Photo Collage: Sunrise in Fountain Hills

Fountain Hills, Arizona is one of the most beautiful places to take Sunrise and Sunset photos. These were taken on Novemeber 6, 2017. They have not been touched up in anyway.

Seeing the sunrise every morning makes me feel everything is going to be alright.

It only takes five minutes to change from the photo above to the one below.

The way I see the world is different than how another might see it. That’s OK.

Appreciate what you have today. You might not have it tomorrow.

Only nature can paint a picture so beautiful and represent so many colors.

Have a great Day!

The United States Does Not Belong to the White Man

“No Statue of Liberty ever greeted our arrival in this country…we did not, in fact, come to the United States at all. The United States came to us.”
Luis Valdez

First, there was red. Then there was brown. After brown came white.  These are skin colors in the order they arrived in the state of Arizona. Red refers to the Indians/ Native Americans. Brown refers to the Mexicans.  White refers to those who came from Europe.

I live in Fountain Hills, a small town in Central Arizona. It sits in the middle of the desert. The town is boarded on the north and south by the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation. A forty square mile reservation. This is where the remainder of the Yavapai tribe live. Take a wrong turn and you will end up on the reservation.

Fountain  Park

The town of Fountain Hills was bought and developed by C.V Wood of McCullah Oil. It wasn’t easy to convince people to come out and live in such a desolate place.  Houses were built, a lake was filled with recycled water, and the fourth tallest fountain in the world is in the middle of the lake. The white people began to move into the scenic town of Fountain Hills after 1970. The town now consists of “snowbirds”, people who come for the winter months and return to their home states in the summer.  The town has a total area of 18.2 miles. The current population is 24,200 people. The racial makeup of the town is 94.1% white, 1.0 black, 0.6% Native American/Yavapai, 1.8 Asian and 4.1 Hispanic.

A Turn of Events

The area around Fountain Hills, Arizona once belonged to the Yavapai tribe, the red men.

The Yavapai were a very peaceful tribe. They were frequently confused with the Apache. The Apache were the ones depicted in the movies. They were known as the warrior tribe. The Yavapai hunted and gathered over a large portion of West Central Arizona. They didn’t possess any weapons. They had been the sole occupiers of the territory since 900 AD. The Yavapai remained in their aboriginal state until 1860. They hunted mountain sheep, deer, and rabbits. All the food they collected was from the natural environment that surrounded the area. They gathered saguaro fruit, paloverde beans, mescal, prickly pear, mulberries, acorns, walnuts, and squawberries. They depended on nature to provide their food. They made their homes in the mountains.

Petroglyphs by the Yavapai (my husband took this picture)

The US military drove the Yavapai off the land in Central Arizona in March 1875. They did not allow them to return for twenty-five years. When they returned, there was nothing. Their land had been taken away from them by the US government. Many of the sacred places they used for practicing their rituals were being used by the military to protect the white people from the Indians. The Yavapai lost their religious freedom and most of them were killed by the military during the Indian wars. They had nothing to fight with. The military had guns. These guns were used to round up whole families and betray them. The military assured them they were going to have a better life if they moved. They moved and ended up worse. They were not free to live and feed their families. They were kept as prisoners on their own land. The United States took 9,238,600 acres of land from the Yavapai on May 1, 1873, without any payment or any other kind of compensation. On March 13, 1969, the Indian Claims Commission granted an award of $5,100,000.00. This comes to about .55 per acre.

Mexico Loses Its Land to the United States

The Spaniards arrived. They treated the Yavapai with great cruelty. They wanted the land for Spain. They were seeking gold and silver in the mountains sacred to the Yavapai. They wanted to convert the Yavapai to Christianity. They were arrogant and didn’t respect the spiritual beliefs of the Yavapai. The Yavapai were successful in not letting any missions be built on their territory. The Yavapai were living in the territory under Mexican rule from 1821-1848. The Yavapai referred to the Mexicans as “good white people”. They were cruel but not as cruel as the White people.

