May 12, 2013
Yesterday I drove the motorhome the about 60 miles from Bardstown to Lexington, Kentucky. We drove about 50 of those miles on the Blue Grass Parkway which you can read about by clicking this Wikipedia link…
As always you may left click upon an image to see an enlarged view and then click once again to see an even larger view…
Here we are on the Blue Grass Parkway…
Along the way we stopped to get a first-hand look at one of Kentucky’s most famous products…Bourbon Whiskey. We visited the Four Roses Distillery in Lawrenceburg. You can read about this place by clicking their official website link…
Here are some of the photos I took while there…
At this point in the tour, Mary dropped out fearing too many stairs in the factory. I’m glad she did because I continued on the tour and there were a lot of stairs…
Mary joined us in the tasting room. I tasted none because I was driving and did not want it on my breath. Plus I didn’t want to hurt anyones feelings, but I really do not care for Bourbon. I’m a Canadian Mist man myself.
Back on the road we ended up at a place where we can get an up-close-and-personal look at another of Kentucky products…Horses! We are parked at the Keeneland Horse Racing Track at Lexington…
Here’s the dinette window photo…
Even though it is not racing season, there are still horses here which we’ll get to see this morning and you can read about them tomorrow! You can read about Keeneland by clicking their official website link…
Enjoying interesting places is another joy of the full-timing lifestyle!
In other news…
I bought our rear view camera systems for the motorhome in 2009. As with all electronics occasionally things act up and they do not work as they should. So was the case recently. Without going into the technical aspects, I’ll simply say 4uCam has great customer service and readily took care of my problem. If you are considering such a system, I highly recommend them to you. You can see their products on their website at http://4ucam.com/
The red dot on the below map shows our approximate location in the State of Kentucky. You may double left-click the map to make it larger…
Enjoying 65-75 degree temperatures most of the year is a primary joy in the RVing lifestyle!
“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving”…Albert Einstein
On October 27, 2012, I created a two-minute video titled America The Beautiful. The music America The Beautiful is by Christopher W. French. The photos, which I randomly selected, are from the states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Tennessee, Washington and West Virginia (not shown in that order)…are mine. Yup, That’s me standing in front of the Post Office in Luckenbach, Texas…Y’all!
Click this link to start the video. Make sure you have your speakers turned on and go to full screen asap.
If you have not checked out my Ramblin Man’s Photos Blog, you can do so by clicking this link…
All original material Copyright – Jim Jaillet 2013
For more information about my three books, click this link:
July 29, 2012
It is Halloween. Vicki wishes us a Happy Halloween. It’s strange to think of this American Holiday in the midst of a an ancient city, dining on fried dumplings and sweet black rice in a hotel with no glass in the windows. We hate to leave this beautiful mountain village of Jiliang as we are still aglow with unforgettable memories of our time here.
From the bus, we see overladen donkeys hauling goods, people walking the roads, scenic villages, cows, horses, children drying corn or grain outside. Most pictures from the bus are too blurry to keep.
We look back at the Eastern Himalayas, our last look at the beautiful mountain and marvel at the many exciting experiences we had in this special area just 250 miles from Tibet. So close. Tour mates discuss our next trip and we swear it will be Tibet. Someone recommended the movie, Seven Years in Tibet, Lady Yang, about a famous concubine, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and so it goes as we head for the airport to fly to Kumming. (koo-ming.)
At the Naxi Stone Drum Village, we stop for lunch. The restaurant is crowded with Naxi people. Service here is more casual than other restaurants we’ve been to, Vicki tells us. The food simpler. Did we care? The place was fascinating with its chili pepper curtains, dividing the outdoor diners from the indoor diners. We are seated inside a small room with a wonderful view of this interesting gathering.
The faces are intent as they play mah jong. We realize no one is eating lunch but us.
Everyone plays. Women tend to stick to tables with women, but mix when the numbers are uneven.
This old fellow sits and watches the game, quietly smoking his opium pipe.
Viki said it is unusual to find this group of people gathered here and she asks around and finds out a government official is set to visit the village and the “seniors” are waiting in the courtyard to hear his speech.
