Star Date: Sept 2010
Hello Dear Family & Friends!
Hi! How you doing?!
(A typical American greeting)
"Wonder's Never Cease! "
(A banner outside Denver's Museum of Nature & Science)
The Cycle of Life. Birth. Death. Rebirth. Leaving familiarity behind we set out to explore new regions of this vast country of America. A vibrant display of Autumn leaves was announcing the impending descent of winter. From Great Grandma LaVerne's home in the Midwest to the newest, sweetest member of our family, 8 month old Kayla, along with parents Mariah & Shane, we were drawn to the rugged Colorado Rocky Mountains. When talking to foreigners visiting the U.S.A. we are interested in their chosen itineraries. Just as we may choose London, Paris, Rome and Athens to visit in Europe, they in turn may choose New York City, Miami, Denver and Los Angeles.
Raised in some of the most beautiful places in the US and Canada, Hawaii and Vancouver Island, it is not surprising that our kids ended up in the magnificent splendor of the Rocky Mountains. With the snowy peaks as a backdrop we reveled in the gift of lazy, warm Autumn days. Having just a week together in Wisconsin, we noticed the recent changes of Kayla, Sweet Kayla. It was a pleasure to watch her caring, loving parents delighting in her antics and contagious smiles. This new little being, an unmolded bit of clay, is still remembering where she came from, before the mores of our culture form her into a functioning, acceptable member of society, with the accompanying array of problems and baggage. If it is her path, she later must then dig deep through these layers of untruth to once again discover the Source. Wouldn't it make our lives easier just to remember? This tiny free spirit, filled with light stole our hearts and reminded us of our true intention - to connect and lighten up .
We spent 2 fun-filled weeks taking walks to the nearby lakeside parks, shopping trips to overwhelming mega-malls (unheard of in Africa), dinner with long lost cousins, visiting the impressive Denver Museum of Nature & Science where Joseph donated his entire e-text library, sneaking away to taste delicacies of the modern Wild, Wild West, cooking with spices brought from Zanzibar or Rwanda in international vegan cuisine whipped up in a modern, yes modern kitchen (not over charcoal fires in a small hut). And simply luxuriating in and being thankful for their beautiful home full of all the modern conveniences like flushing toilets (Hallelujah!) a dishwasher and a washer and dryer, etc. All these things are taken for granted in this land of plenty. As we have said before we have so much in America yet often the complaints far outweigh the smiles of a 'developing' country. Scratch that. Outdated, condescending thinking allows us to describe such countries as a 'developing' or 'third world country' indicating that we in the west are superior; yet it is we who have everything who lag behind. Far too busy to squeeze in an attitude of gratitude or have a sense of humor. I'll be happy when........... ?
We prefer to use our newly coined phrase, "an E.D. country, economically different country. Different, not better or worse. As we all do our part to learn about and emphasize the similarities between our country and the cultures of far off corners of our planet, the fear perpetuated within America's boundaries will turn into knowledge, wisdom and acceptance of the amazing variances of this astonishing world of ours. It all starts at home.
The Wild, Wild West, with wide open plains, big skies, cowboys driving cattle, and a fringe of majestic mountains to the north describes our current state of residence, Wyoming. Cheyenne is a great state to visit in the summer but the yellow quaking aspens reminded us to go south young man!
Colorado is a beautiful mile high state overflowing with scenic National Parks. The Rockies are a rugged chain of mountains running 2000 miles from New Mexico to neighboring British Columbia. The Great Divide runs through the center with western rivers running into the Pacific Ocean and the eastern rivers flowing into the Atlantic. Fifty peaks tower above Colorado with altitudes of over 14,000 ft. We took off one weekend exploring the ghost towns of historical mining communities and crystal clear lakes near Georgetown. The majestic Rockies covered with pines sentinels and dusted with snow, stand firm as life progresses before them; from the wild, wild west, to gold mining, to quaint homestead settlements, to large ranches, and now modern little mountain communities or cosmopolitan Denver. Few states rival Colorado for it's array of scenic wonders, parks and year round sport activities.
The diversity of America is unparalleled. Immigrants settled here from distant shores creating a melting pot of cultures. Accents are as distinct as the regions they represent. Get a 'New Yorker' or someone from Texas, Boston, or Alabama with their southern drawl trying to talk to a resident of 'New Joisy on Thoisday' and it is immediately apparent. How can one compare the 'city that never sleeps' New York City with its 14 million, to the still farmlands of America's breadbasket, to the rich forests of the Appalachian Mountains, to the bright lights of Las Vegas, to the stunning west coast beaches, to the stars of Hollywood, to the cowboys in Texas, to the mellow Hawaiian culture & pace, to the alligator infested Everglades in Florida? Wherever you travel one can't help but be impressed with the friendly, outgoing nature of the people you meet. Creative, innovative, full of life, at times outrageous, these daring pioneers of only 3 centuries ago left their homes to start a new life in the wilds of North America (much to the disdain of the millions of Native Americans). This mixture of the most courageous and daring spirits from each country has made America what it is today - as with the rest of the world: 95% good, 5% with problems.
Florida was no exception. We were welcomed warmly into the home of Joseph's brother, Mark and sister-in-law, Marie near Orlando. We enjoyed time catching up, cooking together, perfecting our 'Wii' game skills, taking trips to the white sand beaches and parks of the east coast, past orange groves and the space launch site at Cape Canaveral.