The Mexicans, the brown people, took over the land the Yavapai were forced to leave for 25 years. When the Yavapai returned, they were forced to work for the Mexicans. They didn’t pay much.

Mexico went to war with the US. The Treaty of Hidalgo was signed by both Mexico and the US. Mexicans lost their land to the whites. The size of this land was bigger than Germany and France combined. An abundance of gold was found after the treaty was signed. The Mexicans were forced to become US citizens or leave. Arizona had been part of the state of Sonora, Mexico since 1822. The population of Mexicans living in AZ was small. In 1848, the US took possession of the southern part of AZ after the Mexican/American war. The Gadsden purchase secured the Northern part of Sonora in 1853. The whites committed horrible crimes against the Mexicans. They entered the homes, murdered the men, raped their wives and daughters, set their homes on fire, and killed all the animals. Whites thought of Mexicans and the Yavapai as idolatresses and manipulated by priests. They treated them with disrespect and injustice.

The Invasion of the Anglos

While Mexico was at war with Spain, white colonists, cattlemen, adventurers, and mercenaries invaded and occupied Central Arizona. Many of the whites who came to Arizona were refugees from the defeated confederacy and wanted to escape the Republicans. They stole cattle from the Mexican ranches. They were criminals and came to a place where there were no laws in place. They were looking for land and gold. They settled on land that did not belong to them. It belonged to the Yavapai. In 1820, the Anglo Americans, the white, started entering Yavapai territory. In 1835, there were more white foreigners than native Mexicans living in Central Arizona. Mexico asked the US to seal the border and stop the white men from stealing their property.

In 1826, the white trappers showed up. On February 2 Mexico gave the territories of California, Nevada, Texas, Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona to the US government. The Yavapai were now part of the United States. The US military protected the whites who were seeking gold and silver on Yavapai land. They killed any Yavapai person who was in the territory. The white men were killing the Yavapai at the same time Lincoln was signing the Emancipation Proclamation declaring the freedom of black slaves.

The white people continued to confuse the Yavapai with the Apache. They put all Indians in the category of attackers. When their land was being invaded, they were defenseless.  They were not prepared to fight. In the 1860s the Yavapai lost their lives, their freedom, their land, their future and future generations.

The whites were trappers, miners, ranchers, soldiers, and settlers. The Yavapai were not able to feed their families and began to raid livestock the whites had brought in to feed off the vegetation. This diminished the food for the Yavapai who depended on the vegetation. The extermination of the Yavapai began. Mass violence was the norm. Almost none of the whites lost their lives. The only weapons the Yavapai had were clubs, bows, and arrows. They were unable to gather, hunt, and plant to feed themselves. They were deceived by the white people. Their lives were taken away from them.

This land belonged to the Yavapai, Four Peaks (my husband took this picture)

The land was given back to them by Theodore Roosevelt in 1911. In 1940, they lost the land to Fountain Hills. The Yavapai were forced into giving their land away to the white man.

http://www.phoenixmag.com/history/the-wild-west.html

The White Man Wins

I remember watching Western Shows when I was a child. Gunsmoke, Bonanza, Rifleman, and the Big Valley. Who came out ahead? The white man. Who was portrayed as the bad guys? The brown and red men.  I would always hope that the white man won. I thought everyone else was evil and trying to kill the white man. Life changed and I found out that the white men took over the land by force. They were not the underdog. It was the Mexican and the Indian that were the underdogs.

Now we are living among all colors of men. I don’t want the white man to win anymore. I want to see the brown, red, and black win. Do the white men feel they are the underdogs now?

The United States is a country that stands for diversity. We have opened up our doors for all countries to come and find freedom, education, religion, and to speak their mind without fear of going to jail or being killed.

