country.

In 1386, the castle was lost to Duke of Gelderland who gave the castle 
to his illegitimate son. 
He then sold the castle in 1424 to Johan van Broekhugen, Lord of Waarenburg. 
For the next four hundred years, the castle only exchanged hands through inheritance.

 After a couple of hours, we re-joined the freeway and sped along to Maastricht. Terrell had booked an amazing hotel, which was a country estate, Buitenplaats Vaeshartelt; think “to the Manor Born” for the low season price of around 60 Eu. Really beautiful grounds and buildings. We also had a great meal at an Italian place (Il Bacaro, http://www.ilbacaro.nl/) in the city square, with some amazing old churches for a backdrop. We parked the car in the carpark underneath the plaza; all very easy. Maastricht is a beautiful city, a little different from the northern Dutch cities, perhaps more French influence here.


Getting off motorways is the way to see a country. I grew up alongside route nine in Clifton Park, New York. Throughout my youth it was a two-lane highway then it expanded to the four land road it is now. In New York, US 9 extends 324.72 miles (522.59 km) from the George Washington Bridge in Manhattan to the Canada border.

route nine going through Clifton Park, New York

route nine going through Clifton Park, New York

The reason I am rabbiting on here about Route Nine is that when we do not want to drive on the freeway/motorway/turnpike/thruway/interstate/autobahn we say we will go on route nine; wherever in the world we are. Narda lived along Route Nine with me for a couple of years before we moved to Round Lake, New York then to Brooklyn then to Jersey City then to Australia and on the road again; always looking for Route Nine to get where we are going.

We found our Route Nine in the Netherlands though we do hope on the motorway lately as we have extensively explored the towns around us; mainly by bikes. See our previous blog with the clips of towns we love in the Utrecht area.

We had not booked a place to stay for the night as we wanted to figure it out along the way based on where we were when it was time to find a place to stay which in our world is early afternoon or about three to four-hour drive. As Narda mentioned above we stayed at Buitenplaats Vaeshartelt (http://www.vaeshartelt.nl/en/) in Maastricht. And yes, I do show this place in two different videos but who is counting?

31 January Tuesday DAY 67 of trip

The next morning we had a nice breakfast at the hotel (Buitenplaats Vaeshartelt), then returned to the city centre, and explored more of the lovely narrow streets and buildings. Found the worlds most amazing book store; amazing because of it’s location in an old, stately church with wonderful arches in the ceiling.

Selexyz Dominican Church in Maastricht is a real cool place – now a bookstore but dating back to the 13th century, the structure was a Dominican church until Maastricht was invaded by Napoleon in 1794 and the group was forced out of the country. https://www.libris.nl/dominicanen

The Basilica of Saint Servatius is the place to be seen at. The oldest of the old shit to see in Maastrict. Their website starts with the bells playing, well worth the visit (to the website) http://www.sintservaas.nl/ or for our two or three English readers…  http://www.sintservaas.nl/english/index.html we tried to capture the bells but instead had too many others sounds, like me complaining of the cold.

Terrell also got some more bits and pieces for his camera and I bought him a Maastricht mug for the good memories. Then we had coffee, which was served with little glasses of Baileys or Kalua, topped with whipped cream; pretty cool.

Maastricht

Maastricht

The rest of the day was frustrating as we tried to follow two GPS’s with opposing views, out of a city under renovation. We did quite a few hours of circling Maatricht before we finally sat down in a nice hotel for soup, to calm us down at Hotel In Den Hoof http://www.indenhoof.nl/.  The server there was very helpful and told us the insiders path out of town. “Just follow the letter “L” on signs, and it will take you to the road that leads to Liege.” Who knew? Good grief! Anyway it was not over. We drove for some more hours into Belgium, with a reasonably price hotel earmarked for the night. Just before Spa. Well, the two GPS’s did their thing again and got us amazingly lost…in tandem. So it took longer than we thought, but now we are happily there, in a modest, comfortable room at LE MIDI Hôtel, 4800 VERVIERS Belgium, nice and warm, and ready for dinner.

We both slept, uninterrupted, for 10 hours!

Maatricht video at 

1 February Wednesday DAY 68 of trip

Narda spoke with Mäu 8 am we decided to go to Hamburg 8.30.

Now there’s a rapid change of plans. We checked driving time, and distances and decided to do it. It took us 6 hours, and apart from getting freaked out by the fast German drivers, it was pleasant and uneventful. Easy coffee and pee stops on the highways (you pay 70 cents to pee!).


We prebooked (expedia) the Hamburg
Centrum Hotel Commerz am Bhf Hamburg Altona for 50 Euro. http://www.hotel-commerz-hamburg.de/  This turned out to be 3 minutes from Mäu’s place, a bit of luck. They provided some urban style (time garage down in a basement) for 10 extra Euros, which was a pretty good package as Hamburg can be expensive. Mäu came to meet us and we had some snacks at her place, met her Johann her 10 year old, recorded his drumming; pretty great for a kid his age, and had dinner with Mäu at ‘lorient’ restaurant a Lebanese food place  http://www.restaurant-lorient.de.

We are living in our bubble – we drive in our bubble – our bubble rolls along the highway close to the posted limit of 130 kilometres per hour (130kph= 80.77825mph) but we were often in the slow lane with the trucks. Germans have little sense of speed limits. I would see them at a distance in my rear-view mirror then there they go just their tail lights barely visible from being so far so fast away. From distant tail lights to head lights in seconds. Narda’s relative said he likes to see what his BMW will do and 190 is a good speed (190kph= 118.0605mph). Of course my question to him was ‘why not go past 200?’

I like the hotel in Altona we stayed at. The breakfast room reminded me of Faulty Towers as did the hotel but no one acted like that it was just one could imagine it being the same. The inn keepers were a couple who kept a good establishment moving forward. Breakfast was five euros which was cheaper than the 15 each we paid at the Buitenplaats Vaeshartelt or nine euros we paid the previous night at LE MIDI Hôtel, back in Verviers Belgium and it was the same European continental style spread; cheese, cold meats, yogurt, granola, coffee, and etc..

2 February Thursday DAY 69 of trip


Mäu came over to the hotel the next morning for breakfast. Actually a nice brekkie, lots of continental style choices, good breads, and ham and cheese and other spreads, yogurt, coffee, juices. It was lovely to spend time with her again, and despite not having seen one another for many years, we lapsed easily into our old long standing friendship; no awkwardness at all. This is such a great thing to have in one’s life.

Hamburg is one of my favourite cities. New Orleans, New York City, Hamburg – especially the Altona section. Nice walking distance to the river. We took the ferry to the new Elbphilharmonie centre – the new landmark for Hamburg. https://www.elbphilharmonie.de/en/

The Elbphilharmonie is a concert hall in the HafenCity quarter of Hamburg, Germany, on the Grasbrook peninsula of the Elbe River. It is one of the largest and most acoustically advanced concert halls in the world.

Our video from 2009 of Hamburg, especially the Elbe River, Hamburg is at https://youtu.be/AZyKsEbatXI

hamburg

We left Hamburg and stayed overnight in Oldenburg, Germany – Panorama Apartment Cloppenburger Str. 282, 26133 for 60 euros. We found it through Booking.com as we drove through Oldenburg. All the hotels were more than $100 which is not much but when travelling for four months we try to save when we can. 60 euros is about $$66 US which is cheap for this part of the world. Not sure why it was so cheap as it was a two bedroom apartment with bunk beds in one room, a kitchen, master bed, large TV with some English channels, furnished kitchen and an Aldi supermarket across the street. We found the owners working on a storefront in the front of the building and as there was little understanding of English and Narda’s few German words got us a receipt and keys. They didn’t even ask our name or for id. Maybe in the future they will have this place up and running and charge more but it was a good stop.

3 February Friday DAY 70 of trip

Left Paramount Apartments nine am –Netherlands (A293 from Alexanderstraße > Take A28, A31 and A37 to Rondweg/N382 in Dalen, Nederland. Exit from N34 > A28

Lunch at Lunchroom The Goose Girl Markt 13, 7741 JM Coevorden see their menu at http://m.deganzenhoedster.nl/en well worth it and a unique place at that.

Lunchroom The Goose Girl Markt 13, 7741 JM Coevorden

Lunchroom The Goose Girl Markt 13, 7741 JM Coevorden

Home at five pm watched three episodes Blacklist

Our video of our trip to Germany is at  https://youtu.be/QGdCKxunhyE  

Our next blog will be our final couple of weeks in the Netherlands and we will end this blog with a wonderful afternoon with four amazing violinist, Pavadita Tango String Quartet, performing for a small group of about 15 of us in Utrecht at the Paviljoen (www.paviljoenpop.nl) Sunday afternoon. ‘Pavadita specialises in playing Argentine tango yet dislikes to be labelled’ http://pavadita.com/

https://youtu.be/JqsQVrOhFYY is our video of this event

E-book storefront http://neuage.papertrell.com/
new photo-textual fun – HERE

http://neuage.org/e-books/

Liam meets Maggie and Mabel in Washington DC in the epic tale ‘Liam’s secret’ http://neuage.org/MM/ (free)

Returning Home

Finally settled into our European Holiday or for Narda returning home

See part one toward the end of our last blog @ https://neuage.me/2017/01/24/washington-dc-to-amsterdam-and-life-in-between/

22 January Sunday DAY 58 of trip

I was thinking most of 2016 that we would be in Holland for a month. However, the reality is five-weeks. Six-weeks in the States, Six here, and four in Southeast Asia. I think what I am concluding from what is going on in the States these past months is that most folks are concerned about fact-checking. It is all the rage and so it should be. We say that politicians are liars with almost everything they say. Alternative narratives are either accepted or lambasted. The narrative of life on earth is filled with alternative narratives, some seen as allegories some seen as stories for children some seen as creative twists of truth; religious stories, myths, fairy tales, what we tell our parents, children, partners  – ‘changing water to wine’, ‘I was doing homework at Johnnies house all last night’, ‘feeding five-thousand mates with a couple of fish’, ‘Santa coming down the chimney’, ‘gingerbread houses’, Cinderella, ‘a million and a half people at an inauguration’, not to mention all the Greek, Roman, Aboriginal, etc. stories. We were at the Women’s March in Amsterdam yesterday, previous blog; http://goo.gl/WQPBuE so there may be a lingering trace of an outside thought about fact-checking.

