Saturday, July 26, 2014

Fayetteville, Arkansas - Home of Walmart

We've been in Fayetteville for two days and are now heading to Dallas.   Best day of the year to travel, it will be over 103F along our route!  We will leave by 8 a.m. in hopes we get to Dallas before we melt.  
Juan had the opportunity to speak to a group of teachers from Iraq and Mexico who are in the Fulbright program here in Arkansas.  We met with our friend Leyla who is the director of the program and we had a lovely dinner with a group of friends and then drinks at her house she shares with her partner Kirk.
Yesterday I did laundry while Juan was at the university and attempted to find a new water intake for the rv.   It is getting worn out and water is dripping at a greater rate.   We are using the water tank instead until it's fixed.  We will be in San Antonio and there is a great rv store near our house.  If your ever there, stop by the Texas Rv Supply on Austin Highway.
After a wonderful nap, we headed out to Crystal Bridges.   This is an outdoor park with trails and an incredible art gallery, architecture, restaurant, guest services, and most of all, it's free all the time.  Saturday night Wire and Wood will be playing, too bad we can't stay.  I won't say much more about it as the pictures tell the story.  The interesting part is that this arts center was paid for by the Walton family.   Walmart has its critics although we all shop and rv in their parking lots across the Americas.  
Bentonville is the actual home of Walmart and it is amazing how many companies have moved to the area.   Suppliers, providers, builders, finance, the list goes on.  With have come jobs, new housing, well you get the idea.  Evil Walmart must have an ulterior motive.   But I don't need to go on. 
Turned out to be a fun afternoon and if it weren't for the Waltons we wouldn't have enjoyed such a wonderful day.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Another Family Visit - Kansas City

Spent Tuesday night in St. Charles, Mo.   The weather was so hot and humid we had to use the A/C.  We found a county park that was reasonable and also gave us a great place to take a morning walk.  We had some leftover pizza in the freezer with a fresh salad for dinner.
We headed out for Kansas City.  I have been closely tied to the news this last week reading the newspapers, online as well as NPR.   What a mess that is going on in Isreal.   It appears the U.S. sides with Isreal as they have nuclear weapons and they are pointed at the U.S. enemies.   The Palestinians have nothing so they are not a concern to anyone.   Israel continues to chip away at Palestine and this will end in a few weeks when people get tired.   It will pick up again in about three years as the underlying issue of territory will never be resolved.   Isreal will continue to take more and more pissing off Hamas.  Why does Hamas exist?  Hmm, I wonder!
Also, China has made strong relations with Venezuela and Argentina preying on their failing governments and economies.   The U.S. could have made some headway into the Americas to improve the continent of the Americas instead of worrying about everyone else's problems in the Middle East.   Build a strong country, neighbors, and then a continent before butting into other countries issues.   Central America is the mess it is because of U.S. intervention over the years and the installation of dictators.   Countries like Mexico get left holding the bag.
Anyway, here we are with my oldest nephew Patrick and his lovely partner Virginia.  Patrick is a professor at the university and Virginia is a registered nurse.  Their son Nick is 12 and enjoying summer.  They head to Germany next week for the rest of the summer.
Today, Thursday morning, we are heading out to Denny's for breakfast before heading to Fayetteville, AR. where we will meet with people from Washington D.C. for a meeting.   Juan will solicit their help with his PhD.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Quick Tour of Cincinnati

It has been a real whirlwind here in Cincinnati.  We are staying at a park right in the middle of town, Winton Woods.  The park gets our five star review.   It sits on a lake, the sites are spacious and far apart, the wifi is fantastic and the price is right at $27.    The weather has been hot and muggy and we have used the A/C twice for an hour in the afternoon during nap time.
We decided to take a trip downtown to the Carew Building which was built in 1929, wow that was the year my dad graduated from high school!   It had fallen into disrepair during the eighties and underwent a complete restoration.   As you can see from the pictures, the building is art deco and the designs and workmanship are truly incredible.