Things have changed within the past nine months here in the United States. Mexicans are being deported. Taken out of their homes, removed from their families, sent to jail, and then sent back to Mexico. These are people who haven’t lived in Mexico for twenty to thirty years. What crime have they committed? They ran a stop sign, didn’t pay child support, and carry fake IDs. Are these the “bad hombres”? No, they aren’t. Many of them are good husbands, sons, and fathers. Their only crime is that they haven’t become legal citizens of the US. We are going back in history. The white man wins.

The United States does not belong to the white men. It belongs to the red men and was inhabited by the brown men before the white men showed up. The United States belongs to every man who comes and wants to make a new life with his family. It doesn’t matter what color he is. We must not let the white men win again.

I am living on land that was stolen from the Yavapai and sold to a white developer who made a ton of money.

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Harrison,Williams, Oral History of the Yavapai, The University of Arizona Press, 2012 Carolina Butler

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Note: I am not a political writer. I wrote this article from my heart. I write about culture and know that most Americans are welcoming to all people. Our ancestors all came from countries for the same reasons immigrants come now. Education, jobs, war, conflicts, and freedom. Let’s give them a chance.

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Frank Lloyd Wright: Cedar Rock, Iowa

“As we live and as we are, Simplicity – with a capital “S” – is difficult to comprehend nowadays. We are no longer truly simple. We no longer live in simple terms or places. Life is a more complex struggle now. It is now valiant to be simple: a courageous thing to even want to be simple. It is a spiritual thing to comprehend what simplicity means.”
Frank Lloyd Wright, The Natural House

I look around my house and wonder if I am living in Simplicity. Are there enough windows to let in the natural light? Are plants able to survive naturally in my house growing straight from the soil? Is there too much space?

A road trip through the Central part of Iowa brought me to one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s most complete designs. Cedar Rock in Quasqueton, Iowa. The house was completely designed for the personal use of Mr. and Mrs. Walter. Mr. Walter was a native of Quasqueton. He was a very successful businessman who owned the Iowa Road Building Company for thirty-seven years. He sold the company in 1944 to his employees. He wanted to retire and enjoy life. He and his wife became very involved in the arts. They admired the work that Frank Lloyd Wright had done on his architectural designs. They asked him to design their house.

Cedar Rock

Frank Lloyd Wright was the greatest architect of the 20th century. He designed more than 1,100 buildings before he passed away at the age of 91. Wright builtis the first house in Spring Green, Wisconsin where he grew up. He named it “Taliesin”. This building had to be built three times. It was destroyed by fire twice. The first caused by a “deranged servant” and the second by an electrical problem. He didn’t have much luck with wives either. He was married three times. The first two he divorced.

Frank Lloyd Wright designed the Cedar Rock home using the Usonian design. Usonian was the concept he wanted to use for designing homes for the middle-class families. Although I don’t think that many middle-class families between the time of 1944-1955 could afford to buy a house for $120,000.00. The house my parents bought in 1956 was about $8,000.00. We were classified as middle class. The Usonian homes designed by Frank Lloyd Wright were tailor made for the individual and his family. The spaces in the house would be practical and functional. He incorporated “organic architecture”: fresh air, in-house plants, and the sunshine. There were no basements or attics for storage. If you needed to store something and not use it, then get rid of it. He would be very annoyed to walk into some modern-day houses because everything is kept whether needed or not.

No room for storage in this bedroom

The Cedar Rock house was completed in two years. The Walters made a list of the most important items they wanted to include in the house and Wright designed it their way. He chose the curtains, carpets, and picked out the accessories. The house came with furniture, appliances, and plants. The Walters brought their books and clothing. The house was move-in ready.

The natural decor was a must. These are colored rocks illuminated by the natural glow of the sun

The biggest room in the house is the “entertainment area”. This room has a grand piano, movable pillows to allow for more seating and a very small area for sitting and eating. The idea was to socialize with everyone and not to compartmentalize the people. Instead of standing in a corner you had to stand in the center. No wall flowers allowed. The entertainment area is all glass windows. The windows give you the feeling that you are outside in the garden and the woods. The view also includes the river. It’s a dinner without flies.  The skylights brighten the interior space and the windows above help release the hot air trapped near the ceiling.

