Message from Peter Toth:

"St Stephan, King of Hungary: June 2008, I finished statue #73. This is a very important statue to me, as it is my first one on the European Continent. St Stephan was the first King of Hungary, around 1000 AD, and he introduced Christianity to the country. If not for him, there would be no Hungary today." It is located about 20 miles from Budapest, in the town of Delegyhaza. It is in a Park dedicated to King Stephan, adjacent to the Post Office."

At this time in my life, I have completed my tributes to the indigenous people of North America, specifically the Native Americans. It is now my calling to provide memorials to the indigenous people of the World. Presently I am engaged in creating replacement statues in various States as well as reconditioning others. However, the World will still remain in my plans for the future.



















































On one trip to Alaska with a group, we had the chance to take a raft trip down the Eagle River. There were about 30 people in the group, about half were women. We were transported to a launching point, and then got into rubber rafts. We had about 6 rafts, and departed one after the other. The river had some fast water sections, and recent flooding left sharp tree branches protruding into the river. One of the rafts, that women were in, hit one of the pointed sticks and the air went out of the front section.

It dumped about three or four of the women up to their hips in the icy river. Once you embark on the river, there is no way to get out until the end of the raft trip, at a location by a road.

They decided to stay out and walk about a mile and a half to the highway. All the rafts were full, so they could not split the people up. We were going to finish the trip and then bring the bus back for them. When we arrived at the end of the trip, there was considerable concern, and an immediate departure of the bus.
After the bus had been gone an hour, it returned empty. There was a road on both sides of the river and the driver picked the wrong road!

We went back with our bus and after a half an hour we found them freezing beside the road, waiting. The temperature was getting close to 30 degrees by that time. It turned out that where they came out on the road, there were some houses. One homeowner took them in and dried their clothes in a dryer and kept them warm. They left the house so they could be spotted beside the road.

We arrived at the hotel at 11:00 PM, and no supper, only room service.
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As we wound our way through Japan, on a Circle Pacific tour, we stayed at Kyoto. This happened to be the home of Saki, the tour escort. Being alone on the tour, he invited me to go with him to a Japanese bathhouse. Having never experienced this, I agreed to go. This was his regular place to go all the time. It was upstairs and the bathrooms were all along a hallway. There was a window in each door and the manager checked periodically to see if there was any hanky-panky going on.

I was shown a room, which had a Japanese girl as the attendant. I was really embarrassed, and she was so blasé about me taking off all my clothes. There was a large tub in the corner and I headed for that to take my bath, right! No, she pointed to a stool in the middle of the floor and motioned me to sit on it.

She produced a brush and washcloth and soap and proceeded to give me the bath of a lifetime! She started with my hair and washed everything on the way down, and I mean everything! She then poured water over my head to wash off the soap, and motioned me to the tub. The tub was 2000 degrees hot and was always flowing over the side. When she got it regulated with cold water down to 1000 degrees, I got in. After soaking in the hot water, I followed her signs and laid down on the couch for a great massage. It was a very wonderful experience, and only cost about twelve dollars!
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In November of 1982 I decided to see China. At the time, there had been only 350,000 visitors there in the previous 3 years, since they opened the country to tourists. We were a source of amazement to the locals, especially our blond haired people. At every stop they crowded around to touch and see you. The tour company was celebrating their 3rd year operation in China, and they pulled out all the stops!

In Beijing, we stayed at the Chinese Government houses. This is where President Nixon stayed when he went to China. The houses reminded me of Southern Georgia mansions, only they were built of granite and marble. Each two-story building had 4 apartments, and a servant. The apartment bedroom and bath was at least 1,000 square feet. The ceilings were 15 or so feet high, the floors were marble with Chinese rugs scattered about. The study and library were fit for a king! We dined in a great room filled with Chinese dignitaries, wonderful food and lots of what they called “White Lightning”. The hosts kept toasting everything they could think of, followed by a bottoms up shot of the stuff.

We went onward to the excavation of the Terra Cotta warriors, where they had hundreds of them exposed to view. Visiting a collective farm and a workers home, provided us with a glimpse of the extreme poverty of the peasants. A look into their closet area showed that other than the clothes on their back, they owned nothing! On to the Great Wall of China, the only human built structure to be seen with the naked eye from space! A walk on the wall is not only refreshing but also downright tiring, especially if one walks the ¼ to ½ mile to the end of the restored portion. We traveled to see the Giant that had been unearthed, and then on to Shanghai, after a week cruise on the Yangtze River.

Things are quite different today, as there are some forms of free enterprise when selling to tourists, or raising and selling food items among themselves.
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Malcolm Forbes, in an attempt to spend his money, purchased an island for himself and called it Lucala. It was an operating coconut plantation, which he continued to operate so all the natives would still have their jobs.

He built an airstrip for his use, and built a big house on the highest point on the island. For his friends, he built about 8 cottages, stocked them with booze and frozen items such as ice cream, candy bars, and of course food. A maid was available to cook, a six wheeled all terrain vehicle was at each cabin, and all water sports such as diving and deep-sea fishing were available to all.

After a few years, he tired of his toy, and wanted to make it available to the public. We were the first group of travelers to go to the island. To get there we flew from Nandi, Fiji on Forbes’ plane. After we were ensconced in our house, we discovered the ice cream and candy. Having not had any sweets for two weeks we “made hay while the sun shined”.

Among the various activities, while there, we had a formal dinner up in Mr. Forbes’ house. It was kept in readiness for Malcolm to arrive at any time. It was a beautiful tropical home and he had a collection of fine model ships. They were very detailed and built to scale.

Taking advantage of the water sports available, I went scuba diving, with all the furnished equipment. This was the first time I saw a giant clam. The type you could put your foot into.

All in all, it was an experience that cannot be repeated.
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One year I took a trip to Micronesia. We were staying at a hotel on the Island of Ponapei. The diving was supposed to be excellent, so I signed up to dive.

At the appointed time I gathered my gear and took position on the dock to wait for the boat. A dozen Japanese divers got on a boat that was their own charter. They were all decked out in every fluorescent color wet suit and backpack one could imagine. Still no boat!

Finally a boat pulled in and I asked the man on board if this was the boat I was to be on. ”You were supposed to go diving?” he exclaimed. “Yes”, I said. And he told me that the company had probably missed or forgot me. “Jump in the boat and we will find them.”

After cruising amongst many small islands we came upon a dive boat. It was the one that was supposed to have picked me up. A conversation ensued and it was determined that they were finished diving. I could not do it tomorrow because we were leaving.

The man said, ” not to worry.” We sped to another island. It turns out that the King owns this island, and they were having a family celebration, and this man was part of the family. The Kings’ son, who was out there too, also owned the dive operation.

The son felt so bad about me being missed, he invited me to eat with his family and then we would go diving. There must have been a hundred people, and there was a picnic smorgasbord that wouldn’t quit. I met the King and conversed with a lot of the family.

The son, who owned the dive shop, took us out to a neat dive spot, and we dove. On the way back, we were in a channel of some sort when someone spotted an eagle ray or a large manta ray coming up behind us. They all jumped in the water to see it. I decided that I would too, and there it was, gliding right over me like one of the star fighters in a space movie. It was an unforgettable experience.
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The distances involved in touring China, require that you must fly to the tourist attractions. In the United States, this would be of no concern. There were several flights I took that would arch the brows of the FAA.

One flight was taken aboard an old Russian TU104, or something like that! It was a high winged twin-engine relic. The crude seats were not the original seats, but looked something like kitchen chairs. There were absolutely no seat belts! The flight as usual did not exceed 1 or 2 thousand feet above the ground.

After we were airborne, The Chinese stewardess began to prepare snacks. They turned on a gas burner and were boiling water for tea! When the water was hot, they poured it into two aluminum tea kettles, and carried them with potholders, down the aisle filling the teacups.

The other plane was a little bigger and a little more modern. The flight however, was overbooked. In order to transport the whole group of us on one flight, they seated four of us in the baggage area just behind the cockpit. Half the width of the plane was floor to ceiling with baggage. A table that looked very much like a picnic table occupied the other half, and we sat on benches without seat belts.

