Posts Tagged ‘travel’

Sailing Where Juan Ponce de León Sailed, Maybe

March 31, 2014

Schooner Freedom

Schooner Freedom

Some historians say he landed at St. Augustine, but others say he landed south of there. The record shows that Admiral Pedro Menéndez de Avilés settled the city in September, 1565. It had been at least 40 years since I had visited America’s oldest city. Besides the fine dining and historical sites,  a highlight this time was sailing on the Schooner Freedom.  It’s a 76 foot long,  double-masted replica of a 19th century blockade runner.  It has something they didn’t, an engine.  The Coast Guard  requires it.  Also, it makes it possible to make at least three excursions a day.  Sailing against the wind and a strong current means almost stranding still.  The trip I was on took 90 minutes.  The skipper did turn the engine off for a little while and used only wind power on the way back when the wind was behind us and the tide going in.

St. Augustine 046

One of most interesting sites at the St. Augustine docks was a replica of a Spanish galleon like the ones that plied the Florida coast between the 15th and 16th centuries.  It’s really looks at home in St. Augustine since Spain used ships like it to bring people and supplies to the city in 1565.  I asked the Freedom’s skipper how it compares in size with one of Columbus’ ships.  He said, “It’s huge.  C0lumbus’ ships were really small.”  He told me that Columbus’ ships were about the same length as his schooner, which is 76 feet.  The galleon replica is 175-feet long.

If you go to St. Augustine, I recommend the cruise.  It was fun.  Also, I recommend the Reef,  a restaurant on Vilano Beach.  My Mahi Mahi was really good; the decor is nautical, and every table has a view of the Atlantic. There are many good restaurants in St. Augustine, but that one really stood out to me.

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New Life for 35mm Slides

August 8, 2011

Like millions of others alive before digital cameras came along, I shot hundreds of film slides.  Since almost no one owns a 35mm slide projector any more, I figured if I wanted people, especially my family, to be able to see those slides, I had better transfer them to digital images.  I was delighted to learn that a 33mm slide scanner is available, and purchased one.

On the blog post I wrote about my grandson Benjamin going into the Air Force, I referred to my visits to some famous places in Europe while I was in the Army between 1954 and 1956. Risking the natural resistance to looking at other folks personal slides, I’m going to show you a few. That means it’s OK if you show me some of yours.

First of all, a look at  your photographer.

This was taken by a 30th Army Band buddy at a small post (don’t remember the name) in the Bavarian Alps, where we had gone to play for a parade.  Being the headquarters’ band for the Munich, Germany area, we played for a lot of  small posts that had no band, which meant we made a lot of trips up some interesting mountain roads.  My brother Elbert, who had toured Germany at the end of World War II, had told me what a beautiful countryside Germany possessed.  He was right.  To be honest, this is not one of the pictures I scanned. I had this one done a few years ago at Columbus Tape and Video, the only place I could find that would print a 35mm slide. They did it, if I remember correctly, by projecting it on a screen and taking a picture of it that could be printed.

Here’s one that I scanned with the $70 scanner I found online.

This is a shot of the Isar River that flows through Munich. It was taken late in the late afternoon, I think.  Munich did have a lot of overcast days, especially in the winter, one, we were told at  the  time, was one of the coldest on record.  One morning a DJ on the Armed Forces Radio Network said, “If you want to vacation somewhere that’s warmer today, let me suggest the North Pole.” I chose it because I read  it’s used now for white-water sports, just as we are about to do on the Chattahoochee at Columbus.

Now, here’s one that’s lit a little better.  It’s a picture of…well…you’ll know.

Now you can show me yours. That’s only fair. Just  hit the comment button and give me your URL so I find them

Many Really Big Hitters come from Really Small Towns in Georgia

July 26, 2010
As we drove into Young Harris, Georgia recently,  I had to reflect on why it is so famous – and it is famous.  It’s not big.  The 2000 census counted 604 residents.  That’s almost a hundred less than the town’s very famous college, Young Harris College, which only has 700 students.

Zell Miller, former Georgia United States Senator and Governor

Like Plains,  Young Harris illustrates that a town doesn’t have to be big to produce big leaguers. Zell Miller might not be quite as famous as Jimmy Carter, but he’s plenty famous – and, to a lot of Democrats,  now infamous.  He served as  Georgia’s Democratic Lt. Governor,  Governor, and United States Senator.  But, even though never resigning from the Democratic Party,  he took up with the Republicans, even speaking at the Republican National Convention that nominated George W. Bush for president.   