Nevertheless, here we are, a new blog. When we started this trip, and from ones we have done over the past 15 years, see http://neuage.us/BLOGS/index.html for a selection of our past one-hundred+, each one was per day. Now we are putting together groups of days. The last one covered ten-days. Bottom line is that this current blog is a blank slate.

What is exciting about today, Sunday, is that we have a whole month here, another thirty-days.

The first time in my life in Utrecht was in 2005. Narda’s first time was the day she was born, which of course, was not very long ago.

Saturday, June 18, 2005 Utrecht - The luxury of holiday. I got up at 10 AM and the 
others soon followed. A day without plans is so different. After the past six-months 
of getting up every day at six AM for work and of stressing because of all the work 
on our house it is good to have few concerns other than where should we bike ride 
Today? The only thing I ‘need’ to do today is find a charger for our video camera.
I found an adapter yesterday so I could plug the one we had in but as soon as I 
plugged it in (US 120 voltage into European 240 voltage) smoke came out and the 
thing became fried. We are driving to Belgium tomorrow for a few days and at this 
point I think we are just pointing the car we are borrowing in that direction and as 
long as we do not end up in the English Channel 
we should be fine.

As synchronicity would have it, not only where we in Utrecht a year later but we went to see the same people as we saw today (22nd January, 2017) as we did on Monday, June 19, 2006 Utrecht, The Netherlands – see http://neuage.org/trip06/June19.htm to read about our bike riding adventures eleven years earlier.

We drove into Utrecht as we have not sorted out our bikes yet. The ones left for us are not the right size; the man’s bike is way too large for me, and the woman’s bike is too small for Narda.

We visited Narda’s Uncles Pete and Rinke and cousin Hans. Pete, at age 90, has recently had his second knee reconstruction. A good indication of what health insurance is capable of when it is set out for the people. Rinke in his mid-80s is doing well. We used to ride around on his boat through the canals in past trips but this is our first winter visit and the boat is not an ice-breaker so no cruising this time. And Hans, in our age bracket, well Narda’s, I am in a bracket of my own; my sister has banned me from saying I am old so I fit somewhere between Narda and Rinke, interacts with us on Facebook so we are always a bit up-to-date with one another. We will explore more of Utrecht with him this time as he is retired now, the same as us.

Narda had a cold for four weeks in DC and now I have that cold. I managed to be up until one in the morning trying to breathe but we are troopers and colds will not thwart our explorations.

23 January Monday DAY 59 of trip

Narda rang Rinke this morning and asked if we could borrow a bike. In the past, we have often borrowed bikes from him and several times we have stayed with him. Rinke helped us get it into our rather small car so we could enjoy a month yet to go.

We spent a few hours riding around our local hood and in downtown Woerden. See https://youtu.be/TjTXv_y7zU0 = skating on thin ice in Woerden.

Woerden

Woerden

24 January Tuesday DAY 60 of trip

Left this morning on our bikes, the weather was very foggy; you couldn’t see too far.

Harmelen, Netherlands

Harmelen, Netherlands

Our plan was to visit Tom and Ineke in Harmelen, and cycle there. The GPS said 17 minutes, we took an hour. A nice effort. Had a coffee and a chat, told them about my bike which was a bit small for me. They promptly offered me Ineke’s bike which she never uses anymore. Of course I accepted their offer with glee. So now I am all set, bike wise!! After our visit we explored Harmelen, a lovely little town, never than some of the others, but certainly very liveable.

A part of the Rhine goes through Harmelen, news to us. We stopped at the local grocery store and bought some assorted goodies for lunch, cheese, a bread roll, yogurt drink, and assorted veggies for his vegetarian-lowcarb lordship!!

We a pleasant picnic table, covered in bright green moss and had a lovely picnic. It was freezing and rained a little, but we are not people to be deterred by something so insignificant as rain. The food made up for it! Got home at 4, saw lots of school kids cycling home on our way back…dangerous drivers, but so are most of the Dutch.

Harmelen picnic

Harmelen picnic

We left the bike Narda was riding and went off with Tom’s bike. It continues to fascinate me the biking in the Netherlands. Being a rather flat place it helps. There are roads just for bikes, even with lanes, traffic lights, and often there is also a walking path. Travel is unique here; train track, walking path, bicycle path, road of cars, canal with boats (not so much in winter) all side-by-side, going forward.

Still freezing we sought refuge at the only place we could find that did coffee, de kloosterhoeve, and to prove it is a real place here is their website, http://www.kloosterhoeve.nl the coffee was strong and it was good, we thawed out and headed down the road.

Narda needed some adjustments and the first bike shop we came to gladly got her into a royal position of comfort, free of charge.

25 January Wednesday DAY 61 of trip

We planned to bike to Monfoort, a mere twenty minutes away per our Google Maps. Forty-five minutes later we had gotten to the small village of Linschoten. By now we were cold, I was in pain (agony) with extremely cold toes. I thought I had frost bite (OK it was one degree above freezing, but my toes registered -20 both in Fahrenheit and in Centigrade). We went into the first restaurant we found, Café Van Eijk, http://www.cafevaneijk.nl/ which if you read Dutch there are probably some good deals. I had mustard soup which was so yummy that I looked up a recipe for it while eating. We asked the waitress if theirs was the same recipe as we found online which had leeks as a base but she said they did not use leeks so now I need to find a Dutch mustard soup recipe without leeks that is as good. Narda had some meat thingy but admitted mine was better.

We read on some sign that the Linschoten church was burnt by residents of Woerden in the 1500s. There were a lot of people cooked at the stake, mainly women that didn’t fit into the Christian ethos of what a woman should be like. Listen to our Linschoten video clip where Narda tells us about the good citizens of Woerden; which by the way is where we are living for five weeks, and their incursions into Linschoten just a fifteen-minute bike ride away, or an hour’s when slow like us.

In the evening we continued to watch our Netflix series, ‘The Blacklist’. We have now seen episodes in Adelaide, Hawaii, DC and now here. Even though it unrealistic, though in the ‘alternative’ world of facts we now live in, who knows? We like it, even more so now after living in DC for the past six-weeks. The thing is mostly filmed, or supposed to be, in DC.

Linschoten

Linschoten

Linschoten video https://youtu.be/5iJE6ErACAo

26 January Thursday DAY 62 of trip

Up at 6:30 this morning. Narda stayed in bed until 10 with the cold I had, now gone (back) to her. I worked on Photoshop and writing projects for a few hours.

Spent our first day home since arriving eight days ago, not that I am counting. A down-day that we used to incorporate with our travels so we could gather our beans to go off exploring the next day but since here, and even more since we have had bikes we have been gone all day, each day.

We baked today. Always a good thing to do when traveling with a fussy-boots (oops that would be me). Narda made her wonderful low-carb bread and I made my low-carb cookies. Our food budget is doing well in Holland with the prices here much lower than Australia and overall lower than the States. In the States we made a budget of $350 a week for food which included a couple of times a week at a restaurant but here we have been closer to the $200 mark which is great and will pay for six-nights in hotels we did in the States that we had not budgeted for. I suppose this is part of being retired, having a budget, enough to go again and again without having to go back to work.

Another great thing about being here is how close everywhere is. I just looked up Paris. It is five-hours away. “Hey Narda I want to go to Paris for a couple of days”. Hamburg where Narda’s friend lives is five-hours away. I think we will go there sometime soon. Wow! In Australia it is like ten-hours to go to Melbourne from Adelaide. In the States we went to lots of places, thanks Chris for your car.

27 January Friday DAY 63 of trip

Went to lunch with Els. Els invited us to have coffee at her place and then go to lunch in a little French restaurant in Vianen. Which we did. She lives just outside the old city, her apartment is the end of a row, and the benefit is amazing views all over the countryside with the freeway wizzing along in the distance. She has a lovely back room surrounded by glass; a great place to sit and chat. It turns out we are related. She is the daughter of Tante Nels’ brother. Who knew. So I have a second cousin. We walked to the French restaurant, Suzettes, yummy food, Terrell had a quiche with salad and I had the soup.

Vianen

Vianen

Vianen video is at https://youtu.be/Wpo7zFbzgrY

28 January Saturday DAY 64 of trip

Another lovely visit with my cousin Karin and her husband Frank. Poor guy had just got off the plane from the USA a few hours earlier, so he did really well keeping himself awake and us entertained with lots of interesting stories. They have recently moved into this lovely house in Niewegein, just south of Utrecht. A very pleasant afternoon.

20170128_143216

 

29 January Sunday DAY 65 of trip

After a lazy morning at home writing, photoshopping, video- stuff we went to IJsselstein

IJsselstein is in the province of Utrecht. IJsselstein received city rights in 1331. IJsselstein owes its name to the river Hollandse IJssel which flows through the city.

We spent a lovely afternoon and evening with my cousin Hans and his wife, Mirjam, and daughters Linda and Suzanne (see our video below). They took us for a very interesting walk through the village (town) of Ijsselstein, entertaining us with interesting stories of the history of building and events. The video below gives some snaps of this. For dinner we had the traditional gourmet, using a large heating plate, and leaving folks to cook meals for themselves, table top, to their heart’s content. Lots of fun and very gezellig. An interesting and hospitable family; a highlight for us.

IJsselstein

IJsselstein

IJsselstein video

End of this cycle – next blog starts with our trip south heading to France though we may stay in other places instead – who knows? A week or so from now you will and so will we.

