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Friday, October 21, 2016

Canton, Mississippi. Something Old, Something New.

By mid-afternoon of day 2, I had reached central Mississippi.  I was ready for lunch and hoping for some red beans and rice.  This is cotton country, by the way.

I spotted an exit for Canton, Mississippi and pulled off the Interstate.  As I headed into town, I realized I might have made a mistake.  The line of cars leaving town was over a mile long and not moving.   The line of cars heading into town was barely moving.

I had picked the one day of the autumn when Canton holds a huge and famous flea market.  If I hadn't been on a specific mission, I would have spent the afternoon here.  A town on the Mississippi Blues Trail with a beautiful old courthouse and many restored buildings, why not spend a full day?
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Canton is also home to one of the largest automobile plants in the United States.  On the way out of town, I took Nissan Parkway past the plant.

I stopped at the next exit and settled for lunch at Big Daddy's barbecue outlet in the freeway gas station.  They were sold out of red beans and rice - but oh, the barbecued ribs!  Southern comfort food at its best.


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A Trip to the Gulf Coast - 2016

Whatever has happened to Tom's Travel Blog?

A good question - I have been on hiatus for quite a while, with only two posts since our return from Egypt.  But Linda has departed for two weeks in Spain with her regular "traveling ladies" group from the Red Hats - and that leaves me free to chase my computer history ghosts.

I headed out a few days ago to Citronelle, Alabama where William S. Burroughs died in 1898.  That gave me the opportunity to drop into Mobile, Alabama and check some newspapers; make a stop in St. Louis, home to Burroughs' American Arithmometer company to check more papers and, finally, stop in Macoupin County, Illinois to gather information on another American Arithmometer founder.

Since this was late in the election season, I took a few pictures of campaign signs along the route.  If you arrived from another planet and drive the midwest countryside North to South, you will no doubt come to the conclusion that there is only one person running for president this year.

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The presidential campaign signs are quite a bit more sparse than usual but in driving through seven states I only saw Trump signs except for one small Hillary sign amidst some mobile homes in tiny Shipman, Illinois.  I assume there are more Hillary supporters to be found in the larger cities.

I did see more than the usual evidence of this sentiment expressed in hand-made signs, though.


You certainly get a feel for the diversity of American driving this route.  In the south, there is a much greater inclination to name things after politicians - especially senators.  Not to be outflanked by the Bankhead Highway, Mississippi has designated most of I-55 as the Eastland Memorial Highway. If you are not old enough to recall the senator, you can get a history lesson in the middle of this article.  You might be as surprised as I was to find him memorialized here.
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Think of Mississippi and Alabama and you might think NASCAR racing.  But, as I cruised down I-55, I was passed by a jet truck.

I caught up to the vehicle at a rest stop and took a couple more pictures.

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We'll continue on to the Gulf in subsequent posts.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Gordon Good Neighbor Days - 2016

We are approaching Independence Day once again and that means it is time for Good Neighbor Days in Gordon, Wisconsin.  Some towns have a parade, some have fireworks, but Gordon goes "all in" to celebrate our independence from the British.  And why not.  Gordon has strong French roots.  With a population not much more than 600, there is not a lot of town to see.

The center of town is dominated by the ICO convenience store and gas station (usually the lowest priced gas for many miles.)  Here's the sign set up across County Y to alert passersby to the coming celebration.


 That is our town constable, George Boothe, in our police cruiser keeping an eye on the traffic.

The ICO store becomes a bit of a billboard at this time of year.

There has been quite a bit of fresh paint applied around town too.

Back up the highway toward the bait shop, there is a thriving antique store.  They have added a sideline of fireworks for their customers, many of whom may smuggle the minor explosives back into straight-laced Minnesota where nothing much beyond a sparkler is permitted.

Gordon has seen a decline over the years from its historic role as a fur trading post, then timber town, then rail junction and one result is a few abandoned buildings.  In particular, a long abandoned service station along highway 53 offers potential to the right entrepreneur but has stood as a bit of an eyesore until it received some fresh paint this year.  Not quite finished, it offers a fresh look for Good Neighbor Days of 2016.


