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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

2006 Trip to England

Wednesday, May 31, 2006 (10:56am)
Today I made some decisions and carried them out. Starting out at a local bookstore I purchase a road map and checked out some towns close to Glastonbury, then I went to the train station to see which town the trains went to that would get me close to Glastonbury; I purchase a ticket to Yeovil Junction. Yeovil Junction is about 12 miles south of Glastonbury and easy ride by bike after all I ride 14 miles in 30 minuets at the fitness center. Train ticket in hand I board a bus headed back to Amesbury where I intend to purchase a used cycle I had seen the day before. Of course the cycle salesman tells me the one I had picked was not recommended for my journey, the one I needed cost twice as much. I purchase the cycle complete with a new seat, which I have been assured will be kind to my butt, and a handle bar bag to store things. Amesbury is 8 miles north of Salisbury so I began the return trip via a, somewhat longer, but less traveled route to get use to my cycle. I rode through beautiful scenic country side which ran along side the river Avon. Thatched roofs, rolling green hills, quiet, and peaceful country side. Needless to say that to day I did not have my camera with me. There were no crop circles that this area is noted for. There were, however, crop lines, sadly it appeared the crop lines were made by tractors not visitors from a distant planet.

I quickly learned that not only was I not use to walking, but I was also not use to cycling. So when the road rolled up with the country side I go off and walked. Straight and downhill were fine, up hill nope I’ll walk. Hopefully at some point I’ll be able to peddle up hills; I hope. I make it back to Salisbury, purchased a lock for my cycle and sat down to have lunch. I ordered a Double Decker sandwich which comes with fries. All the prices on the board had been crossed out and lower ones placed along side. I should have know better.

The Double Decker Sandwich consisted of three slices of very thin bread, one piece of turkey, a teaspoon of cranberry sauce, and a very small piece of lettuce. When I get together with some of the family who remember Grandma Cooke we always bring up her sandwiches, well this was one of them. I headed back to the youth hostel for my computer so I can get online and tell all that I had accomplished. Then it happened I realized MY CELL PHONE WAS GONE. I hurried back to the restaurant in hopes...but no one had turned in a cell phone.

Frantically I head back to the youth hostel to get my computer so I can notify Cingular. Should be simple I’ll go on line, inform Cingular, no problem, silly me. After three hours of attempting to get Cingular to shut off the phone I was getting nowhere, so much for customer service. Tech support which you can IM to online told me they did not have access to my account to turn it off, and gave me a number that would have cost $30.00 to call, this is tech support? They have an online shut off which did not work due to technical difficulties. I am not going to let this ruin my day, I am not going to be loud and pushy, no sir not me, no $%%#^&* way!

Oh I am hiding in the basement of the youth hostel today, from guess who. I am doing my laundry down here reading my guide books. Guess who found me? I read she talked, I smiled and read, she talked, I nodded and read, she talked, I was cornered like a rat. Thank the dryer gods the machine finally buzzed, I politely excuse myself. Yes in deed I am leaving tomorrow! There was time I needed, like now, to set down what I am experiencing. I am sure there are lots of wonderful and interesting people in the Starbucks I haunt, but I am there to write.
I had to change rooms to stay the last night in the hostel and now have somehow acquired a guitar. It was lying on my new bed along with there rest of my belongings the staff had moved for me. Come on Gary what am I going to do with a guitar? I can’t ride down the road playing my guitar like Roy and Gene, I’ll fall right on my you know what. Leave sandals and receive guitar? I turn the guitar in to the guy behind the desk. He wonders why I don’t keep it "You could carry it on your back and learn to play it: I don’t. Golly my nose hurts I will probably have a hole in by nose by the time I get home. I have not found any tape to fix my glasses. Tonight I’ll see if the bunion patch will do the trick. I feel cell phone withdrawals coming on, I wonder if they have a Cell Phone Anonymous here.

Thursday, June 1, 2006

Today it is off to Glastonbury via train and bike, piece of cake. I get to the train station about an hour early and am amazed at the number of people that use trains and buses here. I ask the station attendant which platform, she directs me, I settle in to wait. When I purchased my ticket the day before I was given a choice of trains and a reservation, free, for my bike. I chose the second trail of the day just to be on the safe side. After about ten minuets the first train of the day, heading where I want to go, pulls in, I think to myself "darn I should have purchased a ticket for that train." I notice the station attendant looking around, she heads over to me. "This is your train." she says. I’m confounded for two reasons. First I can’t picture anyone in an American train station watching to make sure a foreigner gets on the right train. Second I don’t have a reservation for my bike on this train.

I explain that I have a ticket for the next train etc. She states I need take the tunnel to a platform on the other side as that is where my train will come in; off I go. Now my bike has all my stuff attached to it, except my backpack, so it is a tad heavy. Down I go through the tunnel which looks like it was dug when steam trains first started running. White washed stone and mortar, with cobble stones on the floor. I get to the other side where another rail attendant comes over and looks at my ticket. "That’s your train over there." he says. I explain again. He says "that does not matter you can take that one. Hurry up before it leaves." Down I go, up I go, running up to the conductor I show him my ticket. He says "Third door and hurry I’m about to blow my whistle." I run down the platform, half way to the door I hear a whistle, I look back, he beckons me to go ahead. I roll on to the train, the door shuts behind me the train rolls out of the station. I’m in a little room with a couple of seats, at the end of the train car. O.K. this must be the bike room I can see out the windows so this will be just find. I can’t understand the guy on the speaker so each time we stop I have to ask the people getting off where we are.
About an hour later we arrive in Yeovil, I get out look around; no town! This is Yeovil Junction and the town is down the road a bit. They are redoing the "this way out" so there is a stairs scaffolding going up and then coming down on the other side of the track, there is no way I going to get this cycle up and down, now what? I look down at a group of men standing by the track at the end of the platform, one beckons to me. He leads me across the tracks to a gate, unlocks for me so I don’t have to climb stairs with my bike. I thank him profusely, walk a little way with my bike, then what the hell I jump on, next stop Yeovil proper, then Ilchester with a short jump to Glastonbury according to the map. Hell I road 8 miles yesterday I can do it again today.
I begin to ride, hit a hill, puff, puff, puff I was the little train that couldn't. Get off and walk up the hill, and up the hill, and up the hill. A guy from the train that I passed when I could ride the cycle was now walking past me. So what I have plenty of time, no where to be except the up the hill. I get to the top, few, get on the bike, zip down the hill. I passed the walking guy na na na to bad you don’t have bike. Guess what is at the bottom of the hill? Yep another hill, get off and walk up the hill. Get to the top, get on ride down. Gentle rolling hills my sore ass.

The rest of the day was zip down, walk up, zip down, walk up. Now this is a "B" road kind of like 89A, but not as wide. I learned how to ride a really straight line as close to the edge of the road as possible in a really short time. Then amazing things happened cars, trucks, and buses stop behind me when there was not enough room to get around me without having a head on collision. By now I’d be dead riding like this back home, but not here. O.K. I can do this zip, walk, zip, walk, zip walk. I get lost ask for directions get back on track zip, walk, zip, walk, zip walk. I am beginning to run out of zip and walk. My butt is sore, my feet are sore, my back is sore, my neck is sore, my head is sore from my hat, just about everything is sore not to mention I have run out of water.

I’m pushing to get up the current hill hoping against hope there are no more after this one. Now it is stop, walk, stop, walk, stop, walk maybe 20 feet at a time. I reach the top, I have a choice one road goes down, one road goes up. Let see which one will I take. The sign shows that the one going up leads to Glastonbury, the one going down leads to Street(the name of a town). The map indicates that I can get to Glastonbury through Street. I need water, I need rest, I need food, I need to get off this cycle, which is not what I’m calling it right now, what I don’t need another hill to go up, so down I go. Zipping is no longer fun because my butt hurts so bad I can’t sit on the bike seat very long. Down in to Street which ends up being a street with some houses and a store. It also ends up being the bottom of yet another hill.

I just can’t do this, but I have to there is no where else to go other then just sit on the side of the road crying. No phone to call anyone, no one to call anyhow. Walk, stop, walk, stop, walk, stop ever so slowly to the top of the hill. Slowly

the top come into view, don’t look up, don’t look up, just walk. The ten pound computer on my back feels like a hundred. It dawns on me that I live at 7000 feet not 100 a very big difference. Almost to the top, don’t look up, to my right a sign for a youth hostel, on my left a sign for a bed and breakfast with free wireless internet. I look up, my eyes can see over the top, there before me is the Glastonbury Tor with St. Michael’s tower on it. I look again realizing I MADE IT! A little sign says Glastonbury 1 mile ahead, another says Yeovil 18 miles behind. I left there at 10:30 am, it is now 4:00 pm.

Eighteen miles in 5 ½ hours is just about 3.5 miles per hour. That is just about the speed wagon trains use to travel at. I had ridden on narrow winding roadways, cars, trucks and bus zipping by only inches(no lie) from me, with sore everything, I didn't stop! The feeling I had when I look out at the Glastonbury Tor was elation and astonishment. I sat on a bench near the side of the road an as I ate orange stared at the Tor absorbing the fact that at 63 I achieved what I have been wanting to since I was 40. I said to my bike bags that I had bought many years ago "We made it, bet you gave up on being here, but here we are." Gingerly I got on the cycle for one more zip down the hill expecting to end up in Glastonbury with no more hills in the way. Silly me I soon found out that the one mile had three more hill packed in for good measure, but I didn’t care I had made it.

