RJ's Corner

NYC – The Wrap…

I have spent the last several Saturdays giving you a pictorial report of our visit to NYC.  This is finally the last post and is made up of some of my favorite pictures not included in earlier posts.

As usual click on any picture to bring up a larger gallery view.


NYC…. The Vendors…

This a continuing pictorial post on our visit to New York City recently.  One of the things that got my attention was the number of vendors on the streets selling almost everything. Here are some pictures. Click on any picture to bring up a larger gallery view.



NYC… Architecture….

One of the things that amazed me about my recent three day visit to New York City was the architecture. I have always been fascinated by the myriad of building in this country and NYC is probably the best of the best.  I won’t bore you with more words here.  Instead this post is almost all about the pictures.

Click on any picture to see an expanded gallery view:

This is a continuation from last Saturday of my recent visit to New York City.  As I previously mentioned the reason for the trip was to fulfill a bucket list item for my wife.  This Post is about the people..

Here is a little about what Wikipedia says about the city:

New York County is the most densely populated county in the United States, more dense than any individual American city.It is one of the most densely populated areas in the world, with a Census-estimated 2013 population of 1,626,159  living in a land area of 22.96 square miles

For an old Hoosier farm boy that is a lot of people and I think I rubbed elbows with most of them while I was there. :)  I think most of them there were in Time Square on the Saturday night we were there. Everywhere you go there are crowds of people. That is except for the Museum for the City of New York. There weren’t more than a hundred or so in that entire building.  I guess New Yorker aren’t very interested in their history (ha).

One thing I learned from the trip is that I, at least now, have a low tolerance for crowded places. Another thing I learned is that there is no such rule about keeping right as you walk down a sidewalk. It seems to be every person for themselves.

Enough of this talk, let’s get some picture of the people I encountered on our visit.  As usual click on any picture to bring up the expanded gallery:

I am going to spend the next few Saturday posts reporting on my recent trip to New York City. It was an enlightening time for me. I learned some things about myself that I didn’t appreciate before.

When we lived in central New Jersey at the end of the last millennium my wife fell in love with Central Park. She has talked about it many times in the almost 15 years since she was last there. She is getting somewhat physically restricted so it was now or never if we were going to re-visit that city.  It is about the only thing in her bucket list so I was determined to make it happen.

We spent two days traveling from our home to there. Knowing that NYC traffic is impossible we took a train in from central New Jersey to Penn Station. It was a two hour trip that we have taken several times. We stayed three days at the DoubleTree Suites looking down from 38 stories onto Times Square.

Now that I have set up the scene for the next few posts it is time to do a gallery of pictures. More words and thoughts next Saturday. More pictures and stories next week. Click on any picture to see an expanded gallery…

On The Road Cleveland – Day 8, The Final Run…

Cleveland 30Here we are in the final hotel of our Cleveland vacation. We are in Newark Ohio which is a little east of Columbus. We spent much of the day in more Amish country of Berlin Ohio. It claims to have the largest Amish community in the U.S. I bought a couple of framed pictures as mementos of our trip.  When we left this area to head south to I70 we found you couldn’t get there from here. Two of the three roads we tried were closed!

Cleveland 31Finally after three failed attempts we managed to find our way south and will jump on I 70 tomorrow morning for  the trip home. It was a good vacation; we certainly enjoyed the cultural aspects of it and the visit with my high school friends. We learned quite a bit about Cleveland that we didn’t know before. When we visited the historical society building yesterday we came to understand that it is critical to say you are from east Cleveland or west Cleveland, not just Cleveland. We learned that there is much ethnic diversity in Cleveland than we thought. We learned that you can’t get there from here when traveling south out of northeast Ohio.

It was an interesting vacation. We will likely be back sometime soon for another visit to our re-found friends. But the next time we will find an easier way to get from there back home :) Tomorrow I will be getting back to my usual posting about life in general…It was nice to be away but it will also be nice to get back; even for that mountain of Spring chores waiting for me…

On The Road Cleveland – Day 7 If It’s Monday It Must Be Wash Day….