 Just as Young Harris is famous because of people like Zell Miller, Young Harris College  is also famous, because people like Zell were students there.  And, I’ll bet you didn’t know that, according to Wikipedia,  these famous folks also went to Young Harris College:  “entertainers Oliver Hardy

Stan Laurel, of Laurel and Hardy, is on the floor, and Oliver Hardy is standing next to him in this lobby poster for their first movie, Lucky Dog, as Laurel and Hardy in 1921.

, Wayland Flowers and Amanda Bearse, country music singers Ronnie Milsap and Trisha Yearwood, Major League Baseball player Nick Markakis, and Waffle House founder Tom Forkner. Poet and novelist Byron Herbert Reece was a student and teacher at YHC.”

Wonder if Zell is going to endorse a Democrat or Republican for governor this year?  You just never know what he will do. But, we do know that he did one very important thing for Georgia. He was instrumental in establishing the state lottery, which funds the HOPE Scholarship program. Furnishing college tuition and textbooks is a big deal.

Cool Cruise – Part 5: Facts about Halifax

November 23, 2009

Little did I know what an interesting and charming place Halifax, Nova Scotia would be.  Besides knowing the name, I was ignorant about the place, which made it all the more entertaining when the Carnival Triumph slid into Halifax Harbor.

Georges Island, Halifax Harbor, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

As we passed an island that had a lighthouse and lighthouse keepers house, it appeared to have no people.  I had to look it up on Wikipedia after I got back to Columbus, Georgia, my home town, to learn about it. Indeed, there is no one on Georges island.  The lighthouse has been automated since the 1970’s. The Canadian government is working on turning it into a tourist attraction. After all, it has a historical fort, from which a shot was never fired in anger.

Noon cannon firing for tourists at Fort George, Halifax, NS

Only having a few hours to explore Halifax, we took a tour of the city on a London double-decker bus.  We saw a beautiful, clean town.  We stopped at a fort that is open to the puiblic, Fort George, which dates back to the 1700’s. A cannon is fired at noon every day for the tourists.  Halifax has never been attacked. But it had the two forts in case France, or, later, the United States decided to do it.  The Fort is now a park.  

We got off the bus at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic.   If  you ever get to Halifax, don’t miss it.  you’ll learn a lot about the area’s history. Not only does it have a Titanic exhibit – survivors of the sinking were taken to Halifax, and a lot of those whose drowned bodies were recovered are buried in a Halifax cemetary – but it has have exhibits that explain that Halifax was a very important port in both World War I and II. Because it is a protected harbor that was safe from German submarines, it was the staging area for the convoys that took supplies to the United Kingdom in both wars.

Entrance to Halifax explosion of 1917 in Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, Halifax, NS

The French also used the harbor in World War I, which led to a colossal disaster. It was and still is the largest accidental man-made explosion in the world. I learned about it while visiting the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. On December 6, 1917, SS Mont-Blac, a French cargo ship loaded with explosives destined to France, collided with the empty Norwegian SS Imo. The Mont-Blanc caught on fire, drifted close to shore, and exploded, destroying structures , killing 2,000 people and injuring 8,000. The explosion caused a tsunami in the harbor and a pressure air wave that demolished more buildings, grounded ships and carried fragments from the Mont Blanc for miles. I had never heard of it before.

1930 Snipe, a racing sailboat similiar to one I owned and raced, though this one is a lot older

I found the racing sailboat exhibit especially interesting because it sported a 1930 Snipe. I owned and raced a couple of Snipes for a number of years.  One was destroyed by a tornado at Lake Harding, which is north of Columbus,  on a Christmas day in the 1970’s. But that’s another story. Back to Halifax.

Having a 3-year-old friend who loves Thomas the Train, I found the exhibit about Canada’s answer to Thomas interesting.  The television program about Theodore the Tugboat was produced in Halifax and aired on the Canadian Broadcasting Company. Kids love it, and still enjoy the re-runs and DVDs.  The actual real Theodore the Tugboat used for the show was docked nearby.  The model used for the annimated show, which is shown in the inset, is displayed in the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic.

