Posts from the ‘Travelogues’ Category


At the Baseball Hall of Fame
Cooperstown, New York
September, 2010


Our first treat to ourselves upon our retirement from teaching, my wife Sue and I set out on an autumn tour of New England in the fall of 201. We were gone for three weeks. One of those days found me in a heaven that I had yearned for – the Baseball Hall of Fame.

We awoke in our hotel, grabbed some breakfast, and headed into downtown Cooperstown, a quiet little village right near the middle of New York. Legend has it as the site at which baseball was invented, back in the mid-1800s. The town is filled with architecture of the day – clapboard houses, two-story shops downtown, and a lovely park complete with a bandstand and many benches.

We got to the Hall just as it opened at 10 am. Being just past tourist season, there were virtually no crowds there at all – we had the place almost to ourselves, with the exception of a few others who used the same timing frame for vacationing as we did.

We bought our tickets and entered. This isn’t just some tiny place where there are 3 or 4 rooms to visit. This is quite the complex – various halls, each one dedicated to a certain aspect of the baseball galaxy.

There’s the hall of memorabilia dedicated to bats, balls, uniforms, and other artifacts from famous ballplayers and other figures. There’s a hall for the history of baseball, of the media of baseball – TV, radio, movies, and the like … it was here I was so glad to see the Twins’ own Herb Carneal inducted as a member – and to hear a clip of him describing a Twins game. There was a hall for the Professional Women’s Baseball League, made famous by the movie A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN.

520 Herb Carneal, baseball voice of the Twins.JPG         511 Women's Pro Baseball display.JPG

And of course, the main hall itself, where all those voted into this place had a plaque on the wall – thank God there weren’t many people there; I could stand and look at my favorites, getting even a few pictures with them (photo credit goes to Sue for these . . . )

516a Carew and me.JPG  517b Harmon and me.JPG

There were artworks, scorecards, posters, maps, books, movie clips – all there, all honoring the great moments of baseball – and for that matter, recounting some of the not so great moments.

It was a fine morning. We weren’t in there more than two hours, but I saw a lifetime of baseball. It was truly a bucket list day.


Week 28 – Fishing with Nephews

How do you account the days of time spent on the lake with nephews? How do you explain the particularly cool factor that is present in such an event?

First off, let it be said that I schooled the boys quite well in the art of bass fishing – at least on Lake Thirteen. We all caught several in those two days, but I believe if a true count were taken, I landed the most AND the largest.

Oh, and when I say boys, I say guys who are in the neighborhood of thirty years old, both married, and working men. Paul his wife Jill have a daughter, and as yet, Joel and his wife Angie are without issue. I am 61, my wife Wilma is spectacular, and our kids have grown. The three of us see each other a couple of times a year, so we are not strangers – and what a better way to get to know each other than fishing together.

Mostly I used Rapalas … black top, gold bottom, floating type, no. 11. I would cast out, let it float a bit, and often enough, a bass would hit that puppy with the usual aggressive splash and drive, and the fight would be on.

Me with my 19 Inch Smallmouth Bass

Me with my 19 Inch Smallmouth Bass

One evening I used a hula popper. Same thing – cast it out there, let it float a bit, and then give it a tug so that a nice big BLOOP sounded out of its lip. BANGO, when a hit came, it was thrilling.

My other choice that produced was a deep running FAT RAP, painted to look like a little sunfish. I only caught one on it in our efforts, but it was the largest fish of the entire weekend – a 19 inch smallmouth bass.

The boys? Paul and Joel are both well-trained in their fishing skills, and well equipped. They caught their share; I would be hard pressed to say who caught the more fish of the two. They both used green spinner baits, hauling in largemouth and smallmouth bass as I did.

But like I said, I schooled them both. Outfished them, plain and simple.

But that’s just the short-term benefit. What I find so very cool is that the three of us built a new dimension to how we know each other. You might call it respect. You might call it familial ties, but in any case, it was a truly fine two days’ worth of time spent with these two nephews.