I reached Glastonbury and start looking for the Starbucks so I could get on the internet to tell everyone of my feat. I also look around for a place to stay, as I am not going ride back up and down three hills to stay at the youth hostel, lets see that clump of bushes looks pretty darn good. On the way in I noticed that a Texaco (and they still have Gulf stations also) station had a sign for a T-Mobil hotspot. Now I need a place to stay so I ask a taxi drive who has stopped at the station. He gives me directions, I get lost ask again, get more directions, dam I’m good here I am. Yes they have a place for me to pitch a tent, and yes I can stay for two or more nights. I ask if there is a Starbucks here, they think there is one in Street. I meet Ray and Kat who tell me there is one in Street. I say "There is nothing in Street, much less a Starbucks." He said "You were on the wrong road." Up goes Mark’s tent, out goes the air mattress, everything is off the bike. I lock it up and wonder if I can sell it, get a bigger backpack and use the bus? Hummmmm Still thinking.

I ride back to the Texaco station, my butt is killing me, buy some water and a snack. Sitting in the grass on the side of the station like some transient, oops maybe I am one, naa not with a laptop. Sure enough I get on line send my email’s. The hotspot guide tells me there are plenty of hotspot’s all of which are in Street 2 miles away all up hill; I don’t think so. By the way the sun comes up at 4 am and does not set until 10 pm, which makes for a really long day. I get something to eat, head back to camp I craw into the tent close the fly to sleep it is 9:30 pm, it is still light out I don’t care. I did not dream of the beautiful rolling hills.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

More 2006 Trip to England

Monday, May 29, 2006 (12:05am)

It’s not really that would be Arizona time, the computer does not update either, not England time which I think is 9 hours difference, so it is really 8:30 am.

Taking a shower was a bit of a trick, not much room in there, but got it done. Next was to use one of the three razors I had brought with me. Off to the water closet to find none of them worked without removing skin. The sink is about 6 inches edge to wall, soap dispenser over the sink is about 4 inches edge to wall, so bending down to get water on your face equaled banging my head twice till I got it. Just had an English breakfast of cereal, scrambled eggs, bacon, not so tasty sausage, toast, coffee and juice all included in the price of the dorm. Add razors to my list of things to buy, now where is the closest Wal Mart?

I figured it would be a good day for getting in shape by walking about, which I think will take a few more days; well maybe more then a few more days? Wearing my cheap Wal Mart sandals along with my full backpack I set off. The sandals are going to go bye-bye cause they made my feet ache. My legs ached, my feet ached, and my back ached and I noticed my nose ached? Checking out my glasses I found that one of the pads had fallen off which left a sharp piece of metal sticking into my nose. So lets see pain or not see what I’m reading, or writing? Compromise comes to mind, see a little, pain a little right now it is pain. I guess I’ll look for some Scotch Tape and build a pad that should look better the using a bunion pad.

Today I when back to Salisbury Cathedral to take some pictures inside, but yesterday, because it was Sunday, was free today is not. At 6£ I could buy a postcard, in fact I could buy lots of postcards. Off I went to a free park, soon it began to rain so off in search of some place to get out of it. I visited the train station which is only open in the summer; really! Trains do not come here in the winter according the schedules. Don’t ask me I’m just a visitor. Then into town where I wander through the few stores that are open and end up in a book store. Can you believe that? I was just taken the backpack off and was sitting down to look at a map when I was told they were closing; I smile. Today is a bank holiday the stores that were open get to close early

My friend Gary told me that things you didn’t need would go away and things you needed would come to you. So far no bike, but the sandals are gone. The bike shop was not open yesterday, nor would it be open today. I thought about going back to Southampton, which we pasted through on the bus ride here, in order go to Toys R Us; I kid you not. I did a double take as the bus put into the Southampton bus terminal and dead ahead was a Toys R Us. Now where is Wal Mart? No I’ll wait until tomorrow to go to the bike shop which means I have to stay another day here. That’s O.K. I’ve not seen Stonehenge yet. I found a Starbucks which has a T-mobile hotspot, bought a pickle and cheese sandwich(English thing), some coffee, hooked up the computer, paid for some air time, and off to cyberspace I went. Then it was time for dinner at a local Pub today they cook meals.

According to the guide books this is where you go to meet locals and make friends. Did I mention most of the people here don’t use the words "excuse me?" They just push on by, head down, no eye contact. I smile at people walking down the street and I become invisible, this is England not New York City right? So I get to a Pub and stand there for awhile but, no one comes around to seat me, I figure I’ll seat myself. There I sit, and sit, and sit. The waitress and waiters look at me, I smile and become invisible, one of the barmaids(I did not smile at her) walks over and asks if I ordered, to which I answer "no." She leaves looking like she is looking for some one to take my order, I sit.

I sit and sit and sit some more which is much beyond my five minute rule. What is my five minute rule you ask, if I have not been waited on within five minutes of being seated I leave. Now I had read in the Guide book that the English do not like loud, pushy Americans. I got tired of waiting get up and walkout. "You don’t want my money I’ll just go somewhere else." I say to myself not wanting to be loud or pushy. I stop at a fish and chip store, the guy behind the counter asked what I wanted. Duh maybe some fish and chips? I think to myself not wanting to be loud or pushy. I say "Fish and Chips please." He wrote down my order, looked at me and said "Isthereanythingelse" as one word. I said "I sorry I did not understand you." He said "ISTHEREANYTHINGELSE" as if saying it louder would help me understand. A nice young lady intervened at this point "He said. Is there anything else?" Ahhh "No thank you." Off I went with my fish and chips back to the hostel.

Now there is a woman from Bombay staying there who now lives in London, she is on holiday. Almost every time I sit anywhere in the hostel usually working on ths journal, or just sitting taking things in, she comes over to talk. There is another American male staying here, the guy from the bus station, who she talks to also, I hoped that she is talking to him when I arrive. I enter the dinning room, praise the hostel gods she is, I eat reading my guide book. It explains that in a Pub you order from the bar first then go sit down at any free table, the food will be brought to you; I’ll try again tomorrow for dinner at a real English Pub. I plug my computer in after I finish eating so I can journal. The Indian woman is done talking to the other American so over she comes to talk to me. I write, she talks, I smile, she talks, I give small answers, she talks, I am not loud and pushy, God how badly I want to be loud and pushy. No matter where I go she finds me to ask questions or talk, usually the same question she had asked the day before.

Now this may sound anti social, but there is a reason. She has asked several times if I am married, where I live, what it’s like to life there, and what I do for a living. My therapist, Susan, tells me if it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, and looks like at duck I can be assured it is someone who is interested in me. O. K. time to go to bed; alone!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006 (1:11pm)

Today I bought a tour bus trip to Stonehenge. Off I go on the upper level of a double Decker bus which has a tour guide explaining all the sites along the way. Now I am a tourist! English roads are very narrow and we fly along with the hedges inches from my face. Cars coming at us look as if they will hit us head on, then whiz on by. I feel as if I’m on the Mr. Toads ride at Disneyland. The Bus is heading straight at a building only to turn with in inches of hitting it careening down the road to a traffic circle. They love traffic circles in England putting them everywhere. First one in gets the right of way, in we fly or we stop on a dime. The bus gets so close to the car in front of us that you can see the dead bugs on the window. The guide announces "There is Stonehenge on the rise in front of the bus." I open my eyes, yes its there, close them again until we arrive.

Ancient, beautiful, surreal, untouchable, big, but really, really small. There is only one time during the year when people are still allowed to go amount the stones. On the summer solstice thousands come here to watch the sun rise. One story reports the stones were dragged 80 to 120 miles by a people who had no machines. Then dressed, stood upright, with an even bigger stone placed on top. All in a very tight space. Sharp corners, tight fitting joints, only a few feet apart. Some destroyed now, some reinforced to keep them from falling to the ground. Some already fallen because of attacks on the site by Christians of long ago, some just do to age. We have a whole fifteen minutes to look then back to Salisbury we go. It’s OK! The guide, who almost got me to be loud and pushy, said "Merlyn did not bring them from Ireland, and they were not levitated into place!" Was she there? According to her a 1000 men dragged the stones to this spot on logs used as rollers. Shades of the pyramid builders. I like the Merlyn version better. You can feel the Ley Lines pull as you walk around the circle. According to her 23 radiate out from the center of Stonehenge; just by accident.

She points out in the distance at burial mounds of the people who built Stonehenge. These mounds had a burial chamber under them with only one person in it. They were for the important members of the clan. Many of these mounds contained the remains of woman who occupied high positions among their people. We pass very close to several of this burial mounds on the way back that are situated on Ley lines, they look so powerful.

On the way to Stonehenge we pass the town Amesbury. The Guide points to a church that was once the site of an large abbey. She tell us that this the Abbey Arthur sent Guenevere after he found out about her affair with Lancelot. It is reported that she lived there until her death. When Lancelot learned she had died, he came to the Abby to take her body to be buried with Arthur at Glastonbury. Lancelot had become a monk visiting her here many times over the years. When he laid Guenevere to rest with Arthur he became so depressed, at the lose of both the friends he love the most, that he died soon after. The river Avon, on which Arthur was born to be buried at Glastonbury or Avalon runs through both sites. As soon as I got off the bus I knew where I would be headed next; Amesbury.

We arrived back at Salisbury and I walked through the town market, which happens twice a week, in the old market square where it has been happening for over 500 years. I bought some
wonderful cheese, bread and fruit. I also purchased a jacket because it is very, very cool. Then I purchased something I have never owned in my life. Now I own a "brally" yes indeed I purchased my first umbrella. I board a double decker bus to Amesbury where it is a short walk to what is left of the Abbey.

