Recently we (my husband and I) were able to Kayak the Laguna Madre in Port Mansfield, Texas. It was – what I would consider – a very easy kayaking trip. It was easy to put in right from the shore. The waves were very calm and gentle with an occasional splash over the tip of the kayak. The water was also very shallow, perhaps 2-feet deep about 500-feet from the shore. You could stand up and walk back to shore. I would recommend this trip for a beginner kayaker because of its simplicity and the shallow water.
Monday is Monumental Monday here at Whats New Adventure. The topic of conversation?….. Yup, you guessed it, monuments! The world is full of absolutely amazing monuments! Monuments that are grandiose, extravagant and seen by millions of people to small plaques that only a few local people know about. Do you have a favorite monument? Do you know of a monument that could use more recognition? Share your comments below! I would love to hear from you about them!
Dogs have been herald as man’s best friend for centuries. They are always there when we need them, giving us unconditional love and not asking anything in return except for love. In a corner of Central Park in New York City is a monument to a dog that represents many dogs from several dog sled teams in a historically important time period in Alaska.
The year is 1925. The location is Nome, a village just 2 degrees south of the Arctic Circle that saw a boom in population when gold was discovered there in 1899. The terrain is what some people would describe as bleak with small scrub trees and a flat tundra that is covered with ice and snow for many months out of the year. The indigenous people who are friendly, quick to smile and to welcome others to their table for a meal are also experts in efficiently living off the land and carving out a home in a land that many would consider inhospitable.
Nome had 1 doctor and 4 nurses in a 25 bed hospital when the potentially deadly diphtheria epidemic broke out. The antitoxin that the doctor had on hand was not enough to treat the population of Nome, which at that time was just under 1500, and the antitoxin had expired.
The doctor made an emergency call to have additional vials of antitoxin transported to Nome. The additional antitoxin was located in the west coast hospitals. The problem was that transportation was very limited in Alaska at that time, in addition, it was winter which reduced travel options even more. To get the antitoxin to Nome from the west coast would take well over a month via plane, train and then dog sled team. The people of Nome did not have the luxury of waiting 30 days!
A doctor in Anchorage at the Anchorage Railroad Hospital discovered some forgotten vials of the antitoxin in a store-room that he wrapped in quilting and put in a metal container and then sent it to Nenana, a town that was as far north as the train could go.
It was arranged that dog mushers would get the serum in Nenana at the same time that mushers would start the trip from Nome towards Nenana. They would meet along the trail at the half way point in Nualto and create a relay to get the serum to the people of Nome.
The trail from Nenana to Nome is 674 miles (1085 km) long and under normal circumstances would take 30 days to traverse. The best dog mushers and dog teams were recruited to relay the serum from Nenana to Nome in less than 6 days, which was how long it was estimated that the serum would survive in the brutal winter conditions of Alaska.
Balto, a black and white Siberian husky, was the lead dog of the dog sled team run by Gunnar Kaasan. Balto lead the dog sled team in nearly a straight line through a blizzard with white out conditions so intense that Kaasan could hardly see the dogs that were harnessed the closest to the sled. The blizzard winds were so severe that at one point Kaasan nearly lost the serum when the wind grabbed the sled and sent it tumbling. The serum became dislodged and fell in the snow drifts. Kaasan severely frostbite his hands searching for the serum.
Through blizzards, frostbite, temperatures that ranged between -50F and -85F (-46C and -65C) with the wind chill and wind gusts at an estimated 80 mph it took 20 mushers and 150 sled dogs, many of who lost their lives on the trail because of the cold 5 1/2 days to make the 674 mile (1085 km) trip to Nome. The serum was delivered to the doctor in tact and with out a single broken vial!
Today the race to save the people of Nome is celebrated every year with the Iditarod Sled Dog race which takes place during the Fur Rondy Festival in February.
The monument to Balto and the other 4-legged heroes of that momentous trip was created by Frederick Roth on December 15, 1925.
This past weekend was a great time to kayak! The sun was nice and toasty, the waves on the lake were not to high, there was minimal wind. Perfect day!
We packed some water and snacks, loaded up the kayaks and off we went to Lake Arlington, one of the local lakes that is popular for kayaking as well as fishing.