Joel holds one for us to see

Joel holds one for us to see

Paul shows a good one

Paul shows a good one

The long-term benefit? I will remember the fun of these two days and these two guys for a long time. I still remember fondly the fishing trips with Uncle Gustie to the St. Louis River, where we caught walleye and catfish – an event that took place in the late evening, well past midnight. I remember going on a camping trip with Uncle Dan and his son Mike. I would hazard a guess that Paul and Joel, too, will recall that weekend on Lake Thirteen with Uncle Charlie. Perhaps someday down the road they will spend some time on the water with their nephews and will build the same memories.

And that’s what it’s all about.  Thanks for the good times, guys.

Week 30 – My Fair (Change that to Stupendous) Lady, My Sub-Mediocre Twins

This weekend Wilma and I traveled down to the Cities to join our daughter and her hubby at a Twins game, then a night in the downtown Radisson, and then taking a shot at getting rush tickets for My Fair Lady.  Let’s take them in that order.


We  checked into the Radisson in downtown Minneapolis and then picked up the kids at the state fairgrounds, where they were having a ball at the BMW motorcycle rally – yes, our daughter rides!  She and her hubby have become real adventurers, which I find fun and interesting to watch.  Wilma, however, requests that they not tell her when they’re going on a ride until AFTER they’ve returned home safely.  we parked back at the hotel and started the short 3 block walk to Target Field

My dinner    Zoomer Heidi and Zinger Jon

Supper, you ask?  We got ourselves a table in THE DEPOT TAVERN just a few blocks away from Target Field.  I had a REAL corned beef Reuben sandwich… very interesting taste in the beef; I liked it.  Then of course, there’s a beer or two to be had over such a meal.  The meal offered us a chance to sit and visit.  It was casual, it was nice – it is always so good to be with them….


Then to the stadium, section 220, front row.  Unfortunately, the game started with the Twins pitcher (Kevin What’s His Name) giving up a single, a single and a homer…. Twins are down 3 – 0 and there’s not even an out registered…. hence my choice of headline for this week’s blog…. the Twins – and I am as deep and steady a fan as anyone, so I hesitate to say this – are in sad shape.  Two Twins errors, weak bats that seemed to send little to the outfield, and some real lackluster defensive play.  So henceforth, considering how much tickets cost for a ballgame  ( we went with mid-range cost for the tickets) I shall in all intents and purposes not attend a game in person unless they have a .500 record or better.  One plus:  my nephew and his wife surprised us by showing up in our section to say hello….what a nice surprise!   We endured the entire length of the game (and boy, did I ever consider leaving at about the 7th inning….) and took the kids back to the fairgrounds – where they were camping with their cycles….  At the conclusion of the game, we walked back to the hotel, loaded up in the car, and took the kids back to their bikes at the fairgrounds.

Surprise visitors

Back at the Radisson – and it was okay.  We were a few doors away from the elevators, but we still heard them.  The coffee pot had some grounds in it…. a bit disappointed, but I slept well, so there you are.

And then off to the Guthrie to try to score some tickets for MY FAIR LADY.  We got there quite early, so we walked through the Mill City Farmers Market and grabbed a bite to eat at the little bistro in the Mill Center museum, not to mention buying a few books in the museum store — we are such suckers for those places!

And so — into the rush line we went.  at 12:30 (we got in line at 12:00) the tickets went on sale for $35 — we got two tickets, one in row J, one in row M, center section …. great seats!

Wilma and I have enjoyed several good theatre shows in the Cities… and this was one of the best productions we’ve seen.  Consider this:  MY FAIR LADY is one of those plays from the late 50s/early 60s that has become somewhat of a warhorse.  Preconceived ideas abound that find the audience (at least Wilma and I) sitting there and expecting the same interpretation of the same old show of the same old script of the same old songs of the same old bits… well then, why did we go?  My good buddy Dave Vieths gave us a rave review – and he’s not exactly Mr. Musical, so when he says so…. off we go.  Anyway, we were partly expecting the same old things ….  (photos are from the Guthrie website…)

ows_140474513279548                             MyFairLady


I cannot tell you how so very, very wrong we were.  This production brought us such a fresh approach to the whole show — no imitations of the Rex Harrison role and yet plenty of male bravado from Jeff McCarthy as Professor Higgins… a good, bright Eliza from Helen Aker (of English lineage herself — but just an aside fun thing: she has done OKLAHOMA in England.  Wouldn’t you just love to hear that show with an English accent?)…. the humorous optimism of Alfred P. Doolittle by Donald Corren, and oh how nice it was of Tyler Michaels to give us a Freddy who wasn’t a sappy love-swooning fop — he gave us a semi-silly goof with a whole new way to approach ON THE STREET WHERE YOU LIVE.