Dining table

There are no air conditioners. An indoor garden has plants growing in the natural soil of the ground. Not planted in pots.

Plants growing straight from the floor

There is a separate entrance from the exit. This was to help the guests feel more comfortable. You could sneak out the door without the host noticing and you didn’t have to explain why you were leaving. The house is airtight. Our guide describes a night that had winds blowing at tornado strength and torrential rains and the house was not affected.

Cedar Rock “Entertainment Area”

Mr. Walters was a very avid boater. He had the biggest boat around at the time. He had a private boathouse designed so that he could get away without anyone knowing about it. Not even his wife. The boathouse is equipped with a bed. Maybe for longer nights.

The Getaway Boathouse

The property has a very nice walkway and trail. The walkway goes out to the river and through the trees. I arrived early for the tour and decided to walk to the house. Tours are provided by boarding a wagon that is pulled by a tractor. You can not enter the house or walk around it without a tour guide.

Garden steps

Small trail from the Information center to the house

Mr. Walters passed away in 1981 and his wife followed in 1986. They had no children. Mrs. Walters donated the home to the Iowa Conservation Commission in 1982. The money left in her account when she passed was given to the Commission for the upkeep of the house. Her wish was to let other people come in and admire the beauty of the house.

The houses now are designed to be very big. They have attics or basement in the East or Midwest. Walk-in closets are a most for most new homes and families. In a Usonian house, the kitchen was very small. The size of a “butler’s” kitchen or a walk- in pantry. The hallways were narrow and book shelves were designed to blend in with the hallway. Having all windows eliminated the problem of interior decorating. Nature was the decoration.

The bedrooms are very small and so are the beds. The windows in the bedroom open out into the garden to give the feeling of being one with nature.

Master Bedroom

The official plaque of a Frank Llyod Wright Home

My house has a lot of windows to view the desert. My plants don’t grow straight from the ground. They are in pots that need to be watered often. There is too much space. My house has three bedrooms, a loft, a medium sized kitchen, living room, and three bathrooms. Only one bedroom, one bathroom, the kitchen, and loft are used every day. Wright would not be happy with the way I live. It is not very Usonian.

 

 

Central Iowa: 8 Cultural Observations Made on a Road Trip

Contrary to slanderous Eastern opinion, much of Iowa is not flat, but rolling hills country with a lot of timber, a handsome and imaginative landscape, crowded with constant small changes of scene and full of little creeks winding with pools where shiners, crappies and catfish hover.
Paul Engle
I had the chance to take a five-day road trip through Central Iowa after completing a Summer writing course at the University of Iowa. I am addicted to road trips. There is no hassle of people checking my bags, taking off my shoes, removing my lap top, or waiting for a delayed flight. I can stop where I want, take pictures, and enjoy the scenery.
The following cultural observations are my personal observations not scientifically investigated facts.
Iowa is not completely flat

The backroads of Iowa have plenty of hills that take you up and down like a roller coaster. Most of the time you can’t see over the next hill.

Corn in Iowa

Ninety-eight percent of the corn grown in Iowa is not edible for humans. It is used to make ethanol, cooking oil, and feed for animals. It is not sweet corn.

Drivers in Iowa are cautious

There is not much traffic on the back roads of Iowa. Cars don’t try to speed by you, drivers don’t honk or flip you off. They drive slowly.

 

No sign of diversity

Most of the people that I saw in Iowa were not of color. I didn’t see any migrant workers in the fields or hotels. I saw some students from China and the Mideast at the University of Iowa.

No out of town license plates

Not many people visit Iowa. I think that the Iowa State Fair draws from nearby states. I could not play the license plate game because there were only Iowan license plates.