The crowning blow was that the ceiling vent was open and the pilot’s windows were open, so a frigid draft of air blasted over us. We finally reached the flight attendant who brought us several blankets to wrap up in! The pilot admonished us to watch out for shifting baggage when he maneuvered the plane. He said to hold back any shifting bags with our hands! As usual, the flight altitude was close to the ground. Most Chinese airports were military and as such were stark and bare. There was absolutely no equipment to assist or service the plane, visible at the terminal.

Getting off the plane, one time on the apron, we had to walk about 150 yards to the terminal door. We were a line of people from the plane to the door, when a four-engine plane taxied right through our path. There were no airport personnel to direct us or stop us from being run over by that plane. They just didn’t care!
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After flying to Panama City to do a Panama Canal cruise, we were housed in the Sheraton Hotel until a boat could be found to take our luggage and us to the ship. The ship was the Golden Odyssey (RCL). It was in a line up of ships, waiting their turn to go through the canal. There was unrest in the Canal Zone, at that time, and the hotel was under the guard of Panamanian soldiers with guns.

At about 10:00, without supper, we were loaded on a bus and taken to a pier. There we saw our boat, and what a boat! It was a small fishing type boat with a flying bridge. There was hardly enough room for the baggage, let alone 22 people! The authorities were shuffling us, so we had not much choice.

The ride out was uneventful, however when we saw the ship, riding the high seas, it was dark. We circled the ship and flashed the spotlight on it. I presume that the boat had radio contact with the ship.

Finally a hatch swung open and a rope ladder and cargo net was hung over the side. Now comes the good part. The small boat was down too low to have a deck to hatchway access. There were about 18 women on the boat, some in high heels and dresses, with purses and bags. The seas turned out to be about 6-7 ft. waves, racing past the side of the ship. The boat captain went along side the ship, and when the swells reached their full height, the sailors could reach the arms and clothes of one person at a time.

To launch ones self from the boat, you had to step off the deck, up on to a 16 in gunwale, and stand right at the edge, risking a fall into the black water, or being caught in the pinch point of the two vessels sides. There were two crew members to steady you, and to tell you when to step up on the net. I could not believe that all of the women made it without slipping between, or falling. When those sailors got a hold of you, it was life or death.

When it came to the baggage, it was thrown up to the hatch and caught by the ships crew.
To add insult to injury, we got nothing to eat but room service sandwiches when we got on the ship!
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It was on a small ship, the Columbus Caravelle, that we arrived at Cape Horn. We had traversed the Straits of Magellan, coming from Punta Arenas, Chile, and were heading to Antarctica past Cape Horn.

The ride from the ship to the Cape was by Zodiac boats, and the trip to the top of the Cape was by crude stairway. Supplies for the station at least had near vertical iron tracks to be hoisted on. The trip to the lighthouse was by a wooden trail made of pallets. It was several blocks long. The Chileans maintained a weather station at the Cape along with the military presence, and one very happy to see us, dog. The trail to the lighthouse presented the usual ocean scene, until you had the realization that you were looking at the convergence of the two greatest oceans in the world. One being the Atlantic, and another being the Pacific. At some point to the south, the Antarctic Ocean merges. This is the only place in the world one can see this.

As you head down toward Antarctica, by the Drake Crossing, the Captain showed us a phenomenon. Where the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans merge with the Antarctic Ocean, there is a temperature differential and for short distance there is a fog bank that you sail through. It was just as he said. It was an open bridge and I checked the temperature every day, and there was a definite change when we crossed this location.
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We were on a cruise ship, in the Mediterranean, when the United States bombed Libya. The news came to the ship when we were about 350 miles from the “line of death” that Oammar Gadhafi had drawn. Needless to say, a thousand passengers on the ship were scared!

Moving forward, the State Department issued a warning about traveling in Muslim countries, of which Bali is one. Our group had been booked to Bali and Jakarta for a while, so we went anyway.

It was dramatically evident that the ban was effective. The hotel that we stayed in was a large one and it had only 16 rooms rented. There were no tourists to be seen. It was like having your own private country.

Touring the backcountry, with all the multilevel rice paddies that have been cultivated for centuries, was a lush green jungle experience. They were harvesting the rice at that time and we got first hand demonstrations of their processing methods.

It became evident that we were not seeing any bird life. Normally you would see a bird or two, flit across your field of vision, or hear a song or two, but nothing, not a cheep!
We found out later that the Balinese love their birds and their songs. So much so, that they trap them and have them in cages all around their homes! This has horribly decimated the bird population. I asked a person from Bali, years later, if they still did this, and he said “yes.”

I would imagine that their ecology chain would suffer without the birds free to do their thing.

We also had a Grand Buffet catered at a brand new Hotel that had just opened, and we were the only people there! It was held in a special villa in the hotel reserved only for the King. He graciously let us use it.
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I had been scuba diving for years at the island of Grand Cayman, in the Caribbean. During that time I had heard of Shark City, off the north point of the island, where you see sharks feeding in frenzy. I elected not to go for reasons obvious only to me.

There was also a place talked about as Stingray City, over in the Sound.

One time on a cruise, at a later date, they had a tour to Stingray City. So we went. After a boat crossing of the sound, we arrived at a sandbar about 3-4 feet deep. There were other boats there with the people in the water.

We anchored, and dozens of stingrays of all sizes swam over to our area with dispatch. Everyone donned masks and snorkels and entered the water. Amid screams of the timid, the rays swam around and between legs and people. The boatman had squid to hand feed them.

They would nuzzle up to you like a cat. When you fed them, their mouth was on the underside, it was like a vacuum cleaner. They have no teeth and they just slurp it up. The underbelly of the ray was like velvet material. Their topside was rough, and you had to keep your hands off their tail stinger. The size ranged from dinner plate size, up to 3 or more feet across.

They have been fed by fishermen for so long, that they are tame and have probably never used their weapons. For about 30-40 minutes we frolicked among the stingrays, then the fickle critters went to a new boat arrival, to eat some more good stuff.
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After our first taste of travel to Europe, we contracted the travel bug. We had to venture out again and because we lived in southern California, we chose Mexico. Mexico, with all its beautiful pyramids and Aztec history, and lovely people!

We first off, tried to reserve the train at Calexico, CA/Mex. The train had no first class left. This should have told us something.
Second class was not so bad until we learned that we must change trains at Benjamin Hill. This was in the middle of the desert, and everybody waited along the tracks with their boxes and rag bundles and chickens. Some people were even moving their households!

Here comes the train! First come, first push. With no reservations, we went from car to car, which were all full of passengers from Nogales. In fact, it was spring break, and most of the train was full of partying college students!

We finally found a car with two seats, but the reason was, there was no air conditioning, and the windows would not open! We learned that the trains and cars were from the New York Central Railway and retired years ago. They left their repair and maintenance manuals behind! This car was so old that the air conditioning was a compartment where they would have block ice, and the air would flow over it. No ice, no air!

As we proceeded south through the humid countryside, it became apparent that we had made a mistake in judgment. It became an oven in there. We have never been as miserable before. This trip was a disaster. Night came and there was endless partying, smoking weed, and raucous behavior all night. We were exhausted from lack of sleep.

Walking back through the train I found ice-cold air-conditioned cars that were empty! A conductor was working in his office and he said I would have to upgrade at the next little stop. I followed him to the station when we stopped and was told that I would have to do it on the train with the conductor!
Returning to the conductor I was told that it was not possible. Since then, I have learned that a $20 bill makes anything possible!

Being stupid in the ways of the world, we spent the rest of the day in misery. The students got off at Mazatlan, and the trip calmed down.

Mexican families were actually cooking tacos, on burners on the floor! Every hour or so, a porter came through sweeping mountains of trash, which was thrown out the vestibule window.