What’s that?  You say it was a six piece pit orchestra?  Yes, it was… and all those licks and notes that we’ve all heard from the soundtrack recording are there… kudos to Andrew Cooke for his work there, and for assembling a well oiled group of musicians…

Dance – Costume – sets — it all worked superbly.  We were also tickled to see some familiar faces from Chanhassen Dinner Theatre (Tony Vierling and Kat Brindisi) doing their thing.

The show is directed by Joe Dowling — and it runs until August 31.  To borrow a line from the show,

“Move your bloody arse and get to this one!”



The JUNE final Travelogue – Some Fog, Amana Colonies, and the Field of Dreams

We started June after a 4 day trip to the Black Hills at the very end of May, then to Indiana to bring Wilma’s mom (Lelani) back with us.  We took her up to see family in Ada, then picked her up later in Fargo and then brought her home to Indiana … and finally, we ended June with a slightly different route for us…. instead of the usual Indianapolis/Bloomington/Rockford route, we headed for Iowa and a few of its better known places to visit….

We left at 5 am (EST) in order to get to our goal by noon, but we had to negotiate some pretty nasty fog.  The first fog showed up about 30 miles west of Indy, appearing as a slight mist over the cornfields.  As we continued, it got thicker and heavier – and stayed that way until the Iowa border — over 2 hours of fog.  Good thing it was daytime: I don’t like driving at night, but add fog or other such bad weather and I’m a basket case.

6 26 fog 02

And let’s get this out of the way — the truck stop on the NW side of the Quad cities on the Iowa/Illinois border is indeed THE LARGEST IN THE WORLD.   We didn’t hang around much – let’s just say it took a good while to get into the building, find the restrooms, and treat ourselves to looking around a huge ‘convenience store’…. well, this was a convenience store on steroids.  Take a truck stop that you might usually stop at.  It may have had a row of cowboy hats, a row of CB Radio equipment, books, CDs, clothing, and other paraphernalia that’s endemic to such an emporium.  Well, at the I-80 Truckstop, baby, instead of a row dedicated to each kind of item, you have entire rooms full.  There are also a few different places to eat …. if you get a chance, swing into this one and see what I mean.

6 26 biggest truck stop

It took a few detours to get to the Amana Colonies – I wasn’t so sure our GPS was showing us the right thing, so we stopped at an Iowa information center and verified our course… and then once we exited to head into the colonies, we waited for a train…that got slower…. and slower… and s.l.o.w.e.r. and then it stopped.  I turned around in the road, went back to the freeway and took a different exit….

6 26 amana commons 6 26 amana bucket o flowers SONY DSC

And there we were — in the Amana Colonies.  We pretty much hung around the East colony – there’s a visitor center, a hall used for weddings and such, a small museum …. and shops, shops, shops.  Book shops, Furniture and clock shops; gift shops, clothing shops, kitchen shops, wineries, breweries, restaurants …. and you know what?  Our expectations were different.  We thought the Amana Colonies would be like a small Williamsburg or an Amish community, where people would be in costume, reenacting the history of the place to some degree.  Well, no.  There was little to tell you about the history of the place – its mission certainly did not center on its roots.  We found the place to be pretty much a village of upscale shopping – and that was pretty much it.  It’s not a place to bring the kids – nothing for them to do or see — It is a very clean place, with all the buildings adhering to a midwest farm architecture – pleasant very much in that way – but it left us feeling like we had walked through a village of shops, and we were hoping for a village of history that happened to have shops as well.

We ate at the Ronneburg Restaurant there — quite good – an all-German menu.  Sue had wienerschitzel (breaded veal) and I had Bavarian Chicken (a chicken breast with a slice of ham and cheese on it) …quite good, actually – and I treated myself to a cream soda from the local brewery.  Pretty nice meal.