I sneak a peek into the open air kitchen.
There is no refrigeration. Everything is fresh or stored in vinegar.
A photo bonanza for us, as we watch the activity and listen to them chatter among themselves. They totally ignore us. This table of women is playing some kind of card game and have apples to snack on. One woman is asleep at the table with her head bent low.
When the government official arrives, they listen with rapt attention.
Their meeting ends about the same time as our lunch. Wanning, with an interpreter tries to engage this elderly gent as everyone leaves the restaurant. But, the dialect is obscure, and she nor the interpreter can understand anything he says.
Now the Naxi are very curious about us. They do not shy from the camera and enjoy seeing themselves in our little screens with smiles and much straightening of their clothing. No hands come out for money.
We walk around the area to see what we can see and stretch our legs. This gentleman apparently has a car. He took out a bench from his trunk and proudly showed it to us. Or, maybe he was hoping we would buy it. We couldn’t tell. A car here is quite rare. We see almost no private auto traffic on the roads.
As we load into the bus, a beggar woman stands outside our window gesturing her need for food in her plastic covered dish or to sell us something Viki speculates. Vicki says it is too late but those in the bus who have snacks demand to stop and hand her some salty nuts, candy bars and a few yuan we offer. Vicki disapproves of encouraging begging and she says it is also very unusual to find a beggar in this remote village.
As we get back on the road in the bus, we see these two Naxi women walking back to their homes. Everyone seems to enjoy relatively good health and good spirits. Walking is their main mode of travel. Tomorrow, Kumming.
July 28, 2012
The Hun Dynasty is from 200 B.C. Most Chinese are Han Qiang (han-chung)) The greatest challenge to China is the Tibetan people. China seems to step all over itself when they try and crack down on Tibet with the whole world watching. There was a border incident just after we left where two Tibetan’s were killed. Yunnan Province borders India, Burma, Laos and Vietnam and was once the powerful kingdom of Nanzhao that defeated Chinese armies and controlled the trade routes to India and Burma before Khublai Khan. America’s Flying Tigers were based here and thwarted the Invasion of China by Japan in the 1940′s. The province of Yunnan has 25 different minority groups. China is still leery of minority people who might try to be independent and form their own government. It is so peaceful and beautiful here, we find it hard to understand. Viki tells us that at one time China was set into strict class lines. Her grandfather was a scholar and was sent to Shenyang Province and lived with the Uygurs or Greware people, under very tough living conditions. He married there and Vicki’s mother was born there and married an Ethnic born in Urumki. He was persecuted and sent to a “struggle” meeting and made to live in a cow shed. He tried to kill himself but Grandmother was strong and he survived and eventually the family was allowed to move to the city. When Viki was a child, learning how wonderful Mau was, she once heard her Grandfather say, “Mau is a bad guy” knowing he could be killed for saying so. One of her Uncles was a Red Guard and considered her father a traitor and accused him of crimes and persecuted his own brother. When Mau died, everyone went crazy. Some wanted revenge, others shed tears. Afterwards, they wondered how stupid they could be. Life under Mau was unpleasant for most people. We really appreciate Vicki’s openness about China’s infamous past and faux pas of the present.
This is the walled entrance to Jiliang where modern vehicles can drive. Buses are not able to drive into the city.
Tourists unload and walk into the city or load into a smaller vehicle. I took this picture mainly because the baby boy is wearing split pants. You can’t really tell. But Chinese children traditionally were not diapered. Some still wear split pants and are set down to urinate or poop and the parents pick up the waste and deposit it somewhere just as in the old days when human fertilizer was saved for the fields. The government, according to Viki, discourages the practice and most city babies are diapered.
And, as expected, modern vehicles share the road with the more common bike-trucks.
The river and the ancient water ways dominate the city which sits at the confluence of three different rivers. Before the fire burned half the city down, every street in Jiliang was narrow for people walking or on horse back with a waterway beside the walkway.
Entrance to each shop next to the waterway is a rudimentary bridge, often old planks.
The streets are teeming with customers and no one would even think it was dangerous. The U.S. would bring it up to code and ruin this ancient city, we think. It is at least 3,000 years old.