Arriving at Guadalajara in the evening, we decided to mortgage our house for a Pullman car sleeper. We had to change trains and had a limited amount of time. It was a large station with tunnels to connect the tracks and the station. Leaving Bonnie to watch our stuff, I went on a frustrating task of changing our class. Returning to the train car I left, it was gone! The time to depart was approaching. I finally asked, and was told where to find the train, and just made it without a stroke or heart attack!

When night called for the Pullman beds to be made up, it was suddenly realized that I had bought a bed for one person, an upper bunk! We were so tired by this time; we went to sleep in it and did not wake up until Mexico City. Needless to say the first stop was at Western Airlines to book a return flight home.
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A little background for this story. I was asked to join a tour of Peru, by a friend of mine. I made all the arrangements, and when we met, I found out that besides a man and his wife, that I was the only man among 13 divorced women on the trip! But that is another story!

This was a church group, and the church was, The Church of Truth. Among other things, they were into meditation, reincarnation, mind power and spoon bending!

We left Lima by train for the jaunt to Machu Pichu. We hugged the valleys and rivers along the way. We were to stay at the new hotel on the hill at Machu Pichu. Halfway there we had an unscheduled stop because of another derailed engine on our track.

It was a miracle of engineering to see those people attack that task, with bars and logs and fulcrums, and actually move the engine back onto the tracks!

Arriving at the base of the mountain, we transferred to buses for the trip up the switchback road to the top. The ruins were spectacular, both by day and by moonlight.

Prior to here, we decided that we would have a group spoon bending session, as I had never seen it before. I was to be included in the benders group. We found a large enough room ruin for all of us, and began the mantra, “Bend—Bend”! This, along with pure concentration, I think, causes a self-hypnosis, which masks any manipulation of the spoon. (I think you may manually bend it and not know or remember it).

All I know is that at one point, I looked around and there must have been 40 tourists, from all over the world, peeking in the room through windows and doors! They evidently had heard the group, groans and all. I was afraid to face them later for fear they would think I was crazy!
The new hotel was nice, and the next morning was time to go back on the train. As we boarded the busses, a few 10 or 12-year-old native boys made sure they were known to us. As we descended the switchbacks, they appeared ahead of the bus, beating us by running down the steep hill between the roads. The difference in elevation was about 4-5 thousand feet, and yet they were at the train station before we arrived. (Needless to say, with their hands out.) We resumed our memorable trip.
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Some unusual sightings of animals come at unexpected times. Once in Seattle, we went on a boat to an island where the Indians have a popular Salmon Bake for tourists as well as locals. The ferryboat that was taking us to the island passed a pod of Orca whales in the harbor. The Captain announced that he had been crossing the sound for 17 years and he had never seen killer whales (or Orcas) in the sound. We all agreed to let him follow them, and they put on a spectacular show alongside the boat. We were about a half-hour late for dinner, but it was still good.

In Africa, we stayed at a place called The Ark. This was a hotel, wild animal viewing sanctuary. In the basement area, there were viewing ports to enable one to view the animals at very close range at the watering hole. They have an alarm system in the rooms so they can notify you of unusual occurrences. One night the alarm rang at 2:00AM and we went out to see a rare Kudu at the water hole. It was quite a treat!

In Hyder, Alaska, we had the opportunity to go to a viewing platform next to a stream where the salmon were running and spawning. We were able to watch 3 grizzlies fishing for, and eating the salmon. They had to leap about in the water to pounce upon them. As a finale, there was a Bald Eagle in a tree about 35 feet from us. It stretched its gigantic wings, and we prepared our cameras for a spectacular take-off. Instead it spun around and delivered about a ton of eagle poop!

Off of Gurerro Negro, Mexico, is the breeding and calving grounds of the Gray Whale. Scammons Lagoon is the place to see your fill of whales. We embarked on a whale watching boat, (if you call an 18-ft. aluminum vee hull a boat!). We only had ten people in the boat! It was an outboard motor driven craft, and we traveled quite a ways to the whales. When we arrived and cruised about, we were treated to spectacular sightings of whales along side of our boat. You could almost touch them.
The whales are huge, and create unforgettable memories.

In Capetown, South Africa there is a high viewpoint on a place called Table Mountain. The view is stupendous, but there were hundreds of beaver sized animals living around the viewpoint. It turned out that these animals were Hyraxes. I had never heard of or seen one.
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On the Equator, west of Ecuador, are group of islands called the Galapagos Islands. Charles Darwin used the information he gathered here to develop his Origin of the Species. Different animals live on different islands, almost untouched by humans, except for a government-controlled number of about 90 people per day.

This particular island, the good ship Buccaneer anchored, and we went ashore. We went to a small cove where sea lions frequent, and, with mask, snorkel and fins, jumped into the water with them. There were about 10-15 sea lions and they were unafraid, and were curious about us. We would dive underwater, and they would play with us. They would speed towards us, and at the last possible moment, swoop away! They raced around and around us like a racetrack. It would be hard to forget this experience.

None of the islands have good docks, so most of the landings were from a small boat and were called wet landings. It was a gamble when you went over the side, if you were in a foot of water or stepped into four feet. The residents of the islands had absolutely no fear of humans. If a Blue Footed Booby had a nest on the trail we were on, we had to step around it.

There were areas that were 150 feet above the ocean where the sea lions actually climbed up the cliff, going from rock to rock.

Other islands were breeding grounds for bird species, such as the Frigate bird.

Like the passing of an old friend, I learned years later that the Buccaneer burned and sank, carrying memories with her.
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High in the Andes mountain range where Bolivia and Peru share Lake Titicaca at 14,000 ft, there is a tribe of gentle, shy people, who are the Uros Indians, and who will turn away when anyone wants to take a picture of them. They are afraid you are taking their soul away.

These people live on the lake, that’s right, on the lake! The lakeshore is flush with reeds that are dry above the water. In addition to crafting beautiful canoes and other watercraft, they build their own islands!

They start by intertwining reeds into a raft, and then keep on adding to the raft to extend its size. As the reeds become waterlogged, they add more to the top. Eventually the island will ground out on the lake bottom, and stay put.

Others that are farther out still float and are roped together, and accessed by their boats. They erect their tent structures on the reed island and they have chickens and dogs running around everywhere. They even raise pigs, but the pigs have an island of their own!

The people do a lot of fishing in the lake, which incidentally is the highest lake in the world to have a full size freighter operating on it. They carried the ship in pieces up from the lowlands! The ship serves La Paz, Bolivia among others.

I walked on the islands and they felt squishy, but dry. They even had wood fires on the island that were insulated from the reeds. Most of the people seldom set foot on dry land. 14,000 feet was close to being the highest point on the trip.
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Returning to the US from England one time, we were so tired we did not want to lug the carry on bags around, so we decided to check them. Receiving our boarding passes, we eventually started through Immigration and Customs, when we suddenly realized that our passports were in the carry on bags. It was the beginning of a four-day holiday, and the US Embassy was closed. We would have to stay in England longer.

We checked with the ticket counter, and the consensus was that too much time had elapsed and the baggage was stowed already. One agent went to her supervisor and got us cleared to go below where the baggage operation was. It was the most fascinating tour through all of the luggage destined for all those different aircraft.

We reached the TWA section and the luggage was in the containers already. She talked to one of the baggage handlers, and he asked what kind of a bag it was. I also told him that I checked a clothes bag and described the color. He walked right to a container and opened it and pointed to it. He said “do you see your bag around here?” Sure enough, it was a few bags away! They watched us extract our passports from the bag and then put the bag away and we triumphantly left the baggage area, away from all its conveyors and carts and wagons.

We proceeded to Immigration with dispatch, and heaved a sigh of relief. As knowledgeable travelers, we wondered if it might be too late to travel!
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Leaving Antarctica on the Columbus Caravelle, I was heading back to South America. The weather had been getting rougher all the previous day. This was Thanksgiving Day, and we were in for it. The ship Captain had shown us charts that had a cluster of 5 hurricanes directly in our path.

He didn’t have many options. He was racing to an extinct volcano crater, called Deception Island. When we finally got there, the entrance to the inside crater was through a small cut in the rim.

