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Easy Travel

In these days of pandemic and restricted movement — either self-imposed or otherwise — a person’s mind (at least mine) wants to travel. Let me out of the house, the state, the country, the century!

One cure: A book. Between the covers of a book, you can stay in one place – hope you are safe and warm – and still experience a different place and time.

Let’s see: where have I traveled so far in 2022. Present day suburban St. Louis; present day French Riviera; present day New Jersey; and London in 1703. No packing, no planes, no credit card charges. Simple as can be.

Where do you want to go? Are you unsure? Perhaps a little timid.

This happy animal suggests you travel to Crystal Springs, WI and get acquainted with some of his distant (very distant) relatives in Seed of Desire.

Link to Kindle edition: https://amzn.to/2RDFgxH

This story, and the other Crystal Springs Romances are available at all major on-line retailers for your e-reader or as a paperback.

Happy reading! I’m off to continue my visit to present day Texas.

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Rise Above It All

Up! Up! And Away!

Have you ever wanted to just get up in the air, away from all the clutter, and see the big picture?

One item on my personal “bucket list” is a ride in a hot-air balloon. I’ll need to be a paying passenger: balloon pilots are not among my friends.

Now which one looks the best? The hippo has a certain charm. Then again, the bees on the honeycomb make a statement. Fierce like the dragon? Perhaps the goose laying the golden egg. A mushroom? Snowman? Pig or sheep?

Any one, with the right pilot and weather conditions, would help you “rise above it all” for a brief time.

Until then — I’ll enjoy the puzzle.

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Three Bridges — One River

If you begin in St. Louis and intend to drive any great distance (or any moderate distance) you will find it necessary to cross at least one river. Depending on direction and distance, you may cross more than one — or the same river more than once.

Today we’re going to focus on driving southwest from the heart of the city. The first sizable (except during flood) river you will encounter is the Meramec. The first time you cross it on Interstate 44 or a state highway running roughly parallel, the river is flowing south — perhaps a few degrees to the southeast.

Less than ten miles later, Interstate 44 crosses the Meramec River again — where it flows north. Like most rivers, perhaps a little more than average, the river changes direction several times as it wanders from the source to the Mississippi River.

This is a crossing where a steel truss bridge with oak floor planks spanned the water in 1900. In 1932, a new bridge, to carry the traffic for the new US Highway 66 replaced the previous. When the Interstate was construction, a new bridge, a little south (upstream) was completed. The old (second) bridge continued to serve local traffic until 2009. At that time, the decking was removed in an effort to lighten the load on the steel trusses and wait for funds to restore the structure which now lies within a State Park.

A trace of Bridge #1 remains with the pair of footings visible at low water. Bridge #2 — deckless — is in the foreground while Bridge #3 carries the traffic from St. Louis to points southwest such as Rolla and Springfield in Missouri, Tulsa, OK and beyond.

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River Street

River Street. Wharf Street. Water Street.

Small towns and large cities alike frequently have streets with one or more of the above names.

Yes, they often parallel a river — whether the river marks the city limits and cuts through the center of town. It’s a natural — rivers served as liquid highways (many still do) long before the network of roads in the United States was developed to support more than a man leading a pack horse.

Roads have improved — in number and quality. Often they served the many factories which were built along the rivers. Transportation has always been important to industry. A large number of the factories, many outdated, others closed for dozens of other reasons, no longer receive or ship goods on the rivers. Instead, fleets of trucks arrive with raw materials and depart with finished product.

Exceptions do exist.

A freighter passes through a draw bridge while using the Fox River as a liquid highway. From a riverside path (re-purposed railroad right-of-way) we followed along at a brisk walk as the ship headed toward the third and final drawbridge before entering Green Bay — leaving the city, entering the bay.

Can you imagine traveling this way from one city to the next in the Great Lakes?

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The Ninety-two year Difference

How long ago? Ninety-two years! That takes a person back to…1929?