In front of this shop is a character asking people to pay to have their picture taken with him in his native costume. His pipe reaches to the ground.
I’m entranced and sneak a picture of him. Isn’t he gorgeous? Oh, to have the language!
Water loving willows grow profusely and grace many of the old buildings.
But, most of the activity is on the square.
These sturdy little horses are called Jiliang Horses and are a desired commodity among the mountain people of this area. At one time they were a trade commodity along the famous Silk Road. The horses outlived the market for silk and eventually tea trade dominated the Silk Road.
These horsemen had parked their steeds and didn’t mind having their picture taken. They appeared to be working wranglers or traders of some sort.
The square is always filled with entertainment, like this Naxi group dancing and singing. I curse myself for not taking more pictures. There were tumblers, jugglers and magicians with a vessel out for donations much like break dancers and musicians do in San Francisco. This day is Oct. 30th, a double nine (lucky) lunar holiday. (I have no clue what that means.) It is wonderful to have a day in this ancient city that began as a stop along the Tea-Horse Road, a network of high paths and dangerous passes over the mountains into Tibet and other parts of China. The tea was packed in bricks and bales and we still see it sold that way in bricks, bales and huge hat shaped rings. We couldn’t figure out what the bales were until we left Jiliang and asked Vicki who explained that those tea shops we saw, with myriad tea pots and cups, were really selling tea.
Michal and I do some last minute souvenir shopping and arrange to meet Wanning and Judge Dean Determan for dinner on the moat adjacent to our hotel which is the only food court in town where all the exotic foods, the music and night life happens. The paving stones were once washed by a trick of the ancient water system where the town streets and square was flooded and rinsed debris back into the river. Wanning shows us her haul, beautiful scarves about six feet long and three feet wide for $4 each. She leads us back to the shop at dusk and we get them for $3. She says, “And I’m Chinese, I’ve been taken.” We all laugh. On our way back for dinner, a vendor tried to sell us fried grubs, inch worms and cockroaches for a snack, but we declined. We instead opt for a dish Wanning and Dean recommend with a tomato broth and noodles with bits of water buffalo and beef. But before we decide, one animal on the butcher block looks familiar but we can’t identify what meat it is. “Dachshund,” says Vicki who is always around on the fringes of our activity to answer questions. We groaned but Vicki is very forthright and doesn’t try to protect our western squeamishness or apologize for their customs. We decide the people in this area like their pets too much.
We keep gawking fascinated by every thing we see. The octopus, urchins, shelled creatures we can’t identify. Fish with heads and eyes and fins still intact. The insects and beetles, turtles and strange colored mushrooms. Pickled vegetables we have never seen before. Seeds and pods and edible grasses and baked delights in neon colors. We can’t decide which is most fascinating, people watching or cruising the food court; listening to thousand year old music, or the hum of exotic languages; “hiyee!” sharp musical calls from waiters scurrying back and forth between tightly packed tables. The glow from ambient lantern and torch light; people stooped or sitting cross legged in dark corners. We know we are glimpsing the threads of an ancient past, with no definition but magical. Unforgettable.
July 20, 2012
There is more to see in Wuhan City, but we leave late in the day for the airport. Our luggage is already overweight. Vicki bribes the officials but warns us that on one of the seven flights we take, she will not be able to bribe the officials. It is only a short flight to Jiliang, pronounced lee-John. My suit case arrived crushed. They didn’t want to fill out the papers for insurance because it was already packed deep in the bus and they couldn’t see it. She bullied them a bit. Then they had no blank on their form for the color beige or plaid. It was taking forever and the whole group was waiting. Finally, I told her it was too much hassle, forget it. She told me the two clerks are afraid they will lose their jobs if they make a mistake. Our plane was late and Vicki called ahead to the hotel and asked that they hold the buffet open so we could have dinner. At ten p.m. we are eating roast pork and black sweet rice at the Grand Hotel.