Soon the wind and the waves showed their stuff. Outside the volcano the waves were 60 ft high and the winds exceeded 120 mph. Inside, where we were anchored, the winds were 60mph and we had 20-ft waves. The caldera was 8 miles across and the wind was only diminished by about half. We ate Thanksgiving dinner in the storm, quite unlike the rest of the world.

All night the anchor, which was on the smooth rock floor of the caldera, kept slipping and sliding, which required the ship to start up and regain position again and again. All in all it was a very eventful two days. Awakening in the morning, we found a calm basin and subdued seas outside.
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We were on a trip in St. Petersburg, Russia. The Berlin wall had fallen and there were signs of some free enterprise about. The streets were busy and we decided to catch a streetcar going towards the Hermitage. Not familiar with Russian streetcars, we hopped on board and thought someone was going to sell us a ticket.

After a bit, there was this large over coated man who had been watching me. The car was crowded and we were standing up. He turned and asked for my ticket in sign language and broken English. He pointed to a device on the wall that people were putting paper in and pulling a handle to punch it. He then pointed to what seemed to be instructions, printed in Russian. I told him we had no ticket, and then he showed some kind of ID and said to follow him.

I realized that we had broken some kind of law, like not buying a ticket, wherever you bought them. It turned out that they were sold in kiosks at the stops. The man told me we had to pay a fine. I figured $35-$50 would be it! When we bought the tickets for two people, they had to be in strips of 10 tickets each. I gritted my teeth and braced for payment, which was in rubles.

With the penalty included, both tickets cost 35 cents US. The basic tickets were 12 cents US! Once he saw us buy the tickets, the policeman went away. You can be sure that the tickets were personally punched on the honor system punch.
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In October of 1995, I took a jaunt to India. After seeing all the obligatory tourist things, we flew to Katmandu, Nepal. At the end of our stay, it became apparent that the clouds were going away and the Himalayas could be seen in all their splendor. It was a time to see Mount Everest, not climb it.

Arriving at the airport, it soon came to me that the plane we were going on was an old Convair 240. These were manufactured in the 40’s and we quit flying them years ago. Setting in my assigned seat, with my video, I noticed all the plastic windows were not too clear. I also noticed that the plane was so old that the trim around the windows was made out of wood!

We survived the take off and soon were flying along the Himalayas. They were gorgeous, sharp as tacks, and towering above us.

Mount Everest soon came into view, and at that time I asked permission to go to the cockpit. The Captain let me stay in the cockpit and shoot video out of his window, to get pictures of the mountain in all its glory. His window was perfectly clear. It was an exhilarating experience that I will never forget.
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One day many years ago, I was on a circle Pacific tour. When we finished the land portion, the next event was a cruise up the Yangtze River. The route through the Gorges was spectacular. The shoreline showed evidence of extremely high floods and the houses were built high up on the hill so as not to be washed away.

China had only been opened to tourists for 3 years, the trip up the Yangtze by boat was fairly new. The boat stopped at a place called White King City. This city was a place that Americans had never been before. In fact, many of the people had never seen a white person and we were the subject of much curiosity. Talking with the tour guide, one day, about how we refer to Orientals as having “slant eyes” He told me that they cataloged us, as “big noses”.

It was a tall mountain and up on the top was a religious shrine. The access to the top was by 1,000 stairs. At the young age that I was, I commenced to walk the stairway to the top.

I had no idea how many steps made up a thousand steps. The trail around the rock was steep, and into the interior of the mountain were carved out homes, stores, food places, snack bars, etc. There were projects at the top that required concrete. Chinese workers carried the sand and gravel and cement with a yoke across their back with two buckets suspended from the yoke. They literally ran up the thousand stairs like they weren’t there. It was amazing! After seeing some of the same workers twice, I finally reached the top, and what a magnificent view it was. Up and down the river you could see a long way and take in a greater expanse of the Gorges than you could see from the boat. It was like being on top of the world. It was worth the trip.

The trip down was not so bad because it required less effort. I think I had a feel for walking down Grand Canyon and back up again. That may be the place I lost my knees. It was a very satisfying trek.
The riverboat we were on held about 30-40 people. One day I found my way to the top deck. There was an area where the crew did the laundry for the boat, and there was a flock of chickens running around! I asked them why, and they replied, “dinner”. Sure enough, they had all disappeared when the cruise ended. The lifeboat was also up there, and hanging from the gunwales were cuts and sides of pork for our food, flies and all.

This trip used a local guide, and there was an English speaking person from the Communist government watching and noting what the guide was saying about China.
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In the interior of Australia, there is a town called Alice Springs. Not to say derogatory things about the town, but the town salute is a wave of the hand across the face to move the flies around! It was representative of a typical outback town. What am I doing here in this place?

One of the things that some of the tour group elected to do, was to take a camel to dinner. I decided to participate. We had about a dozen camels, and were to ride 6 or 7 kilometers to a winery, for dinner. I do not think that the camels were too happy about going. They groaned and spit and when you got into the wooden framed saddle, you almost fell out as they raised their hind legs first. They were fastened together by rope, one to the other. This still offered the opportunity for the line of camels to try and scrape the riders off, by skinning so close to trees and bushes, that one had to lift a leg up to the saddle height!

Several persons had scratches from not paying attention! The camel gait is not conducive for an easy ride. One is constantly moving from side to side and front to rear. My roommate, who was plump, suffered a lesion right at his beltline, which lasted for the balance of the tour.

We arrived at the winery and the camels were taken back to their home base. I think I will leave camel riding to the Arabs!
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When I was in central Australia, I had the opportunity to climb Ayers Rock. This rock is one of the largest monolithic rocks in the world. Close to a mile long and about a thousand feet high.

The access to the highest point of the rock was by a path that was so steep that a chain supported by small posts in the rock had to be used to pull yourself to the top level. After arriving at the top, the trail crossed undulating lava type surface for about a half a mile, and then you reached the highest point.

It was a hot day and even though I was in my 50’s, I was doing fine.
When you start down the path with the chain, you must hold on all the way. From the ground to the top of the chain takes at least a half-hour. Half way down I decided to sit down and rest. It wasn’t three minutes, until the young fellow, who was the tour guide, had bounded up the steep path, to my side.

“Are you all right mate?” he asked. I said “yes”, and he told me that they watch everyone who accesses the rocks steep part, especially seniors! I could not believe the speed that he used to get to me.

It was a satisfying climb and accomplishment. In fact, the next day, they had ceremonies that transferred the mountain, and the property around it, from the Australian Government to the Aborigines.
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On a trip to Prague, Czechoslovakia, I flew into Frankfurt and then got on a train to Vienna. The only problem was that my luggage did not show up. I made arrangements to return to the airport, and the next day it still did not arrive. The train left with me, and without my luggage, and headed for Vienna.

The hotel was warm but it had snowed outside that day! The clothes I had worn for 3 days were not cold weather clothes, however, a woman at the hotel let me use a big knit sweater and I was able to tour the city.

The next day the bag was delivered and the explanation was that it was found at the airport away from other bags, and fell under the suspicion of a bomb. It spent 3 days in the Frankfurt luggage bomb shelter, waiting for it to explode!

Once when going on a 10-day cruise in the Caribbean, Delta lost our luggage, and was instructed to get it to us at the next port of call on the itinerary. The ship people said they checked the airports at each stop, but no luggage. We borrowed and bought and mixed and matched, and survived the trip. When we arrived at the end of the cruise in Fort Lauderdale, Miami baggage called and said they had it and would forward it to us.

Considering our luck, we said no, send it to LA. When we got to LA, there it was, with a luggage tag from every port we stopped at. We determined that the luggage had more fun than we did!

Entering Brazil with a video camera requires a permit, and an inspection by customs. Paperwork is generated and I was given a copy of it. Passing through Immigration and Customs, a man was standing in the passageway and said he needed the paper they gave me. He was Customs or something.

When I left the country, I was asked for that paper, and I couldn’t produce it, I had quite a hassle at the police station. The tour leader spoke Portuguese and helped tremendously. The man who took the paper was a crook and used it to smuggle in a new camera for a high profit. He was operating inside the Custom area!