Theodore the Tugboat docked near the Museum of the Atlantic, and (inset) the actual model that was used in making the annimated TV show, which is displayed in the museum, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Halifax is the largest Canadian city east of Montreal and is the capital of Nova Scotia. Like Columbus, the economy gets a boost from the military; however it’s the Canadian Navy not Army, and Halifax is home of Canada’s Atlantic fleet. The Canadian Navy is not very large, only 33 ships. And though there are less than ten-thousand people employed by the naval base, Halifax’s economy is stronger than Columbus‘, with the median household income of more than $55 thousand.  Columbus has a median household income of almost $40 thousand. Halifax is a very busy port, the fourth busiest in Canada, and there are a lot of government service jobs there since it is the province’s capital. 

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada as seen from the Carnival Triumph cruise ship's dock All in all, we enjoyed Halifax. For one thing, we found a great Irish pub there where we had wonderful seafood chowder for lunch. Being the last stop, that should end this series of posts, but the trip back to New York had a little excitement. That will be the Cool Cruise finale. Don't miss it, and tell your friends to tune in!

Cool Cruise – Part 5: Saint John, New Brunswick, Where the River Flows Both Ways

November 16, 2009

As our ship eased into Saint John Harbor, I thought, that quaint little scene is what I expected to see in coastal Canada in the fall. 

Oct 12 2009_Cruise_1369

Saint John Harbor, Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada

There were actually some pretty autumn leaves.  Our cruise was billed as an autumn leaves New England and Canada  affair, but we didn’t see hardly any of those until we got to Saint John.

I was looking forward to getting off the cold cruise ship – the 105, 509  ton Carnival Triumph has no heating system, which I learned after I got on the ship – and getting on a warm bus to tour Saint John.  The bus was warm, but we got out a few times, and the high that day in October was around 42 degrees, and it was drizzling.

The high tides there are the big tourist attraction.  The tides on the Bay of Fundy are among the highest in the world. The power of those tides is graphically demonstrated at the Reversing Rapid Falls.  The flow of the river reverses for a  few miles when the tides change.  It was really cold and wet when our bus stopped there, but shutter bugs like me hopped off to get a few shots. We didn’t  tarry, though.

SJNS copy

Reversal Falls Rapids on the Saint John River which feeds the Bay of Fundy, home of some of the highest tides in the world. That's an Irving family paper mill in the background.

All in all, Saint John is pretty small, a little more than 120,000 people in the metropolitan area.  That’s the second largest in New Brunswick. The city, with a little more than 68,000, is the largest.   It is the 6th largest port in Canada.   And it is the home of the late industrialist K.C. Irving, whose company is the largest single landholder in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Maine.   His company uses a lot of timber for its paper mills. His  three sons now operate the business, valued at between $7 – $9 billion.

As we say farewell to Saint John, we get ready to say hello to Halifax, Nova Scotia, a very different place.

(This website has some interesting pictures of Saint John and the Bay of Fundy)

Cool Cruise – Part 4: Hello, Portland!

November 8, 2009

Finally, as promised, Portland, Maine!

PORTLAND, MAINE DOCKS

Portland, Maine Harbor

Like Boston, entering a historic New England city by sea is a good way to do it.  It was the way that English Naval Captain Christopher Levett arrived in 1623 to settle the Portland area. His ship would probably fit in a dining room of the Carnival Triumph,  the cruise ship I was on. 

Oct 12 2009_Cruise_1381

Portland, once a busy port for sailing ships, still has some of them, but they are for sightseeing cruises

Like so many old cities in the United States, the old downtown area, now called the Old Port section, with its art college and art colony,  entertainment venues and many restaurants is the city’s main tourist attraction.  Also like many cities, a modern mall in another area of town is the main shopping center.  Our tour bus didn’t go there. It’s the historic stuff that pulls in the tourists. 

When you get into the names of historically significant Portland natives, number one would have to be Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the most popular poet in the world during the middle and late 1800’s.  His poems include The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere and Hiawatha. He is the only American represented with a bust in the Poet’s Corner of London’s Westminster Abbey.  Buried in that corner are the great English writers  including Chaucer, Dickens, Elliot, and Wordsworth. 

Oct 12 2009_Cruise_1380

Portland Head Light Lighthouse

Probably the biggest tourist attraction in the Portland area is the Portland Head Light Lighthouse. This New England icon was built at President George Washington’s insistence.  Using whale oil as fuel, it was first lit in 1790.  It attracts more than  a million visitors a year.  The one negative is that it has no public restrooms with plumbing, only a long row of porta-potties.  Come on, folks,  restrooms don’t cost that much. 