It was all so delicious but the hotel sits next to a moat, and from across the moat come sounds of revelry, singing, talking and laughter. Lights reflect in the water, from torches and candles on the tables. People are having such a good time we want to be there. (The picture above, across from our hotel, was taken in the morning when all the revelers are gone.) The windows in our hotel have no glass in them. The room walls are so thin you can hear people talking in a normal tone of voice. The beds are thinly padded and quite hard with fluffy woolen blankets. The stars are out, the fresh mountain air wafts through the room and we quickly give over to sleep.
In the morning, Michal and I (and everybody else on the tour) want to explore this unique city, but we are hustled off to the Naxi (nah-shee) Dongba Tribe Museum. Our expert in this area is Wu. He has funny American expressions, like “shake the leg”, “let’s get rollin”). It sounds so out of place and we laugh when he says stuff. Jiliang, we learn is 250 miles from the Tibetan border, where we can see the beautiful Eastern side of the Himalayan Mountains.
The museum is particularly interesting because the Naxi people only had a pictographic language. Their tribe in two areas only numbers about 60,000 people. As young people grew up and learned the official dialect, their language was dying out.
The museum had much of their colorful textiles and calligraphy which they are noted for.
In the Museum store, this Naxi Calligrapher draws an expression for Michal which she had framed and it now hangs on her wall. The Naxi people are said to be able to place their hands into fire and boiling oil without injury. We did not see a demonstration of this but expect it is similar to the fire walkers we all know about. The Naxi raise goats and llamas and their beautiful weavings are unique.
Wu takes us to the Naxi village of Yunshangping, where the Himalayas hang over this magical little town. People here cook on grills outside. We are here to see the museum of a colorful anthropologist/botanist by the name of Joe Rock, but Wu says we will see it after we explore the town.
Just about every woman wears the same blue garb, which is traditional to their society. Vicki tells us they have become used to getting their picture taken-for money. So we should attempt to take our pictures indirectly.
A fresh mountain stream flows through the town. The water in our hotel was delicious and comes from the same stream. We were warned early in the trip to never drink the water, always use bottled water. But, I forgot the very first day in China and so I just continued to drink the water and never had a problem. I also ate the lettuce and vegetables they tell you to avoid that are rinsed in the water. If we didn’t have first class hotels, I might not have taken the chance.
Naxi villagers are great horsemen.
This gent is leading a bunch of tourists through town to head up the mountain for a trail ride.
Cute kids everywhere.
This older woman stuck her hand out for money when I took her picture, but I was quite a distance from her.
Then I caught her later in the day taking care of a group of kids, watching the horses go by.
For the most part, they seemed to ignore the invasion of tourists in their town.
Wu tells us the Naxi love their horses and pets.
They are very social with each other and do most of their chores outside, like this woman washing her clothes. But, back to Joe Rock. Wu first takes us to a house that is similar to Joe Rock’s house. It shows the way those with means lived in the town.
The average house here is volcanic rock and wood.
A typical Naxi house looks like this. It has three buildings, a living quarters, where people are standing, to the right, a storage building in the center, where corn is hung to dry and food stuff is prepared for keeping. Food for animals is also kept in the middle building.
And the third building holds the livestock. Naxi people were not friendly to outsiders before Joe Rock came. He spoke Chinese and gave them medicine, and over time, gained their trust. He was very fat and hired Chinese men to carry him on a special chair like some royal Egyptian out of a Hollywood Movie. He had a battery operated Victrola so he could listen to opera, and his own canvas bath tub. Rock came here in the 1920′s and lived here until the Communists took over.
The Naxi have eagles and owls as their protective roof decorations.
We finally arrive at Joe Rock’s house where the living quarters holds the museum, which contains some pictures of Rock’s work. Wu tells us, the people here are the museum. Joe Rock’s 400 year old house is owned by a dandy who is so obnoxious he doesn’t like to come. Just to look into the court yard, we are required to take his picture and pay him before entering this very small exhibit.
He is all dressed up in his leather shoes and white coat. The reason to come at all is because Joe Rock was such an important figure. He wrote several books about the Naxi while he photographed and studied their pictographic language, translated it into a written language and therefore preserved the culture of the old-timers before they died and the language became lost. He photographed their rituals and studied their culture extensively. Rock supposedly said, after the big depression, “Depressions are for industrialized nations, we don’t have depressions, here.”