There is a small Norman church here now and I begin to look around. I learn that this was once a very large Abbey estate and the church is all that is left. The rest was destroyed when the Dissolution of the Monasteries happened so Henry the VIII could get himself a new wife. Here to on this site pagan and christen religions found a way to co-exist. There has been some form of "church" on this site since 200 BC. The monastery is long gone, but you can see it, no feel it, it is still here. Looking down path through the deep woods I can see/feel it sitting there. There along side the lake you can see the nuns walking in quite reflection. Arthur comes here one last time, before the battle with Modred, to see Guenevere. I become light headed with a sense of becoming part of the past when I touch the trees and buildings.

I am not wanting to leave but it is late and I have to catch my bus. As I approach the bus stop I see a bike shop with used bikes outside. I talk a look at the prices, my bike has come to me, well kind of. I head back to Glastonbury and am ready to make some decisions about where to go next and how.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Painter

I was painting my new porch last week with a brush. Yes a brush! I also painted my whole house by brush. My kids came up to help me and thought I was out of my mind. "Use a roller, get a spray gun" said they. "NO!" said I. But that is another story.

While painting I began thinking about the man in my life who taught me to paint. When I was in high school a friend of my grandmother's told her of a fellow who was looking for someone to help around his house. Seems the guy had a serious heart condition which kept him from doing much. I rode my Schwinn up to a small white bungalow with a yard surrounded by a low wire fence. The front yard had patches of grass on either side of a cracked cement walk leading to the steps of a small porch. The driveway was two worn ruts with a grass median

As I came up to the gate a brown and white Boxer bounded from the back of the house barking and drooling. He was shortly followed by a tall, thin, gray haired man, in white bib overalls and a white tee shirt. He had a narrow face with sunken cheeks, and a sharp nose. Calling the dog he asked if I were the lad who was interested in helping around the house. "Yes that would be me." "Come in the dog will not bite you." He said as he turned to head to the back of the house. I followed with the dog sniffing at my butt. I don't like short haired dogs, and was now not real thrilled with getting drooled on

Walking past his car he stated that he didn't drive much any more and would I mind getting things from the store for him. "I could do that." He led me to a small back porch with enough room for a small table and two chairs. "Coffee?" "Yes with milk." That was the first of many cups of coffee we would share. What we talked about during those time I could not say. Must have been his heart attack, his wife's leaving him, his dog, and painting. He had been a painter all his life

During our times together he would teach me to paint with a brush, only a brush. He had no rollers or spray guns around. I leaned how to clean a brush, how to buy a brush, how to store a brush, just about anything to do with a brush I learned from him. I painted his whole house with a brush. I didn't become a martial arts expert from this endeavor, however I became a darn good painter

I also cut his grass when not playing with the dog or drinking coffee and talking. I learned to love the dog after time, the drool not so much. Riding up to the house on my bike I'd see him waiting for me ball in mouth . Probably the only time I saw The Painter smile was when the dog and I were playing ball. On the back porch The Painter would wait daily with coffee, maybe some cookies or Ding Dongs. We'd talk then I'd paint as he watched, correcting hand stroke's, or using the wrong brush. When he was taken to the hospital with another heart attack, I became the caretaker of the dog and home until his return

Now in the cooler months I had been let in the kitchen for our coffee talks. But, now I was able to visit all the rooms, all four. The kitchen, living room, bedroom and bathroom. His wife had left him many years ago, yet there in the closet, who's door stood open, was a neat row of dresses. Ladies shoes neatly lined up on the floor of her half. His half had suits, dress shirts, neatly pressed pants, beneath them shined shoes waited. I was quite sure these items had not been used for some time

The Painter did not come home, the dog when to live with his son, who I only met once. I had lost two friend at one time causing me to be sad for some time after. Also for some time I was his haunted by his loneliness, along with the hope of his lost Love's return. I often wondered if I would end my days alone yearning for someone...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Streets of Gold, not so much!

Ellis Island is a symbol of America’s immigrant heritage. From 1892 to 1954, this immigrant depot processed the greatest tide of incoming humanity in the nation’s history. Nearly twelve million landed here in their search of freedom of speech and religion, and for economic opportunity.

The Yankees play out of Yankee Stadium located at 161st St. and River Avenue in the Bronx. The stadium, opened in April 18, 1923, is one of the most famous ballparks in history.

FUEL CHIEF ISSUES WEATHER WARNING; Goethals Says Shipment of Coal From Mines May Be Delayed Without Notice. New York Times February 4, 1923.

31-2 INCHES OF SNOW SETS JANUARY MARK; Yesterday's Fall Brings Total to 21.6 Inches, Against 20.3 Inches in 1893. New York Times January 1923.

LUXOR, Egypt, Feb. 20. -- It might be asked why not get some of the stuff out of the two chambers of the tomb of Tut-ankh-Amen that are still stored with treasures, and learn what is there.

Another story of the fury of the storms which have been raging on the Atlantic for the last three months was related yesterday. January 31, 1923.

HUNGARY TO PAY AUSTRIA.; Court Awards the Latter 3,000,000 Francs' Burgenland Reparation. (Burgenland is the state my grandmother lived in) February 1923.

Edison Swings Leg Over Chair 4 Feet High on 76th Birthday February 1923.

Left to Right: Grandfather, Joe, Grandmother's Sister Rose, Grandmother, My mother.
Searching the archives of Ellis Island I came across my Grandmother's name, Anna Mayer. There was copy of the ships manifest, The Lapland, with her name on it. There is a picture of the ship which was a beautiful two funnel steamer. It was built in 1909 entering the Port of New York on February 18, 1923 with my grandmother aboard. Her father's brother Julius Mayer was the receiving relative and she had $25 cash in hand. It seems Uncle Julius, as I knew him, had paid for her ticket. She was 15! 15!

My grandmother had traveled alone across the Atlantic sent to the U. S. by her father Johann Mayer from Austria. Trying to imagine what it would be like for a 15 year old farm girl from Austria to travel across the Atlantic leaves me blank. Maybe terrifying at the lest scared of what lies ahead? All her mother and father along with brothers, sisters and friends gone. She may have had vague memories of Uncle Julius for he had moved to the states years before. It seems upon her arrival that it was cold enough that February for New York City to have problems getting coal across the ice flows on the Hudson River.

She had several stories about that time in her life. One was that the reason her father sent her to America was because he though she would not survive farm life. She told of her father telling her to put stone's behind the wheels of the horse drawn wagon so it would not roll down the hill they had just come up. She decided her fists would work as well as stones, however they did not and both hands were smashed as the wheels rolled over them. She stated that she was lucky that it had rained and the ground was soft or she might have lost both hands.

Another is waking the next morning and looking out the window expecting to see beautiful America she had been told about. What she was was a town covered in gray ash from the cement mills in the area. So she spent the next few years working in a cigar factory rolling cigars on her hip before marring my grandfather and moving to New York City. She faired no better the and by reports became suicidal to the point my grandfather had to shut off the gas to their apartment and lock her in while he went to work.

In 1930 she took my mother, who was three at the time, back to Austria. When she returned see would not see her parents again before they died. When I was a child we would drive to Coplay and vist Uncle Julius and his wife Aunt Pauline. I think the last time we visited them was in the late 1950's. In early 1960's her youngest sister moved to Canada for a brief time, but returned to Austria soon after. My grandmother passed without ever seeing her mother, father or brothers and sisters again.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Paternal Branch of My Family DNA Tree

Your Y-chromosome results identify you as a member of haplogroup I1c.
The genetic markers that define your ancestral history reach back roughly 60,000 years to the first common marker of all non-African men, M168, and follow your lineage to present day, ending with M223, the defining marker of haplogroup I1c.

If you look at the map highlighting your ancestors' route, you will see that members of haplogroup I1c carry the following Y-chromosome markers:
M168 > M89 > M170 > M223

Your own haplogroup, I1c, is most common in Germany. About 11 percent of all German men belong to this genetic lineage.

What's a haplogroup, and why do geneticists concentrate on the Y chromosome in their search for markers? For that matter, what's a marker?

Each of us carries DNA that is a combination of genes passed from both our mother and father, giving us traits that range from eye color and height to athleticism and disease susceptibility. One exception is the Y chromosome, which is passed directly from father to son, unchanged, from generation to generation.

Unchanged, that is unless a mutation—a random, naturally occurring, usually harmless change—occurs. The mutation, known as a marker, acts as a beacon; it can be mapped through generations because it will be passed down from the man in whom it occurred to his sons, their sons, and every male in his family for thousands of years.

In some instances there may be more than one mutational event that defines a particular branch on the tree. This is the case for your haplogroup I, since this branch can be defined by two markers, either M170 or P19. This means that either of these markers can be used to determine your particular haplogroup, since every individual who has one of these markers also has the other. Therefore, either marker can be used as a genetic signpost leading us back to the origin of your group, guiding our understanding of what was happening at that early time.

When geneticists identify such a marker, they try to figure out when it first occurred, and in which geographic region of the world. Each marker is essentially the beginning of a new lineage on the family tree of the human race. Tracking the lineages provides a picture of how small tribes of modern humans in Africa tens of thousands of years ago diversified and spread to populate the world.

A haplogroup is defined by a series of markers that are shared by other men who carry the same random mutations. The markers trace the path your ancestors took as they moved out of Africa. It's difficult to know how many men worldwide belong to any particular haplogroup, or even how many haplogroups there are, because scientists simply don't have enough data yet.