As neophyte tourists, we were in St. Thomas, VI and elected to buy a case of gin. The package was very heavy and we asked the airport agents if we could check it. They said yes and put a tag on it for LAX.

We later found out, that out of 6 bottles of gin, two never made it passed the baggage handlers. When we arrived at LAX and collected our bags, we watched this soggy box with all the bottles broken, and then watched two other suitcases, saturated with gin, stagger by. What do we know!
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Outside the city of Caracas Venezuela, there is a town in the mountains that is an unusual study of people. It is a Bavarian type city and I took a trip to it. The name of the town is Colonia Tovar.

Germans and their descendants populate the town. When WW1 started, these German and Bavarian people fled to South America. They chose Venezuela, and established a town that was at that time, so isolated, in an obscure, hard to access valley, that they virtually disappeared for years. They built mountain homes styled like those in Germany and Bavaria.

They farmed and raised everything to be self- sufficient. No one ventured there for years. It was virtually a land locked town.

One problem they had was, that they had only the gene pool that they started with, and during the course of 40-50 years, they intermarried and produced offspring that varied with different degrees of retardation and physical disabilities.

After WW2 or later, the town felt they needed exposure or roads began to encroach into their area.

It looks like a beautiful Bavarian town, except you suddenly notice the people running the stores, or walking about town. They all have this strange vacant look about them. This is the same look and actions that we relate to retarded people here. They are, however, functional to a degree. The smarter ones operate the stores and the others wait on you.

With the opening of the town, there has been a new gene pool available, so future growth will be more traditional.

The city was commercially proper, with the exception of the residents. One is left with a strange feeling.
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One week, in our past, we took a cheap trip to Mexico. Manzanillo, Mexico to be exact.

Before I relate this tale, I want you to know that I have been to Mexico about 25 times, and have covered almost all areas, and the people are lovely and friendly as can be.

Frontier Airlines and a Mexican Time-Share company offered this trip. Driving to LAX and boarding the plane, we found that the plane eventually got to Manzanillo after a stop at Vegas, Salt Lake, Phoenix, Nogales and another Mexican town. We were traveling about 12 hours for a 3-hour flight.

Getting a taxi, we went to our hotel. It is hard to describe it, but it reminded me of the Guggenheim art museum in New York by having a circular hallway spiraling up to the 5th or 6th floor. The rooms were entered from the hallway and were staggered beside each other. It was summer and was miserably hot outside. Inside, it was summer and miserably hot inside. The air conditioner was not working right.

Looking out the window at the pool, we could see that it was a horrible shade of green! There were Mexicans swimming in it!
There was no restaurant around, except about 2 blocks away in the heat, there was a palapa covering a restaurant and a bar. All open to the heat. We ordered fish, and received the entire fish, head, tail, eyes and all! There were so many flies that you had to use one hand to swish the flies away and the other one to eat!

In desperation, we dressed up and taxied to Hotel Las Hadas, the one where Bo Derrick and Dudley Moore filmed “10”
After giving the desk person a sob story, we were allowed to eat a very expensive meal! We were invited back the next day for a tour and a stay at their pool.

Back at the ranch it was so hot we couldn’t believe we went into the green pool! It was a wonder we did not get deathly ill. For a long time we would not tell anyone about this!
One day we took a walk to the ocean and we encountered a row of neat little houses, all with small front yard pools. Apparently these were the time-shares, or club owners’ houses, and the owners were absent. After casing a particular one, we slipped into the front yard and into a beautiful sparkling small pool! The water was cool! The water was clean!

This became a daily ritual for the rest of the stay. We had to return to the US by the same airline and route!
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In the waning years of the 1980’s, I had a tour to Moscow and Leningrad, (which is now St. Petersburg). The land portion started in Helsinki, Finland, and was aboard a Finnish Train. This was the time when the iron curtain was still operating.

It was an unnerving experience entering Russia. After we stopped, army troops went over the train with a fine-toothed comb. They had mirrors with long handles to search under the cars. The officers went through each car and bedroom. We were not allowed to leave our room, even to use the toilet.

When they got to your cabin, the officer came in and almost memorized your passport. You had to show him all your US money and they recorded the amount. When you left Russia the total money and purchases must match what you came with. This was when the Ruble was worthless and not traded on the world market.

Next we opened all of our luggage and he paid particular attention to any books and magazines. Some people had their reading material confiscated. Armed soldiers were just outside the door.

When we were processed, we were put on buses as a group, for the city tour and they had an Intourist guide and a Russian Party monitor who would listen to what she said.

The trip portion to Moscow was different. We went by jet plane.
It was a crude copy of a Boeing aircraft. The airport in Moscow had hundreds of this type planes in storage all over the airport. It seems that Aeroflot, which was touted as the largest airline in the world, was really a military troop carrier operation.

The hotel in Moscow was built for the Olympics, and was screened by guards to keep us in, and the Russian people out.
The help was hand picked and the ambiance was western, specifically US. There were no places outside to eat, so every day at noon we had to come back to the Hotel to eat. It told us something when we saw our guide and monitor slipping food and fruits into their carry bags.

We could not leave the hotel alone. Everywhere, there were people standing in line for things like toilet paper or socks or vegetables.

One evening before attending the Bolshoi Ballet, we had a reception by Intourist bigwigs. It was held in a building that only had receptions for various governmental functions. A far cry from the man on the street, so to speak. Such abundance for the privileged few!

The best caviar was on the snack table, pounds of it! The best vodka and liquors lined the self-serve bar. Food that poor Russians have never seen. The officials dove in to the lineup of fancy food and drink, like there was no tomorrow. All the Russians got drunk, and for myself I must have eaten a hundred dollars of the best caviar I ever tasted, by the tablespoon full!

It was wintertime and the city was covered with snow. It was a beautiful sight to see it clinging tenaciously all over the branches of the huge trees, which line the streets. All foot traffic traversed icy sidewalks carefully, and all the men wore the Russian bear hats, and huge overcoats. A strange sight for a lad from California!
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Reading my prior tales of woe gives the reader no reason to travel the world! Take heart, there are many more places that are so beautiful, and have so much culture that is different, that one hates to leave.

In the northern area of India, there is a large lake, Lake Dahl, and on this lake there are dozens and dozens of large houseboats. All are as large as a doublewide mobile home, some larger. They are staffed with butlers and cooks, etc. and are the most ornately furnished rooms I have ever seen. After you have stayed there, you feel like a millionaire!

The beauty of the Taj Mahal both in the day and at night under a full moon was my pleasure. Experiences like these offset the squalor of the cities, where people live beside roadway walls in the dirt. At night the sidewalks of towns are literally covered with poor people sleeping, to get some relief from the fierce heat.

In Japan, one of the thrills of the day, and probably still is, was a trip on the Bullet Train. The fantastic speed of this train was a most memorable experience. The deer in Kyoto, the emperor’s palace, the crush of humans on the Ginza, the packing and shoving people on the subways by professional packers, all made for a memorable trip.

Contrast this with Antarctica. Traveling there in our winter, which is their summer, I found that it warms up to close to 0 deg!

Standing in snow up to your knees, and surrounded by penguins, who really don’t know what you are, and probably don’t care, is a thrill of a lifetime. The old whaling stations on the archipelago, with the giant remains of whalebones are a bleak reminder of yesteryears decimation of the beautiful whales.

Outstanding, was cruising by gigantic shelves of ice that reach as much as 500 to 800 feet high. This is the birthplace of icebergs.
This land is a land without a sound on a still night. For years the explorers have depended on sled dogs in the Antarctic. Now in modern times, scientists have set a date where all dogs must be removed from the continent.

Contrast this with the beautiful European style culture of Argentina. Buenos Aires is a city that one would think they were in Europe. The streets and buildings seem to be transplanted from afar. In the country, the pampas, the caballeros make an interesting contrast.