AmishSignWe spent the day touring amish country around our friends home. There is a very large population here in northeast Ohio ( I made a terrible mistake originally here in that I said northwest instead of northeast.  Sorry about that).  Almost every house we came to had clothes out on the line and all in typical amish colors. So that made discovering which farms are amish rather easy.  That and seeing no utility lines going into the houses.  It seems that some of the families are “cheating” though; they have solar panels installed on the roofs.

AmishLaundryIt was a good leisurely day. We went to several different stores; some for the amish and some for the tourists. Our hosts bought quite a bit of bulk goods (sugar and that sort of thing) to stock up. We bought a few things to weigh the car down a little more.  If my wife buys much more I will have to rent a U-Haul trailer :)

Tomorrow we will hit the road towards home. We will likely take the State roads instead of the Interstate ones and spend an extra day.

One The Road Cleveland – Day 6 Gallery..

Here we are sitting in our hotel room on Sunday morning waiting for the museum to open at noon. So, I thought I would pull a few more pictures out of the album to show here. We are headed for the Western Reserve Historical Society today to get a more detailed account of local history.  Then it will be off to our friends home for a few days. I’m not sure how technology conscious my friend is so I don’t know if I can get on the internet while we are there. If not, this will be a last post for a couple of days.

I am just going to give you several pictures here we have taken over the last five days. If you want an explanation of any of them leave a comment. :)   Well maybe I do need to explain the first one. It is of a sewer cover!  My wife is from Neenah Wisconsin so whenever we travel we are always looking down as well as up so we notice the Neenah Foundry art. It is surprising how many states we have come across these iron monoliths.

Here we are sitting in our hotel room on Sunday morning waiting for the museum to open at noon. So, I thought I would pull a few more pictures out of the album to show here. We are headed for the Western Reserve Historical Society today to get a more detailed account of local history.  Then it will be off to our friends home for a few days. I’m not sure how technology conscious my friend is so I don’t know if I can get on the internet while we are there. If not, this will be a last post for a couple of days.

I am just going to give you several pictures here we have taken over the last five days. If you want an explanation of any of them leave a comment. :)   Well maybe I do need to explain the first one. It is of a sewer cover!  My wife is from Neenah Wisconsin so whenever we travel we are always looking down as well as up so we notice the Neenah Foundry art. It is surprising how many states we have come across these iron monoliths.

On The Road Cleveland – Day 5 Downtown

Cleveland10Since we have been walking so much the last few days we decided to take it a little easier today. We drove the mile to the center of the city instead of walking. Our fatigue and the fact that it is still in the 30s and 40s here enticed us to take the easy way.  When we got close to the Tower City Center we found a convenient parking garage. I have been reading about a 4th Street complex of restaurants and sites so we decided to head there. It was not as we expected. There were a number of the more well-known local restaurants there but they were all closed until dinner and there was little else in the area. It seemed that almost the entire downtown area was deserted.

Cleveland downtown it seems is pretty much like most of these metropolitan areas in that they are not kept in the most pristine shape. We meandered down to the Tower City Center amongst the tall high-rises and found a shopping mall and a casino there. It was surprising to see a casino right in the very heart of the city.Cleveland11 After eating at a small mexican restaurant we had enough of touring for today and headed back to the hotel for a mid-afternoon nap before heading for the Blue Point Grill for dinner. This is a very upscale seafood restaurant specializing in seafood so of course I had to have a plate of oysters on the half shell.  They were very good. I also had the special for the night which was flounder and it was to die for. Yvonne had seared trout. She gets pretty picky about this dish but this time it was cooked to perfection as it should have been for the price. We don’t eat out in upscale restaurants but once a year or so and this was definitely a good one.
Tomorrow we will do a little more touring and then head for the Ohio/Pennsylvania border for a visit with our friends. As an overall wrap-up,  Cleveland reminds me of Pittsburgh. It is not the cleanest or as tourist friendly as many that we have visited but still worth the visit.  The University Circle area was the most culturally oriented part of town. The Cleveland Clinic, University Hospital and three or four colleges are located there as well as most of the museums.  If we are ever to do this visit again I would likely choose that area as our home base and skip the downtown area.