There are some interesting stories about Rock at the above website and many facts in the wikipedia link about him.
We said goodbye to this lovely village, me wishing I could have taken a horse back rid into the mountains.
May 18, 2012
Two days ago we drove the motorhome the about 35 miles from Grants to Prewitt, New Mexico to Bluewater State Park. 28 miles of that trip was done on old historic Route 66.
Here’s the official Bluewater State Park website link…
Here are some photos that I took…
As always you may left click upon an image to see an enlarged view and then click once again to see an even larger view…
On the way to the state park…
Here’s a Google Earth view of the lake and our campsite location…
The view from the back of our campsite…
And the view from our dinette window…
In the above photo, the horses roam the park freely and no one bothers them. Here are some closer views of the horses…
After the last few weeks of big city noise…we are really enjoying the peace and quiet of this park. We expect to be here for three days.
Enjoying beautiful state parks is another joy of the full-time RVing lifestyle!
All original material Copyright – Jim Jaillet 2012
For more information about my three books, click this link:
March 11, 2012
Again, braving the cold, we walked into Columbus to view the Cabalgata, a tradition where riders from both countries meet at the US/Mexican border. New Mexico dignitaries invite the Chihuahua dignitaries to accompany them, and both groups ride the three miles into Columbus to celebrate their common heritage where Hispanics and Anglos have long experienced a successful blend of cultures. We estimated about 300 horses rode in this unusual parade.
Leading the way was this Mexican dignitary outfitted as Pancho Villa.
There were shouts from bystanders as they recognized various riders from Mexico. Shouts of “bravo” and other Spanish words that I didn’t understand that brought friendly responses in turn.
Riders came in established groups, some with banners, or the same color scarves allowing us to think they have ridden in this Cabalgata year after year as a tradition.
They came as families.
A long ride on a small pony. We shouted “bravo” to them for braving the cold.
They came as single riders.
Some with dancing horses. The number of riders blew us away.
On our walk to the park for the festivities, I saw these business-man bad guys, trying to look mean.
One week after Villa’s raid on Columbus, 10,000 troops led by General “Black Jack” Pershing led the Punitive Expedition into Mexico to capture Villa. One skirmish with Mexican Federales near Parral, and President Wilson called off the search. The expedition was the last true mounted cavalray action by the United States Army. A man outfitted as Pershing did some play acting for the cameras. He halts this group of riders at gun point.
We think “Pershing” is speaking to the U.S. Sheriff of Luna County from some of the voices we heard in the crowd.
And, there was friendly sword and pistol play between the bad guys and “Pancho” who we think is a Sheriff in the state of Chihuahua. Villa’s forces were dispersed and Villa vanished into the back country never to raid again. In 1920 President Adolfo De La Huerto negotiated a peace with him and he was allowed to return to his ranch in Parral. Three years later he was assassinated by unknowns who were never arrested.
Whoever he was, we were fascinated with his showy saddle-horn and the friendly interplay.
Then we watched the horses ride out-of-town, or pack their animals into trailers and end their ride for the day.
It was like watching the parade all over again.
We watched as another dancing horse danced his way out-of-town.
We move today to Rockhound State Park. We enjoyed the festival and the food and I’ll blog it tomorrow.
March 7, 2012
Western Arizona, like Texas, retains a bit of its wildness. The characters of the past, reveal true grit, and occasionally in some of those we meet along the way. Belle Starr has true grit. She has multiple sclerosis, and is confined to a wheel chair. Her Silverado Ranch is where we camped the last three nights while visiting Douglas, the Slaughter Ranch and Bizbee.
She has donkeys, horses, dogs, cats, a parrot, chickens and one helper. She takes in campers. Dry campers are free for the first seven days, after that she asks a $10 donation. For using hook-ups, she has two, she asks for $10 a night and a bit of help around the place.
I gave the animals some food, and tried to trim one little dog’s toenails. Jim did most of the helping by working three afternoons on her computer. Aaron, here helper knows nothing about computer. The truth is, we were mightily entertained for our efforts. The stories flowed. The one that sticks is her encounter with the Border Patrol.