Iguassu Falls in Brazil is another spectacular sight. The thundering cataracts shake the very walls of the hotel. Walking through the falls area on wooden boardwalks gives one a view of the falls that normally only birds can savor. The swirling mists and the thunder of the water imprints on your mind forever.

Morocco, the city of Fez, the Souk or the giant marketplace, you wander for miles in and about narrow walkways with shops and stalls, dirt floors, haphazard roofs, tradesmen making everything under the sun, and food supplies of every description, the smells turn your mind and nose into a frenzy, trying to identify them.

This is truly a market of the people. It could swallow a hundred of our big swap meets, and maybe more! I walked for a half a day through all this discordant activity and was lost most of the time.

The simple and uncomplicated Greek Islands are a delight to visit. Myconos, Rhodes, Patmos are a delight to walk about. You have no trouble at all seeing how the real people of that location live their lives.

Turkey, the land of the Ottoman Empire, take a stroll thru the partially reconstructed ruins of the ancient city of Ephesus and imagine living in those times. Instanbul has, among other treasures, The Blue Mosque, and Topkapi Palace which are “must see’s”.

Meanwhile back in Greece, in Athens, the legacy of the Roman Empire remains today in identifiable forms. The Coliseum, where the Christians were thrown to the lions, is still an imposing structure. Climbing up to the Parthenon gives one a spectacular view of the city, and a wondering of how did they do all these things in the old days? Athens is a bustling city, a typical city.

It is a sobering thought to know that you are standing at the tip of the African continent, at the Cape of Good Hope, or also at Cape Horn in South America, and imagining the journeys of the early explorers in their ships.

In Kenya, standing on the Equator at 8,000 ft., as Africa is one of the few places in the world that the Equator traverses land.

Gibraltar, a charming little country, that is the home of the Gibraltar Ape. They are sometimes aggressive, but are easy to photograph. The airport at that time was unusual. It was the only airport in the world that is crossed by a major highway. There are traffic signals that stop traffic when aircraft are using the runway!
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Traveling from the city of Iquitos, Peru, into the jungles of the Amazon by small boat, we encountered many strange things. Our jungle camp sets above the river in the mosquito zone. The rooms are tent type structures cantilevered above the jungle. The ambiance was primitive.

The morning brought a jungle walk to a native village. As we approached the village we observed several topless women in their houses and their yards. We went into a big hut and were entertained by male and female dancers and singers. All were decked out in native dress and loincloths. At the appropriate time, we continued on.

It became apparent that we had traveled in a small circle, as the jungle camp was close by! The crowning blow was, as we were heading to camp, a man in a three-piece suit crossed the trail and lo and behold, it was one of the dancers!

It was steamy and hot, and I watched the native boys who work here, dive off the dock into the river. I went and asked them if there were any Piranha in the water. They said no, they were upstream and not down here. Dummy that I was, I put on my suit and jumped into the muddy water. I swam a few cooling strokes out from the dock when suddenly I felt something hit my leg. I cannot believe how fast I leaped out of the water. I will always know that it was a Piranha!
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One afternoon when we were in Singapore, we saw an article about having breakfast with an Orangutan. The next morning we took a bus to the zoo, where this was taking place. They had tables where you would sit and have rolls and juice. The keeper brought in the orangutan that was dressed in clothes. And holding his hand, he went to each table and got up on the seat, drank juice and ate rolls just like you were having breakfast with someone!

There were other orangutans including the cutest baby you ever saw. We then got to hold their hands and have a picture taken of us.
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It was a wonderful afternoon in Cairo, Egypt. The time was ripe for a trip to the pyramids of Giza. There are three pyramids at this location, and one of the pyramids has been opened up by a tunnel, leading to the room in the center, where the tomb and burial vault were located.

The trip started innocuously enough, through a portal in the lower level above the base. The tunnel was dimly lighted, but adequate. The further in, the more humid it got. The tunnel turned into a slope, and the ceiling lowered to where a person my height had to bend over to walk. The slope got so steep that a board surface with cleats was required to give you traction.

The experience was beginning to get claustrophobic to us, and we do not have claustrophobia. Some people do, however, and I can’t understand why they would attempt this tour. The ramp was almost a one way street, and these terrified people would come pushing towards you in a frantic attempt to get out of there.

Finally we reached the room, and that was all it was. It was lighted with a few lights, and had an empty vault on the floor. The thought enters your mind, that this room is in the exact center of the pyramid and exactly at the lower third point in elevation. The pyramid is hundreds of feet long on each side.

My back was so crippled up from being bent over on the way up, and I still had to go back the same way. The persons who built this must have been four feet tall! It became so hot in there that the hot outside air seemed cool to us.
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In the area of Nova Scotia, the tides in some places are 40 ft. Of course it depends upon the ocean floor and the shape of inlet the water enters. We were at an area that was not close to the Bay of Fundy, (where the really high tides came in), but at a river where the tide came as a bore, which describes a wave or a wall of water racing up the river.

There was a restaurant at this location and the bore could be watched. They even had large floodlights for night viewing.

Arriving at the appointed time, we parked above a riprap bank and the river was about 20 ft. down. Wanting a good shot of the water, I put on my down jacket and climbed down over the rocks to the river. Many people were watching from the front of the restaurant. After waiting an interminable length of time, the people began drifting away. It was dark by now, and the lights suddenly went off, after a voice called out that there wouldn’t be any tonight.

I could not see anything at all. Bonnie turned the car lights on and they shone out over the bank. I still could not see, and had to feel by hand and climb these large rocks like a blind man. The cold wind had started to blow and I thought I was going to freeze to death. I was never so glad to get in the car, in my life.

So much for the tide! We were never coming back. You know how it is, we stopped there on the way out the next morning!eagerly awaiting the Bore,when the call came from the kitchen that it had already happened!

My sister and her husband had gone to the Bay of Fundy, and had taken beautiful tide in, tide out photographs.

Oh well!   
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During a visit to China, we experienced many State dinners. The head persons of the Communist Party and Tourist Boards tried to outdo one another at the banquets in our honor. This was the anniversary of the third year in China by Unitours.

After the preliminary toasts and appetizers and speeches, they started to bring out the main course.

They came out with a large, whole cooked fish on a platter and put it in the middle of the table. The waiter then poured either hot oil or hot water over the head and eyes of the fish, and it came “alive”. It started to flop as if it was just landed in a boat!
This elicited a bunch of gasps and sounds of delight from the diners. After it “died again” it was cut and served.

The mechanics behind this spectacle were this. The fish were brought into the kitchen live in a bucket. At the proper moment they were gutted only. They were then placed in a pan, and fried with the head out of the pan, so the head was not fried or heated. This left certain basic nerve responses still active, and when they were stimulated on the table by the hot liquid, they reacted by wiggling, similar to frog legs twitching. The fish was excellent, but watching your food come alive, is disconcerting!
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The big day has arrived. We leave to go see the polar bears in Churchill, Manitoba! I suppose that now we are able to exercise hindsight after the trip, we probably should have stayed home.

Our first inkling was Northwest Airlines, who announced when we were in the take-off line that they had re-calculated and we were too heavy, and we had to return to the gate. Just before we went to the gate, we suddenly became lighter and they gave permission to take off. Subsequently, after take-off, the attendant announced that the peanuts and pretzels were left at the terminal!

We had an overnight at a hotel near the airport. When we arrived, it was under construction in the lobby and a wedding monopolized the restaurant, so we ended up eating at the bar on makeshift tables.

Entertaining ourselves, for the day, by a city tour and then a paddleboat river trip, we found out that the water was too high and the paddleboat couldn’t make it under the bridges. The route was then taken in the opposite direction. The only problem was that there was nothing to see in that direction!

Finally in the middle of the night, we boarded the train and selected our chair car seats. Having not ridden many trains, I soon discovered that no matter how one turns, to get some sleep, there is never quite enough room unless your body is twisted into an unhealthy position. This situation existed for two nights and a day.

Arriving at Churchill, we were met by the Tour Company, but not the company that had the bear tours. We took the city tour that we apparently paid for, now remember that the city has currently 750 residents, and this was a 4-hour tour! The guide arranged for us to get on the tundra buggy at 1:00.