Limited places to use the restroom and restaurants to eat at

If you are traveling the backroads of Iowa look for Casey. They saved my life twice when I was lost. Casey is equal to QT or QuickStop. They have gas, snacks, and coffee. It was the only place to get coffee. Many of the restaurants and shops in the small towns are closed on Mondays. No one could give me a reason for this.

Casey General Store

State Center, Iowa

Picturesque farm houses

The farm houses were usually white and their barns red. This fascinated me because it reminded me of pictures in story books about farms. The corn stalks were more than “knee high” and ready to be harvested. The soybeans spread like a thick green carpet up and down the hills. It was so different the desert where I live.

Farm with soybeans

These markings appear on barns that are more than 50 years old. The farmer chooses the quilt pattern and it is then painted on the barn. There are actually tours that will take you around and show you the different markings. I saw many of them. I was only able to take a picture of this one.

For more information, click here

Knee high corn

Lincoln Highway

Route 66 has the notoriety of being the first highway to cross the US.

It was the Lincoln Highway which first ran coast-to-coast from Times Square in New York City west to Lincoln Park in San Francisco, originally through 13 states: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and California. It was dedicated on October 31, 1913.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lincoln_Highway

Lincoln Highway Bridge, Tama, Iowa

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I would like to thank all of the people who helped me when I was lost. Thanks to my cousin Anna and her husband Steve for letting me hang out at their house.

Get to know the USA. Tavel by car and enjoy what you don’t have at home.

 

 

 

 

 

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7 Historical Facts About the Amana Colonies

The history of the Amana Colonies is one of America’s longest-lived communal societies which began in 1714 in the villages of Germany and continues to live on the Iowa praire.

A short history of the Amana colonies

The people who came from Germany to live in the United States were known as the “Community of True Inspiration”. They broke away from the Luthern Church in 1714. They were being persecuted for their beliefs. They first found refuge in Ronnebery Castle in central Germany. They still felt that they could not live a happy and productive life. Thye left Germany between the years of 1843-1844.

The first place they came to was Buffalo, New York. They lived a communal life. They did not own their own property or businesses. Property and resources were shared. No one received a wage. Their biggest business was farming, production of wool and calico, clock making, brewing (yes, they did drink), and well-crafted furniture, and other farm tools.

Buffalo began to get too crowded for their farming needs. Men from the commune were sent out to look for a place in the US that would provide them with more land. They soon landed in Iowa and bought 26,000 acres of farm land. They sent messages to the group in Buffalo and closed everything and moved to Iowa. The move was complete by 1855.

The communal way of life ended in 1932. The people wanted to achieve individual goals and make money. Private enterprise exists in the Amana Colonies. This is apparent in the many hotels, restaurants, coffee houses, ice cream shops, and the numerous antique shops. The Amana church continues to be the main religion in the Amana Colonies.

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Historical Facts
The Amana Colonies are not and have never been Amish.

The first fact the people who live in the Amana Colonies want everyone to know is that they are not Amish and are not related to the Amish. There are some similarities. They both came from Germany because they were being persecuted for their religions. The Amana colonies have always adapted to technology and the most advanced techniques for farming. They have telephones, drive cars, and use computers. They drink alcohol. You can only find the Amana Colonies in Iowa.

The Amish reject all kinds of technology and advanced techniques for farming. They have never lived a commune type of life. They help each other, but own their own homes and have their own businesses. The Amish live throughout the US. The Amish continue to dress in the traditional way. The people who live in the Amana Colonies dress like everyone else. You would not be able to tell a tourist from a resident in the Amana Colonies.

There are six villages in the Amana Colonies

The six villages are Amana, East Amana, West Amana, South Amana, High Amana, and Middle Amana.

They are very close to each other and have the same beliefs and regulations. These villages were created because of the communal style that existed at the beginning. It was much easier to service small groups of people than larger groups. Each village was responsible for taking care of those in their village.