We completed our stay in the colonies with a visit to the furniture/clock shop store.  Now, if you want to drop oodles of money on such stuff, this is your place.  The furniture was gorgeous – all kinds of woods, all kinds of styles, and all in the upper atmosphere of affordability.  Amusingly, there were many clocks placed throughout the store – wall clocks, mantle clock, grandfather clocks — highly interesting stuff.  Cute note:  There was a grandfather clock there with the face of the grandfather clock on the old Captain Kangaroo tv show.

6 26 amana street

So its time to move on.  WE check the GPS and its about 90 minutes to the Field of Dreams in Dyersville, Iowa.

Bucket list time for me, that’s for sure… big baseball fan, and I love the movie.  Wilma had no expectations; as far as she was concerned , this stop was just for me.  Well….  little did I know …. I would find myself nostalgic for a place I’ve never been before.


We drove through the town, then followed the directions: 3rd avenue to Lansing to the farm itself… you pass a farm on the way in that is surrounded by trees – and then, you pass the trees and there it is… the white farmhouse on the hill, the cornfields, the baseball diamond itself … down the dirt driveway, and then park and get out.  No admission, and today, no crowds (who’s gonna be there on a Thursday late afternoon?  There were a few of us… but no crowds at all….)  We parked, got out, I armed myself with the cameras, and we walked ourselves to the field…. and oh, there it was.  A ball park – no, make that a ball FIELD – no stadium here – meant for everybody to play on.  Around the backstop, and I stood at home plate.  I played scenes from the movie in my head — at home plate, I recalled the young Moonlight Graham winking at the pitcher – and Shoeless Joe whacking out his hits … at the bleachers I sat where James Earl Jones gave his speech about ‘people will come, Ray”…. and on the top bleacher where Karen gives her speech, and falls to her accident, where she is saved by Doc Graham … I crossed the baseline where the young Graham becomes the Doc Graham.  Wilma and I both tried so hard to dissolve into the corn …. and then there were pictures to take, and we did.



We were there no more than maybe 40 minutes, but it was rewarding – it was fun, it was heartwarming – it was a good choice.  I bought myself a souvenir and we left.  Chances are I’ll get back there…  You should go, too.

The only thing missing: I didn’t get to have a catch with my dad.


Week 21 – A Trip to the Black Hills

At the big commerce show in town in March, my dear Wilma wrote up a slip with her name and address and put it in a box for the Rushmore Shadows Resort.  A month later, we got a letter saying she had won a 2 night stay there.  We looked at each other, decided that yes, let’s do this, and made the call to accept the deal….

So this past Tuesday, we left for the Black Hills area, armed with maps and brochures and advice from friends…. We left town at 8 am, traveling down highway 23 through St. Cloud, Paynesville, Willmar, Granite Falls, Marshall and Pipestone, stopping at the South Dakota Welcome Center where we feasted on salami sandwiches… and prepared for the supposed grueling drive on Interstate 90, all the way across South Dakota.

Let me say this for South Dakota.  I don’t know its’ official state motto, but might I suggest this one:  SOUTH DAKOTA: THE BILLBOARD STATE…. Highway 90 held an almost constant supply of billboards advertising all sorts of things:  WALL DRUG, of course, but also so many caves, museums, historic sites, places to buy crappy tourist stuff – that kind of thing.  The density of the boards increased as we approached each exit – and these boards would specialize in the attractions of the towns located near that exit.  Interestingly enough, too, there were very few billboards featuring anything national such as hotel chains, fast food restaurants, or gas stations – oh, they were there, but they were vastly outnumbered by all the local stuff.  There were even places where the boards were so directed that we saw nothing but the BACKS of the boards as we passed an exit – the worst being just east of Wall, South Dakota on our way home, where the backs of the boards came at us from both sides of the highway.  So I say again, “SOUTH DAKOTA: THE BILLBOARD STATE”.