One of the goals of the five-year Genographic Project is to build a large enough database of anthropological genetic data to answer some of these questions. To achieve this, project team members are traveling to all corners of the world to collect more than 100,000 DNA samples from indigenous populations. In addition, we encourage you to contribute your anonymous results to the project database, helping our geneticists reveal more of the answers to our ancient past.

Your Ancestral Journey: What We Know Now
M168: Your Earliest Ancestor
Fast Facts
Time of Emergence: Roughly 50,000 years ago
Place of Origin: Africa
Climate: Temporary retreat of Ice Age; Africa moves from drought to warmer temperatures and moister conditions

Estimated Number of Homo sapiens: Approximately 10,000
Tools and Skills: Stone tools; earliest evidence of art and advanced conceptual skills
Skeletal and archaeological evidence suggest that anatomically modern humans evolved in Africa around 200,000 years ago, and began moving out of Africa to colonize the rest of the world around 60,000 years ago.

The man who gave rise to the first genetic marker in your lineage probably lived in northeast Africa in the region of the Rift Valley, perhaps in present-day Ethiopia , Kenya, or Tanzania, some 31,000 to 79,000 years ago. Scientists put the most likely date for when he lived at around 50,000 years ago. His descendants became the only lineage to survive outside of Africa, making him the common ancestor of every non-African man living today.

But why would man have first ventured out of the familiar African hunting grounds and into unexplored lands? It is likely that a fluctuation in climate may have provided the impetus for your ancestors' exodus out of Africa.

The African ice age was characterized by drought rather than by cold. It was around 50,000 years ago that the ice sheets of northern Europe began to melt, introducing a period of warmer temperatures and moister climate in Africa. Parts of the inhospitable Sahara briefly became habitable. As the drought-ridden desert changed to a savanna, the animals hunted by your ancestors expanded their range and began moving through the newly emerging green corridor of grasslands. Your nomadic ancestors followed the good weather and the animals they hunted, although the exact route they followed remains to be determined.

In addition to a favorable change in climate, around this same time there was a great leap forward in modern humans' intellectual capacity. Many scientists believe that the emergence of language gave us a huge advantage over other early human species. Improved tools and weapons, the ability to plan ahead and cooperate with one another, and an increased capacity to exploit resources in ways we hadn't been able to earlier, all allowed modern humans to rapidly migrate to new territories, exploit new resources, and replace other hominids.

M89: Moving Through the Middle East
Fast Facts
Time of Emergence: 45,000 years ago
Place: Northern Africa or the Middle East
Climate: Middle East: Semiarid grass plains
Estimated Number of Homo sapiens: Tens of thousands
Tools and Skills: Stone, ivory, wood tools

The next male ancestor in your ancestral lineage is the man who gave rise to M89, a marker found in 90 to 95 percent of all non-Africans. This man was born around 45,000 years ago in northern Africa or the Middle East.

The first people to leave Africa likely followed a coastal route that eventually ended in Australia. Your ancestors followed the expanding grasslands and plentiful game to the Middle East and beyond, and were part of the second great wave of migration out of Africa.

Beginning about 40,000 years ago, the climate shifted once again and became colder and more arid. Drought hit Africa and the grasslands reverted to desert, and for the next 20,000 years, the Saharan Gateway was effectively closed. With the desert impassable, your ancestors had two options: remain in the Middle East, or move on. Retreat back to the home continent was not an option.

While many of the descendants of M89 remained in the Middle East, others continued to follow the great herds of buffalo, antelope, woolly mammoths, and other game through what is now modern-day Iran to the vast steppes of Central Asia.

These semiarid grass-covered plains formed an ancient "superhighway" stretching from eastern France to Korea. Your ancestors, having migrated north out of Africa into the Middle East, then traveled both east and west along this Central Asian superhighway. A smaller group continued moving north from the Middle East to Anatolia and the Balkans, trading familiar grasslands for forests and high country.

M170: Occupying the Balkans
Fast Facts
Time of Emergence: 20,000 years ago
Place of Origin: Southeastern Europe
Climate: Height of the Ice Age
Estimated Number of Homo sapiens: Hundreds of thousands
Tools and Skills: Gravettian culture of the Upper Paleolithic

Your ancestors were part of the M89 Middle Eastern Clan that continued to migrate northwest into the Balkans and eventually spread into central Europe. These people may have been responsible for the expansion of the prosperous Gravettian culture, which spread through northern Europe from about 21,000 to 28,000 years ago.

The Gravettian culture represents the second technological phase to sweep through prehistoric Western Europe. It is named after a site in La Gravette, France, where a set of tools different from the preceding era (Aurignacian culture) was found. The Gravettian stone tool kit included a distinctive small pointed blade used for hunting big game.

The Gravettian culture is also known for their voluptuous carvings of big-bellied females often dubbed "Venus" figures. The small, frequently hand-sized sculptures appear to be of pregnant women—obesity not being a problem for hunter-gatherers—and may have served as fertility icons or as emblems conferring protection of some sort. Alternatively, they may have represented goddesses.

These early European ancestors of yours used communal hunting techniques, created shell jewelry, and used mammoth bones to build their homes. Recent findings suggest that the Gravettians may have discovered how to weave clothing using natural fibers as early as 25,000 years ago. Earlier estimates had placed weaving at about the same time as the emergence of agriculture, around 10,000 years ago.

The man who gave rise to marker M170, was born about 20,000 years ago and was heir to this heritage. He was probably born in one of the isolated refuge areas people were forced to occupy during the last blast of the Ice Age, possibly in the Balkans. As the ice sheets covering much of Europe began to retreat around 15,000 years ago, his descendants likely played a central role in repopulating northern Europe.

It's possible that the Vikings descended from this line. The Viking raids on the British Isles might explain why the lineage can be found in populations in southern France and among some Celtic populations.

M223: Reclaiming Europe From Ice
Fast Facts
Time of Emergence: 14,000 to 18,000 years ago
Place of origin: Europe
Climate: Ice sheets in retreat in the years soon after Last Glacial Maximum
Tools and Skills: Cooperative hunting, dependence on herd animals

The M223 lineage originated some 14,000 to 18,000 years ago with a genetic mutation in a single man who lived in what is now southern France. This period was one of tremendous climactic change. Europe was experiencing a temperate rebirth as the world's frozen expanses of ice began to retreat at the end of the Last Glacial Maximum.

Some tribes of ancient European hunters pressed northward with the retreating ice, pursuing herds. By "following the food," these descendents of the original M223 went on to populate much of northern Europe.

The members of this ancient lineage were effective hunters who used teamwork to harvest large herds of wild horses and other game. Their descendents founded the widespread Gravettian culture, which developed exceptional art in the form of voluptuous female statues called Venus figures. These statues most likely had religious overtones as well and may have represented ancient fertility rites.

Today about 25 percent of all northwest European men are members of this haplogroup. The lineage has three primary sub-clades, and each one is prominent in a different geographic location.

I1a is found at highest frequency in Scandinavia, where it occurs in some 35 percent of the male population. Fifteen percent of British men also are members of I1a.
Haplogroup I1b is most common in the Balkans and Eastern Europe.
Your own haplogroup, I1c, is most common in Germany. About 11 percent of all German men belong to this genetic lineage.

This is where your genetic trail, as we know it today, ends. However, be sure to revisit these pages. As additional data are collected and analyzed, more will be learned about your place in the history of the men and women who first populated the Earth. We will be updating these stories throughout the life of the project.

The Maternal Branch of My Family DNA Tree

Your Branch on the Human Family Tree
Your DNA results identify you as belonging to a specific branch of the human family tree called haplogroup T. Haplogroup T contains the following subgroups: T, T2, T3, T4, T5.

The map above shows the direction that your maternal ancestors took as they set out from their original homeland in East Africa. While humans did travel many different paths during a journey that took tens of thousands of years, the lines above represent the dominant trends in this migration.

Over time, the descendants of your ancestors ultimately made it into northeastern Europe, where most members of your haplogroup are found today. But before we can take you back in time and tell their stories, we must first understand how modern science makes this analysis possible.

How DNA Can Help

(To follow along, click See Your DNA Analysis above to view the data produced from your cheek scraping.)

The string of 569 letters shown above is your mitochondrial sequence, with the letters A, C, T, and G representing the four nucleotides—the chemical building blocks of life—that make up your DNA. The numbers at the top of the page refer to the positions in your sequence where informative mutations have occurred in your ancestors, and tell us a great deal about the history of your genetic lineage.

Here's how it works. Every once in a while a mutation—a random, natural (and usually harmless) change—occurs in the sequence of your mitochondrial DNA. Think of it as a spelling mistake: one of the "letters" in your sequence may change from a C to a T, or from an A to a G.

(Explore the Genetics Overview to learn more about population genetics.)

After one of these mutations occurs in a particular woman, she then passes it on to her daughters, and her daughters' daughters, and so on. (Mothers also pass on their mitochondrial DNA to their sons, but the sons in turn do not pass it on.)

Geneticists use these markers from people all over the world to construct one giant mitochondrial family tree. As you can imagine, the tree is very complex, but scientists can now determine both the age and geographic spread of each branch to reconstruct the prehistoric movements of our ancestors.

By looking at the mutations that you carry, we can trace your lineage, ancestor by ancestor, to reveal the path they traveled as they moved out of Africa. Our story begins with your earliest ancestor. Who was she, where did she live, and what is her story?

(Click Explore Your Route Map on the right side of the page to return to the map showing your haplogroup's ancestral journey.)