All meals were eaten in a communal kitchen

The women were in charge of the cooking. Each day a different family, the wife and her daughters, would cook the meals of the day. People ate five times a day. Three main meals and two snacks. Everyone had ten minutes to eat and move out of the kitchen for the next group of people to come in. Most of the meals included soup, bread, and some cheese. Only small pieces of meat were eaten.

The meals were served at 6:00 a.m. 2:00 p.m and 5:30 p.m. Snacks were served at 8:30 and 11:30. You could not eat in your home. If someone in your family were sick and not able to come to the table, you were allowed to take food to them. No food was allowed to leave the kitchen. There was no talking allowed during the meals.

Strangers were also welcomed to come and eat. At this time there were hobos who wandered the country and they were welcomed at these communal tables.

Typical menu for the week

Women and children ate after the men had finished their meal.

Half of the dining room

Everyone belonged to the same church and followed the same rules.

Alchohol was not prohibited by the Amana Colony Community.

The only church in the Amana Colonies

People from all six villages come to service in one church. The church is very simple. There are no stained glass windows, religious statues, a cross, or paintings on the wall. They believe that people should not be distracted in the church. The benches are made of pine and very hard to sit on for long periods of time. People kneel on the floor at the appropriate times. Heads of women are covered before entering. This tradition could soon come to an end because many young girls don’t want to wear a head covering. I remember being in the fourth grade and refusing to wear a chapel veil on my head to enter the Catholic Church.

Families did not sit together and still don’t. Men and boys sit on one side of the church and women and girls sit on the other side of the church. Services take place twice a day. Most people only attend on Sundays now. The service can last up to two hours.

There is no official baptism for members.

Marriage and dating

Men were not allowed to marry until twenty-five years of age. A man expresses his desire to date a young girl. The parents of both the young man and women meet. The young man is banished to a nearby village and only meets his girlfriend three times for one year. They are able to participate in group dances chaperoned by their parents throughout the year. If everything works out they get married.  The records show that 50% of the couples change their minds.

A man expresses his desire to date a young girl. The parents of both the young man and women meet. The young man is banished to a nearby village and only meets his girlfriend privately three times for one year. They are able to participate in group dances chaperoned by their parents throughout the year. If everything works out they get married.  The records show that 50% of the couples change their minds.

A typical house were multiple families lived

Weddings are not anything special.  They always take place at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday. An elder presides over the ceremony. Only the families attend and the couple does not receive any gifts. They don’t exchange rings. The reception after the marriage includes wine, beer, sandwiches and special cakes. Not a wedding cake. They return to their parents home after the wedding until the community finds a room for them. They have no choice in their living space.

In the time of communal living, couples were encouraged to have no more than two children. When a child was born the couple received a “sitting room” in the house. The garden and the cleaning were done by the people living in the house. If a couple wanted to buy something such as furniture or clothing, they had to give a reason for the purchase. The person who was in charge of their living conditions would decide if it was a good reason or not. Money was not exchanged between the people. Everyone had the same amount of credit.

Typical wedding dress that is still worn today

General Stores were not only places that sold goods. They were places to meet and talk with your friends.

In the time of communal life, young girls would go to the general store to get the necessary kerosine, and ingredients to prepare the meals of the day on Friday or Saturday.

The general store in the Amana Colonies

The general store sells everything from candy to flour. It is a place to catch up on the news of the day. As our group walked in to take a look at the general store our tour guide who is a member of the Amana Colony church struck up a conversation about an event that happened the previous week before with the store clerk.

Items sold at the General Store

Jams, marmalade, and jellies are locally made and sold at the general store. Candy is displayed on the front counter for every child to see and buy. Now I know where the supermarkets of today got the idea of candy displays at the checkout counters. Some things never change.

Children’s clothing on display

Annual Festivals

The Amana colonies celebrate various festivals every year.