Cleveland12We thought about going to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame which is less than a mile from the hotel but when we found that the tickets were $25 each we changed our minds. I was never much of a rock and roller, I was more into folk music in my hearing years so the enticement at that level of admission just wasn’t there. :)

On The Road Cleveland – Day 4 Museums

cleveland 7We spent today with some old-time high school friends of mine who are near-Cleveland residents.  We spent the majority of the day at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History but before that we got a thorough driving tour of the Cleveland Clinic.  The scale of the clinic is almost unimaginable.  There were at least twenty huge buildings in the complex. The Cleveland Clinic is thought to be the healthcare of the future in that they do it much more efficiently than most. All their doctors are on salary as opposed to independent practices. Surgeons don’t make money performing more surgeries; they make a salary to find and relieve healthcare problems. The entire complex is very automated and geared toward wellness instead of profits. I do believe that the Cleveland Clinic along with the Mayo Clinic will be how medicine is done when we finally get over our obsession with our current healthcare systems in this country.

cleveland 6The Museum of Natural History was one of the finest ones we have visited. It had a very diverse amount of different things. I seem to be a rock-hound so I spent quite a bit of time in that area and learned several different facts that I had not previously heard. Another part of the museum that fascinated me was the Mayan exhibit.  I did not realize that they had such an elaborate means of recording their history. Their hieroglyphics are very elaborate. I need to study on that some more.  The museum shop didn’t have anything on it so I will hit Amazon as soon as get home. I think I would like to be more studied on it.

One thing I learned both yesterday and today is that this is Spring break for the Cleveland area. I can’t tell you how many shin bumps I have from being hit by baby carriages in the last two days.  Maybe it is a good thing that we are childless as I just don’t seem to have much patience for all the kids running around frantically at these sort of places.

We finished up our tour of the museum with a planetarium show. It was an elaborate demonstration of the mars probe as well as showing us all the constellations in the heavens. I still think it is kind of a stretch how they name some of them. They just don’t look like lions and bears and such to me. But it was a very impressive show.  I remember hiking up to the top of a mountain in Colorado in my much younger days and see all those stars they showed us today but I has been years since I saw a sky so studded with stars.

cleveland 5After the museum it was off to Little Italy for a late lunch at a one-hundred year old establishment and then some cannoli at a bakery of like age.  Both were fantastic.  Tomorrow will sort of be an R&R day for us. We have walked about ten miles in the last few days and need a little rest. The day will probably be spent at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and dinner at a place along the lake. But, of course more on that later…

On The Road Cleveland – Day 3 Zoo

cleveland3We are now situated in our home for the next three days. It is in a DoubleTree Hampton on the 15th floor overlooking Lake Erie. It will be nice not having to pack for the next few days. Nice views from the 15th floor.  We spent the day at the Cleveland Zoo and Rainforest. It was an interesting time. Of course photos are attached here.  The Rainforest was pretty nice; lots of beautiful flowers and such. The Zoo was pretty good but not up to par with our hometown one in Indianapolis.

We will be spending much of the day tomorrow with some high school  friends who are giving us the royal tour of the city. They both graduated from colleges here after attending our alma mater high school in Indiana and have been living here for 30+ years. I have seen them a few time but this will be the most time we have spent together since we were classmates almost fifty years ago.

cleveland5When we left the zoo for the hotel in downtown Cleveland I punched the name of the hotel into my iPad mapping program and it set up a route for me.  Unfortunately it was the wrong location. I didn’t discover it until we were more than ten miles beyond where we needed to be. You gotta keep an eye on these gps programs :)

I am spending the evening trying to come up with a restaurant for our anniversary dinner on Saturday. Since my wife and I have such differing tastes it proves difficult.  We were going to try the Lola which is owned by the famous chef Bobby Simone but the menu wasn’t compatible with my wife’s tastes or our budget and it was already filled for the entire weekend. So I am still on looking for one.

Cleveland 1


Tomorrow we will likely see the Cleveland Clinic along with many sites in the University Circle area. More on that tomorrow.