We arrived at the lake, unloaded and after deciding which direction that we wanted to go in, we set off! The waves were not to high for a lake but there were still waves which were about a foot high or so. Just high enough to splash over the front tip of the kayak and keep us cool from the heat of the sun reflecting off the water.
Not in a big hurry, just out for a leisure paddle day, we made our way slowly across the lake. A short distance from the dock we encountered a small head wind which taxed our arms and made us rather tired. Several times on our journey across we had to stop several times to rest our achy arms and just float for a minute or two. Then we were back at it, paddling towards a quite little cove on the other side of the lake.
As we neared the cove the head wind subsided and the waves calmed down. As we entered the cove we were greeted with views of egrets, great herons, turtles and fish jumping. Sounds very picturesque, right? It really was, with the exception of all the garbage that was also there.
I could not believe the amount of garbage that covered the shore line of this picturesque cove! There was new garbage that had been freshly washed up and there was garbage that was very evident that had been there for quite some time partially buried in the muddy earth. Lets be clear, this is not garbage that just blew in from the wind traveling on the waves of the lake. Yes, I am talking about that type but I am also talking about garbage that had to have been dumped there, such as, tires, shopping carts, steel door and such in addition to plastic bottles, coolers, plastic barrels, food wrappers, ect.
Our excitement level was so high that morning anticipating the adventure of finding picturesque coves that you could not tell if someone else had been there before you or not and hoping to see wildlife. It became so very disappointing and disgusting to see all the beauty of the water tainted by the continuing streams of trash and shore birds that carefully picked their way through it searching for fish.
I see things like this and it makes me so angry! What are people thinking when they drop trash, not bio-degradable organic products, off the side of their boat or throw it out their car windows or just leave it on the side-walk. Why? WHY? Why do people do that? Why do some people not take responsibility for their actions and pick up their trash, clean up after themselves? Every year cities organize clean-up days to help combat this nasty habit that some humans have. If every person took responsibility for their own trash and carry it out with them if they are visiting the wilds of Mother Nature and make sure that it is deposited in the appropriate trash receptacle cities would not have to organize clean-ups once a year.
If we quite polluting our waters and land perhaps we would see a reversal in the toxicity of fish, in deaths of birds and deformity of amphibians. What will it take for us, humans, to stop destroying this planet that we live on, the only planet we have. Is this really the legacy that we want to pass on and instill in our children? Don’t think twice about where that garbage goes when you drop it from your hands, it just disappears magically. We don’t know why the ozone is depleting, oceans are warming, or we are having such erratic weather patterns, right? Are we really so ignorant that we can not see that we are creating these issues, killing our planet, or just arrogant?
I challenge everyone, every man, woman and child, to start taking responsibility for themselves and their own trash. I am not saying that you have to be a “rubbish radical”, although if more people were it would be very beneficial for ourselves and for our planet. I am saying, start by taking one more step over what you currently do to help clean up this place we, you, live in.
I love to hunt for treasures, all kinds of treasures both big and small, new and old. It is the hunt for that singularly unique item to fill the vacant spot on the wall, or that tool that was so needed in day to day life of yesteryears which has been replaced by new technology or totally forgotten about all together that I love and crave.
We found some great markets in Great Britain when we were there this last time! We discovered antique markets in Lewes, Brighton and London, charity shops in every town both large and small, farmers markets, street markets on what seemed like every corner in London throughout all of its numerous neighborhoods, we even managed to find an architectural salvage yard in Glastonbury!
We saw so many unique and fun treasures! We saw oriental tea sets with images of women hidden in the bottom of the cups that you could only see when you held the cup up to a light, we saw intricate hand crocheted tablecloths, gymnastic equipment from the 1950’s, sextants, oil paintings, milled stone grinders and canon balls. There was so much to see!
Portobello Road Market in London’s Notting Hill area of Kensington has become very popular and has been featured in many films, songs and novels throughout the decades, the most popular movies being Disney’s Bednobs and Broomsticks and the 1999 movie Notting Hill staring Julia Roberts and Huge Grant. The entire street was filled with vendors, stalls and booths selling everything from second hand clothes, antiques, fruits and baked goods. A trip to Portobello Road could definitely be an all day affair and is well worth putting on your calendar to visit with so much to see!