Close to a century scary when you think about it. In my childhood, it seemed as if all adults were born before then. However, I need to remember…my childhood was more than two decades ago.

So think back with me…close your eyes and imagine the streets of a medium-sized city…the county seat perhaps.

Here comes the newest from Mr. Ford…

and it’s not even black!

Watch as it chugs down the street giving a smooth ride to the driver and passengers. Oh– look!

A special seat just for the teens. Hold your girl tight on the curves, Young Sir!

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Need a Rest?

Long-time readers of this blog — or people who know me in person — are aware I enjoy zoos.

Recently I visited a New-to-me location.

While smaller than the local zoo (St. Louis is rated world class) this medium-sized facility presented a variety of mammals, birds, and reptiles in both people and animal friendly displays.

Perhaps I’m getting older. One of the things which caught my attention was not an animal at all — a bench with a clever design.

A smooth, simple place to sit and watch the animals — and people. Slide to the end for a stylish arm to assist standing.

Do you admire benches in public places? Want to see more? Click here for a link to my Pinterest collection. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/754845587550645255

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Recent History?

Is the title an oxymoron?

Actually, the definition depends on your age. For young adults — even some in typical middle age — the events and artifacts at this museum are history. For the generation older — well, we remember when they were in use.

Do you remember the 1960’s? Or are they stories from older family members and final chapters of history books?

While many of the items at this museum were designed, built, and in-use before my birth — a large share continued in use into my young adulthood.

I spent a delightful day at this location. I started on land. However, I spent the largest portion of the time on the floating portion of the displays. It took time for me to tour to all the parts of the aircraft carrier which I wanted to see. I tried to imagine myself as a crew member. Did I work on this deck? Sleep in this section? Eat here? Ladders, not stairs. Deck, not floor. How many of the planes on the flight deck did I recognize? What a view from the captain’s chair!

When visiting Charleston, SC, I suggest you allow several hours to enjoy some recent history — or 20th Century history — at Patriot’s Point. A visit to the ships and displays makes a nice contrast to the 17th and 18th Century sites in the historic portions of the city.

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No Exceptions!

All street traffic must stop! Did you see the flashing light? Hear the bell? Notice the red and white arm lower?

It does not matter if you are a bus, a truck, a sedan, an SUV, or a bicycle. ALL street traffic must stop!

But…but…but…I’m late for an appointment.

Explain the situation when you arrive. Locals will understand.

When the bridge tender raises the draw bridge…ALL street traffic needs to pause.

Best reaction? Stop your vehicle, draw a good breath, and watch the river traffic enjoy right-of-way.

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Extreme West

The United States is not a compact country. We sprawl across the middle of a continent and then for good measure add a few parts not connected to the rest.

One of the disconnected portions — accessible only by sea or air — is a tropical paradise. At least, that’s the way it was presented during long, cold upper Midwest winters.

This author is old — old enough to remember when this was one of two new states added to congress and the reason for new stars in the flag. (Wonder how my father felt about it — four new states were added in his lifetime.)

Sugar cane, coffee, pineapples, and tourists populate this collection of islands. Volcanic in origin, certain places remain active to this day. My visit, while short, was relaxing and memorable. Will I return? I’m keeping an open mind. Then again — many other places with fine, warm weather remain unchecked boxes on the list of places welcoming tourists.

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Mid-South?

My Midwest mindset often groups these states together — sometimes only two, but often three.

Are they Southern? They are certainly different from the “Deep South.” Does the Ohio River make the boundary?

These states certainly share a history. The mountains of one and all of the others were explored by brave men (and women) in the later portions of the Eighteenth Century.

During multiple trips to and through two of these states — to arrive in the third — mugs and magnets found their way into my luggage.

Rich history. Fine music. Sipping whiskey. Beautiful scenery. Presidents were born and lived here. Battles were fought.

Exact time is not clear — but I sense more travel to Kentucky, Tennessee, and North Carolina in my future.