Part of the attraction for taking a New England-Canadian cruise in October was to see the turning leaves in all of their glory.  We saw very few that would make you want to start humming “Autumn Leaves.”  In fact, you really don’t have to leave Georgia to see beautiful turning leaves.

Now, on to St. John, New Brunswick, Canada.

Cooling Off Like the Rich Folks

July 5, 2009
Gotta get outta this heat and humidity.  What to do? Do what the rich folks do. Go to Highlands, North Carolina.
Viewing area on the way up the mountain to Highland's, NC

Just getting  there is fun.  Riding up those curvy mountain roads, the view is beautiful.      

  HIGHLAND WATERFALL 

HIGHLAND WATERFALL - CAR

Once there, the high is 76 degrees.  That’s 76 compared to Columbus’ 98. 

HIGHLAND DOWNTOWN

 Downtown is picturesque, with lots of quaint old stores that sell high price stuff.

 GSMRR 1

And there are plenty of fun side trips, things like a ride on the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad.  You board the train at Bryson City, NC.

  GSMRR 2 

07 02_HIGHLANDS NC ETC._1069 

Not many train rides offer a view of  folks rafting, but this one does.

GSMRR 6 

GSMRR 10

Just miles and miles of beautiful views along the Tuckasegee River and Lake Fontana.

GSMRR 3

That ride brought back memories of when passenger trains were a common mode of transportation, and one of life’s highlights was eating in a nice dining car.

 07 02_HIGHLANDS NC ETC._1076

So I got to beat the heat the way rich folks do… for three days.

Flying Out of Columbus is Affordable Again

June 14, 2009

I’ve started flying out of the Columbus again.  Like just about everyone else, I stopped doing it because the cost was just too prohibitive.  It was a lot cheaper to take the Groome shuttle.  That has changed, according to Carolyn Marlow, who handles communications for  Columbus Metropolitan Airport.  The airport commission has negotiated a benchmarking deal with Delta  that means you can’t be charged  more than $100 – Delta likes to keep it at about $79 – to Atlanta to connect with a Delta flight.  It can cost less, but not more.

Atlantic Southeast - Delta Connection jet at Columbus Metropolitan Airport, Columbus, GA

Atlantic Southeast - Delta Connection jet at Columbus Metropolitan Airport, Columbus, GA

“Flying out of Columbus now is a no-brainer,” she says.

My experience a few weeks ago validates what she said, at least to me.

 I prefer 20 minutes in the air to an hour-and-a- half in a van or a car,   and I don’t like going through the time consuming security hoops at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.   That’s why I went on line and was happy to learn I could fly from Columbus to Fort Lauderdale for just a little more than if I used Groome.  Nothing wrong with Groome, by the way. They do a good job for a reasonable price. A Groome roundtrip from Columbus to Atlanta is less  than Delta;  how much less depends on the rate for an individual flight .  I figured my roundtrip flight from Columbus to Ft. Lauderdale cost me about $60 more than if I had used Groome. 

Passengers waiting to board a Atlantic Southeast jet to Atlanta, Columbus Metropolitan Airport, Columbus, GA

Passengers waiting to board a Atlantic Southeast jet to Atlanta, Columbus Metropolitan Airport, Columbus, GA

And I found that a lot of people were doing it, mostly Fort Benning soldiers and their relatives.  The Atlantic Southeast Airlines jet was almost full on my flight out on a Saturday and my return flight on Thursday.  Boarding in Columbus was a snap.  It took about five minutes to go through the security check, even with everyone taking off their shoes.  The security guards were vigilant, but polite and efficient. You can wait in line in Atlanta for up to  45 minutes sometimes. 

When we got to Atlanta to change planes, it was just a matter of getting off one plane and getting on another one – o.k. my Delta flight to Fort Lauderdale  was at the other end of the sprawling Atlanta airport.  But, I needed the exercise.  I usually walk two miles a day anyway.

Business is picking up at Columbus Metropolitan.  45,000 travelers flew out of Columbus in 2007, and 48,057 in 2008.  Still, it needs to pick up a lot more for the Columbus airport to attract more airlines and add more destinations.  Studies show that 90 percent of folks in our area ,who are flying out of Atlanta, take a ground shuttle or go by car.