Camden Market is another fabulous market located in London in the Camden Town area that you can take the Camden Town, Chalk Farm or Mornington Crescent tube stations to. I would put this market high on the list to see! There were so many retail shops and eclectic vendors and unique restaurants and food vendors there we had to spend two days there and we still did not see everything! Some of the vendors included leather goods, clothing, jewelry, touristy knick-knacks, goth shops, and more. We had lunch in a African themed restaurant to give our feet a break and to get a break from the crowds.
Lewes market located in East Sussex is a cute market town steeped with history dating as far back as the Romans and Saxons. In addition to a great antique flea market that has very reasonable pricing there are also three areas of interest to those who like to go out and explore nature, Lewes Downs, Lewes Brooks and Southerham Works Pit. Both Lewes Downs and Lewes Brooks are great places to look for invertebrates such as snails, water beetles and salamanders.
There were so many more markets that we did not go to in so many of the towns and cities that we visited just because we ran out of time. I hope that as you have read this that it has awakened in you the adventurous spirit of exploring either near or far for your own hidden treasures.
Well, we made it to England! The plane ride was so very long! For the most part none of us were able to sleep, except of course, Ian. During the 10 or so hour plane ride I managed to get maybe 2 hours of sleep, partly at first I was not tired so I watched a couple of movies and also partly because I sat next to an elderly lady who did not have a sense of personal space with her elbows! When you fly or maybe just travel in general, every inch is at a premium and when one persons body or extremities spill over into your seat for 10 hours a person has a tendency to get a little grumpy, just saying…..
Anyways, enough of that, we landed and got through customs really fairly easy other than a rather long line that moved a bit slow mostly because there were not many booths open. Once through, we picked up the rental car and my husband refreshed his memory on having everything in the car, including him, in the wrong spot and on the right side of the car instead of the left and also driving on the left side of the road instead of the right. That is something that you have to think about and reason with the entire time that you are in the car, not only as a driver but also as a passenger. I found myself leaning into the center of the car as if I could help keep the car in the center of the lane! It is rather stressful when you are driving backwards from how you learned!
Ok, so, we are in the car driving down the motorway, on the wrong side of the road (for us), on the wrong sides of the car (for us), none of us has gotten very much rest and all a bit cranky and we have 3 1/2 hours to drive to get to our first B&B in York. Yeah, maybe not the best decision to have to drive so far in such unfamiliar circumstances, but oh well, deal with it we must O-Bei One. We stopped at a “services” area and got coffee, coffee, coffee!
Made it to York without much incidence and located our B&B. It was a cute, and very English, place in a row house. Very clean and comfy and the hosts were pleasant. The B&B was located close to the city walls so it was very easy to walk every where, which we did! The first full day we were there we walked 121/2 miles! We criss-crossed the city center, walked almost the entire stretch of the walls, up one amazingly antiquated lane and down another, through the cobble stoned Shambles, around the market, through quaint neighborhoods with beautiful postage stamp sized gardens full of fuchsias, peonies and assortment of other colorful flowers. We saw monuments, cathedrals, ruins and some of the fattest pigeons I have ever seen in my life! Even fatter than their NY cousins!
Of course we had to check out the pubs in England! Ian had his first “legal, out in public” drink, legal drinking age in England is 18 and in the States it is 21. So of course we went into many pubs to try theirfoodie fare as well as Ian was trying to decide which ales, ciders or beers he liked. Several pubs and pints and miles later, he decided that his preference wasGuinness. He likes the thick, rich smooth flavor. I would not have pegged him for aguinesser, but then again he is just starting to show and allow his multi-faceted nature to come through.
After a couple night stay we were off to our next location, Scotland! Again with the driving…. but we had reservations at another B&B which is a working farm with sheep and the long-haired Highland cows located in a tiny town between Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Now, I am not a big believer in the supernatural. Even after this experience I still have reservations and think that sometimes, people make up a fair amount to make a good story. But I will say, after this trip, it has made me stop, pause, and wonder, if just maybe there is something else out there.
To set the stage, Dover has its roots steeped in medieval times dating back as far as the late 1100’s. The magnificent Dover Castle is built on the edge of great white chalk cliffs that seem to almost glow in the sunlight. Dover is most famous for the extensive tunnels that are built into the cliff, some dating back to the Napoleonic and Revolutionary wars but was most heavily used during WWII.
During WWII the tunnels were used as bunkers, officer quarters, strategic operations and hospital for the wounded. Many soldiers died in the surgery wards.