E-book storefront http://neuage.papertrell.com/
new photo-textual fun – HERE

http://neuage.org/e-books/

Liam meets Maggie and Mabel in Washington DC in the epic tale ‘Liam’s secret’ http://neuage.org/MM/ (free)

More of not the same

01 January Sunday DAY 37 of one-hundred fifteen of our round-the-world retirement catching up with family and friends tour and trying to do a low-carb vegetarian diet

Back in DC. Great start to the year! Kids went out for New Year’s Eve and we babysit and got to bed by 10pm. Our kind of night actually. Yesterday we left our hotel Clarion in New Castle Delaware and made it home pretty quickly, not much traffic on the road. We started by taking a secondary road, which was nice, you actually see the country that way, but by Baltimore we took the interstate home.

Smithsonian Museum of Natural History Washington DC Narda finds a man

Smithsonian Museum of Natural History Washington DC Narda finds a man

We took Liam to the local park. It was a nice relaxed time. I had an interesting conversation with another dad watching his kid. He was from Brazil working in the Brazilian consulate. He’s also been posted in Guatemala City, where he was paid for trips home because of the danger. This is the 2nd person we’ve randomly chatted to employed at a consulate. The other one was a woman as we were boarding Best Bus from NYC to DC. She was working in the Spanish consulate. Coincidentally, the Cambodian consulate is 2 blocks from where we are living with Chris and Jess.

Church time, Chris again preaching an amazing sermon on the disconnect with who we really are, and how we act. Lots of things to think about here. Terrell and I went for a walk through the local area, gorgeous little row houses, close to Georgetown.

Chris' church

Chris’ church

Terrell and I went for a walk through the local area, gorgeous little row houses, close to Georgetown.

img_15751

Sweet potato and spinach mash for all. Again, as I have waffled on about in previous blogs – let me do the cooking then I know we will be having a low-carb meal.

02 January Monday DAY 38 of trip

Today was  Chris’ day off, so he took us to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. Really great. I’m not such a museum person, but this is so well done and interesting , even to the museum-semi-literate such as me.

Lovely morning, and then lunch (pulled chicken for me) in the cafeteria. Large salad for me.

03 January Tuesday DAY 39 of trip

Purchased slide projector for $50. We had looked on Craig’s List for a projector that would hold my father’s carousel slide trays – there were 18 of them with up to 140 slides in each, and found one for sale 45 minutes away in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Gaithersburg is located to the northwest of Washington, D.C., and is considered a suburb and a primary city within the Washington–Arlington–Alexandria, DC–VA–MD–WV Metropolitan Statistical Area.

A bit of a well-to-do space with large stately looking homes. Stepping into another person’s space is interesting; culture-evolution at play. This dude who was 75 said he had found the secret to success in life when he was 53; he retired and his wife kept working. This sounded quite sound to me and I took a quick look at my wife only to realise we just sort of retired a few months ago with me pushing 70 and she barely at the start of her youthful 60s. Retirement seems to have been good for him. A nice home, grand piano, well decorated for the Christmas holiday, through his kitchen I could see a pond and nature. I could live here. The slide projector was a Kodak that my father’s carousels fitted in.

Outside of the little rich-man’s-cove we found a bit of a shopping centre with our favourite shops, a Staples, an Aldi grocery store, and a Dunkin Donut where Narda found two donuts to her liking and I had coffee to go with my home-made organic low-carb cookie. (he’s such a try-hard!)

We started looking at slides soon after getting back home.

Made spinach soufflé dinner for us all. Baby Liam likes my cooking and has never complained about a meal.

04 January Wednesday DAY 40 of trip

Finished blog about New York and visits and posted at https://neuage.me/2017/01/05/snow-country/

To post office mailed book about my brother to Kathy. I discuss this book in the previous blog.

Groceries – made sweet potato and pumpkin soup for dinner

Forgot Sacha’s birthday – which was today but yesterday in Australia. {I was a single parent for about 20 years. I never forgot Sacha’s birthday in thirty-four years. My feeble excuse is that the 4th of January in Australia is the third of January in DC. Sorry Sacha. I will buy you that pony I promised you as a child next time}

05 January Thursday DAY 41 of trip

Up at 8 am out the door at noon

Counted our money and started looking at trips for 2017-2018, main idea is to get a house-swap before August or after August with a boat trip around 1 – 15 August anywhere in the world. As I will turn 70 August 10th I want to be at sea which will be some sort of symbolic representation of my life.

Back to the museums by bus which was fun. Had an interesting chat with a passenger about the state of the nation…couldn’t really figure out if she was pro or anti the president elect, whom I can no longer name (we have decided to ignore him from now on, it’s too stressful to even think about this maniac). She was keen to know about education in Australia, but pretty supportive of Australia’s tight borders. Hmmm.

The Museum of Natural History was simply amazing. We watched a film on creatures in the deep ocean, which we really enjoyed. Then we checked out the Origins of Humans display which was so interesting, especially knowing that Jess is involved with the research in this area. We should be riding buses more, you really get to experience things differently.

dsc_1539

Hmm, stuck in the back with oma

We are fascinated about our origins. I am more interested in cultural evolution than physical. No one has shown for sure how we got to where we are physically. Millions of years, thousands of years, trillions of stars and planets; perhaps even millions of universes. Too much to grasp for me and it does not really matter. I have this body and all I can do is shove in what I believe will be good to keep it going. I drink my smoothies, eat my low-carb crap, I have been a vegetarian for lots of decades for better or not, I exercise, and bop around with mostly happy thoughts. I was born white with whatever DNA stuff one has. I could have been born something else but I wasn’t. What I find fascinating is cultural evolution. How did I get these beliefs, how did society get this way, how have certain people re-invented slavery for thousands of years (now it is working for minimum wages for some)? How do religions get made up and people are controlled this way to be pawns of wealthy intuitions? How does society get shaped by fake news? Inventions? Events?

Narda of course, had to point out that one exhibit tried to claim that eating meat was important for the development of the brain and the increase of intelligence. Really? I know lots of idiots who eat meat and only cool people who are vegetarian. What more proof do we need?

Being sucked into having my face morphed into what I would have looked like 50,000 years ago (it was free) I had myself transformed. I didn’t care about the extra grey hair but whether today or 50,000 years ago would I have thought the same? Probably not, they didn’t have social media to influence us.

Saint Terrell of the cave - 50,000 years ago in your backyard

Saint Terrell of the cave – 50,000 years ago in your backyard

Saint Terrell of the cave - 50,000 years ago in your backyard

Narda reaches out to Saint Terrell of the Cave’s hand printsssssss

Made dinner for all: sweet potato chips, soup from last night, meat for them, mushrooms and salad for me.

06 January Friday DAY 42 of trip

Finished looking and separating slides of father. What to do with thousands of old slides? We took a few out of each carousel and I am taking a photo of the ones I am keeping to have a digital copy and maybe printing some. The difficulty in tossing away the past is that the past then disappears. Thus my argument against de-clutter courses and their silly ideas. The few I was dragged to (kicking and screaming – at least inside of myself) annoyed me. I have a shed back in Australia full of my crap (the shed is small only 20 foot by 40 foot) and of course our house too, but here is my problem with de-cluttering. For example, my father’s slides. When they find their way to the local land-fill here in DC for the next brothel or whatever they build on top of land-fill the memories are gone too. I no doubt am the last one with images of my father from the early 1900s and the stories associated with them. Well Narda knows some of the stories too. My father who was cactus at 102 years-old told her stories when he was in his late 90s when we hung out with him in upstate New York (2002 – 2010). He was born in 1905 and his teenage years were filled with the wonders of the first car, the first telephone, World War 1, World War next, and all the stuff of the early twentieth century that we know little of. We barely remember when there was no internet or evil GPS that get their jollies by getting us lost all over the States then laughing deep in cyberspace about how disorientated we are. By destroying images of the past the past no longer exists except on some level of consciousness that at least I am not evolved enough to replay again after I am dead.

A lot of the slides were of travels my parents did. I grew up doing road-trips. Every summer we were off exploring and camping in national parks for a few weeks then I got shipped off to Bible Camp for the rest of the summer, every summer. I did like the travel though. In later life after I left home my parents travelled even more (I left home about age sixteen, just to avoid being shipped off to Bible Camp anymore as it was affecting the structure of my adolescent brain development in a crazy way causing me to spend years in alternative therapy of my own 60’s-70s choosing to erase those harmful summers). My parent’s slides show their trips through Canada, the Western USA, Alaska – all while in their 70s. Alaska is a long drive from New York and my father took a lot of pictures. My father even came to Australia in 1992 when he was 87. Narda and I looked at the many photos of that trip when my father, my two sons, and I drove half way around Australia in a campervan (RV) for a month.

What Narda and I got out of these slides that we have spent many hours going through instead of making new memories tromping around DC this week was that we are quite keen now to go to Alaska. It might be our next trip to the States; maybe late 2017 or mid-2018. We do plan ahead. We planned this current little four-month trip a couple of years ago. 2017 is already quite full with travel and some creative projects I hope to dabble in back in Australia. 2018 we are planning our trip for three-months to India, January – March.

dads-slides2

Looking at many photos – and taking photos of the slides which does not give a good quality but does provide an essence of what is being captured we could see the slant I was raised with. Some photos are quite good and we will print from the slide to get better quality. But to give an example to my ranting above; according to my sister we could be one-eighth Indian but even without that knowledge I find the nature of this slide racist. That the lives of white settlers are emphasized over Indian lives. My father has taken a lot of slides of plaques that provide us with this sort of narrative.

indian-discrimination

Nevertheless, we completed our project and put the slide projector back up on Craig’s List, got $40 back, and we are thankful for having this opportunity to have a sticky-beak into my parent’s lives. It does explain a part of my reason for a love of travel – the other reason is that I am always trying to escape the moment before. Narda has always had a love of travel; even before her parents migrated to Australia from the Netherlands, she has a story of when she was three taking her two-year old neighbour down the street heading to the train station to see her grandmother and they apparently got a few blocks before being found by anxious parents. It sums up our life. Now we have anxious off-springs.