On The Road Cleveland – Day 2 Youngstown

Youngstown3As noted in yesterday’s post we spent the day at Youngstown. It was everything I expected it to be. The Youngstown Historical Center was of course all about steel. I took about forty pictures of the exhibits and will give you a few of them here.  I didn’t realize that there were actually seven mills running here during their heydays in the 1960’s. They started shutting down after the Japanese started flooding the market with sub-cost steels in the early 1980s and Ronald Reagan didn’t do anything to stop them. As a result they disappeared very quickly along with thousands of good paying middle class jobs.

There is little there now of any of the big buildings. About all that is left is the soot they produced. Youngstown is a dirty town similar to Pittsburgh but there are signs of life with new business. But never enough to keep the blighted neighborhoods in the background.

Youngstown1When we are in areas like this we try to visit the local food establishments. I got on Yelp and found a few good ones but of the three I had chosen all were closed. One appeared to be open on weekends only. We finally did find a really nice italian delicatessen.  The help there was very patient we my wife and her picky diet.

There is another thing that surprised me about the Cleveland area and that is just how diversified it is. There are many different ethnic restaurants and such around. But when I got to studying the exhibits in the historical center I remembered that many people throughout Europe and Russia immigrated to work in the mills.

After the historic center we had enough time to also visit the Butler Institute of American Art. It was a first-class place and totally dedicated to American artists. Homer Winslow was one of the most celebrated ones there.  Of course no photos in the museum so no pictures to show of that.

Youngstown2The temperatures continue to be in the 30s today but they say it will be in the 50s tomorrow. I certainly hope so as we plan to visit the Cleveland Zoo and particularly the rainforest area. It is supposed to be world-class.  More on that tomorrow.

On The Road, Cleveland — Day 1

Yes, we decided to visit the Cleveland Ohio area for our April vacation this year.  As expected we spent most of the day in the car. I don’t know why even after 27 years this Friday of being married I haven’t learned to lie about the time I want to leave.  I told Yvonne we need to be on the road at 9:00am so of course as usually it was about 9:30am before we left.  Why didn’t I say 8:30?

We took almost all interstate roads to get here to Macedonia Ohio. After seven hours on the road the most significant thing I can say  about our trip is that almost all the roads we took were in serious need of repair; there were bumps and potholes everywhere. I heard we are about number 18 in the world and rapidly dropping in maintaining our infrastructure and I can believe that after today. If we don’t spend some taxes on them soon they will be gravel roads again like they were 100+ years ago.

Tomorrow we will be visiting a historical center in Youngstown Ohio.  For those kids out there Youngstown was famous for its steel mills in the 1960s. About the only thing still there are the skeletons and history places.  I have never visited this area of Ohio before so I didn’t see it in its glory but I do remember hearing about the Cuyhoga River catching on fire in the last 60s.  That proved to be the turning point for our finally seriously attacking air and water pollution in this country. We will be going over that river tomorrow. I’m sure it will looking nothing like what it did back then.  I wonder what similar event will finally trigger our seriousness toward global warming?

I can’t believe the difference between today and a year ago when we were on the road. Last year it was in the 70s and 80s and farmers were out in groves plowing and disking.  Today in never got out of the 30s.

We will spend a couple of days around the outskirts of the city and then move into our fancy hotel in the downtown area for our anniversary weekend. I hear the Cleveland Zoo has a rather elaborate rainforest area. We are hoping to see that maybe on Thursday.   More on that in tomorrow’s post.

On The Road Again….

Banner - Aside 2

on the roadStarting tomorrow we will finally be on the road again. These last six months seemed longer than most. Cabin fever was really getting me down.  I know several of you really enjoy my “On the road reports”. I thought about not doing them this time and instead taking a hiatus from blogging but I realized that I really do enjoy writing the reports. They allow me to sit back and think about how my day was and to record things in a “Travels with Charley” format similar to what John Steinbeck did about fifty years ago.