  1. Oktoberfest– Brats, beer, parades, autumn colors, and the feel of Bavaria

2. Prelude to Christmas/Tannenbaum Forest– A forest of  live decorated  Christmas trees and a 15′ German style pyramid along with Santa Claus

When: Begins the day after Thanksgiving and continues through the weekend prior to Christmas

3. Wurst Festival– Festival of sausages

When: Saturday of Father’s Day

4. Maifest– Famous Maipole dancers with “Art in the Barn” showcasing local and regional artists. Parades, wine, beer, and food walk

When: The first weekend of May

5. Colonies in Bloom– Residents show off their private gardens

When: One day early in the summer and one day late in the summer

Note: No specific dates are given

6. Winterfest– 5k fun  run, winter mini-golf, best beard contest, open fire chili, Snowball dance,  and a wine and beer walk

When: No specific dates are given

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The Amana Colonies is an example of why the United States is such a great place to live. People seeking religious freedom come to the United States to live without the persecution they receive in their countries. This should be something for all of us to think about because there are people seeking the same freedom who are not allowed to come to the US now. This is not good.

 

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An Ode to Coffee

Two weeks ago I participated in the Iowa Summer Writing Festival at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. I wrote this poem as a homework assignment. I am not a poet and always thought that poems had to rhyme. I learned that modern day poems don’t. This is the first poem I have written since sixth grade.

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The Iowa River flows by.

It has gained some water from the storms last night

There is a wind today, which feels cool upon my face

There are a variety of trees. Maple and a few Pines

The trees have much bigger leaves and a lot fuller than the ones in Phoenix

Green places indicate cold and snow in the winter months

It is becoming cloudy

The day is dreary

Condensation has accumulated on the windows in my room

Can’t wipe the windows

The condensation is outside Continue reading “An Ode to Coffee”

Five Thousand miles: Five States: Seven Lessons Learned

 

I travel to discover different cultures. Every state and every city in the US has a culture. People from all over the world come to visit the US to see how Americans live. Americans travel to different parts of the world to see the culture of others. Americans don’t look for cultural differences in their own country. We tend to think that we are all the same.

What is culture? It is not only the language, the food, the historic sites of an area. It is the way people think and act. The US is not a homogenous society. People are different and that’s what makes the US so interesting.

The seven lessons that I have presented here are cultural examples of American life that we don’t recognize. People from other countries would recognize them as part of American culture.

  1. Hotels

Hotel chains are not the same. I learned that one La Quinta is not going to offer the same services as another LaQuinta. LaQuinta is known for their dog-friendly hotels. They don’t require a pet fee. The LaQuinta I stayed in Medford, Oregon wanted to charge me $15. I pointed out to her that LaQuinta doesn’t charge a pet fee. She decided not to make the charge.

Hotels are franchises bought by private people. They don’t have to follow the rules that would make them the same as the others in their franchise division such as the Choice Hotel group, Holiday Inns, or Hampton Inns. Hotel owners charge anywhere from $5- $50 for pet fees. There is no set fee for one group of hotels. Hotels should follow the Starbucks model. Every Starbucks serves the same kind of coffee and you can count on getting the same service at any of them.

The Hoover Dam Lodge was the last hotel we stayed on the way home. They didn’t charge a pet fee and allowed me to take Chloe, my cocker spaniel, into the casino area. She did not like it because it was too noisy. I was winning and she wanted to leave. I was ordering my food at the little Mexican restaurant to take to the room and the waiter told me to go get the dog and bring her with me.  He got a big tip!

2. Fuel

Google Images

The price of fuel depends on the city. I paid the most on the Oregon Coast, $3.75 per gallon and the cheapest in Idaho, $2.25 per gallon. I learned to have a full tank of gas when I traveled the scenic back roads. There were no gas stations and if I did find one, the price was almost doubled. Oregon does not allow for self-service gas. An attendant will come and fill your tank and even wash your front windshield. I asked the attendant why they didn’t allow self-service and he replied, “It provides more jobs.” I agree with that. Being a self-serve state eliminates a lot of job positions.

Gas stations were also the best places to take a break, use the restroom, and get something to drink.