I don’t want to trivialize my father’s slide collection but I sort of was aware that there were a lot more photos of my brother than of me. There were more pictures of churches than me. There are more marijuana shops in Oregon (more than 400 and multiplying daily) than Starbucks and McDonald’s. So what? I am still alive and my brother and my father aren’t. I don’t need to see slides to know I exist.

Friday night was lovely. We met with Trish and Allan, and wonderful re-connection with a dear friend from Dalian days. Trish and Allan live in a lovely house, on a ½ acre in Fairfax county. Allan cooked up a delicious New Orleans style dinner and lively conversation was had by all!

Though the GPS said it was about 40 minutes down the road, we decided to leave at lunch time and explore the area. We checked out a few shopping malls (had not done that for a while). The first one, Landmark Mall, in  Alexandria, Virginia was completely derelict. Only a large Macy’s and  Sears where there, the rest was boarded up. Weird. The second one, Tysons Corner Centre in McLean, Virginia was fabulous. Book shop, nice café with tomato soup, a train station and a movie theatre. A perfect mall!

We realised when we got home that night that we had been running the car on empty for too many miles. Given the extreme cold, this could have been not-so-nice.

07 January Saturday DAY 43 of trip

Finally got a bit of snow. I want two feet of the stuff. We had a fair amount when we were driving around last week in New York – see last blog, but not like what we used to get when we lived in upstate New York (2002 – 2010). We did get about an inch and a half, enough to cover some of winter’s brown but never enough.

Narda went with Liam and Chris to Ikea to buy furniture. I stayed home and had a bit of a play in Photoshop and catching up on a writing project I have had little time to do these past six weeks, no doubt something to do with travelling and not enough down time. Took some photos of Liam’s toys in the snow for some future picture work. See http://tinyurl.com/hjt7lrf

When Chris, Narda, and Liam got back we bundled up and headed out to the snowfields – well actually down the street for a block to wade through the one and a half-inch snow.

cambodia-embassey

Looked at P&O cruises out of Sydney instead of flying to some far-flung-foreign destination and there is one during my birthday time so we may do that one. Anyone having any recommendations for a cruise let us know. If nothing else at least I will know that someone read this blog.

Made eggs with Liam in the evening

img_16028 January Sunday DAY 44 of trip

-9C off to Safeway for groceries –  Took Chris and Jessica to Slims for lunch. We have had been to Slims before over there on the corner of Upshur and Georgia Avenue. There is a limited menu but worth the effort. I tend to go for the eggs and grits and the others like meat pulled off animals. The wait time of almost an hour on a cold day was a bit budget though once settled into our booth we are all content.

We took a bus to the White House – then to Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture.

We froze waiting for the bloody bus and thawed by the time we got to the White House. Of course, we being lowly citizen could not get anywhere near the place.

nardawhitehousecomments

I, who sometimes lobby hard and get my way, ‘suggested’ that we climb to the top of the hill where they have that Washington Monument monument. Narda could not believe it. We had walked all around the White House looking where we could get at least one photo. We were shooed away from each street nearby and we were thinking we were getting frost bite. When we lived in China, way up north, even when we went to the Harbin Ice Festival we were OK but we were dressed for it. The warmest for today was -6, I think that is 18 Fahrenheit, add a bit of strong wind to cut through our clothes and we were almost ice cubes.

But as a loving wife who ‘understands my photographic needs’; “but honey the pictures will be fantastic look how blue the sky is…” or some such rant, side by side, wind picking up, temperature dropping we managed to finally get to the top of the hill to the entrance. I pointed out from the start that there appeared to be very few people going up to the monument, no doubt because it was so cold and we would not have to wait in line and I could guarantee that it would be warmer inside and of course going up the elevator to the top for our spectacular pictures would be warm and we would not have to wait in line.

We dragged ourselves to the entrance door,

closed

Oops…

Well how was I supposed to know that?

Narda said we were going into the first open building we got to. I was in a bit of the bad-books and could not offer any suggestions such as perhaps going to another monument.

smithsonian-national-museum-of-african-american-history-culture

Barely able to get into the door because we were so frozen the first person said “you cannot get in without a ticket”. Narda said we need to just come inside the door to get warm and a kind lady at the check-in thingy said that she had two extra tickets and we could go in. We were so grateful. The first thing we did after the toilets was to go to the ‘Sweet House Café’ – talk about pricy – we each had a small cup of coffee and a small sweet (I was so cold I thought stuff the low-carb nonsense I need sugar to get my blood moving and got a fudge thingy) for $17.05. Now I know how they funded this new building. Because the National Museum of African American History and Culture, is the newest Smithsonian museum there apparently are heaps of folks who want to get in so one needs to get a ticket. Tickets are free but they allocate a date so the place is not over crowded. Perhaps because it was cold or maybe fewer people go here on Sundays it was not too full.

For us white people this is a real eye opener. We were both amazed and the hour we spent there was far from enough. I guess what struck us both is how our current society, the Western World, is built on top of slavery. Beginning in the fifteenth century and until recent times and in some places of the world even now, it is the slaves who create the wealth of a country. The United States was not built by hardworking individuals but by slaves who worked for a minority of white men.

I remember a segregated south. When my father would take us on trips through the south in the 1960s there would be segregated toilets and areas in restaurants. I don’t think I even saw a black person, except if we were travelling (there surely were none in the area of upstate New York I grew up in) until I left home at age 16-17.

And where was the church or any other religion for those five-hundred years? Well they were making money too off slavery. I shouldn’t go into all this but suffice it to say that the National Museum of African American History and Culture is well worth the visit. Not just a place to defrost in.

Walked heaps took a bus to Chris’ church got there only half frozen.

Made zucchini spaghetti for dinner.

09 January Monday DAY 45 of trip

Home Narda working on Chris’  Ikea furniture. Chris has collected non-collectables from Ikea – you know those flat boxes that just need a nail and a screw to make them become 3-D? Narda and Chris worked all day on those cupboards and drawers and still were not done. I was as supportive as I could be – I stayed out of the way, and spent the day on this laptop. Due to luggage constraints we only brought one computer on this trip which means sharing and with my usual work-load averaging eight-hours a day on this thing I have not had too many straight forward shots of non-physical contact to exercise my digital-self. We also bought only one phone card when we got here – imagine sharing a phone with someone, but we have and it is good. We just get lost together now.

Made spaghetti squash for din din. We have not found this in Australia and it was a favourite when we lived in New Jersey and New York. Liam loved it. Actually, little Liam has liked everything I have made, even tofu, to the wonderment of the eye-rolling folks at the other end of the table. I am sure Liam would be a happy little vegetarian alongside of me given the chance.

10 January Tuesday DAY 46 of trip

Fact Check: Washington D. C. is bugged

Fact Check: Washington D. C. is bugged

Took a bus back to the Museum of Natural History. WE were just in time to see the Imax film, narrated by Robert Redford, on America’s National Parks. A really beautiful film, worth seeing. Some amazing sights. I scribbled notes for future travel. Then we checked out the Insect Zoo where I got to cuddle some critters!!! We bussed/trained it back home; stopping half way for another Panera tomato soup lunch; the best! Then it was our turn to pick up Liam from day care. He was happy to come home with us, though he did ask where daddy was. We stopped on the way home to pick up some groceries. Liam, while we waited at the checkout, was able to communicate to the old black guy riding a red scooter, also in line; that he would like one of those too!

homeless

Here are the homeless in a wealthy city where rents are sky high. I walk by, give them a couple of dollars to salve my conscience…..and feel BAD, just bad. Easy to say, why isn’t the government doing something, but much harder to actually get off my own bottom and do something myself.

loos

AND THAT IS ALL FOR THIS BLOG. Thanks for reading. We have five more days in DC then to Utrecht, The Netherlands via Helsinki for a month. No doubt we will have stuff to say in a bit too. Today, Narda is still working on assembling the Ikea stuff and I am having a bit more time on this laptop then we are off to some museum though we will have decided which one when we feel we have been on the bus long enough and say “let’s get off here”.

Our next blog will be next week after Helsinki and settling into Utrecht, The Netherlands for a month

Our next blog will be next week after Helsinki and settling into Utrecht, The Netherlands for a month

E-book storefront http://neuage.papertrell.com/
new photo-textual fun – HERE

http://neuage.org/e-books/

Liam meets Maggie and Mabel in Washington DC in the epic tale ‘Liam’s secret’ http://neuage.org/MM/ (free)

 

Marijuana friendly-Oregon

E-book storefront http://neuage.papertrell.com/
new photo-textual fun – HERE

Sunday 17-12-2016 Day 22 of one-hundred fifteen of our round-the-world retirement catching up with family and friends tour and trying to do a low-carb vegetarian diet

Despite dire warnings about the Artic Vortex and freezing rain, our flight to Portland took off right on time. Terrell and I had asked for a window and an aisle seat, hoping for a free seat in between. It was not to be, another passenger came between us and we stayed put. I watched 5 episodes of Grey’s Anatomy straight, so I wasn’t much company anyway! We had brought our own food, cheese sandwiches, snacks and chocolate, so we’re right on budget. And there’s free coffee and tomato juice on the plane.

Randy was right there waiting for us at the Portland airport, a really nice airport actually. We spent the first night in Portland with Randy’s friend Tony, who kindly put us all up. The following morning, a nice brekkie of eggs benedict with some other friends. Then off to Eugene the next morning. The last few days have been really relaxed, catching up on lot of stories. The freezing rain was quite spectacular, sparkling all the trees, bringing a few of them down. Now we have regular rain; more typical of the area. Eugene’s a great little town, very organic, nice size, folks on the treat are really friendly. Randy’s place is a lovely old house, full of interesting nicknacks. Gezellig! We’ve slept pretty well, though this morning I was awake at 4.30…a little out of wack from the east coast. Randy is a gracious and generous host; we’ve had lots of lively conversation.