So my daily posts will be coming out at the end of the day instead of the beginning as it usually does. In one way I am taking a step back from blogging in that I won’t even attempt to do any aside posts in the afternoons as I have in the past.

See you tomorrow evening with the first report of a week-long trip.  I will leave it a mystery as to where we are headed this trip for the first post tomorrow. I don’t think anyone could guess where we are going.  Since these “on the road” reports are pretty much posted as they are written I hope you will excuse me in advance for the typos and such.

Junk Food Tolerance…

It seems as I am getting older my tolerance for junk food is rapidly decreasing. There is a show on cable TV entitled Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives where Guy Fieri goes around the country reviewing restaurants as indicated in the title. Many of them are famous for some pretty outrageous food. Some stack pancakes a foot high and smother them with mucho butter between each layer followed by a pint of syrup and lined high with  pounds of sausages, bacon, and such around the edges.

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On-The-Road Day 11 — Calling It Quits….

Here we are ending day eleven of our trip heading home. The were a few sites I had picked for visits today but my wife just isn’t feeling up to it. She has really not done well this entire trip.  Maybe the elevation along with all her many usual ailments was too much for her. So we called it quits this morning. Maybe a future trip back to Denver to see some of the sites but that is not likely.

Since all we will be doing from here out is interstate driving I will end our 0n-the-road reports here with a story about our breakfast at Denny’s last Saturday morning. As we were leaving Mesa Verde on our way to Canyonlands Utah we stopped for breakfast at Denny’s in Cortez (there were no local places to try) for breakfast.  While we were there a number of men came in separately who most of the staff evidently knew. They were given a number of hugs and “How you doing honey” (at least that is what I could lipread). All of these about half-dozen men had several things in common.

They all had facial hair, one was like Wild Bill Cody (handle bar mustache and goatee). Others were adorned with more hair. All but one had his beard appropriately trimmed.   The only untrimmed one looked like the mountain man played by Will Geer in the movie Jeremiah Johnsonwho always called the star “pilgrim”.  I have watched that movie so many times I can quote most of the lines.  I think I am getting a little off story here so let me back up.

All of these gentlemen had big metal belt buckles, and I mean big!  I postulated that they wanted to make sure their pants wouldn’t fall down. I don’t know why they must have been worried?  The other thing was that they all had their heads covered with a cowboy hat. They never took their hats off the entire time they were there. I would almost be willing to bet that the hat was the first thing on in the morning and the last thing off at night; that is if they even took it off then! But I can’t see wearing a hat to bed??

I guess these guys are what is known as Colorado cowboys. At least they all tried to look the part. We left before they did so I didn’t see if they rode in on trucks or horses. But I didn’t see any horses so I assume they all had heavy-duty pickups with dust and dents all over them. It would just be so disappointing if they didn’t.  I will always remember our time in Colorado….

On-The-Road Day 10 Canyonlands National Park

When we left Mesa Verde yesterday we headed northwest into Utah to visit Canyonlands National Park.  Canyonland is a very different place but also much like the Grand Canyon in its majesty. Here are some pictures:

Have to have one last picture of Mesa Verde that I took just the evening before we left. It is a sun drenched view of the Cliff Palace. I will dream of that place in the days and years ahead.

Here are a couple from the Canyonlands:

Today we head north to catch I70 east to Denver. We will be visiting a new museum of Colorado history there and then who know what.  The rest of this vacation is a freestyle one :)

On-The-Road Day 8 –Thoughts about Mesa Verde

Today is a somewhat leisurely day for us. It is our last day at Mesa Verde so I thought I would give you an evaluation of our time here.   This has been one of my favorite vacations for quite a while. Five days in one spot is a record for me. We are usually in the  different-hotel-a-day mode.

Being without a TV for all this time has proved to be a boon. It is amazing how creative I have been while I have been here. Without the TV zombie things come to me frequently and if I hurry and write them down they become future posts, things to do, or journal entries. They have come quite frequently while sitting out on the deck and enjoying the view. I think I have ideas for about a month’s worth of posts!