3. Car Warning Messages

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I believe everything my car tells me. Halfway through my trip the “maintenance required ” light flashed on. I was really nervous because I was traveling the backroads. I continued driving hoping that the car would not die in the middle of the forest. Who would help me? I didn’t have cell service either. I arrived at a place that had service and called the Toyota dealer and asked him what I should do. He said, “Don’t worry you can bring the car in tomorrow.” I said, “I am in Bend, Oregon and still have 3,000 miles to go.” He replied very calmly, “You can drive the car up to 4,000 miles more.” He said, “The warning light is like a timer on your oven. It is telling you that it is almost time to take out the cookies.” I don’t think so. When the timer goes off in my oven, it is TIME to take out the cookies or they will burn. I continued driving and with great caution.

I learned that I could drive up to 3,000 miles after the warning light comes on!

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This is another annoying warning that indicates the tire pressure is low. I learned that the temperature can trigger this light to go on. I was traveling in much cooler weather. Every morning the light would go on. I kept driving. When the temperature reached 75F the warning light would turn off. I no longer worried about this warning in cold temperatures.

4. Speed Limits

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Speed limits vary from city to city and state to state. Interstate speed limits across the USA go from 65 mph to 80 mph. Backroads have slower speed limits. Many of the roads pass through small towns and the speeds are reduced to 35-45 mph. I learned that most drivers, including me, do not drive the speed limit. I tend to drive faster when the roads are straight. I slow down passing through mountains ascending and descending. I become nervous descending the mountains and other drivers are speeding past me or getting closer to my bumper. I really didn’t find many problems with speeders during my travels.

5. Interstate vs. Scenic Backroads

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The advantages of traveling the interstate are speed and time. I did not want to pass up the opportunity to travel the scenic byways of Oregon. I learned to appreciate the beauty and quietness of the state. I stopped at various places to take pictures. There were many turnouts to allow other drivers to pass if needed.

The backroads from Medford to Waldport followed the Umpqua River part way before encountering the cliff driving on the 101.

I passed through towns with names Grass Valley, Madras, Shanko, Dalles, and Rufus on the Journey Through Time byway. Most of these towns have a population of 1,000-1,500 people. There were usually a general store and a very small gas station. I wondered how these people did their grocery shopping. They were sleepy villages with charm.

 

6. Restaurants/Coffee Shops

Coffee Shop in Sisters, Oregon

Stand alone coffee shops owned by women are very common in Oregon. This coffee shop was located near a park and catered to bicycle riders and cars. The coffee was great and the man on the bike paid for my coffee. Chloe and I sat at one of the picnic tables and had our coffee.

I was at a disadvantage because I did have my dog with me. I could not go into restaurants. I sought out restaurants and coffee shops that had outdoor seating. I bought beef, chicken, and vegetables and grilled out at the park. There were a couple of sandwich places in Bend, Oregon that did allow me to take the dog inside.

I would sometimes go for three hours without a cup of coffee. This is really a difficult almost impossible thing for me. I am a coffee addict. There were times I was driving and not a single coffee shop in sight. Not even a gas station! I learned that I could survive without coffee.

7. Rest Areas

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Rest areas are few and far between. Sometimes it was 75 miles between one area and the other. Rest areas are expensive to keep clean and safe. Many states have decided that fewer is better. I learned that I needed to use every restroom stop available. The interstate provided more chances of finding restrooms and most of them were well used. The majority of the restrooms were clean and there was plenty of toilet paper. I hate walking into a bathroom and not finding toilet paper in the US. I never carry tissue.

Some of the rest areas had vending machines and picnic tables. They also allow sleeping for a limit of 8 hours. I encountered one young couple who had pitched a tent the night before at one rest area early in the morning.

The rest areas also provide a place for your pet to do their business. Chloe did hers anywhere. I always cleaned up!

 

Take the time to find out about the culture around the US.

 

 

 

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