Her ranch is near the Mexican border and the border patrol would routinely come in and search her little outbuildings, two of them “camping” cabins. One time they broke her gate, another time they practically dismantled one of the cabins and then wanted to “invade” her house. She drew a gun on them and told them No. Both agents drew guns on her and ordered her to put the gun down. She did. Two weeks later she got a visit from the CIA and the FBI. She told them, keep those “bas—–” off my place. They told her they would take care of it and she hasn’t been bothered since.
This is Belle at 52 with a $1700 fighting cock. Her third husband was a member of the mafia and she escaped him and changed her name from Bell Santos, to Belle Starr, legally. She is remotely related to the famous female bandit.
A fountain for the birds.
In this corral she has four horses. Another holds three. In another eight miniature donkeys and two full-sized donkeys in yet another. We counted six dogs and one cat.
This little dog, Margarita, was so loveable I wanted to take her home with me. I do miss my animals now that I travel half the year. I feel lucky to be able to enjoy other people’s pets as we go.
Jim, too! We are now at Pancho Villa State Park in Columbus, New Mexico hunkered in for a few days of cold windy weather. I’ll tell you all about an amazing historical event that happened in Bizbee, tomorrow.
August 5, 2011
Guys like my robot. Their mechanical curiosity immediately pops up at first site of it, and they check out his movable arms and legs, and head; his spark plug toes; radio tube eyes. They act like teenagers looking under the hood of their first car. (It helps to know he is made of car parts.) One piece comes from a 1947 Plymouth, the artist told me.
Rust has caught up with my robot and I tried to move him inside, out of the weather until I could attend to the problem. Unfortunately, the weld on his foot gave way and down he came, his head came undone and rolled to the side. Oh, no! Some rusty looking oil spilled out of his “crank case” and there he lay. Now, where is one of those handy car guys when you need him? No putting off the job. I got out the steel wool and sandpaper, bought some aluminum paint and went to work. Not a job I wanted to do just now, but the robot needs this fix.
Several hours yesterday morning, I managed to get two legs finished on one side only. Hmm! This is going to be a long process I can see. I’m enthused. He looks much better. Now, to find a handy welder kind of guy to put him back together before I leave.
I spent the afternoon with an old quilting buddy, Kendra North. We didn’t quilt, we talked about the quilts we haven’t finished yet, our high school reunion experiences and had lunch instead. I am so fortunate to have so many talented friends. Kendra, a cancer survivor, can saddle a horse, shoe a donkey, weed eat her acreage, stave off the coyotes with her rifle, tutor her grandchildren, build a chicken coop, make gorgeous quilts, and keep her ancient Volkswagen running. She doesn’t weld.
April 3, 2011
Owen, flying high.
Nearly three year old Abbie trying for that higher bounce.
Theo going for the extreme moves.
Anthony waits his shot at the ball in a game of driveway two-square. Whoever goes out steps aside for the next person in line. That way no one gets overly tired
Everyone wanted to take a walk and see where I heard the singing waters from a previous blog. The water is running, but without much thunder and low enough to easily cross over the washes on rocks and branches. Its fun to almost get wet while throwing rocks into the culverts. The kids fed the neighbor horses and caught a frog,, which was promptly returned to its puddle.
Before dinner, the two youngest boys managed a wobbly, high structure with stacking blocks while we got the table ready. Before dessert, we caravaned downtown Murphys to watch the Rail Jam, a new event sponsored by Bear Valley Ski Area, and the Murphys Hotel.
Snow was brought in and piled from the second floor of the Murphys Hotel into an obstacle course for skiers and snowboarders. The amateur contestants were from eight years to fourteen years old. Down the two story ramp, over the first bridge,
a sharp right and down a slippery, round pipe,
and, a shoot to the finish over the “mail box”. Some of the older boys chose to finish on the edges of the blue barrier. Either way, a challenging, fun, competitive race with prizes.
Six year old Anthony confided, “I can do that,” as he watched the boarders. In the future, I’m sure he will. On this day, it was enough to play with hunks of dirty snow. But, dainty Abbie…
stuck close to dad and bravely ventured one leg over the rope barrier.