We gassed up at the Missouri River (not a bad jaunt for our van…. almost 28 mpg at that point…).  We left there with plans to swing into the Badlands, arriving there about 3 pm (mountain time zone)…. we paid the 15 dollar entry fee and found ourselves among the unique geological wonder that is the Badlands.  We stopped at several roadside parking areas and the Visitors’ Center.  We drove the “LOOP”, a 15 mile long paved road through the very center of the formations – up and down the hills, around sharp corners …. being so early in the season, there was very little traffic, so we could take our time and see what we wanted to see.



Various shots from the Badlands.  The bottom is a panoramic shot of the last view area on the west of the loop drive. 

We took a hotel room in WALL for the night – your basic Best Western place with all the right stuff for sight seers like us.  Supper was at a local restaurant there, where we had the walleye special… not exactly prepared as we do in MN, but passable…. and a good night’s sleep.  We were up and on the road by 8 am (the motel breakfast …meh, pretty lame…..)

And headed ourselves to Rapid City.  Following our trusty GPS, we left the interstate at Exit 61, and headed south.  We passed several tourist traps (Bear County USA, Reptile Gardens), the place where we were to stay for the next two nights, and then wound around the roads to the Crazy Horse Memorial.  We drove down a very nice four lane paved highway all the way from Rapid City, through Hill City and to the entrance to the Crazy Horse Memorial.  We paid the entry fee at the gate and drove into the facility.  As you would expect, it is well planned so that the first thing you see as you leave the entry area is indeed the huge carving of CRAZY HORSE.  We parked our fine van and entered the Welcome Center… a huge building housing so many things – a Native American Museum, a gift shop (and not a whole lot of crappy merchandise here – lots of nice stuff) and a few other things to appeal to the tourist.

But the ultimate was outside.  Wilma and I stood in the plaza among all the buildings and looked to the north to take in the view of the work at hand – CRAZY HORSE in progress, being carved in granite.  The work is quite far away, but it is so large that the distance doesn’t matter at all.  According to the chart on the wall, the head alone is as large as the faces on Mount Rushmore – and that’s astonishing to consider!!  You’ll also see a large hole beneath his head; right now it is four stories tall, and will eventually be 10 stories tall. Quite the undertaking, that’s for sure.

This was also a unique day at the Memorial.  Ruth, the wife of the sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski, had just died, so certain areas of the place were closed down for her funeral.  (In face, the hearse was just outside as we left…).  We learned in the 14 minute video that the family certainly took to the work on the masterpiece – Korczak alone at first, and then Ruth and all their kids —  a very interesting story of the Native American tribes working along with the Ziolkowski family to create something impressive, something to truly mark as a tribute to the history and culture of the Native Americans.

Interesting sidelight: the whole project is privately funded.  No government money has been used in this effort.  Think about that one for awhile.

SONY DSC  D2 CH a bit zoomed SONY DSC




Pictures:  Left: From the parking lot  Center: A zoomed in shot  Right: A Model used by the sculptor; it is 1/34 scale

So what next?  It was still too early to check into our resort, so off we headed to the city of Custer, then west to the Jewel Cave.  Road construction, of course, slowed us down… and when we got to the cave, we found we didn’t have enough time to do what we wanted, so we headed back to Hill City for some lunch.

We stopped there at the Bumpin’ Buffalo Bar and Grille for a bite to eat… and bite we did!  Sue had a very good buffalo burger, and I chowed down a very good bison brat, complete with home-made potato salad.  Kudos to the place, as well as to our very friendly server Maggie.

Time to get to our resort… back we go towards Rapid City and pull into Rushmore Shadows RV resort — a place for camping, RV parking and the home of a few cabins to rent.  All the amenities are there – pool, clubhouse, a small convenience store — all part of the package we ‘won’…. (We did have to take in their 90 minute session about buying into the resort and the company – we passed on the opportunity for several reasons)… Anyway, they housed us in a small cabin, which was passable.  A slightly saggy mattress, not the cleanest bathroom in the world… but hey, this is camping, isn’t it?  The place was secure, that’s for sure … gated entrance for after hours, so we had a code to get back in.  It was pretty quiet there, despite the fact that it was just a block off of highway 16.  (P.S.  South Dakota doesn’t put in left turn lanes …made me a bit jumpy at times….)

cabin close  Rushmore ShadowsD2 Our little place


Our place:  The Cabin, the resort itself, and the interior

We unloaded the car and relaxed for a bit: Wilma even took some time over at the pool.  After a bit, it was time to put in our next phase of our trip … so we left for Mount Rushmore at about 5 pm, intending to stay for the lighting ceremony and touring the place as extensively as we could.