Getting on to Mesa Verde itself. Since we spent one day here about three years ago I had a good idea of what to expect. About two months before our trip I got on to the Mesa Verde website and reserved a Kiva Room for the week. The Kiva Rooms are newly remodeled rooms in a Southwestern theme. While the Lodge itself is somewhat new, the buildings that make up the sleeping rooms are probably 50 or 60 years old and from the outside they are showing their age and are in need of replacement. But the inside of our upscale room is very nice and the view is fantastic. We have a small deck of about three feet by 12 feet and we have spent quite a few hours out on it

The weather here has been good. It is in the upper 80s during the day and down into the low 50s during the night. With the wind which seems to blow here all the time and the low humidity it is actually quite comfortable to me. It has rained a few nights but been mostly clear skies during the day.

The park itself is fantastic. There are about a dozen major dwellings that are visitable if you have the stamina. We managed to get through two of the less strenuous ones before Yvonne’s energy gave out. The others are viewable from lookout platforms at usually less than a thousand feet away. There are also many other sites along the roads for the smaller dwellings. I think we saw at least thirty or so of those during our time here.

One of the things that I experienced the last time but to a much greater degree is the magic of the sites. It is inspiring to be able to walk on the same stones that our ancestors walked up to 1500 years ago. If it is quiet, for me it is alway quiet, and without many other people around it is almost as if I can sense their presence. I had that feeling several times during this week. It is a very welcomed feeling that I have only had a few other times in my life.

The low point of our stay here is the Far View Terrace. It is the main eating place for the park. We had several meals there. The quality of the food left a lot to be desired. I had a piece of pizza there one night for dinner that I am sure was at least 8 hours old and maybe even from the day before! It was hardly edible. While there were a few exceptions most of the other items proved to have been cooked hours before they were served. Luckily we had brought a pretty good supply of  lunchmeat and such with us so we ate most of our lunches and a couple of dinners from that stock.

What the Terrace lacked in quality was more than made up by the Metate Room which is an upscale restaurant in the lodge. The chef there has won several national awards and the food is simply fantastic. But it does come at a pretty high cost. We ate there last night and the tab came to about $90. We could have spent less without the wine and dessert but choose to  go all the way  at least once while we are here :)

Tomorrow morning we will be leaving Mesa Verde for the rest of our trip. I hope it is at least half as enjoyable as it has been so far.  I will remember our time here for the rest of my life.

On-The_Road Day 7 –Working 9 til 5…

For the last hundred years or more the average person went to work for a given number of hours and then went home to his family. He was paid for his efforts and used that money to provide food and shelter. The number of hours demanded for a day’s work has varied over the years but the idea of working for someone else has remained a constant. We tend to think that this is a normal kind of thing. But for many in history that was really not the case.

The ancient ruins here at Mesa Verde got me to thinking about this. Native Americans for the most part don’t buy into the 9 til 5 mentality now nor have they ever. At first, 500AD, the native Americans around here were hunter/gatherers. They have unearthed numbers pit houses where they lived. They later, 1200AD, became cliff dwellers and usual grew crops above their homes. How they managed to live in such arid conditions is still beyond me. There are no major sources of water in the area so even gathering water had to have been a chore for them. It is reported they they dammed up gullies to gather the water from the melting snow and also got some water through cracks in the sandstone walls.  About 1300AD they simply left and went south. A severe drought is postulated as being the cause.

We will be eating dinner tonight at the Metate Room here at the lodge. It has a world famous chef with world famous prices so we reserved only one night for enjoying the cuisine there. Tomorrow will be our last day here and then it is on to Monument Valley in Utah and then back to Denver. From there who knows? I will give you a synopsis post about our stay here at Mesa Verde.  Most of it has been good, maybe even great, but there is room for improvements that I will also mention.

Here are the pictures for today:

Here is a picture of the Cliff Palace. It is probably the best known one here. I plan on going back there during the late afternoon hour to get some more pictures when the sun is giving its best performance.

Here is a picture of me and my new Chevy Sonic. She has been doing very well for us on this trip. Even though she is a sub-compact she still has more than enough room for even my wife’s things. Of course we brought twice as much as we actually needed :)


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