We were on a tour of the tunnels. We had passed through some of the offices, storerooms and communication room when we came to the hospital surgery room. This is where a ghost made its presence known by attempting to inhabit or communicate through our youngest son, Ian.
Ian is not someone who scares easy or is timid. Quite the contrary! He is a typical rough and tumble boy who loves to climb to the very tippy top of trees, explore dark damp caves, meandering tunnels, see what creepy crawly things are under rocks and the such. So when I describe what he was experiencing you can understand my alarm.
Ian started to lean on my and hold my hand. He told me that he was not feeling very good. When I asked him what was wrong, what was he feeling. He said that his stomach was yucky and he felt like he was going to throw up. I bent down to look at him, and he looked so pale it scared me! It was at that moment that he fainted! If I have not been looking down at him I would not have been able to catch him before he hit the floor. That was very alarming! We were in the depths of the tunnels and my son (was 9 years old at the time) was half my height. It was to far to carry him out the way we came, so I had to carry him to the service elevator and take him to the surface by that method.
On the surface, we sat on a bench waiting for my husband and other son to rejoin us while he rested and recouped. After waiting about 20 minutes, we were all together again and Ian was feeling much better and practically back to his old crazy active self.
We decided to walk the medieval castle walls, turrets, cannon alcoves. Before we knew it, our casual walking had turned into running as we were going up one staircase and down another as we made our way down to the dungeons, through the halls, stoping now and then to pretend that we were firing the cannons or shooting arrows through the window at an invading army.
As we were passing through one of the passageways I turned around and took a picture behind me. I had no real reason for doing so, it was just an empty stone passageway. I just wanted a picture of where we had been, I guess.
It was not until we got home and were going through all the pictures that we noticed something particular about that one picture. In the center of the picture there was a blue sphere that was just hanging there in mid air!
At first, we thought that maybe it was dust particles or maybe a reflection or one of the lights. Then we noticed that there were no other dust particles floating around. There was nothing to cause a reflection off the stone walls and you can see a light on the ceiling, it is not blue, but a soft yellow. Very curious indeed! Perhaps one of these days we will be able to go back to Dover and retrace our steps to see if we can capture another mysterious picture.
The first time that we went to England we were so excited to be going to a different country! It was so thrilling to think of all the new experiences and people that we would meet! The new culinary adventures that we would expose our taste buds to. The massive amounts of history that we would see. For history lovers who grew up in a state in America where 50 years is considered “old”, going to a place that has centuries of history made us almost giddy! We made our travel list, what to pack, what not to pack, found and booked our unique lodging accommodations, picked up some Euros before we left our home state. Thought we had dotted every “I” and crossed every “T”…. key word is “thought”.
The flight was great. There was so much to do on an international flight! There were movies to watch, video games to play, all for free! They even fed you a decent meal! The plane had larger seats with pillows and blankets so you were comfortable, as far as planes go, to sleep. when we landed we were well rested and ready to hit the ground running!
Yea!! We landed! We were all so excited! We collected our luggage and made it through customs with no problems and went to collect our rental car. We had rented a nice mid-sized car that the four of us could fit in comfortably in addition to our luggage.
We were pleased with ourselves for having planned so well and with the car we choose…. until we got inside of it. That is when we realized our first mistake. The steering wheel was on the other side of the car! On top of that, it was a standard! We had not driven a standard since we were in high school!
To say that we were out of our element was an understatement! Not only were we lurching forward in jerky stop and go movements, we were also stalling and trying to restart the car as it lurched forward again just to stall, again! And we had not even gotten out of the parking lot yet!! And the steering wheel is on the opposite side of the car for us! All the mirrors are in the wrong spot! Yup, a bit embarrassing.
Well, we made it out of the parking lot and onto the freeway. It felt like we had just jumped from the frying pan into the fire! Cars were flying past us on the right side instead of the left side of the car, we (really, my husband) had to shift with the left hand instead of the right! Oh the chaos! Our children were hiding their heads mumbling, “we’re gonna die, we’re gonna die!”. After a few miles we (again, my husband) quickly became adjusted and the kids came out from hiding.
Lesson learned! Not only do you need to verify that you do or do not need a visa to visit a country, but you also need to verify what side of the road they drive on! Another a tidbit of advise…. pay close attention to the type of car you are renting, standard or automatic, and that you are comfortable with that driving mode.