Wednesday, February 25, 2015

+ My Alphabe-Thursday (5th), the letter "O" — Some places I've been starting with "O"

"O" is for some places, countries and cities starting with the letter "O" where I have traveled:

 - Countries:
None beginning with "O" -- Oman could be on my ToDo list someday
 
 - States: (I've been to all 50)
OhioOklahomaOregon  
 
 Large Cities over 100,000 population I've liked:
United States:

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Omaha, Nebraska
Oakland, California
Orlando, Florida
Overland Park, Kansas

Orange, California
Olathe, Kansas

Foreign:

Odessa, Ukraine

So, here goes: 
Odessa -- We were in the Black Sea on our cruise from Venice (Italy) to Istanbul (Turkey) on to the Black Sea and back to Athens (Greece).  We made two stops, one at Yalta and the other to Odessa.  

Unfortunately my pictures are on my laptop that crashed (down to the floor) and also on the memory card that I cannot find.  So take my word for it, Odessa is a beautiful old European city, one founded by Empress of Russia, Catherine the Great, in 1794.  Perhaps by the time we get to "U" (Ukraine) and "Y" (Yalta) I will have resurrected those pictures.

Oman -- (haven't been there yet)

When we do we can Fly Houston to Oman - emirates.com?‎
 - I'm thinking of flying to Muscat, Oman, and then driving up to Dubai.  From there we could take a cruise to places we haven't been and ending in Cape Town, South Africa.
 - How close to Dubai? Answer:  via Route 1 would be 4 h 36 min driving 454 km.
 

 - Jenny is now on her tenth series of Alphabe Thursday.  With 52 weeks in a year and 26 letters in the alphabet she is now in her fifth year.  I am linked to her blog, GO HERE for more participants and their offerings.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

My Alphabe-Thursday (5th), the letter "N" — Some places I've been starting with "N"

"N" is for some places, countries and cities starting with the letter "N" where I have traveled:

 - Countries:
Netherlands
New Zealand
Norway
 
 - States: (I've been to all 50) 
Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New JerseyNew Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota 

 Large Cities over 100,000 population I've liked:
United States:

New York
Nashville
New Orleans
Newark
New Haven
Norman

Foreign:

Nuevo Laredo, Mexico
Nantes, France
Nice, France
Naples, Italy

So, here goes: 
Norway -- We visited Oslo, Norway, as a part of our Princess cruise  (my blog link) into the Baltic capital cities.  Oslo is on the Eastern side of Norway, this summer we hope to visit the Western side with it's nice fjords.  This will include an embarkation into the city of Bergan.




 One of my favorite places in Oslo was the The Kon-Tiki Museum.  They didn't have much of the original Kon-Tiki ships but the reproductions made it all worth while. We also visited the home of the Norwegian Congress, inside were all these beautiful murals, at least one for every wall.




It seemed like a park, but the Vigeland Sculpture Park enjoys the status of a museum. All of Gustav Vigeland's sculptures are nude and life sized. And placed where one can walk around them, some even to be touched and perched on.

I was born and lived in Nebraska until I was drafted into the Army.  During my five years I was stationed at Fort Bliss Texas and afterwards my work with the Air Force took me and the family to live in New Hampshire.  Both are beautiful states.

My blog is sprinkled with blurbs (read them) about our spell in New Hampshire.  I will repeat this one from a March 27, 2007, post:

"I am reminded of the summer of 1961 when we were moving to New Hampshire. It would be a new job there at the Air Force Satellite Tracking Station, we had just arrived in Manchester where we would live for the next three years.

The July afternoon was hot and our 1951 Ford wasn't air-conditioned. So I decided to treat the kids to an ice cream cone. We pulled into the little walk-up ice cream place and I asked for six nickel ice cream cones.

People in the store were pretty rude to laugh at us. Then they said to try starting with the quarter ones. Gone were the days of cheap El Paso, Texas, living. At least for three years.
I got back to Texas as fast as I could!"


We also plan to re-visit Nice, France, again this summer.  Nice was where I saw my first topless beach.  There wasn't much pride there. (You won't see what I had written here, it wasn't appropriate for my blog.)

I will always remember our walk down from our hotel, through the pedestrian mall, and over to the Mediterranean beach that evening.  It was a just plain pleasant evening, it had cooled and everything was nice.  We ate but I don't remember where or what.

I will stop with Naples, Italy.  We were staying at Sorrento a week after our two weeks in Sicily.  One day we took the train into Naples and then road the Ferry back to our town.  I was worried about two things on the ride, the pickpockets as it was very crowded, and again the crowded train station where we got off at Naples.

Three young ladies escorted us through the long way out of the station, we must have walked with a crowd for half a mile in there.  But our escort stayed with us until we were out and on the street.  We have found the European people much more friendly and helpful than our fellow Americans in most states.