Breakfast with Tony, his ex-wife, Randy, and me was at Biscuits Johnson Creek, a great place to eat with meals large enough that Narda and I shared our breakfast.

snow-road

Portland to Eugene on I-5

I think what strikes me firstly about the States is the amount of homeless people. There always have been homeless but this time there seems to be a lot more: Hawaii, New York City, Washington DC, now Oregon. In Portland we see people in the snow under pieces of plastic or living in their cars. It is below freezing but people are still living outside. Driving into Portland there are several tent cities.

Portland's homeless - Portlandia's other people

Portland’s homeless – Portlandia’s other people

Of course there is the general, all over the States, forebodings of the next president. We have not met anyone that feels positive about this and every city we go to the local newspapers paint a dire picture. Of course Americans are generally positive and giving, but there is this dark shadow looming. We made our plans for this trip almost a year ago due to the complex nature of going to so many places and catching up with people. Now we wish we had added a week in DC so that we could be there on the 21st of January. Instead, we are leaving on the 17th for Europe. Everyone says it is a good thing that we are leaving before the inauguration but we would have liked to be present during the actuality of this train-wreck. In other visits to the States there is very little political talk when we are with our friends and family but it just dominates every conversation now. Even with strangers. People here are so obsessed with the future.

We have not been to Portland before except for me passing through the airport a couple of times and staying with Randy’s friend was interesting in answering my wondering of what became of the people from the 1960’s hippie culture in California. Well they moved to Oregon.

I first met Randy in 1968 in Laguna Beach, California in front of the Mystic Arts World; Timothy Leary’s bookstore in Laguna Beach: we went looking for spaceships in an altered state and that is how our relationship began. You know how some people you meet at some point in your life and they pop up or you pop up in one another’s life for the rest of your life? Well that is my story with Randy. He features in my e-book ‘Leaving Australia – Part One – “Before the After”’ available from Papertrell at http://neuage.papertrell.com/id004005007/ or Amazon (where the first ten pages are available to read for free) @ http://tinyurl.com/z4efohb though if you were to purchase it please get it from Papertrell. Just one major tidbit, Randy was mostly responsible for my surname. When I was in Hawaii and sort of had to get married the first time for Sacha’s alleged mother to stay in the country (she was from Australia) we argued over what to do for our surname. We didn’t want to combine them, she didn’t like mine, I barley could pronounce her Russian-Ukrainian name. We spent days trying to agree on a name. One day Randy said in a sarcastic tone ‘you think you are such new age people just change your name to newage’. We looked at it numerically, astrological, egotistically, and every which way. We came to the brilliant conclusion that Newage was a bit tacky so we dropped the w and put in u which was good numerically and astrologically. We got divorced a couple of years later and I was a single parent for the next twenty years so whether our name had anything to do with all this or not I do not know. Narda did not change to Neuage and in fact kept her family name.

Times and places that our paths have met over the past 48 years. Most not pre-planned:

  • 1968 met Randy in front of the Brotherhood of Eternal Love’

    Laguna Beach, California in front of the Mystic Arts World; Timothy Leary’s bookstore

    Laguna Beach, California in front of the Mystic Arts World; Timothy Leary’s bookstore

  • 12/1969 – Randy gets me into a metaphysical cult order in Hawaii
  • 5/1972 – I get Randy out of metaphysical cult order in Nashville – we go to New Orleans – see each other over next couple of years
  • 4/1974 – hangout together in San Francisco then I go back into metaphysical cult order
  • 4/1980 – work with Randy in Hawaii my first son is born in Hawaii 1/1981
  • 1/1985 – visit with Randy for a week in Hawaii (I have been living in Australia since 6/81) with my two children age 4 and 2 and a half – I am a single parent now
  • 1/1992 – visit for a few days with my two children in Eugene, Oregon
  • 6/2007 – Narda and I go to Randy’s daughter’s graduation – Syracuse University, New York
  • 7/2010 – I visit for a week, Eugene, Oregon
  • 12/2016 – Narda and I stayed with Randy for a week

To make a long story short we stayed at Randy’s mate, Tony’s house in Portland after arriving from DC in the evening.

18/12/2016 Day 23 Sunday

After breakfast at Biscuits Johnson Creek (http://biscuitscafe.com), Randy drove us to his house in Eugene. Trying to stay in control of my diet Narda and I made dinner which was one of our usual-low-carb-vegetarian-easy-make-Terrell-happy meals of mashed sweet potato, spinach, onion (not cooked chopped fine), with vegetarian gravy. For meaties the others had some road-kill or some such dead thing and I had portabella mushrooms – yummy.

Life is easy at Randy’s; laid-back, at-home feeling. Randy has been doing eBay reselling junk or stuff or collectables I believe they are called for more than two-decades and has managed to synchronize working and chilling at a comfortable level. Not being a sports fan except for when NFL football is on TV (they call it grid-iron in footy-mad Australia – which by the way is a totally different game; more of a free for all with a ball in the middle) Randy and I watched the NY Giants lose and another team too which now three days later I have forgotten. We watched the Portland Trailblazers lose too. Narda read and was not concerned by who was losing.

19/12/2016 Day 24 Monday

I lived in Eugene on Friendly Street in 1969 – long story – see my e-book mentioned above.

 

Not Portlandia Terrell 1969 Friendly Street, Eugene

Not Portlandia
Terrell 1969 Friendly Street, Eugene

Yes, that is me in the photo(s) and Desiree has been my friend on Facebook for years. I lived with her and her mother for a few years in California, Oregon, Hawaii. I think of her as my ‘almost daughter’.

We found where I used to live on Friendly Street and as life would have it there is the Friendly Street Market. At the Market there is Moss-Crossing (https://www.leafly.com/dispensary-info/moss-crossing) a marijuana dispensary. Of course for Yanks this is nothing unusual with all the legalization happening across the country but not having lived in the States since 2010 when this stuff was illegal and living in Australia where you surely do not see shops selling pot it was all quite interesting to visit and have a sticky beak around the shop. I know in The Netherlands and other places this is not uncommon. Granted I have not been around this for some forty years and have no interest of re-visiting that phase of my life but a few things about all this. In the past you could be jailed for many years for marijuana possession and now, here you are; giggling in the corner. Unfortunately, except for I think it is Vermont, people who were arrested before it became legal; like about a year or so ago, are still doing their time. I have been asking lots of questions about the effects of legalization as any curious tourist would. Like are there more road accidents or what limits and a whole bunch of stuff that I know everyone else knows except me; a once-were-hippie, who knew lots back then and less than nothing now. How could that be?

So, what I think I have learned in the past couple of days. The difference is between medical and recreational. Medical is legal throughout Canada in about eight states of the USA. Recreational is legal in several states but since I am looking at Oregon we’ll stick to that. Here in Oregon one can purchase marijuana for either medical or recreational. The difference is that there is a 25% tax on recreational purchases. Medical one needs to get a certificate from a doctor. Not a regular doctor as it is not recognized by the doctor’s association folks. But there is a specialized dude that is a doctor but has a special permission thingy and someone wanted a medical certificate must pay a couple of hundred dollars a year so lots of people have their hands into the pot. A person can get any amount they want but can only smoke within their home/property. However, with a medical certificate, as long as the person is not driving, they can smoke. What folks are using nowadays is vape pen which is the same as an e-cigarette setup. All that can be looked up online. Does it affect one’s driving? From my research, no. Are people going around stoned? No. Randy says that there are more marijuana shops in Portland than Starbucks.

People are so friendly in Eugene. Walking along the street, in the shops… why is that young lady smiling at me? Is she high?

  1. She thinks I am a model, a stud, a movie star, rock singer
  2. She thinks I am homeless and people here are sympathetic to them
  3. I remind her of her grandfather who took too much LSD in the 1960s and sits in elder-care dazed and confused
  4. She is being polite
  5. She is high

If I were younger, not retired I would try to get a university to sponsor me for a second PhD doing research on these states that have become legal the past year or two. After all my first doctorate degree was a bit cutting edge at the time (mid-1990s) ‘Conversational Analysis of Chatroom Talk’ and yes, I actually did get a PhD on that and my 500+ page, 150,000 word book is available in e-book form. I would love to research everything; is there is an effect on

  • student’s grades – I know students have been getting stoned forever but it is now different. With these vapor pens one can easily go undetected with a toke. My understanding is that a toke can space one out for four to five hours
  • motivation/ambition – does one become dulled? I have witnessed folks (Not my friend Randy by the way btw) who sit in front of their TV all day just high
  • does one’s philosophy/outlook on life change?

Of course there are many more questions. Maybe this is a government conspiracy to get everyone so stoned that the new awful government can do what they want. After all a large portion of Yanks did not get out to vote. Could it be that they were home and too stoned to do so? Maybe during this administration there will be commercials advocating getting high first thing in the morning and throughout the day to produce a zombie society. “take your morning toke – your government is looking after all your interests – just sit back and cruise – we have your backs”.

Oh, and costs. I forgot to get a price sheet from the pot store – well actually I did but I sent it to my son thinking he would like to see it. But the vapor pen costs $18 and the refills cost about $50 which gives about 300 hits and one hit gives one a high for four to five hours. I cannot vouch for any of the effects but friends, who start smoking when they start the day, give me this info.

We like Eugene. It is a mellow place – maybe because marijuana is legal. There are a lot of organic stuff happening – this is such a wholesome city. I sleep well here too. Why is that? Is there so much pot in the air that we all just lay down and slip off so easily into la la land?

Last night we went out for dinner, Randy’s treat!  It was a Japanese restaurant. We all ordered bits and pieces and shared the food. Quite yummy. Randy’s ex Cheryl and their son Shane came along. Lovely to meet these people.