Your Ancestral Journey: What We Know Now

We will now take you back through the stories of your distant ancestors and show how the movements of their descendants gave rise to your mitochondrial lineage.

Each segment on the map above represents the migratory path of successive groups that eventually coalesced to form your branch of the tree. We start with your oldest ancestor, "Eve," and walk forward to more recent times, showing at each step the line of your ancestors who lived up to that point.

Mitochondrial Eve: The Mother of Us All

Ancestral Line: "Mitochondrial Eve"

Our story begins in Africa sometime between 150,000 and 170,000 years ago, with a woman whom anthropologists have nicknamed "Mitochondrial Eve."

She was awarded this mythic epithet in 1987 when population geneticists discovered that all people alive on the planet today can trace their maternal lineage back to her.

But Mitochondrial Eve was not the first female human. Homo sapiens evolved in Africa around 200,000 years ago, and the first hominids—characterized by their unique bipedal stature—appeared nearly two million years before that. Though Homo sapiens have been around for about 200,000 years, about 150,000 to 170,000 years ago, a woman was born from whom we are all descended. This happened 30,000 years after Homo sapiens evolved in Africa.

Eventually, for any number of reasons, all of the other lineages of people went extinct, and "Mitochondrial Eve" as we call her, was the only female who had descendants that are now living in the present day. We can all be traced back to that one woman, who lived about 170,000 years ago.

Which begs the question, "So why Eve?"

Simply put, Eve was a survivor. A maternal line can become extinct for a number of reasons. A woman may not have children, or she may bear only sons (who do not pass her mtDNA to the next generation). She may fall victim to a catastrophic event such as a volcanic eruption, flood, or famine, all of which have plagued humans since the dawn of our species.

None of these extinction events happened to Eve's line. It may have been simple luck, or it may have been something much more. It was around this same time that modern humans' intellectual capacity underwent what author Jared Diamond coined the Great Leap Forward. Many anthropologists believe that the emergence of language gave us a huge advantage over other early human species. Improved tools and weapons, the ability to plan ahead and cooperate with one another, and an increased capacity to exploit resources in ways we hadn't been able to earlier, all allowed modern humans to rapidly migrate to new territories, exploit new resources, and outcompete and replace other hominids, such as the Neandertals.

It is difficult to pinpoint the chain of events that led to Eve's unique success, but we can say with certainty that all of us trace our maternal lineage back to this one woman.

The L Haplogroups: The Deepest Branches

Ancestral line: "Eve" > L1/L0

Mitochondrial Eve represents the root of the human family tree. Her descendents, moving around within Africa, eventually split into two distinct groups, characterized by a different set of mutations their members carry.

These groups are referred to as L0 and L1, and these individuals have the most divergent genetic sequences of anybody alive today, meaning they represent the deepest branches of the mitochondrial tree. Importantly, current genetic data indicates that indigenous people belonging to these groups are found exclusively in Africa. This means that, because all humans have a common female ancestor, "Eve," and because the genetic data shows that Africans are the oldest groups on the planet, we know our species originated there.

Haplogroups L1 and L0 likely originated in East Africa and then spread throughout the rest of the continent. Today, these lineages are found at highest frequencies in Africa's indigenous populations, the hunter-gatherer groups who have maintained their ancestors' culture, language, and customs for thousands of years.

At some point, after these two groups had coexisted in Africa for a few thousand years, something important happened. The mitochondrial sequence of a woman in one of these groups, L1, mutated. A letter in her DNA changed, and because many of her descendants have survived to the present, this change has become a window into the past. The descendants of this woman, characterized by this signpost mutation, went on to form their own group, called L2. Because the ancestor of L2 was herself a member of L1, we can say something about the emergence of these important groups: Eve begat L1, and L1 begat L2. Now we're starting to move down your ancestral line.

Haplogroup L2: West Africa

Ancestral line: "Eve" > L1/L0 > L2

L2 individuals are found in sub-Saharan Africa, and like their L1 predecessors, they also live in Central Africa and as far south as South Africa. But whereas L1/L0 individuals remained predominantly in eastern and southern Africa, your ancestors broke off into a different direction, which you can follow on the map above.

L2 individuals are most predominant in West Africa, where they constitute the majority of female lineages. And because L2 individuals are found at high frequencies and widely distributed along western Africa, they represent one of the predominant lineages in African-Americans. Unfortunately, it is difficult to pinpoint where a specific L2 lineage might have arisen. For an African-American who is L2—the likely result of West Africans being brought to America during the slave trade—it is difficult to say with certainty exactly where in Africa that lineage arose.

Fortunately, collaborative sampling with indigenous groups is currently underway to help learn more about these types of questions and to possibly bridge the gap that was created during those transatlantic voyages hundreds of years ago.

Haplogroup L3: Out of Africa

Ancestral line: "Eve" > L1/L0 > L2 > L3

Your next signpost ancestor is the woman whose birth around 80,000 years ago began haplogroup L3. It is a similar story: an individual in L2 underwent a mutation to her mitochondrial DNA, which was passed onto her children. The children were successful, and their descendants ultimately broke away from the L2 clan, eventually separating into a new group called L3. You can see above that this has revealed another step in your ancestral line.

While L3 individuals are found all over Africa, including the southern reaches of sub-Sahara, L3 is important for its movements north. You can follow this movement of the map above, seeing first the expansions of L1/L0, then L2, and followed by the northward migration of L3.

Your L3 ancestors were significant because they are the first modern humans to have left Africa, representing the deepest branches of the tree found outside of that continent.

Why would humans have first ventured out of the familiar African hunting grounds and into unexplored lands? It is likely that a fluctuation in climate may have provided the impetus for your ancestors' exodus out of Africa.

The African Ice Age was characterized by drought rather than by cold. Around 50,000 years ago the ice sheets of northern Europe began to melt, introducing a period of warmer temperatures and moister climate in Africa. Parts of the inhospitable Sahara briefly became habitable. As the drought-ridden desert changed to savanna, the animals your ancestors hunted expanded their range and began moving through the newly emerging green corridor of grasslands. Your nomadic ancestors followed the good weather and plentiful game northward across this Saharan Gateway, although the exact route they followed remains to be determined.

Today, L3 individuals are found at high frequencies in populations across North Africa. From there, members of this group went in a few different directions. Some lineages within L3 testify to a distinct expansion event in the mid-Holocene that headed south, and are predominant in many Bantu groups found all over Africa. One group of individuals headed west and is primarily restricted to Atlantic western Africa, including the islands of Cabo Verde.

Other L3 individuals, your ancestors, kept moving northward, eventually leaving the African continent completely. These people currently make up around ten percent of the Middle Eastern population, and gave rise to two important haplogroups that went on to populate the rest of the world.

Haplogroup N: The Incubation Period

Ancestral line: "Eve" > L1/L0 > L2 > L3 > N

Your next signpost ancestor is the woman whose descendants formed haplogroup N. Haplogroup N comprises one of two groups that were created by the descendants of L3.

The first of these groups, M, was the result of the first great wave of migration of modern humans to leave Africa. These people likely left the continent across the Horn of Africa near Ethiopia, and their descendants followed a coastal route eastward, eventually making it all the way to Australia and Polynesia.

The second great wave, also of L3 individuals, moved north rather than east and left the African continent across the Sinai Peninsula, in present-day Egypt. Also faced with the harsh desert conditions of the Sahara, these people likely followed the Nile basin, which would have proved a reliable water and food supply in spite of the surrounding desert and its frequent sandstorms.

Descendants of these migrants eventually formed haplogroup N. Early members of this group lived in the eastern Mediterranean region and western Asia, where they likely coexisted for a time with other hominids such as Neandertals. Excavations in Israel's Kebara Cave (Mount Carmel) have unearthed Neandertal skeletons as recent as 60,000 years old, indicating that there was both geographic and temporal overlap of these two hominids.

The ancient members of haplogroup N spawned many sublineages, which spread across much of the rest of the globe and are found throughout Asia, Europe, India, and the Americas.

Haplogroup R: Spreading Out

Ancestral line: "Eve" > L1/L0 > L2 > L3 > N > R

After several thousand years in the Near East, individuals belonging to a new group called haplogroup R began to move out and explore the surrounding areas. Some moved south, migrating back into northern Africa. Others went west across Anatolia (present-day Turkey) and north across the Caucasus Mountains of Georgia and southern Russia. Still others headed east into the Middle East, and on to Central Asia. All of these individuals had one thing in common: they shared a female ancestor from the N clan, a recent descendant of the migration out of Africa.

The story of haplogroup R is complicated, however, because these individuals can be found almost everywhere, and because their origin is quite ancient. In fact, the ancestor of haplogroup R lived relatively soon after humans moved out of Africa during the second wave, and her descendants undertook many of the same migrations as her own group, N.

Because the two groups lived side by side for thousands of years, it is likely that the migrations radiating out from the Near East comprised individuals from both of these groups. They simply moved together, bringing their N and R lineages to the same places around the same times. The tapestry of genetic lines became quickly entangled, and geneticists are currently working to unravel the different stories of haplogroups N and R, since they are found in many of the same far-reaching places.

Haplogroup T: Your Branch on the Tree

Ancestral line: "Eve" > L1/L0 > L2 > L3 > N > R > T

We finally arrive at your own clan, a group of individuals who descend from a woman in the R branch of the tree. The divergent genetic lineage that constitutes haplogroup T indicates that she lived sometime around 40,000 years ago.