Our first Naples stop was the National Archaeological Museum of Naples (where we got senior discount admission tickets) (link 1) which was established in 1585 (link 2). 
I enjoyed most the  Pompeii exhibits most as it was brimming full of artifacts taken from Pompeii after the eruption of of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.
... 
[Mt. Vesuvius behind us. From
the roof of our Sorento Hotel]


We spent the rest of the morning in the museum and then walked down through the city (Naples) to the seaport to catch our ferry. [In the Google Map of our journey, please note the large green "splotch" in the upper portion centered about two inches from the right.  That is what is left of Mt. Vesuvius that obliterated the old city of Pompeii. [You can click on it to make it a bit larger.] 
 - - - - -  -
 - Jenny is now on her tenth series of Alphabe Thursday.  With 52 weeks in a year and 26 letters in the alphabet she is now in her fifth year.  I am linked to her blog, GO HERE for more participants and their offerings.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

My Alphabe-Thursday (5th), the letter "M" — Some places I've been starting with "M"

"M" is for some places, countries and cities starting with the letter "M" where I have traveled:

 - Countries:
Mexico
Monaco
 
 - States: (I've been to all 50) 
Maine Maryland Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota Mississippi Missouri Montana

 Large Cities over 100,000 population I've liked:
United States:

Manchester, NH (I lived here for three years in the early 60's)
Memphis, TN (my 2012 blog post)
Miami, FL

Milwaukee, WI  
Minneapolis, MN (there for a book sales retreat in 1980's)
Montgomery, AL (our car windshield wipers broke, I fixed in a park)
Mobile, AL
Mesquite, TX 
Midland, TX
Montgomery, TX (not 100,000, more like 676--we live outside town)

Foreign:

Madrid, Spain
Melbourne, Australia
Moscow, Russia
Munich, Germany

So, here goes: 
Madrid, Spain -- Been there several times.  The first time we went our oldest grand-daughter, Megan, had turned 16 and was traveling with us.  On that trip we drove from Paris up to Normandy, France down through France, Spain, Gibraltar, and back to Albacete, Spain, where we turned the car in. We had no advance reservations and at a few places it took us quite a while to find a place to sleep.  We always did, but I think it made Megan a bit uneasy.  Madrid was one of those places.

Melbourne, Australia -- Not a pleasant town for older tourists, city information center people were of no help and seemed annoyed at us. We were there for a day in 2013 as a stop of our Princess cruise ship. 

Melbourne city view from the ship - Abandoned Olympic grounds (2)

Train ride, the most fun around Melbourne

Good things end - Mrs. Jim, cuter than a bug's ear - Back to Earth in Melbourne

.............................. We could buy these guys
Click on any picture for larger size view, use 'Back' button to return
 
Moscow, Russia -- The beginning of our Viking River Cruise from Moscow to St. Petersburg.  We stayed in Moscow two full days and nights. Unlike most of these holidays, we stayed on the trip while it was birthed both in Moscow and in St. Petersburg, both cities where the cruises stay more than one day.

More than half of my Russia posts talked and showed Moscow (link).

We went day and night.  As we had a Russian Visa we could have gone out on our own except that Viking had made provisions to fill our time very nicely.

Seems every city has an abandoned Olympics site - Land of gold domes
 



Moscow has the cleanest subways of all - Red Square is a nice tourist site now  
 


Our ships have a "Sail Away Party"  -  Dining mates for this evening, "Дякую"
 
Munich, Germany -- Been here several times also.  Really have no favorites but a lot of memories.  The BMW Museum, Beer Gardens, Parking three stories down (very crowded but we always drove except one time on an organized tour), preparations for the Oberammergau Passion Play which is only performed every ten years, hectic car rentals and getting out of town experiences, my being late for our plane because I was lost at the airport, and many, many more.
 
That last one, the airport experience, I had gone through Security and remembered that I had not mailed a post card I had prepared.  So I went back through Security to the mall-like airport, mailed the card, but came back to the wrong terminal.  Then I couldn't find where I should have before departure time.

The pilot waited the plane for me but he embarrassed me really bad.  He said over the loud speaker that it was a shame we had to delay departure, 300 plus people waiting for one late man.  I was glad to be on the plane and also was glad that Mrs. Jim didn't get lost in the airport looking for me, but rather stayed close.

Oh yes, those were the days before cell phones (and heightened 9/11 prevention Security).
 
 - Jenny is now on her tenth series of Alphabe Thursday.  With 52 weeks in a year and 26 letters in the alphabet she is now in her fifth year.  I am linked to her blog, GO HERE for more participants and their offerings.

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Thursday, February 05, 2015

My Alphabe-Thursday (5th), the letter "L" — Some places I've been starting with "L"

"L" is for some places, countries and cities starting with the letter "L" where I have traveled:

 - Countries:
Liechtenstein
 
 - States: (I've been to all 50) 
Louisiana

 - Large Cities over 100,000 population I've liked:
London, U.K. (Check here for some of my past London blog posts)
Los Angles, California
Lincoln, Nebraska 

So, here goes: 
Liechtenstein is one of the ten small countries of the world, Grenada*, Malta, Maldives, Saint Kitts and Nevis*, Liechtenstein*, San Marino, Tuvalu, Nauru, Monaco*, and the Vatican* (Link -- I've been to the four asterisked ones). 