The restaurant ‘Izakaya Meiji Company’ www.izakayameiji.com  we would highly recommend. Pricing is fine (though because Randy insisted on paying the bill we lost track of individual items) Most individual items were around three dollars. The final bill for five of us was $77 plus tipping which of course to Australians is almost a foreign concept. I got my share of the vegetarian stuff and the others filled up on animal matter.

I lived with Cheryl and Randy when Sacha’s mother arrived in Hawaii (1980) with him inside of her. Cheryl had Sephera inside of her and there was a time we were all at the beginning of parenting and the future was just a seed. Things became unstuck along the way but there was a time in Hawaii that we were all at the start. Though we did not know what that start was. Cheryl, Randy, and I Skyped with Sephera who was in Connecticut and I tried to get Sacha on but sorting out times in Australia with the East and West Coast of the USA did not work this time.

Oh dear we lost a day somehow – but if I hadn’t it would be listed as 19/12/2016 Day 24 Monday and it would be here

20/12/2016 Day 25 Tuesday

The highways into Eugene have so many RV dealerships. Randy took us out for a day of RV window shopping. At the first place we stopped we went into a large bus, with pullout sides. They wanted about $175,000 for it I think. The salesman told us a long winded story about how some rockstar, with a vague connection to Elton John had the dealership store this RV, and when he returned to the area in his jet, they would make it ready for him so that he could take it on the road for week or two at a time. (hmmm I think a fact check might be in order). After he finished his story I asked him if he had something for $5,000. He looked at me in shock. So I went easy on him and said, Ok maybe $10,000 or $15,000. Well, then we were back in business. He showed us a couple of pretty groovy class A motor homes (getting the lingo see..class A is a big square bus). This one was about 22 ft long, pretty good size, a bit old, but quite roomy. A couple of really comfy arm chairs, but a smallish bed.  It was owned by an old lady (who must have driven it to church). The appealing thing was that it was simple; no computers running things, very low mileage (40,000 m) good tyres, all for $15,000. He said that if we traded it back after driving it for 6 months we could pretty easily pocket $10,000 again. No such a bad idea.

We visited another place that had the same kind of range. These $15,000 buses are 1995 model approx., though we did see one 2002model in that range. So it’s doable I think. They really look comfortable, all with full bathrooms, lounge chairs, separate bedroom at the back, decent kitchen. Much more living space than our Jayco at home. Not complaining, mind you.

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My cold flared up again. Productive coughing. (sorry about that). I actually felt really crook later in the day and lay down for a while, slept a bit. When I got up I felt worse, and it felt like the flu. I sat in my easy chair wrapped in a blanket not functioning much. Then Randy offered me a dose of CBD, which is a derivative of the marijuana plant, minus the ‘high’. He put some drops under my tongue. After 5 minutes I started feeling better. No…. really. It was quite weird. I am such a sceptic with this kinda stuff, but for the rest of the evening I felt almost normal. A coincidence? Maybe. Or maybe not. But that’s exactly what happened. As I write this the following morning, I’m feeling pretty good. Go figure.

I am still managing my diet. I made a low-carb spinach soufflé for dinner getting our ingredients from the local you-beaut organic wholefood market. Randy’s friend Moria visited and had dinner with us. She and Randy and their upstairs neighbour stayed with us in New Jersey about six years ago for a week and of course we are seeing everyone we can now on our retirement-world-tour. She was a music teacher, like Narda for decades and we all ate a great meal; she made a mushroom dish and the others ate some animal that was organic or something, maybe it was wholesome and we watched a Portland basketball game. People here seem to support the Portland Blazers. Narda and toddled off to bed, being nine pm, before the game was over so I do not know who won.

21/December Wednesday Day 26

 

Oregon Coast

Oregon Coast

We left Eugene at eleven AM driving Route 101 along the coast: coming into Florence, stopping at Heceta Head Lighthouse which is rated as the strongest light on the Oregon coast (the beacon shines 21 miles from land) with a fantastic view – when we were there the waves were quite large which my little photo above does not truly capture. We stopped at Newport, a very similar to Newport, Rhode Island place, had lunch, watched a bunch of sea lions and taking the turn east of Lincoln City managed to get to Portland by 7 pm.

 

sea lions getting high in Newport, Oregon

sea lions getting high in Newport, Oregon

22/December Thursday Day 27

A day of exploring Portland seeing snow-capped St. Helens and Mt. Hood (shown below).

Mt. Hood

Mt. Hood

Our two main stops were Powell’s bookstore with Narda getting “Hotel Honolulu” by Paul Theroux @ $7.50 for a used copy, I got a couple of fridge magnets and a mighty bright light, and shopped at Whole Foods Market, primarily getting food for dinner. As I seem to say in several of these posts, having a specific diet is always a bit of a challenge. One of the ways I have control is cooking the evening meal. I enjoy cooking anyway but staying with folks and suggesting I cook dinner could have opposition but it never has. We have been cooking dinner for Narda’s son and daughter-in-law in DC and again in Eugene for Randy and now at Tony’s house. Tonight’s meal was zucchini spaghetti and as usual I had my meaty (which in this case was tempeh, though usually it is mushrooms), Narda, Randy and Tony had lobster tails. We did not have our veggie spaghetti maker so Narda used a potato peeler to make strands out of zucchini and yellow squash plus we added garlic, onions, and mushrooms and sautéed it and tossed it all into a pot of spaghetti sauce and another rather low-carb meal was enjoyed by all.

23/December Friday Day 28

We watched a couple episodes of Portlandia which is filmed in and around Portland for the past five or six years. According to our hosts it does depict Portland with all its trendy ways.

This morning we went to the Country Cat for breakfast – really good feed; on Stark Street. A Portlandia copy. Hopefully we will catch another episode of Portlandia tonight. Our host, Tony, and Randy drove us around the countryside showing rivers and the burbs. Explored an Airstream (caravan) lot and looked inside several. Narda didn’t ask if they had any for five-thousand dollars. We went to Tony’s daughter’s house and fed the chooks. This is a place we could live in.

portland

24/December Saturday Day 29

The taxi rang at 4:15am that he was outside. We got up at 4 and somehow were showered, dressed, and packed and we were at the airport by 4:38. Portland airport was quite busy for such an early hour. Narda had to go through a special sorting out because we did not bring our passport, thinking that since it was domestic to Portland and back that our driver’s license was good enough. But no they did not know what to do with Narda’s Australian ID. I was OK with a Jersey license that would expire in early 2017. We thought for a moment we would not get on our way but after examining every bit and piece of our body and luggage they decided Narda was no danger to the American way of life as is known.

If we wanted to take the time we could have made money on this trip with all the overbooking the airlines does. Firstly, going to Portland we could have gotten $150 each, then coming back the offer got up to $300 per passenger for a flight Portland to Chicago, and $150 when we were in Chicago to get to DC. In other words we could have gotten $600 each and considering our flights cost $25 total (we used flyby points) we could have come out well. But we want to spend Christmas Day in New York City; just the two of us, so changing flights at any profit was not good. But do take in mind that to gain in the world of flying pick holidays, pay your tickets months in advanced then give up your seat for the next flight for cash. We have done it in the past with our favourite being an upgrade to business from Bangalore, India to Hamburg, Germany just because we were willing to get on a next flight.

The served us Stroopwafels on the plane. They’re not even Dutch. A bloody bonus I recon.

flight

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Day 6/7 01 – 02 December: Thursday and Friday

70th Annual Kaimuki Christmas Parade

Our last night in Hawaii was as local as you can get.  We took the 13 bus. The actual stop, we discovered on our last day was right outside our block of flats; you just had to go to the other end of the lobby. We chatted for a while with 3 homeless guys, talking about how expensive real estate was in Hawaii. Just before we left one of them came up to me and said, “if I were a bit younger I’d ask you to marry me!” Well there’s one to blog about. I think he was about 50. It made my night. The bus took us about 20 minutes up the side of the hill near Waikiki. We stocked up on some munchies at the supermarket and found ourselves a good seat in the gutter. It was fun. We discovered that if you had a bag, you would be given many gifts by the paraders; candy canes, tootsie rolls, even little lights. It was a fun hour.

Friday 3 December

Our last day in Hawaii. Maybe sometime to return. I have managed to find myself here six times, five from Australia and twice with Narda. We were supposed to have come here in August, 2003, but the events of Leigh stopped it. Our ticket was for a Monday and his last day was the Saturday before which changed everything for me and we went to Sydney instead of Hawaii. (http://neuage.org/leigh.html) It took us thirteen years to get back this time.

Of course I had to compete with a homeless guy that wanted to run off and marry Narda but I had the promise of an upcoming parade to go to and no woman can forego a parade. I used to be in the Shenendehowa High School band in upstate New York back in the 1960s and playing trombone I was in the front row; always a chore for me as there was just too much to keep track of: staying in step, playing the song, and watch where we were headed. I seldom could do all three and usually chose to watch where I was going. I looked forward to seeing a parade that the write up said would involve 1,500 people with lots of floats and several marching bands. Of course you would have seen our  video by now and realised that the parade was a series of mottly groups of disorderly people. But this is Hawaii and there are not a lot of order and rules. When in Hawaii it is best to chill and follow your own path. Life is a parade and Hawaii is the best one.

Now is winter. By tomorrow we will know what winter really means when we get to New York City in the evening with a 4 C forecasted. Looking at my app for the weather right now at all our places we will be in before back to Adelaide (centigrade): Honolulu = 23, D. C. = 9, Saratoga = -3 (that is minus three – we will be there later in the winter when it actually gets cold), Eugene, Oregon = 3, Helsinki – 2 (minus two), Utrecht, The Netherlands = 7, Chiang Ma = 20, Phnom Penh = 26. Of course all those places will change as we get to them being colder for the east coast and northern Europe and warmer for Southeast Asia.