Haplogroup T has a very wide distribution, and is present as far east as the Indus Valley bordering India and Pakistan and as far south as the Arabian Peninsula. It is also common in eastern and northern Europe. Although your haplogroup was present during the early and middle Upper Paleolithic, T is largely considered one of the main genetic signatures of the Neolithic expansions.

While groups of hunter-gatherers and subsistence fishermen had been occupying much of Eurasia for tens of thousands of years, around ten thousand years ago a group of modern humans living in the Fertile Crescent—present-day eastern Turkey and northern Syria—began domesticating the plants, nuts, and seeds they had been collecting. What resulted were the world's first agriculturalists, and this new cultural era is typically referred to as the Neolithic.

Groups of individuals able to support larger populations with this reliable food source began migrating out of the Middle East, bringing their new technology with them. By then, humans had already settled much of the surrounding areas, but this new agricultural technology proved too successful to ignore, and the surrounding groups quickly copied these new immigrants. Interestingly, DNA data indicate that while these new agriculturalists were incredibly successful at planting their technology in the surrounding groups, they were far less successful at planting their own genetic seed. Agriculture was quickly and widely adopted, but the lineages carried by these Neolithic expansions are found today at frequencies seldom greater than 20 percent in Europe, the Middle East, and Central Asia.

Monday, September 29, 2008


The heart is the place where we live our passions. It is frail and easily broken, but wonderfully resilient. There is no point in trying to deceive the heart. It depends upon our honesty for its survival. ~ by Leo Buscaglia (Born For Love) ~

I met Leo in Pasadena after one of his recitals. He gave everyone in the audience a hug as they left the theater. We were asked not to squeeze him to hard as some people got carried away hurting him with a well intentioned bear hug. I hugged him genitally as he did me thanking me for coming. It felt genuine, his words very real, he seemed to a truly honest person. He died not long after of a heart attack. Ironic that the Love Doctor's big heart would kill him.

Honesty is the catch word in most personal ads. Men seeking Woman or Woman seeking Man all what the other to be honest. Careful what you wish for. Once I asked someone what version of honesty did they want? The reply received in anger "Are you playing head games?" "No" was my answer, "Just wanting to know if you want me to be honest, or do you want me to say want you want to hear as some people consider that honesty." She hung up. Oh well nothing ventured nothing gained.

There was a song of that name, how did it go? Oh yeah "Honesty is such a lonely word. Everyone is so untrue. Honesty is hardly ever heard. And mostly what I need from you.." the refrain Billy Joel sang.

I sit with a friend having lunch talking about how being honest is really important. Yet there seems to be dishonesty as we talk. Things are not talked about or thing are not said. I want to say "I could fall in love with you in a heart beat," but don't. That would be to much honesty and she would cease to be my friend, I think. So I keep silent, enjoy her company from time to time, then go on about my life. However, I've made a decision for her in doing so based on my perception that she does not want that honesty. Some day she'll tell me that she has met a wonderful man. I'll tell her how happy I am for her as I attempt to be honest. Because I know it is not what she wants to hear from me so why say it?

Consider the following question "Does this _____ make me look fat?" You smile? This is a dammed if you do, dammed if you don't question. What if it does make them look fat? Is an honest answer the best course of action? Silence is not an option, sweat beads on the back of the neck, is there a door close by or maybe a bathroom. "Excuse me for a minute, be right back."

I've discussed this concept with several of my friends each of whom come at it in a different ways. Some say you must be honest all times, at all costs, some say be honest only if it does not hurt someone, Some honesty is something no one really wants to hear so do it only when necessary. Being honest is something I think about allot, because in the past I've not been a particularly honest person. At times is seems that being honest really is not going to change anything, so why bother. Yet, it nags at me no to say my truth about something, but why when it changes nothing, or could change things in a way I'm not interested in.

There are only two ways of telling the complete truth--anonymously and posthumously.--Thomas Sowell

Monday, September 1, 2008

County Fair

The 2008 Coconino County Fair ended at 4pm today. We disassembled out booth, packed our "wares" and headed to our respective homes. The Fair was four long days of greeting attendees who were reported to number over 10,000. Our "wares" were handouts to assure people that H & R Block was where they should got to get their taxes done, or work. We handed out several hundred balloons to children, and as many flyer's to adults. Standing by the booth asking people walking by if they would be interested in working for H & R Block I came face to face with Kathleen.

There was that split second of recognition, then disengagement as her head and body moved immediately in another direction.

My throat constricted her name would not come out. Her back to me I watched her and the man she was with walk away.

Twenty years ago Kathleen and I worked together at the newly opened Psychiatric Hospital here in Flagstaff. We shared an office, did groups together, laughed, and hung out. We went to the Grand Canyon by steam train. Then upon return danced at the train station in Williams as people walked by quickly eye's averted. I remember sitting in a very serious staffing when a bare foot slid under my pant leg. I struggled not to look at Kathleen, nor bust into laughter. She started chocking as she attempted to control breaking out in laughter. Questioning looks followed but we recovered nicely only to fall apart when we reached our office.

We dated on and off for the two years we worked at the hospital. I was besotted with her and told her so. She never quite returned by besottedness, but continued to go out with me. From time to time she would date another man for a while then back to me. She was not happy working at the hospital as she had no degree leaving her at a dead end. The hospital was a decidedly mentally unhealthy place to work. We had both talked of leaving for healthier pastures.

She left about three months before me to work at the local probation office. On her last day she ran out into the parking lot yelling "I'm Free, I'm Free." Again I was sitting in a staffing when I hear her yelling outside. This time I smiled knowing that soon I would follow her. We had continued to date after she left. I called her to ask her to go to the fair with me. She told me she had to go out of town that weekend being really sorry to miss the time together.

I rarely got to Fair's but what the heck on a whim I'd attend the 1988 Coconion County Fair by my self. After visiting the hospitals booth I wandered around looking at other booths and rides. Then spend some time listening to the band's that were playing. Turing from the band to leave I came face to face with Kathleen and the man she was with.

There was a split second of recognition then, disengagement as her head and body immediately moved in another direction.

My throat constricted her name would not come out. Her back to me I watched her and the man she was with walk away.

There is more drama around this story which is not part of this writing. Maybe later on I'll relate the rest of the story.

For now it is the Happening of it that is important. I find that the past events do indeed manage to repeat in to the present. Kind of like a test to see what you've learned along the way. Will you react the same or will you respond differently. Get it "right" this time, what ever "right" is. As I watched her walk down the isle all the feelings and memories of that time came flooding back. Over the year's I had wondered what had happened to her. The "What if's" bombarded my brain, sadness began to settle on my shoulders.

Walking the Fair grounds to clear my head I saw her again. She looked much the same except I did not observer her once eagerness to smile. They walked together apart, not touching, talking to each other, but not looking at each other. They did not look happy together, but more as if they had to be there and not doing a go job of making the best of it. I sincerely hope that it was just an off day, or that I miss the more happy moments.

Then it was time to let the past walk on by, head back to my booth and continue to ask "Are you interested in a part time position?"

Sunday, July 20, 2008

In Search of ...

During tax season one of my clients tells me about the National Geographic Genographic project she signed up for She tells me her DNA has been tracked back to the Ice Man Later she come back and drops off a booklet received when signing up. It explains how one can become part of the study by sending in a sample of DNA. The public is encouraged to become part of the study so can become "truly global." Reviewing the web site information is give that this is a study of the migratory history of human species.
Looking into my genetic past was beckoning me. It was quite interesting since I have reason to believe that there is some diversity in my background not talked about. However, there is a cost to this enlightenment which was not in the budget prior to my trip to England. The past would have to wait until my return in June.
My kit arrived about three weeks after ordering it soon after Father's Day. It contained the swabs and test tubes necessary to take a DNA sample which would be used to trace my genetic ancestry. It has been mailed back and it will be a little over a month before any information is posted on the web site which is accessed through my special tracing code. What will it revel? We'll see soon.

Friday, June 27, 2008

After England 2008


That's what the place is called that people continually return to after any outing. Home after vacation, funeral, shopping, hospital, or a walk in the park is there waiting to give comfort. I've had several "Homes" in my life which causes me to wonder if they are still my home? The house lived in growing up was in Wyandanch NY, the house my kids came home to after birth was in Ronkonkoma NY, then the house of healing in Lake Havasu AZ, there were several houses in Kingman AZ, sort of a house in Clairmont CA during the divorce, then Phoenix AZ during my second career, lastly the current one in Flagstaff AZ. Actually there were several house in these towns, but there seems one that was really "home." There were a few that were shared with girlfriends that were called "home," but never felt like it.
Salisbury in England feels like home even though the "Home" it self is currently in the next room waiting to be used again; a tent. Walking down the streets of Salisbury is a comforting as returning to the building called home. That brings us to the present. After spending a week in Phoenix at my children's homes I'm back in Flagstaff. Work that creates the money for my journeys to England are calling. This home needs some fixing up and cleaning up so it complies with the rules of the community. Why it is in such disrepair is a whole story in itself, which maybe I'll write about some time.
So the demands of come crowing around after six weeks of doing only things thought of. Now the goals thought about for this last trip were not reached. Some might consider that failure, some just the way life is. For me it is personal growth and learning that not completed goals represent. Next year the goals will still be there if I chose to chase them, or maybe a new one will come along. One semi new goal that is circling around is riding from one end of England to the other, like Paul did. Maybe a trip of only riding, no trains, would certainly be interesting. Or, who knows maybe someone will step up to ride with me which would be a completely new experience.
Upon returning home questions are asked about the trip which at times are hard to answer.
"Did you have fun?"
This is a difficult question because of the person asking context abound the word "fun." Is it fun to ride 77 miles on a bike in the rain fearful of falling into a canal? Is it fun to ride up a steep hill on a bike weighting about 100 pounds? Is it fun to ride with cars flying by only a few feet from you? Now I don't consider these things fun in the context of something that brings on a smile or laughter. However on completion there may be a sense of accomplishment, or a beautiful view, or some new insight in one's self which does bring on a smile of laughter. I have never defined doing physically strenuous things as "fun," or rewarding in the doing. The end result was usually relief that it was done and over with.
There are times when the views or insights become over shadowed by the volume of physical output. Those are the times when the question "What the hell am I doing this for?" would not be asked if it were "fun." The answer to that question is hard to find during those times. So it is left in the recesses of the mind to mull over. Then when it is time to go home there is a review of the whole trip which gives the answer. It was rewarding at so many levels and that is why I continue to ride in England and now Europe year after year. How could it ever become boring?
"What did you get, learn or experience on this trip?"