The buggy was stashed about 12 miles away, at the end of a road from Hell! Our school bus must have had no springs to accompany no roads. We were in the air about half the time and close to hospitalization the remainder of the time. We ended up at the tundra buggy, which was so big that we walked up stairs to a high platform dock to board it. Once aboard, we had to pay again what we thought we originally paid!

Anticipating lift-off, as the tires were about 4 ft. wide and 7 ft. tall, this 4 wheel drive machine waddled, and I do mean waddled, to points unknown, to see all the polar bears. To make a long story short, it turned into a bird watching trip, without a clue as to what a polar bear was.

While we were waddling with the buggy, the bus that picked up a group that had been whale watching, saw a polar bear that even came over to their bus! We resigned ourselves to looking at pictures of the bears.

The town is 5 blocks long and where we were left off, it was about 2 blocks to a café. Bonnie couldn’t walk so we called a taxi and the fare was $7.50 for the two blocks! As it turned out the taxi lady owned a hotel and she invited us to use the living room until the train left, which was at 11:00 at night. Would you believe she gave us some videotapes to watch, which were of Polar Bears around Churchill!

The return trip on the train was better because we upgraded to a sleeper car. It was better but the tracks were so bad that you felt that you were sleeping in a washing machine.

We had to wait at the airport for 6 hrs. before flight time. Bonnie’s knee had given out earlier and she was relegated to a wheel chair, all day and on and off the plane. Arriving at Minneapolis, the flight was delayed, and it was also re-routed around some storms. Our 8:30 arrival in Nashville stretched into 1:30 in the morning, driving home until 2:30! It became a contender for the Vacation from Hell!
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I had traveled to Russia when it was still under Communist rule. This time, after the wall had fallen and the cold war ended, we were on a Baltic capitals cruise and we stopped at St. Petersburg. While walking along the streets downtown, we were joined by a nice looking young man who spoke fair English. He wanted to show us all the tourist things. We tried our best to discourage him and could not shake him.

The country was in the infancy of free enterprise and there were a lot of private businesses operating. We only had the day in this city and he told us he would take us through the Hermitage and show us only the spectacular displays. He asked for no payment except for admission price. It turned out that he got us in for the Russian price, and he knew everybody in the right places. There were hundreds of people waiting at every room and he whisked us through back doors and past the heads of the lines to view the most famous items. He was knowledgeable about everything he showed us. We were out of there in an incredibly short time. The last time I was there it took almost all day to see the same thing.

He suggested the Summer Palace up river, and said we could make it in time. He got tickets for the high-speed Hydrofoil boat and we took off! When we arrived, he immediately went and got return tickets, because he knew that it would be sold out and we would have to wait until a later boat and we would have missed the ship. Again he whisked us through through on his schedule, around all obstacles like we were royalty! It would have taken us all day to do the same thing.

During our travels we found out he was a graduate student architect and engineer and jobs were non-existent at that time. He could not be caught being a guide because he was not licensed. Sometimes he had to move away from us as we approached certain people. He told us how much it cost him to live in the city, and it was a pittance. When he got us back to the ship we were really satisfied and I paid him what would have been a months salary! It was only $20 bucks or so for us. His persistence paid off for him. For us, it was hard at first to determine whether it was a scam or was he really sincere!
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A way back when, prior to all those years traipsing about the world, there was a tale to be told about my younger years. This tale may or may not be appropriate, but here it is!

The year after WWII ended, our National Park system opened Yellowstone Park. About that time, at the age of 16, a friend and myself decided to work for the summer at the Park in the Fishing Bridge cafeteria. In our free time we, along with other friends, traveled around and outside the Park to see and visit other places.

One morning at 5:00 AM we were returning from a night out in Livingston, Montana. Our route took us past Old Faithful geyser.
We stopped to see what time it would erupt. There was not another living soul around. In those days the geyser area was defined only by logs, which you kept behind. As we had to wait for the next eruption, our youthful wisdom decreed that we should approach the site and look down into the hole where the monster resided! This we did, and as we stared down into the boiling water, we thought about the stories we had heard about settlers and Indians throwing items to be washed into the geyser and retrieving them after the eruption threw them out.

We had no washing and were not about to disrobe, so we thought about the next best thing. God forbid, we would pee into the cauldron! (I hope no one is offended by this juvenile description). And pee we did! About that time the geyser water level boiled to the surface and we ran to safety as we buttoned up.

Standing behind the logs, we waited for a bit longer and then Old Faithful erupted in all its glory. Since then, an earthquake in the Park has disrupted the timing of the eruptions, and the intensity varies, and the mineral mound has grown higher, and the public has been moved further away. I have always felt that we had entered into a unique club of few members, as distasteful as it was!
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I was attending a convention in New Delhi, India at the Sheraton Hotel. During a free day, another woman delegate and myself were out exploring the grounds. We passed the extensive park like area and noticed it was all fenced off and it was set up with banquet tables.

Continuing down the walkway, we met up with a group of people and a bride in a wedding dress. The woman with me asked them what was going on, and of course it was a wedding and a wedding banquet. An Indian couple with them said that they were the parents of the bride, and they asked us if we would like to attend the wedding.

It turned out that the dinner was for 1000 people and we were invited to sit with the family right in the small tent where the rites were given. As the only Caucasians there, we were given the place of honor next to the parents.

It was extremely interesting to watch a traditional Indian ceremony, which involved in part, each of them walking around a small fire in the center of the tent.

Afterwards we were introduced to a lot of people and we enjoyed a tremendous Indian dinner. Needless to say, we were the envy of the rest of our delegation.

An Indian wedding such as this is a very expensive function, provided by very wealthy parents. I consider myself lucky to have been in the right place at the right time.
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I was with a group in Peru, South America, and we all decided to take a plane ride to fly over the Nazca Lines. These so called lines were depictions of birds, spiders, animals and the like, that have puzzled scientists for years. They are cleared areas on the ground, stretching maybe a half a mile long and forming pictographs, which when viewed from a plane at altitudes, are striking works of art.

They cannot be visualized at ground level, leading to many premises of how they were formed. Some even credit space alien visitors. They are truly remarkable.

We arrived at the airport, a group of shacks in the middle of nowhere! There were several ratty small Cessna type planes holding 3 or 4 passengers, awaiting us. It took two trips to fly all of us out and back.

My trip was with a local young woman and her baby, and our tour group leader. A short piece of blacktop roadway served as our runway. We took off for the 20 minute flight to the Lines.
About 5 minutes after takeoff, from my vantage point, I observed the pilot tapping the oil pressure gauge and the engine temperature gauge. I am smart enough about such things to know something was not right. He even continued onward before finally telling us we had to go back. Here we are, with little to no oil pressure, and the engine getting hot, and the pilot looking around for an emergency landing spot on this rock strewn desert, the woman with her baby starting to cry, and me holding the hand of our leader. All this and we haven’t even seen the Nazca Lines yet.

Needless to say, we made it back and landed safely. The group voted to stay until the afternoon so we could fly again to see the Lines.

That afternoon, the leader and I returned to the airport and with a different plane provided, we took off again. There was a young fellow in the co-pilot seat, and it suddenly dawned on me that he was being instructed how to fly by our pilot. He made a shaky take-off and following instructions by the pilot, headed for the Lines.

I was relieved that the pilot took over, and did all the appropriate turning and banking necessary for good views and pictures of the sites. They are as spectacular a sight that I have ever seen and will be remembered as much as the plane ride.

Approaching the airport runway, it became apparent through my knowledge of Spanish, that this student had never landed a plane before. The pilot coached him in, but the guy wasn’t lined up with the runway. One wheel was off over the dirt. The pilot kept saying, “more left---more left”, and the guy wasn’t moving over! Just before it was too late, the pilot grabbed the controls and saved us, all the while scolding the student.

I could not believe we were flying in a plane when the pilot was training a student!