Observations: Observations of a selection in time is always tricky. I am 47-years older than the first time here – damn! It was the 1960s and early 1970s. The homeless dudes we saw in Waikiki could have been my lot. I had a time after leaving the occult order that I got sucked into for a couple of years in Hawaii then later in the 1970s when I had nothing. I had lost track of the girl and her baby I had come to Hawaii with and I was homeless. I went and lived on a beach in Maui for several months then on the big island. I got the money from my parents to get back to New York. Decades of some good breaks got my life from a homeless person in Hawaii to a few months from seventy-years old with a good mate and enough money to make Hawaii a stop on a round-the-world trip.

When I lived here 1980 – 1981 and Sacha was born I had another observation of Hawaii. I worked here and started the parenting thing. I lived in Honolulu and Waikiki those two stages of my life. This time I was here as a tourist. Narda and I were here as visitors in 2002; on the Big Island visiting my brother who I have only seen once in my life (half-brother, same mother – found each other at the end of the 1980s). I stopped here with my children in 1985 as a single parent when we stayed with Randy whom I have known since 1968 and who got me in the occult order here in Hawaii in 1969 and whom we are visiting in a few weeks in Oregon.

Not a lot has changed in Hawaii in those forty-seven years that I have seen during various phases of my life. It has always felt like a long way from anywhere – well it is a couple of thousand miles from the mainland of the USA. To be homeless and out of money here is really being stuck. It is not like one can hitchhike to another place. Money here is generated by the tourists so being older and not in the tourist business and not being Hawaiian is difficult. Maybe being a surfer would be good. Hawaii is very expensive, even more so than Australia. Food is mostly all imported from the mainland or Mexico. Our eggs came from Arizona our milk from Texas our tin of pineapple that said Dole Pineapple on it was from the Philippines – go figure. All that food is expensive. We had decided to be able to make it for four months we would have to have a budget of fifty-dollars a day for food until Asia then forty-dollars a day. We managed to be $78 under budget by the end of this first week so we are proud of ourselves. Our first day we ate at what appeared to be the cheapest eats around and that was $48 by the end of our scrappy little meal. Also, with my low-carb diet and vegetarian high-horse mind-set eating out is not really much of an option. We had better meals than we would have had at restaurants anyway. Then there is the tipping. Australia is free of such nonsense. They pay their servers a fair amount. Why do we have to give 20% to someone that is already being paid to bring us the food? OK so they don’t get paid much – add more to the bill and pay people properly. Here if a meal is $15 there is a service tax, city tax, and then they want a tip so it suddenly becomes $20. If someone picks up your bag they expect a tip. You can tell which are the Aussies and who are the Yanks at hotels or for airport shuttles. Australians say thank you, Yanks give cash. I like to thank people for their efforts.

As I have pointed out prior the best way to get around is by the bus for $2.50 or we just say two seniors and put two-dollars into the thingy. There are also the open-air trolleys from Ala Moana shopping centre to Waikiki for two-dollars. Watch out as they will try to sell a $25 pass for the trolley to get around for the day.

We got the afternoon flight to Los Angeles feeling a bit worse for wear arriving close to eleven pm and getting to the Crown Plaza and to bed closer to midnight than we would prefer. Sinking into the multiple soft pillows I questioned whether we would be getting ourselves up and to the 8:30 AM flight. Unfortunately for my aging body and wobbly consciousness I was awake too many times and Narda told me in the morning that she slept even less.  We were finally, deeply, happily asleep when the front desk rang with an incredible loudness fifteen minute before the requested time of 5.30. There was the inevitable falling forward to the airport where we had a rather good though expensive breakfast. A couple of eggs with a bit of tomato and toast equalling our allotted allowance for the day.

With a good five-minutes of sleep under our belt on the plane’s drift into the clouds we settled in to watch films and I played around with photoshop and some photos of clouds and snowy hills covering someplace in Arizona. I had to make some adjustments because the original photo was too light to discern clouds from snow from earth from something blue so I changed some things; actually the blue was not in the original photo.

clouds outside my window over Arizonia

clouds outside my window over Arizonia

So next stop, New York City and a few days at an Air B&B in Brooklyn before settling in for a few weeks in D.C.

 

Day 5 & 6 of 116 day retirement world-tour > Oahu

Day 5 & 6 of trip or day 4 & 5 in Hawaii 29/11/2016 Tuesday/Wednesday

We are getting better at this time zone change situation. I took this picture when we were almost all the way to Hawaii to remind myself which side of the day I was on. Flying over the International Dateline and the equator at the same time got us twisted about. Of course we were awake for most of the trip whether it was then or now or perhaps even a tad bit before. I am saying this because after only three or four days we are within three or four moments of being almost normal which we are mildly excited about. In other words I was asleep at ten pm last night; OK so I took a sleeping pill, and up at six am. Narda took longer to sleep and was up at 8. Yes, blogs can be this boring and mundane.

Qantas flight to Hawaii - Night and Day

Qantas flight to Hawaii – Night and Day

I was particularly anxious to get an early start to the day because this was the day we were going to go around the whole island. We plan to go around that other island we have lived on since moving back from China and before that New York – Australia, but we will probably take a lot longer to do that. Oahu we were going to do in one day. And cheaply too. There are tours for hundreds of dollars per sucker offered by everyone you meet here. Hawaii is a real hustle but that is what the place survives on. Us tourists, well not us – but ones who actually spend money, shell out the income for these paradise lounge lizards.

The best way and of course cheapest, is to take the Circle Island-via North Shore bus. Bus #55. We ask for the dollar per-trip senior rate even though Narda is five-years too young and I am four years past the mark for it. We average out the 65-year old requirement and that is almost honest. The regular cost is $2.50 so even that is quite a cheap way to get around the island.

The bus, as everything in the States where there is a hint of warmth, was super air-conditioned and we sat shivering because we did not think of bringing a jumper because hey this is Hawaii and it is supposed to be warm. We noticed everyone that got on the bus had a jacket or jumper or something a tad bit warmer than next-to-nothing at all. We got off two hours later at the Dole Planation, on the Kamehameha Highway in Wahiawa, just to get warm and to grab a cuppa. As we had transfers we knew we could get back on the next bus to get to Haleiwa.  It is listed as the number one spot to visit on some tourist brochures but somehow, we were not terribly impressed. There is a large sales place to go through with lots of overpriced crap all with images of pineapples on them. Pineapples themselves, and this is where they are grown, cost a couple of dollars more in the shop than at Walmart. Go figure. Then there is a train ride for eight bucks through pineapple fields which we didn’t go on. I did go on it back in May of 1981 when my parents came over from New York to visit because Sacha had been born six months earlier and they wanted to see him. We went to Maui then too but this trip we are staying on Oahu. The last time Narda and I were here, July of 2002, we did this bus trip too but we did not stop at this pineapple place. We did not go on the pineapple walk for six dollars per person either but chose to look at the pineapple plants around the store and over the fence. What really caught my eye were these trees which are a gum tree though not the same as we have in our front yard back in Adelaide in which we get the occasional koala visiting and I run out and take photos to put on Facebook. These trees are Mindanao Gum trees and have colourful markings. They remind me of paintings from my street artist days (1972 – 1974) in New Orleans (yes, you can see my paintings from any one of my four ‘Thoughts in Patterns” books available in e-book format from (http://neuage.org/e-books/)

mindanao gum (Rainbow eucalyptus) at Dole Pineapple Plantation

mindanao gum (Rainbow eucalyptus) at Dole Pineapple Plantation

We stopped in Haleiwa and got warm again and had coffee, and took the bus to Kahuku. The waves were not high today. Not even at Banzai Pipeline or Sunset. In the next few weeks they can get to 40 – 50 feet swells. We did have good views from our bus window. The night Sacha was born, January, 1981 a previous passing through my life (and having a couple of kids with me) entity and I drove to the North Shore for the birthing experience and the waves were going across the highway (I was working at Queens Medical Centre and we wanted a more natural setting plus we wanted and had taken classes to do the Lamaze underwater birthing trip and Kahuku Hospital was the only one who would go along with it.).

Vans World Cup - World Surf League - Sunset Beach, Oahu

Vans World Cup – World Surf League – Sunset Beach, Oahu

We only saw this from the window:

world cup championship seen from Bus #55

world cup championship seen from Bus #55

Terrell was actually an angel on the bus and let me have his back-row corner seat which was heated from the engine. It was such a relief I nearly wept. No kidding, hypothermia was not far off. The second part of our circle-the-island trip was speccie. Our driver was a speed demon, but not the same as in Cambodia where you seriously start planning your funeral as the bus dodges and weaves at a million mph, while texting. This one was fast and good.

I am sure few folks go to the hospital where their children were born. I have now done it twice both times with Narda. As I explained to Narda it is the process that is enjoyable. Going to Hawaii then taking a day to go to the end of the island to see some little hospital. Not exactly on the tourist top one-hundred places to visit. We only spent ten-minutes inside then went out and got the next bus back to Honolulu.

Kahuku Medical Center

Kahuku Medical Center

It is an Hawaiian custom to plant a tree over the placenta so feeling Hawaiian back in 1981 I did that. Yesterday we looked for the tree planted in 1981 but not sure which it was or even if it was.

When we arrived in the rain into Honolulu we bought some groceries at Walmart and had a nice home cooked meal back at the flat. I’m getting quite attached to this place. The weather is perfect, cool breeze all the time, warm enough to swim. Last night we watched a few episodes of Blacklist.

Each morning we get a free coffee and cake from the convenience store, ‘on the house’ as long as we turn up before 9 am. They call it a continental breakfast.

Waikiki lanai meals

Waikiki lanai meals

Our balcony – the ocean is visible between the buildings

30/11/2016 Wednesday

 For us it’s morning tea. So this morning I woke up normally, no pill, feeling good. We went on a long walk to Diamond Head and the suburbs nearby, crossing though a park full of these Banyon trees.

banyan tree at the Honolulu Zoo

banyan tree at the Honolulu Zoo

We discovered open inspections in this area and I managed to drag Terrell inside.