This is asked in connection to what was gotten, learned or experience on previous trips. Some of which was quite unexpected. The first trip allowed for a revival of my spirit and spiritual self back. The second trip revived my sence of a physical self back. This trip difficultly connected those two trips to give me the belief in self back. Each year all the decisions of what will be done next are made solely by me.

Friday, June 20, 2008

England 2008 Final

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Heading home tomorrow, yep that’s it for this year. Yesterday I received an email from my former wife that talked about a cousin of mine in one sentence, then in the next a sentence that said, “Vic died last week.” I go into shock because I only know one Vic and that’s my brother-in-law. It is 9 am here that would make it about 2 am in Arizona. Who can I call, why hadn’t anyone called me. I have pictures of my sister grieving along with her daughters. I need to get home now, so I call the airline and change my departure to tomorrow.

I go to a church to sit and think there a lady comes over and tells me there is going to a funeral in about half an hour “Your welcome to stay” says she. She tells me it is sad because he as a popular fellow in town driving home from work. Someone pulled out to pass and hit him head on. Having seen the way people drive on these narrow two lane roads I wonder why there aren’t more head on collisions. I’m killing time until I can get hold of someone in the states to tell them I’ll be home on Sunday. I watch the Hearst, which is reminiscent the old horse drawn Hearst of the 1800’s, pull up. It has large windows in the back allowing for full view of the coffin. The coffin is certainly of that time period as it appears to be made of gloss lacquered white wood narrow at the top then expanding for the shoulders, then feathering down to be narrow at the feet just like some of the coffins seen in period movies.

I’m amazed at the simplicity of it quite unlike the hermetically sealed 100-pound monsters the dead received in America. The procession is the minister, then the undertaker complete with silver topped walking stick and then six pole bears who lift the coffin onto their shoulders fold their hands in front of them, all walking in cadence into the church. All except for the minister are in long back coats with tails and top hats. As I was leaving the church I got to see a picture of the gentleman who was being carried in and he was quite a happy looking stout fellow with a large red nose.

Finally about four hours later I get hold of my son and my mother. No one has died, all are well, and Carol and Vic are still in California. Relief floods over me, as my brother-in-law is a pretty important person in my life. My daughter calls I tell her about the email her mother sent. She tells me I need to reread the email, only this time read it. I say I read it and it say’s something about a cousin I have on idea who she is talking about, and then it says, “Vic died last week.” I hear my former wife saying something in the background. My daughter tells me that the Vic who died is my cousin’s husband. I’m racking my brain trying to figure out who the hell Vic is. Finally they explain who this Vic is related to using the correct name of my cousin. He is someone I met maybe two or three times thirty years ago married to a cousin I’ve not seen in that number of years.

The night before I had figured out how much I would save if I went home on Sunday, so the wheels were in motion, the email just gave it a push. So today I packed up my stuff and headed back to the YHA where I’ll spend the evening then go down to the train station, where my bike is already tethered, to head to Gatwick. My bag was still in its hiding place in the bike shed and in packing it I find that I can’t get everything into it. I’m confused; I have less stuff then when I got here, but can’t get it in the bag. Well I had planned to have two bags anyway based on the advice received from the Phoenix check in guy. On my way one of the streets usually used was blocked with a trailer advertising “Free Bike Check.” I smile.

A fellow comes over whom, after some conversation, is a police office named Will. We have a pleasant chat about riding to the “Stones” for the equinox, how I fell in love with Salisbury from the first, and that Salisbury along with Wiltshire “county” are the second safest places in England. There was a murder here about a week before I arrived, which I think he said was the first one in three years. I though of Flagstaff where there are sometime three or four murders a year, or Phoenix where there are god knows how many. Salisbury is about the same population as Flagstaff. We talk about the youth and their “Antisocial behaviors” that’s what is called over here which I think is a darn good description.

I’ve had a lot of nice conversations with people this year. Some I remembered to get names, some who’s names I forgot before I could get them written down, like last evening standing an talking with one of the caretakers of the campground who lives up north. He tells me of campground over here that have more then one hundred vans, hikers and cars waiting to be let in when the gates open at noon. Or, Carol who when I arrived two nights ago promptly brought me over a hot cup of tea while I put up my tent, then came over this morning to say goodbye. The fellow who has only had six flats tells me of the wonderful life going from campground to campground then riding around the area. We talk a little as I’m making breakfast then he wishes me luck hoping we meet again next year. I hope we do to, so as Jimmy Durantie used to sing at the end of his TV show “…Till we meet again…” or Roy Rogers “Happy trails to you until we meet again…”

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

On Sunday, June 15, 2008 I’m up at 5 am, arrive at the train station at 6 am boarding the train at 6:30 am. I meet a mother and daughter from California who were staying at the YHA also and are on their way to London. Alexia is the daughter who is enrolled in a program here in England studying psychology and Neurology. When she is finished off to Yale to complete the program. Mother’s name was Pamela visiting England and hanging out with her daughter. We spend time talking about the mental health system in Arizona and California. The train station is right to the terminal at Gatwick and in less then a half hour I’m through customs relaxing at the gate with coffee in hand.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

There are no birds singing! For six weeks the sound of birds singing would greet me when I woke. For six weeks the sound of birds singing would lull me to sleep. They are there in my mind singing away, but not in reality. Waking up with a cool breeze causing the tent to rustle, stepping out of the tent on to grass damp with dew, all the beautiful greens and flowers, riding along the road with no need to hurry, meeting new people daily are just of the few of the things that I look forward to doing again next year.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

England Eight 2008

Sunday, June 08, 2008

When to the service at the Cathedral this morning and was blessed by a sermon from Archbishop Desmon Tu Tu. The Cathedral was packed to overflowing which is a lot of people as this is one big place. The sermon was a simple one the message of God’s love for the human race, unconditional. Given by him, coming for a background of Apartheid, it was as if it were a new message that issued forth from his love for all people. Then he was installed as a Cannon of Salisbury Cathedral. He told of a person refusing a Cannonicy because of his last name, which was Ball. Then explained that the bishop had to fire Cannon Ball some time later. During the service the choir that was made up of the church’s choir and the high school choir from Cape Town South Africa. It was quite a moving experience. Spent the rest of the day getting ready for tomorrow I ride a new ride with new hills and scenery.

Speaking of hills yesterday, Saturday May 7, I decided to go for a ride that ended up connecting my first trip here to the present along with my interactions with hills. The other day I had written to my friend Mark that there was magic in riding over a hill. My bike was purchased in Amesbury, the next town north of Salisbury, on the first visit here. After purchasing the bike it had to be ridden back to Salisbury. My mind had a picture of me jumping on the bike and riding back as I rode when younger. Well that picture quickly disappeared and you can read about it in the prior post. However, today’s ride was a recreation of that first ride plus more. The more was that is in order to recreate the ride there was a need to get to the starting point Amesbury.

So this morning I rode non-stop to Amesbury via a different route then the one I’d use coming back. Riding through Amesbury I noticed the changes to the town beginning my copy of the original ride. This time my mind did not lie to me, no stopping, no huffing and puffing, just riding from start to finish passing the places where on the original ride I had to stop and catch my breath. Up the hills not in the lowest of low gears on the bike, down the hills, sometimes breathing hard, but no huffing and puffing. Sometimes it takes peddling just fast enough to not fall over, but it gets it done. People still pass me by and that’s O.K. cause that’s not my ride this is my ride. The magic of looking up and seeing the top of the hill is near, knowing you did it on your own and the way you wanted to.

This is magic that gives renewal to the spirit, and the knowledge that you can ride up most of the hills, sometimes you have to walk up, and some times it is OK to just go around them, and sometimes you take the train, if that doesn’t work you just don’t go. It is not failure; it may be just taking the road less traveled, or a road different from the one you said you were going to take, or knowing I gave it a good shot.

After my ride it was time to go to the Salisbury Festival and watch the town folks have a smashing good time. Carpets out, tables up covered with food and wine, relaxing in their chairs. They have little shopping cart things that they wheel it all in on. People dancing and laughing all around me, kids running and playing without fear. The entertainer’s this year were all from Africa so the music had a very different flavor. No matter what was played the town’s people danced. Then I looked over to a group of people walking along in front to the cathedral.

It was Archbishop Desmon Tu Tu not many realized it was him. I placed myself in the path just as he came by and shook his small, warm hand after giving me his blessing he walked on. It was a very moving moment; he touched my heart with his few words. African children hand in hand with Salisbury children roam, danced, and laughed. Ending with a traditional fireworks display over this 750-year-old cathedral; only the stones could talk what tails they could tell.