Our lives were at stake twice that day. At least we saw the lines!
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We landed in Nairobi, Kenya without a clue as to the wonders that lay ahead. Settled into a van, we drove across the Rift Valley, headed to the Samburu.  The Samburu Lodge, where we stayed, was
I think the same people were standing on the bank. I found myself adjacent to a river where crocodiles feasted on the banks and monkeys scrambled over and around the roof of the huts we stayed in. Safaris into the wild, saw herds of animals of all types and shapes, Hippo’s and Rhinoceros questioned our presence. Elephants crossed our path giraffes ambled about, grazing the treetops. A night was spent in the Ark, which was an observation hotel, built at a large water hole, where all types of animals came to drink. They had a bell system to awake you at night, if a new or strange animal would appear, such as a rare Bongo. (Which we saw at 2:30 in the morning!)
A DC-3 airplane flight took us to the Masai  Mara.  The runway was a dirt strip, and all the animals that were wandering around on it had to be run off by ground personnel before we could land.  We stayed at the Governors Camp, secured by armed employees, to guard against animals bent on having us for dinner! Spending the nights in army tents in the wild, with coffee delivered early in the morning, was unusual to say the least.
One day we visited a compound of the Masai, and were allowed to go inside their huts where they lived. The village performed ritual dances for us. The compound was surrounded by thorn bushes with a closed entrance designed to keep their animals in and the predators out.
Early morning  and late evening safaris produced many animal contacts. An unforgettable experience was driving slowly amongst a herd of more than 200 elephants on the march. Prides of lions were visited, who seemed oblivious to us in our safari vans.
Someone once said,”why do you go all the way to Africa to see animals, when you can see them all in the zoo?” The difference is that you are in their environment, which is not a zoo experience.
As a grand finale, we were driven to a surprise cocktail party, in the wild, on top of the mountain where a dramatic scene in the movie, Out of Africa was filmed, a bonfire and waiters with towels draped over their arms, served us drinks!
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A trip to Cape Town, South Africa, allows one to stand at the Cape of Good Hope. The same as Cape Horn, on South America, they are the southernmost points of their continents. While in Cape Town, you can take a cable car ride to the top of Table Top mountain which affords a spectacular view of the city and the oceans merging. At the lookout, there scampered about, the strangest rodent looking animal, about the size of a cat. We found out that they were Hyrax’s. Specifically Rock Hyrax’s
The trip also took us to Johannesburg, the capital, and thence to a large game preserve in Zululand, Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Reserve. There exists a village named Shakaland, which was built for the filming of the movie Shaka Zulu, and now is an educational tourist attraction for Zulu shows and Zulu history.
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We were lucky to be able to travel to Egypt, before all the present day strife. We visited the Sphinx and the Pyramids of Giza, in Cairo.
We boarded a river cruise boat for a trip up the Nile. A visit was made to the temple of Queen Hatshepsut, where in later years, terrorists shot down dozens of tourists on the temple steps!
Stops were made at The Valley of Kings and Luxor temples. During the cruise up the river, the ship personnel treated us to our 40th anniversary party, complete with dressing us in Arab garb!
We left the boat at Aswan Dam and traveled to view the temple of Ramses’.  The giant statues there were moved and reassembled at a higher elevation because the Aswan Dam would flood the original site. Moving the temple and statues was a feat of engineering.
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There is a place that is the most southern city in the world. The name of this city is Ushuaia, Argentina. On the tail of South America, it is one of the jumping off points for ships bound for Antarctica.
It is a surprisingly large city for its remote location. Traipsing about the city I found myself at the end of a road, where a sign stood, that proclaimed this was the end, or the origination, of the Pan American Highway, (depending on which direction one was heading). Imagine, two most southernmosts in one city.
The people did not seem to care that there were no others south of them!
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A trip to discover Brazil proved to be almost overwhelming. There is such a variety of things to see and do. Rio de Janeiro is the capital city of the State of Rio de Janeiro. Here one can see famous Copacabana Beach, the Christ of the Andes among many other sites. You can gorge yourself on wonderful BBQ’s of beef, pork, and ham, sliced and alternated on large skewers, which are carried plate to plate and sliced off, until you wave the server away!
The capital of The United States of Brazil, is Brasília. It is located in the central plains and was proposed in the early 1800’s. A tumultuous history of construction and occupancy lasted until the 1970’s or so. It consists of many large State buildings, the dreams of many different architects, now fulfilled. I have driven the previously empty streets of this city in awe.
An experience not to be forgotten, is a visit to Iguassu Falls. The thundering cataracts shake the walls of your hotel, and they are accessed by walkways that snake in front of, and beside, and around, the falling water, until you think you are in it. It is but a short drive to the country of Paraguay. Visiting Paraguay gives one a firsthand view of a dictatorship in operation. I prefer the country I live in!
The rain forests and jungles of the Amazon country are fascinating to be in. In a small boat, traveling down the Amazon River, one can see how the people really live.
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The flight from Guayaquil landed at Baltra airport, on the island of Baltra.  This small island lies offshore of the island of Santa Cruz. We were transported to our ship The Buccaneer. It was a very small passenger ship, with none of the amenities of a cruise ship. (It has since caught on fire and sunk).
The Park System permits only about 90 persons a day to visit an island, and park rangers supervised our every move around the animals. For instance, a Blue Footed Booby setting on a pathway, had to be walked around and not disturbed, as they had no fear of us!
Each day was a different island for a whole week. Each island had different animals.
We observed sea lions actually climbing up rocks for a hundred feet above the water, to bask on the level land. Both land and ocean iguanas exist. Many types of birds exist, including the breeding grounds of the huge frigate birds, and albatross. We also got to snorkel and swim with the sea lions, which was quite a thrilling experience!
This trip gives a new insight into the work of Darwin.
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This was a trip that I had a chance to take my youngest son Tom, along with me. It gave him a chance to experience life as it is lived outside if the US.
Morocco was a totally strange culture to us. From the sight of fresh meat hanging outside from hooks, and covered with flies, to the marketing of live chickens in bags, hung over peoples shoulders. Some escaped chickens wandering about the streets added to the picture.
We walked the labyrinths of the Souks in Fez and Marrakech and rode camels in the desert lands populated by the nomad tribes. We stayed at a hotel, owned by the King, in the Atlas Mountains. We experienced all walks of life during this trip. We visited factories where we saw children making rugs for sale and export, mosques that we were able to go into, and ate exotic local food. We also got to visit children in their schools. All this was at a time when there was no “Yankee Go Home” mentality. It was a great journey to a strange land.
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Ephesus, located in Turkey, is one of the world’s most famous restoration projects. It is one of the largest cities uncovered, and has been worked on for years. Many of the ruins have been rebuilt so as to show the original front views of the structures, as they were. Originally a port city, the water has receded a long way, over the thousands of years past.
The tour bus leaves you at one side of the city and picks you up on the other side. You walk the original restored road through it. There is evidence of covered sewers and water supplies. It is a mile or so walk. One of the rooms that had been restored was the community toilets. The room had many toilet seat holes on each side, for visiting with others, both men and women. The guide we had was one of the foremost scientists involved in the restoration, and had authored a respected book about the city.
Close by in the hills, the tour takes you to the site of the home of the Virgin Mary.
Most all the tours originate in the city of Kushadasi, Turkey. In addition to the typical tourists items, they are famous for leather goods. At that time I purchased a fine leather jacket, with a removable fur lining, for less than a hundred dollars.
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During a tour thru the Australian Outback, we stopped to learn how the native Aborigines lived. The tour guide demonstrated how the natives dug around the roots of certain native bushes and extracted a large grub worm called a witchetty grub. He then proceeded to eat the grub, which was about 3 inches long, alive. It was still wiggling as it hung out of his mouth! He chewed it up and asked if anyone would like one also!
The Aborigine had some that he was roasting in the coals of a fire and they were offered to the group. Of course the only one to try one was yours truly! I must say that they are almost pure protein, and yes they tasted like chicken!
The guide said that he doesn’t get many takers of this product. I still prefer a good old hamburger.
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