Lady Muck sitting on a $1.6 million Lanai

Lady Muck sitting on a $1.6 million Lanai

The first one was a 2 bedroom flat listed for 1.6 million dollars. The next one was amazing, every piece of furniture hand-picked and designed, all sorts of beautiful jungle colours; only 3.6 million, 2 bedrooms 2 bathrooms. Unfortunately, they did not let us take any photos. Not sure who buys them. I asked the realtor that question and she said they were most often bought by foreign investors. (not teachers!!)

We also, ‘toured’ a house for a few million that was built in the 1920s. I think that is the one we will purchase and in a future dream move into it. There was no shed involved so bringing all my belongings that fill our shed in Adelaide will be a problem. We probably should buy the house and the apartment overlooking the ocean and that way Narda would not send me off to de-clutter classes in the future, again.

Diamond Head Park between the sea and the crater, always one of my favourite parks in the world. Memories of going to music concerts in the 1960s – 1970s in the midst of the volcano. Sitting under coconut tree reading Mary Stewart’s Merlin Trilogy – feeling like I was part of King Arthur’s Court. Not quite sure what these folks were doing in my favourite park but it wasn’t King Arthur’s Court.

Diamond Head Park butts to the wind

Diamond Head Park butts to the wind

Being retired teachers (we think) (yes, definitely says Narda) we try not to think of school but a surf school would be ideal as long as they stayed in the water and we on land; or we drove their school bus:

Surf School Bus

Surf School Bus

 

Aloha from Narda and Terrell

Aloha from Narda and Terrell

With only two days left in our first stop in our four-month ‘retirement-world-tour’ we hope to get up and about tomorrow, Thursday, good and early though it is already 10:30 pm Wednesday so we may sleep in.

Some other times in Hawaii: 1981, 1982, 1985 with Sacha:

 

 

 

 

Day 4 of 116 day retirement world-tour > Oahu

Nothing says “this is Hawaii” better than having Elvis with some hula girls singing on Waikiki Beach. Yes, it is him – the reason it is blurry is because no one was supposed to have seen this. Like in those UFO photos.

What is more iconic in Hawaii than Elvis with hula girls? Well Elvis with Narda, of course. She looks so happy with him. Luckily, I am not a ‘jealous guy’ as Elvis once sang to me.

Narda duets with Elvis at the Aloha Tower

Narda duets with Elvis at the Aloha Tower

Today we had a bit of a late start – got out of our flat at 12:30. This Hawaiian slow-mellow-relaxed life style is good for us. We grabbed a bus to downtown Honolulu, passing Queens Medical Centre where I worked for a couple of years 1980 – 1981 well closer to a year really. I worked in the locked psych ward – not just with loonies but a bit dangerous ones. We used to give some electric shock treatment; not me but the doctor and I was doing the nursing thing of strapping them in and sitting with them when they came too. I hated the whole process and thought it was a bit mean. So, we wandered around Honolulu for an afternoon. Went over to Aloha Tower, had some lunch and watched a ship come in, and I tried not to talk about my past all the time as that is annoying.

(I was kind of asked not to include my thoughts about the below image but I can’t help myself) We had stopped into Walmart for the loo-toilet-bathroom, whatever they call it in the States, and I was looking at toys as one does. I was fascinated by this particular hula girl doll and the fact that ‘Moana sings her iconic movie song, “How far I’ll go”’ with bold lettering at the top telling us to “TRY ME”. I have no idea what is going on here. My only frame of reference comes from my male reptilian  adolescence brain. And that is all I will say on the topic. I did not purchase it. After a few giggles and being told that I was “not funny” I went on to think about some other thing though I can not recall what.

"How far I'll go"

“How far I’ll go”

I really dislike all the cat and dog things people post – how annoying; saying that, I thought this was an interesting shot. Actually, the dog should be getting exercise and it seemed more interested in my pack of imported spicy Korean Seaweed in individual packs or perhaps the dog near me, than walking.

dog in a basket

dog in a basket

We had a nice sun-setting evening with the beach only two blocks away from home. Finally got my sorry-ass into the water and had a bit of a slash then we sat on the lawn and watched the day disappear into the sea. We love Hawaii and this is another place we could live for a long time though it looks like Southeast Asia is best for us.

We got into a chat on the beach-lawn with this guy from Alaska, who’s girlfriend is from Bulgaria. OK, time for more research. I edged the topic towards the recent election. His response was quite moderate, though he said he voted for the T guy (can’t bring myself to write the word). He said he had also read Obama’s book ‘the Audacity of Hope’ and had concluded that he was a really decent fellow. So there. Another take.

I am an American, though part-Australian having lived there for twenty-four years. My American part sure quickly comes out; especially with sports. I almost forget about NFL or worry about the ups and downs of the New York Giants, when living in Australia. Here there is always NBA, or NFL on or college games. Hawaii Uni won yesterday and got themselves into a Bowl game. Folks here are excited. Not that we sit around and watch sports but I do sneak in a view now and then. Half the people in this area are tourists from the Mainland and the other half are from Japan with .004 % from Australia, New Zealand or some other distant place. I like the Americanisms though it is difficult to pick them out specifically. I feel like a tourist in Australia and still get lost in Adelaide after living there for more than two-decades. I get lost in Hawaii and on the mainland too but I feel less lost.

 

Day 3 > Honolulu

Day 3 Sunday 28/11/2016 Honolulu

One of my first impressions of Hawaii when I first arrived in December, 1969, was all the images of a cold northern winter. Australia does this too. Both places with no snow in sight for thousands of kilometres unless you go to the mall. Then there are songs about dashing through the snow in a one horse open sleigh and songs about snowmen and crackling fires in the snow and here in Hawaii, they are doing the hula to Christmas songs. I was here in December of 1980 too. It was a month before Sacha was born. This year though for Christmas we will be on the east coast though we are not sure where but no doubt real snow will be involved and no one doing the hula.

Ala Moana shopping centre is the largest outside mall in the world. It was right from the beginning. Of course, with a climate like here it makes sense, one of the things that does here. We walked the 45-minutes from our pad (do they say that anymore or is that a left-over from the 1960’s?) to Ala Moana. I have been saying for this past year; “we’ll get it at Ala Moana”. Now with our suitcases filled beyond what they can hold we are unable to purchase anything more than a fridge magnet. We were a bit disappointed. It is just another shopping mall, like every mall in the world, only bigger and outside. Narda said our local mall in Adelaide, Tea Tree Plaza, was the same size and to save the argument and not be one of those people who claim “I told you so” I looked it up; Tea Tree Plaza equals 312,769.03 square feet, Ala Moana Centre (Center) equals 2,100,000 square feet. So, one is seven times the size of the other but I will not say anything. They are equal when it gets to snow scenes but Hawaii has the hula snow scenes; how cool is that? We did find the Shirokiya Japan Village Walk fascinating. Maybe a hundred or less Japanese eating places. Sacha and Georgia recently had gone to Japan and were telling us about how much they liked the food so this is the closest we could get to matching their experience. We found some vegetarian and seemingly low-carb eats that were really tasty and took the bus back to Waikiki. We got on and said “two-seniors” and paid a dollar each. One of the perks of being old.

Japanese vegetarian low-carb at Ala Moana Shopping Centre

Japanese vegetarian low-carb at Ala Moana Shopping Centre

Of course things change. But one that I was quite disappointed in was the International Market Place in the centre of Waikiki. This was once a great place to hang out with lots of funky shops. Now it is ‘world-class shopping’ meaning a lot of glossy expensive stores that were empty even when the area was crowded with tourists. Honolulu will never be Hong Kong, Tokyo, Singapore or anywhere else except Honolulu. Why they are trying to downgrade it is beyond me.

Narda chilling at the Hilton Hawaiian Village

Narda chilling at the Hilton Hawaiian Village

Like most cities, we are living shoulder to shoulder with our neighbours. Because of the climate people leave their doors open. No privacy here. This is looking out from our window.

our neighbours in Waikiki

our neighbours in Waikiki

It is great to have no plans for the day. Narda is still asleep and it is 8 am. She used to be up at five most mornings, never sleeping this late. So Hawaii has already become restful after a stressful few months before heading out into the world of ‘could this be retirement’?

Ok, “my turn” as Maggie would say. First some fact checks. I think that the Tea Tree Plaza size was measured in metres not feet..just sayin’. Furthermore, Ala Moana was dominated by Coach, Fendi, Gucci, Cartier, bla bla bla stores with NO ONE in them), and TTP is NOT. So, that’s all I will say.

We went shopping at Foodland (not the same) and were so shocked by the prices. Eggs $6-$7, bread nothing under $5, milk $7 etc. Blimey, there goes our budget. But…we’ve managed. We found a groovy sweet potato, $1.99 per pound, mixed it with chopped spinach, gravy on top..yum. Dinner on the lanai (my new Hawaiian word). Very nice. Me drinking Yellow Tail, sorry Bren.

corn eaters of Waikiki

corn eaters of Waikiki

After dinner, some rain, then a nice little walk around our own hood, staying away from the Waikiki strip. (More Gucci, Amani, whatever…). We came across a little pub with 4 old guys singing old style jazz, and lots or rock n roll. Think Rockin Robin, The Twist, Blue Suede Shoes, Crazy little thing called Love. We went in, even though was WAY past our bedtime. It was fun. We gotta get out more.

old Hawaiian people singing 1950's music to old people from the Mainland (and Australia)

old Hawaiian people singing 1950’s music to old people from the Mainland (and Australia)

If you read e-books my storefront at http://neuage.papertrell.com/ sells mine along with others I have favoured. Or go to http://neuage.org/e-books/ for my scribbles and photographic-texts of the past few years including ‘Leaving Australia Part One and Part two. If you want a preview of my photo-texts; I post on my picture-poem collection page on Google+ at https://plus.google.com/u/0/collection/E_6JaB occasionally one I favour at the moment.

got to tell ya about this

was me

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yesterday perhaps before