We got lost exploring the back waters of the west coast. Crossing over the Dead River we decided to have a look at life along the moss covered riverbanks and waterways of N W Florida. Stopping at a riverside bar and marina we sat under the sycamore trees dripping in moss. Betty, the veteran waitress informed us that, "We are plum 'outta' fire chili and gator tails." Disappointing as it was for a couple of vegans we ordered some onion rings and V-8 juice and settled back to watch the parade of passing boats liven up Dead River.
Florida, the most southerly state in America is a magnet for 'snow birds' escaping the winter storms of northern states and Canada. Tourism is the state's main industry and once there tourists are kept busy walking the endless beaches of this Atlantic and Gulf peninsula from world famous Disney World (over 40 million visitors per year), through the Florida alligator filled swamps & everglades, past thousands of scenic islands, through the bright lights and Cuban districts of Miami, down to the picturesque Florida Keys.
Gold! California was settled during the panic of the gold rush of 1849 and the pace hasn't slowed down. This is a state of superlatives from the gigantic redwoods of the north, past San Francisco, through Los Angeles and star studded Hollywood all the way down past San Diego on the border of Mexico. The iconic sights are astonishing. I mean who can miss hugging a massive redwood, or viewing the mist rolling in over Golden Gate Bridge or making the rounds with Mickey Mouse at Disneyland, or getting caught up in the excitement of movie stars in Hollywood or Universal Studios?
Within an hour of landing in San Diego, we were tearing up the L.A. freeway in a tiny red Smart Car. This energy efficient vehicle is only half a car with no backseat, but it was a great conversation starter as we drove around southern California. Once we noticed a convergence of U.P.S. delivery vans exchanging packages in a parking lot. Joseph screeched into their midst inquiring of the startled drivers if they could put a label in us and ship us to Los Angeles. Everyone howled with laughter at the idea! We were encouraged by the decrease of the size of cars in general and the increase in the amount of organic/non GMO products available in the U.S.
We enjoyed staying with cousins in Laguna Beach walking the shore and soaking in the beautiful vistas. It was delightful to reconnect with long lost friend Marta, sharing a Thai lunch and reminiscing about our antics in Hawaii. Alexis, project manager of www.archive.org (the world's best source of over 2.5 million free downloadable books/videos) flew down from San Francisco to meet Joseph and discuss ideas about their excellent project (see below).
One day we nibbled and drove our way through the dry coastal mountains past avocado farms, orange groves and nut orchards, dropping into the impressive GIA campus, the Gemological Institute of America. Ending up in San Diego we spent the afternoon strolling through the historic elegance of Balboa Park. The park is home to gardens, the San Diego Zoo, mansions and over a dozen world class museums. Joseph spent time sharing his e-text library with the curator of the San Diego Natural History Museum. Wanting to watch the sunset along the ocean we drove the scenic bridge over to Coronado Island in time for a peaceful stroll along the beach and one of California's famous Mexican tacos (a few short miles north of the border).
In Africa it is common for us to pick a remote village and get there by bus, canoe, jeep or truck. Hanging off the back with the locals we arrive covered in dust and ready to explore this new place. The opposite end of this spectrum, but equally interesting, we spent a delightful day in Beverly Hills reminiscing with Joseph's old friends and associates in some of the finest and most exclusive jewelry stores in the world. Joseph was a world class gemologist and as a director at Sotheby's he lived and worked here, as well as doing business in New York, Geneva, Paris, Hong Kong, South Africa and around the world. Playground of the rich and famous we enjoyed seeing displays of fine jewelry, with price tags in the millions, such as you would see worn by Hollywood actresses at the Academy Awards. Wearing what we could find in the 'expansive' wardrobe carried in our 18" suitcases we enjoyed a fine Italian lunch along Rodeo Drive with jeweler friend Marty Katz, feeling as comfortable in these high class settings as at a lunch stand with locals in an African market. Later we walked along window shopping in Tiffany's, Harry Winston's, Bulgari's and the exclusive Kazanjian Jewelers, where we saw eye catching pieces and were warmly welcomed. As Joseph, Michael & son, and Russell Forgerty caught up on the good old days after almost 20 years , Joseph shared his e-text Gem Library hoping it will be passed around to colleagues in the gem business, a field he excelled and took great pleasure in. A chapter from the past. This exclusive 'crème de la crème' world of Hollywood as portrayed on television internationally, is out of the grasp of most Americans. Still everyone is able to appreciate a display of an old master's painting, a cd of fine classical music or the radiance of an exquisite gemstone as it adds luster and beauty to life around us.
And so it goes.........................................Next month a long awaited visit to our beloved islands of Hawaii, a unique state that is a world removed from the mainland U.S.A. Until then lets keep our eyes open for the 'Wonders That Never Cease' surrounding us, giving Thanks for the beauty in a dew drop, a simple rose bud or the brilliance of a gemstone. We are thankful you are joining us in our travels and sharing this website! Take care & Keep in touch!
Love, Light & Laughter,
$1.00US = Less every year
www.archive.org : Fantastic, comprehensive, the world's best collection of free downloadable books (2.5 million), videos & audios (900,000)! Visit their site and support their effort for free, accessible education and knowledge to all.
"Tourism is a vital component of Florida’s economy. With its warm temperatures, numerous beaches, and many attractions, the state draws millions of people each year. Money from tourism is the largest single source of income for Floridians. Tourists spent $54.5 billion when visiting Florida way back in 2002.
South Florida is among the most popular destinations for tourists, particularly Miami and Miami Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and the West Palm Beach area. Other major resorts include Daytona Beach, Fort Myers, Saint Petersburg, Panama City, Pensacola, and many others. The internationally known theme parks near Orlando, clustered around Walt Disney World, annually attract more than 40 million visitors."
As with Florida, hotels cost
A flash from the past.
What stories this cabin