Friday, May 6, 2008, having been able to purchase one of the last tickets I entered the cathedral for a performance of the Rainbow Choir. There was no way to see the choir from my seat, yet I did not have to see, just to hear was enough. The beautiful voices of the young people from Cape Town blended with the choir from the cathedral, supported by the local orchestra filled the ears, no need for eyes. The beauty of the sound brought tears to my eyes along with peace to my spirit.

This turned out to be a weekend of renewal of inner strength and spirit. As my friend Gary says, “Allow the day to happen in its own way and what gifts can come if you are present to them.” This really rang true as opening my eyes each morning knowing something was going to happen all I had to do is be present, aware of the here and now. Such blessing would come my way totally given by free for the witnessing.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Writing in a Library in Gillingham not on my list of places to go. Then why am I here you ask? Well on Monday June 9, 2008 after vacating the campground at 9am down the road less traveled rode I. Back roads are the best bet to getting where you want to go on bike. However, after about a ten minutes the riding was stopped by a 12% grade going up a hill about 190 ft. That’s a pretty steep grade let me tell you. Yet there were more to come up and up as if I were going to peddle up into the sky. I was a beautiful day with the tempters finally getting about 80 degrees.

Having ridden up through a beautiful forest breaking out from the trees with a view that seemed like you could see all of England. There below me were villages, towns, rivers, fields, greens, reds, violets, blues, and the sweet smell of fresh cut grass. From this height it look like an HO railroad diorama. How it must have looked when you could see the white puffs of a steam engine working its way through the glen. Yet there was more up to go, much more at time doubling back on myself to get to the top.

Around 3 pm and 31 miles later I was about a three-quarters of the way through my ride. Ridding into Mere another cyclist pulls up along side me to ask were I’m headed. After telling him he informs me that he just got back from riding from Lands End to Johnogoats a trip of 980 miles. He tells me it took him 15 days going about 10 miles an hour, which he was quite happy with, covering about 40 miles a day. He rides with me for awhile telling me that he understands the difficulty of riding hills as he was riding a bike much like mine with as much stuff on it.

We ride together into Mere where he points me the direction to ride to Wincanton. As he is about to ride off he tells that that Gillingham has a great bike shop. I thank him thinking “I’m not going anywhere near Gillingham.” About five minuets after we part company my ears here two sounds I wish did not happen. Pop Psssssssssh, another flat, no, not a just a flat a blowout. No problem, unload the bike off come the wheel I’ll just fix this sucker, and if it doesn’t hold I’ve got another tube with the right stem. Looking down I see green stuff that is slime on the wheel and chain “this can’t be good.”

Not only do I have a flat the tire has a crack in it about half an inch long. I look around to see if Paul is hiding somewhere laughing, or is he the Witch Doctor for the bike store. I patch the tube, put a patch in the tire, oh by the way there are strips of plastic in my tires that are suppose to prevent this kind of thing. Put it all back together whip out my $40 tire inflator that is a combination of Co2 and hand pump. One Co2 cartridge in the tire is about half full. No problem I have another cartridge, put it in, nothing it’s empty, not problem I’ll just pump it up. Pump is not working, nothing is happening; I thought I had another Co2 cartridge around, nope. Try to ride, way too much weight now a choice.

Attempt to walk to Wincanton, don’t know if there is a bike shop there, but there is a campground, or walk to Gillingham, which according to the may has no campground, both are at least an hour or hour and a half walk away; Gillingham here I come. It’s over 80 the sun is beating down I pass an older fellow who says “Beautiful day it’s it?” “Yep, sure is.” I answer. However, the reason I choose Gillingham is not because is has a “wonderful bike shop,” but because it has a railroad station. “I’m done with this, I’ll get on the train back to Salisbury, get a night at the YHA, pack up my stuff, lock the bike a the train station and go home” are my thoughts

Upon reaching Gillingham there is a sign pointing to a campground where there is none on the map. Arriving at the campground has been a five-mile walk mostly, thankfully, flat. At the entrance to the campground is a sign announcing this is Osho Leela. Attempting to find the office by asking someone who is camping there. “The office in the main house you’ll have to sort it out with them” she says. Approaching the main house there is a man walking who asks, “Are you lost?” “No looking to check in.” “Through the door, we’re eating dinner now so you have to look around” as if I had the nerve to come at this time. Both these encounters are with people who are not very friendly.

Entering the large main house the reception desk is empty. Walking on there is a large dinning room, a lady sitting at one of the tables smiles asks if she can help. “I would like to check in to the campground.” She tells me to go to the Kitchen where they can help. Here is another smiling face asking if they can help. Both these people have has smiles on their face’s, yet the look that went with it seemed to say I was someplace I did not belong. The gentleman who finally helped me was somewhat more friendly as me “sorted things out.” Seeing food, kitchen, and dinning room I’m wondering if they sell meals here? I ask him if this is also a hotel/hostel? “No we are a community, a family here,” he states. I smile. Now I look around to see if Gary is hiding somewhere. I hear him say “You never know what the universe has in store for you. Tomorrow I think I’ll see what this community/family is all about, who knows maybe I’ll join.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Back in Salisbury library charging my phone and writing. Both the library here and in Gillingham have made a table and electrical hookup available to me while I write.

Tuesday, May 10, 2008: After purchasing a tire and putting the bike back together I head back into town to get my work checked out. Oh you may want to know how air got in my tire? Well there, hiding, in the bottom of my front pouch was the Co2 cartridge I was unable to fine yesterday. The bike shop tells me all is well so I head to the library, which has an area museum, attached to write. Upon returning to the campground I’ve decided to spend another night so, entering the Main house while looking at all the flyers about upcoming events a woman comes in who introduces herself as Kailash who want to know if I need help? “I would like to pay for one more day. I can’t see the posters very well do you have one that I can read?” She takes my money and finds a brochure for me to take away.

The Osho Leela Community reports it self to be friendly, open and loving where everyone is welcome. They have something called a Humaniveristy training and the Nine Month Personal Growth Course. There are a few training weekend coming up one of which is how to shake yourself. In addition they would like people to join their community and offer a weeklong program of introduction. It cost’s 70 pounds a week for food and a room. Along with that you get to work 6 hours a day part of which is doing dishes once a day, there is a day off. There are morning meditations that are advertised to be “mini versions of the Humaniversity Aum.” There is a part time, 3 hour a day, experience available for only 23 pounds a week. Great reading material while I eat my dinner.

Wednesday, May 11, 2008: Thinking to my self what the hell a new experience, meet new people, and it would cost me less the camping and buying food for a week. Returning to the Main house I ask to talk to someone about the weeklong experience. It is Kailash who is the Manage of these experiences. She gets me a print out of what to expect. She seems very guarded as we talk about my taking part in a week. She tells me it is not possible to join on Wednesday. “That was clear in the brochure,” I state. “What about tomorrow?” To which I get a non-answer “It is possible, but you can’t join today.”

OK got it no joining to day. “I’m going to Castle Cary to see a church today, if I stayed there over night and come back tomorrow can I join?” The look is that’s more information then I need. “You could call tomorrow to see.” “I’m only here a short time I’m not wanting to ride all the way back if I can’t get in.” A shrug of the shoulders “You can’t join today, do you want to stay another night an see about tomorrow.” “Thank you very much I’ll ride to Castle Cary and call you tomorrow.” During this conversation there is very little eye contact, along with body language that seems to indicate mistrust about why I’d want to do this, but not asked.

Leaving Osho Leela the sky is turning dark, the sun is blocked by large steel gray clouds from horizon to horizon. “Maybe I should stay one more night” are my thoughts riding down the drive. Riding along a group of riders come up along side me the leader asking how I’m doing. “Doing great since I just started out” is my answer. He tells me they are riding from Istanbul to Ireland. “Your almost there” I quip. “Your American” he asks? “Yep” I say. He nods his head to the back of the group “couple of American back there. Good luck.” Off he rides. Five other pass me the last being the two Americans. We don’t get a chance to chat. There is not a pannier or bag on them, no tent, not nothing; strange. They grow small as they pull away from me. The sun is now out along with the hills, some I walk, some I ride. Paul and I were laughing yesterday about using a low gear to get up a hill going slower then the people walking.

First will be Wincanton and the campground that was supposed to serve me last night. It takes about an hour to get to the turnoff where the campground should be. Riding down the road I notice the bike steering is getting sluggish. Looking down at a tire that is half deflated “You got to be kidding.” Stopping and using the last of my Co2 to fill the tire back up it is time for a redirection. Having bypassed Wincanton in search of the campground I use back roads that head me back to the town. Upon arriving my question about a bike shop is answered with a “no.”

The hardware store is closed from 12 pm to 2 pm, once it does open there is no hand pump or C02 cartages to be had, maybe a garage could help. The garage person fills my tire with air, we talk a bit, he does not know of a campground around here. Off to Castle Cary “I’ll make a decision on what to do there.” I’ve been to Castle Cary twice before and know there is no bike shop there, but there is a train station that I have used on both previous visits, also a campground close by that I have stayed at. Arriving at Castle Cary the front tire is again sluggish meaning my quest for the church is over time to head to the train station and back to Salisbury.

My tent was pelted all night with rain and wind. In the morning the sun was semi-out giving me time to fix my flats pumping the up with the new hand pump purchased last evening after arriving. The fellow camping across from me for some reason asks how many far I’ve ridden. “I think a little over 600 miles” is my answer. Then he asks how many flats I’ve had. “Best as I can figure out about 10.” He then tells me he has ridden 4000 miles over the years on his bike and has had 6 flats. I smile.