We drove through Liechtenstein two times and took a bus once.  What struck me each time was a row of large homes and castles lined up just before range of mountains start.

Where did we eat?  McDonald's all three times.  European hamburgers aren't as good as they are in the U.S.  I prefer fish sandwiches in the McDonalds overseas.

And don't expect to get your passport stamped.  Crossing between countries in the E.U. is like crossing state border in the U.S.  Liechtenstein does require a special automobile tax stamp be displayed in the windshield.  Our rental agency had provided for this for our car.
 
 
[click on picture for larger view size]
 
Before eating fried seafood (catfish, oysters, shrimp, crawfish, alligator) my two SILs and BIL decide on whether to use the restroom or not before eating.  As shown in the left of the left picture is a sign giving directions with arrow for the restroom out back of the restaurant.  The food was delicious, using the toilet was an adventure.  There are lots of water and bridges in Louisiana.  Watch out for alligators.

Louisiana is our neighbor state where Mrs. Jim was born at Alexandria, a small city in the middle of the state.  Once a year we have a family reunion there.

Lincoln, Nebraska is where I lived for five years after I graduated from high school.  I attended the University of Nebraska for three semesters with a possible Geology major.  My grades were not good so I withdrew before it became possible for me not to return.  The thing I learned there best was to play a really good game of chess.

I don't go back there anymore but do have a lot of memories.  My first girlfriend and I dated there but that didn't last forever.  I had a job in the Elgin watch factory and worked there for three years until the draft caught up with me and I went into the Army. 

The plant closed while I was in the service and there was a bad recession when it was time to leave so I re-enlisted for an electronics school at Fort Bliss in El Paso Texas.  That gave me a carrier in Aerospace Engineering which would serve me well for the next 20 years.

 This is a 1934 Ford Three Window Coupe. 
In the mid 50's we raced one of these on
an oval dirt track in Lincoln Nebraska.
Ours had no headlights and the fenders had
their outside surfaces, showing here, cut off

While at Lincoln besides working I learned how to fix cars (Ford specialty) by working on a 1934 Ford Coupe which we raced as a Modified Stock Car at the Lincoln race track.  It was a pretty car, painted 'baby blue' with the number 88 painted on the sides and back in big white letters. 

It ran very well, fast too because it was bored and stroked and ran a special racing cam.  For fuel we used a mixture of alcohol and nitromethane (link), which BTW, causes flames to shoot out of the exhausts when the car slows for cornering.   Occasionally I would drive but we had a steady driver who was very good.

My personal car was a nice 1952 Ford Tudor for which I had rebuilt the motor.  It would out run any 1955 or 1956 Chevys (fastest street cars then) I could find, even the ones with the 'Power Packs'.
_ _ _ _ _

 - Jenny is now on her tenth series of Alphabe Thursday.  With 52 weeks in a year and 26 letters in the alphabet she is now in her fifth year.  I am linked to her blog, GO HERE for more participants and their offerings.

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Woman Brings ‘Therapy Kangaroo' Into McDonald's

Woman Brings ‘Therapy Kangaroo' Into McDonald's
 




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Thursday, January 29, 2015

My Alphabe-Thursday (5th), the letter "K" — Some places I've been starting with "K"

"K" is for some places, countries and cities starting with the letter "K" where I have traveled:

 - Countries:
There are several countries beginning with the letter "K" but I haven't been to any of these yet. My list can be found here:  http://www.state.gov/misc/list/index.htm#k.
None of them are on my bucket list so I doubt if I will be to any of these.
 
 - States: (I've been to all 50) 
Kansas
Kentucky
 - U.S. Cities over 100,000 population where I've been:
Kansas City, Missouri
Knoxville, Tennessee
Kansas City, Kansas
Killeen, Texas

Kansas hasn't had too much good for me.  The best is that Lawrence, Kansas has a Runza restaurant.  When we go north (Iowa and Nebraska) we generally stop there to have a Runza sandwich (read about my experiences here).

These have been on my blog several times. The Runza is considered by many, the Jim's included, to be the National Food of Nebraska.

The Runza is a hamburger--cooked ahead, cabbage, and onion (more or less, check your recipe) baked inside a folded dough.  We think it is German food. (Wikipedia for history)

I had my first Runza in Lincoln, Nebraska. The owner of the original Runza Hut started all this in a little restaurant in a former home out by Antelope Park. You could walk up to the window and order. Either to go or to take to a picnic bench under the trees and awnings to eat on premise. He did have a couple of tables inside for rainy days.


We enjoyed our Belize City stop last week. Pictures below (click on picture for larger size).





"K" is for Key West, Florida.  Before our transatlantic cruise to London last April we flew to Key West and stayed a couple of nights, giving us almost three days there. I posted our stay there along with my Florida information, you can revisit that, click here.







 [don't forget you can click on a picture for a large sized view]
 - Jenny is now on her tenth series of Alphabe thursday.  With 52 weeks in a year and 26 letters in the alphabet she is now in her fifth year.  I am linked to her blog, GO HERE for more participants and their offerings.

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