After a short drive via highway 16, through Keystone, we ended up in the 3 level parking ramp at the Mount Rushmore Memorial… yes, THREE levels… makes me wonder what the place would be like if it was busy there.  WE had no trouble at all with crowds – we parked walked a short bit to the entrance and found ourselves face to face with the four Men of our Nation — Washington, Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt and Lincoln, in all their granite glory.

Wilma has never been here.  I have been here three times: once in 1966 in the only vacation trip ever that our family took, then in 1970 at a Bible Camp, then again in 1975 on a college concert band tour…. but oh my, how the place has changed!  Those first three times I saw the same visitors’ center as seen in the Hitchcock movie NORTH BY NORTHWEST, but what I saw here was so much more!  It added a dignity to the whole place.  All done in gray rock, which I can only suppose is granite – and so many services provided – a cafeteria type restaurant (Wilma and I shared a bowl of Bison stew…very good) an extensive gift shop (Wilma got me a very nice buffalo skin wallet – complete with a buffalo nickel featured in a little plastic window) an information area, a very nice museum with views of the masterpiece, two theatres showing films of the making of the artwork, an amphitheatre, and some walkways through the grounds – one that was nice and flat, very available for wheelchairs — the other full of steps that went down to the sculptor’s studio…. we did both of the walks.

The crown of the visit was the lighting ceremony.  Wilma and I sat at the top of the amphitheatre to hear a short speech by a Forest Ranger (they need to get people who are better public speakers, please…) a movie about the making of Mount Rushmore (very much like the one in the theatres in the museum) and then, the Ranger came out and called up all the veterans in the audience to retire the flag.  The emotion as the flag was lowered was deep for me – they started playing the Star Spangled Banner, but I couldn’t sing for all the choking up I was experiencing.  It was a nice visit.

SONY DSC  SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSCD3 MR vets  SONY DSCD3 MR looking west on the plaza

a couple of views of the mountains, a lighted view, a view from the entryway, the veterans on stage for the lowering of the flag, a night time view showing the mountain and the amphitheatre, and then a panorama of the plaza…. that’s Wilma there with the white hat….

We went home to our little cabin for the night —

We were due for our sales pitch at noon (we thought we would get to choose when, but nope, that didn’t fly…. not a good omen for the sales session…) so we took off down the road to seek out Custer State Park and maybe see some real buffalo.  We drove out of Keystone again, but instead of turning right to get to Mount Rushmore, we did a left onto highway 16A … a twisty, narrow (but paved) road that wound its way through the side of Iron Mountain.  Through the woods we went … pines mostly, and very little underbrush …. switch back turns, curly-cue turns involving going under a bridge, then executing a 360 degree turn and going over that same bridge… 3 tunnels I (honk horn before entering) and a few viewpoints to stop at… and WHAT A VIEW!  We came around a curve and through a tunnel finding ourselves face to face with the Rushmore faces, 3 miles away – totally unexpected and totally awesome… and we stopped at the top of the mountain to see Mt. Rushmore and so much more out there and beyond us… it took us more than an hour to get just that far, so we had to abandon our plans to see Buffalo and head back for our sales pitch…. but still had enough time to zip into Rapid city and visit the Chapel in the Hills, a Norwegian Stavkirk.  This style church is a huge part of the Scandinavian architectural world – we just had to see it….

D4 IMD closeup from 3 miles   SONY DSC


D4 IMD panorama

D4 stav crosses more   SONY DSC

Two views from Highway 16A, a panorama from the viewpoint at the top, then two shots of the Stavkirk.