Sunday, May 1, 2016

Prince's Paisley Park Memorial

"44.862, -93.56"

Plug that into Google, hit the Enter key and you will be take to Paisley Park in Chanhassen, Minnesota.  That is the combination home and studio of the late artist, Prince.  Via Google's satellite view, it looks like this.

But, yesterday, as we drove out Minnesota Highway 5 (Arboretum Blvd.) and passed Audubon Rd., this was the view.

There is a good description of Paisley Park here.  And if you haven't seen the movie, Purple Rain, for a while, it features a lot of Minneapolis scenery and landmarks in addition to the music.

The turn lane from westbound Hwy 5 south to Audubon has been closed ever since Prince died.  An informal memorial has sprung up along the fence-line of his property and both yesterday and today, hundreds of fans were quietly honoring his life and artistry.

We stopped to take a few pictures yesterday but made a second trip out to the memorial today to walk past and take a close look.  the memorial begins with "chalk talk" on the walls of the tunnel that passes under Hwy 5.
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The flowers, messages and pictures are reminders of both the special local appeal and the world-wide fame of this north-side Minneapolitan.

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A lot of pictures were being taken.
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I would love to see the age distribution of the fans who were there today.  The man had a remarkably wide appeal.
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Saturday, April 9, 2016

Return to Minneapolis

We were booked on a different route than usual for our return to the USA.  Delta had booked us on Alitalia via Rome and New York City.  The scheduled departure time was 3:31 a.m., just one minute later than our usual KLM flight to Amsterdam.  Alitalia has figured out how to squeeze about three more rows of seats onto an A320 which makes for a rather unpleasant journey.  We arrived in Rome and, I believe took a grand total of three buses across the tarmac before boarding our flight to JFK.

Rome would be a good airport to avoid - Schiphol in Amsterdam is about an order of magnitude better organized.  Of course, there are no drinking fountains.  The concessions are poorly staffed making it a major effort to even buy bottled water.

From Rome we flew out over the Alps on another Alitalia plane, this one an A330 with much better seating arrangements.  My A/V unit never did work, however, in spite of all efforts.  I had Linda take this picture for us.

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It was definitely economy class - the poor fellow across the aisle only had a badly torn pair of pants to wear on the plane.  Perhaps a skiing accident?

After a couple of hours delay at JFK, we ate a $30 sandwich and salad and resumed the flight home.  At JFK, when there is a bus involved, there is someone with a portable ramp to ensure that no one has a problem leaving the bus.  Water fountains are in abundance since it is safe to drink United States water.  You can even refill your fancy European water bottle from the fountain.  Enjoy!
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After arriving we divided up the mail and began going through it.  We only have the essentials since our house-sitter throuws out all of the atalogs - otherwie we would have two or three times as much.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Flowers Are in Bloom

We are down to our final day in Egypt.  We have spent the past few days visiting friends to say good-bye.  Twice we headed south in the direction of Sakkara toward the "horse farms."  I have designated the road along the Mansoureya Canal in that area as "Bougainvillea Boulevard" for the flowers that drape many of the walls around the country villas.

Bougainvillea are not the only exotic plants to be found here.  Bottle Brush and Bird of Paradise can be found lining the local driveways.
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We also spent some time at a friend's "retired" restaurant - no tourists, no business.  He has a delightful small garden there.
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There, a couple of birds joined us to enjoy the garden.
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Even a planting of white Osteospermum looks nice at this time of year.

But it is time for us to leave Egypt and return to spring in the Minnesota-Wisconsin north-land.  The temperatures here are beginning to rise to the hot level.  Ninety degree days are coming.  Weather.com provides our forecast and our averages.

Average temperatures rise into the uncomfortable range during April - and don't return to comfort levels until well into the autumn.

So we will begin the long trip home late tonight.

I hope to complete a few more contemplated but not completed blog posts about our stay after we return.  You won't want to miss the Postal Museum!