And so back to the resort for the sales pitch… we didn’t swing.  It might be a good program for some, but not us…

That evening we went back into Rapid City for supper with my cousin Tom and his wife Helene… they live in Spearfish, so it was easy for them to zip in to meet us.  We ate at the FIREHOUSE BREWING COMPANY in the downtown, visiting and laughing and having a good time…. The food was good – fish and chips and chimichangas and salads and a good porter beer to fill us up — Tom then suggested we walk to the PRAIRIE EXCHANGE, a very neat store right next to where we ate.  This emporium features Native American handiwork, most of which is fine craftsmanship … clothing, blankets, jewelry, drums, flutes, beadwork ….it was all there in a three-story offering to all.  We bid Tom and Helene so long and thanks for the fellowship and headed back to our little cabin in the woods.

D4 Firehouse w Tom and Helene D4 store D4 horsehair pottery D4 blankets


The Firehouse, Prairie Exchange, Horsehair Pottery, Blankets

And so, we got up the next morning, loaded the car and headed home …. breakfast at WALL DRUG (of course…. had to see it…. a t-shirt, a few souvenirs, and well fed….) we headed home the same way we came, dodging some of the traffic in Minnesota around St. Cloud by zipping up hwy 71 from Willmar …


All in all, a very nice trip, folks.  We will want to see the progress on CRAZY HORSE as time passes… and do some of the caves there, and by golly I will find some Buffalo for Wilma sooner than later…





San Diego Travelogue Part 11 – La Jolla and more Family

Since we barely touched La Jolla with Lita and Brian a week ago, Wilma and I thought we’d go back up there, find more beaches, and search out whatever else La Jolla had to offer us.  Also, we would be meeting my cousin Karen Ellis, whom I had never met.  That’s the day in a nutshell.


After gassing up the car, we headed up to La Jolla via the streets along the ocean, starting with Mission Boulevard.  We headed north, finding that street becoming La Jolla Boulevard once we got far enough north.  Eventually, we found ourselves employing the roads as close to the ocean as we could get..  We got as close as we could to the downtown area where we had lunch with Lita and Brian and decided to park.

jan 28 lj seal 15

We pulled into a diagonal parking space and took to walking.  WE were just south of an area where we could take in the views of the ocean, looking over the cliffs and across the waters of La Jolla Cove.  We were due to meet cousin Karen at noon, so we strolled along the cliffs for some time.  We managed to get to the “Children’s pool, where the harbor seals congregate, lolling on the sand as they amused us with their ways of moving across the beach.


Before we knew it, it was time to head up inland to meet up with cousin Karen.  This is where the GPS truly led us exactly to our destination.  Out of La Jolla, a bit north up THE 5, then inland on the Ted Williams freeway, eventually finding our way to Karen’s daughter’s home – in a very unique housing development – the houses are close together, sharing their fronts with another group of homes with a sidewalk between the two rows.  The houses are accessible by cars at their rear, so the fronts of the houses are absolutely safe for strolling and walking … its not a great deal of space, but it is certainly unique…..

jan 28 Karen Charlie Sue

WE arrived at the house right on time, Karen greeting us with joy and happiness, which I hope we returned in kind.  Karen is the daughter of Gordon Ruud – and sister of Margaret and Sonia, who we had seen two days earlier.  We jumped in the car and headed to the Karl Strauss Brewing Company, a local micro-brewery near there – and had a nice lunch, getting to know each other as we visited about being teachers, family ties – and finding out that Karen had a unique education as a child, including some time in Minneapolis, Paris and Madagascar…. Not many folks can claim such a pedigree of their years in school!  We dined over some good food as she got to know us and we got to know her … a certain instance where even though we had never met, the family ties that indeed bound us were strong and healthy.  We ended with a good session of hugs as we dropped her off at her daughter’s home, with promises of staying in touch and words of thanks for a fine time together….





Back to La Jolla we went, where we found ourselves at the site of the parasailing school… we took the opportunity to watch a few of the fliers practice their launches and their control skill of their parachutes… very interesting to watch!


We slowly worked our way south to our apartment, stopping at several spots along the ocean to watch the waves and maybe catch a sunset – and hey, a very long run by a surfer.  One more day to come, and then home we come.

San Diego Travelogue – Part 10 – Trying to get on THE PRICE IS RIGHT

Okay, so this is another rather picture-less entry… but there’s a pretty good reason for that.  When in line for THE PRICE IS RIGHT, there’s not much to take pictures of – unless you want pictures of people sitting on benches… and once in the studio, they take cameras and phones and all that… so what I can do is describe our experience, and maybe when you go, you’ll know better what to do.

I had a shirt made – lime green, using the Drew Carey caricature from his TV show logo and the words, “MOON OVER PARMA GET ME ON THE PRICE IS RIGHT”… thanks to the folks at the TEEHIVE for their efforts ….

We left Barb and Art’s house at 9:30 and got all the way across LA on the freeways, which impressed us… and there were all those streets we grew up hearing about –  I got a big kick out of finding SLAUSON Avenue… remind yourself now of the old Johnny Carson TEATIME MOVIE bit when he’d announce a company and tell you how to get there – “Take the Slauson cutoff, get out of your car, and cut off your slauson… and there was POMONA Freeway, Santa Monica Freeway, and so many more …

CBS tv city....

Anyway, we got there in about 45 minutes, parked in THE GROVE as per the instructions on the tickets, and got in line… we had priority tickets because we ordered (and printed them at home) them in December… just HAD to do this, let me tell you….  So then, in the gates we go, and sit in an arrangement of benches, where we’re handed a 5 page release form to read, initial, sign and return – they provided bathrooms, a gift shop for everything in the world that’s CBS, and a small lunch counter….An hour later, we move along to a different set of benches, where we get a pair of cheerleading line attendants who also double as waitresses for those who need to eat… Wilma and I ordered a pizza … and then by groups of 20 or so, a producer meets and greets each possible contestant – we were surely surrounded by a variety of folks….. old folks, Asians, people in green, yellow, pink, red … and oh my some were sure excited!

After our interview, we headed around the building, passed through security (where they actually tag your phone and give you a receipt—and then we sit for a while more … we get our food and watch episodes (and outtakes) of TPIR on tvs mounted in the area – and then, folks, and then…

Into the studio we go … around some corners, up some stairs, and then…into the studio…. Music is playing loudly, and there is a bustle of activity as the audience gets seated – out comes the announcer to pump us up even more … and I’m not so sure we needed it, what with the music going and some of the audience members clearly rousing themselves up as well as all of us….

And then there’s all the production value… it was such an interesting process… how they moved the various cameras around, how the stage manager waved for us to be louder – in fact, it was so loud that you couldn’t hear the announcer say ‘COME ON DOWN, JOE SMITH” .. the stage manager held up cue cards with the name on them to let us know who was supposed to come on down…. Lots of stage hands, lots of assistants.  I couldn’t help but wonder if our son the theatre guy would get a kick out of working backstage on this show.  We sat in the middle back of the studio… if I reached out with my left hand, I could touch that square in the center rear of the seating area.  If you look at the picture and look just to the bottom left corner of the PRICE IS RIGHT sign, you’ll see a person with their hand on their chin …that’s where I was… Wilma was to my right.  (PICTURE is from the images on GOOGLE of THE PRICE IS RIGHT.)

almost us....

And on comes the host, MR. DREW CAREY…. He did a nice job… he visited with various audience members during the commercials breaks .. .had to rest during a few of them because we were told he had fallen while running a half marathon a week ago … but he did fine…

We saw the usual six games… and then the big wheel twice …. and then… well, I can’t tell you how it ended… you’ll have to watch on JUNE 27 to find out.  Would I go again?  Don’t know – it sure is a great deal of time sitting in line.  Yet, I can say I checked one off my bucket list.  WE were out at 5:30 (the show itself started at 4 pm), thoroughly entertained and ready for supper….

We had arranged ahead of time to meet up with a former student of mine – Russ Holsapple, who is living in LA, working on a career as a film composer.  (An aside here: someday we’ll see Russ getting an academy award for a movie score….).  He and his sweet wife LeAnn met us for supper at the Farmer’s Market, just south of the CBS TELEVISION CITY building.  The four of us dined over burgers and Greek food, enjoyed conversation, and got caught up.  It is always SO VERY NICE to meet up with these two…. And thanks for meeting up with us…. (picture is from Russ’ FB page… )

russ and leanne  Russ’ website:

Wilma and I drove home to our place in San Diego… two hours of LA freeways, with no problems at all… and hey, what a great day!