From the observatory you can see all of the city.   This was the largest building in the Midwest for many years at 49 stories.   We took lots of pictures from atop the building and from the view we picked out one more we wanted to walk to.  We counted the blocks from below and headed down the elevator.
There is a lot of things to see in a big city but Cincinnati is a pretty easy place to move around although they have the corner on public parking fees.   Meters are set at 10, 20 and 30 minutes around town so you can't park on the street and expect to go anywhere. 
The building we found used to be the Inquirer building which now houses offices for Hamilton County.  I don't think they realize what a jewel they have it is now falling into disrepair and could use a restoration.   But the U.S. is suffering from funding cuts in education, housing and infrastructure due to military expenditures.
The light fixtures, ceiling panels, radiator covers and heating vents were not stamped off of a press and a million were made to use in buildings all over the world.  This is true workmanship that we won't see anymore.  We need to preserve it.
We wanted to visit the famous Cincinnati Art Museum but it is closed on Mondays.   We headed back for a rest before getting together with my Cincinnati family for a BBQ and drinks.  We had a ball as you can see from the pictures.  There are some family members missing because of work and soccer practice.  A good bunch though and we wish they would come visit in Mexico.
Just the Cincinnati clan, I have nine siblings so the family totals close to 100 from my mom and dad. 
Last but no least, the odd and the weird of my life.  I chose the $999 model.  The cheaper model was $499 but what the heck.  You only die once!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Big Day Today

We spent the night in Lebanon, Oh last night.   I think I posted about the park last night.   Not a big fan but it was what we needed to do.  We got the rv cleaned up and ready to go to Cincinnati.  Turns out, the park was a good idea.  I found a Funfinder just like ours.  They only made 35 of them in 2008.  Looks like we got a winner.  The owner said the factory had to replace the complete roof, it leaked like a sieve from day one. 

So now the big surprise!   I couldn't say anything because some of my nieces and nephews have been reading the blog.  I didn't know that but had suspicions.   We arrived to Cincinnati in time for the final day of the Schutzenfest at the Kopling Society.   My oldest brother Bob and his wife Barb are members and were working and festing at the event.   They were surprised to see us pop up all of a sudden.   You know I'm a sentimental guy and it was a big day for me seeing my oldest brother.  He's a good guy and well-known throughout the organization.  It was hard to talk with him because everyone else wanted to talk to him too!  He introduced us to everyone he came across.  
My brother and his wife have three kids; two girls and a boy.   All grown up with kids of their own and one in her second year of the university.   They all showed up too and were working the booths.   A truly united family.   My niece Christine who lives in Cincinnati was there too!   We will all be together Monday at my brother's house for dinner and drinks.
Big brother!
Nieces and nephew Lisa, Mike, Anna, Christine, great nieces Savannah and Kennidy.
 Bob leading the parade!
A big day for me and too much to tell but it was a big surprise!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

In Ohio

We finished our visit to the falls and headed back to the rv on the shuttle bus.  What a tourist trap that has become, Ripley's Believe It or Not, Hard Rock CafĂ©, and all the nonsense that goes along with money.   I also found it strange that in the day of  "let's stop using plastic", all the boats that make gazillions of trips up to the falls that they give out disposable ponchos to everyone.  That's like giant trash bags.   Doesn't make any sense but who am I?
We drove across the Rainbow bridge (how fitting) and stopped at the agent's booth.  He didn't know what to do.  He had to get a supervisor because he had never encountered a Mexican plate and didn't know the code for entering it into the system.  Even though we had meats and liquor on board, he waved us through to get us out of his hair.
Not having made a reservation, we went to Buffalo and got a spot at the HD Rv Park.  They always say yes, free wifi, closed circuit security cameras and best of all no charge.   Can't beat it.  Food court nearby, McDs senior coffee just feet away, and a service station with fuel at $3.59.   I forgot to mention, no train running through the park at night either.  You just can't beat it :)
The picture below was taken in Columbus.  I stopped to get a haircut because of the surprise tomorrow.  As we left McDonald's wifi there was a party bus behind us.  A policeman had passed the opposite way and at that moment tons of heavy smoke poured out.  I hit the brakes and yelled to Juan that the bus had blown up.  We got out of the car only to find the cop talking to the driver.   Apparently the bus was malfunctioning and the cop let the guy go.  He entered the freeway behind us and just kept going.  Why wasn't he made to park and have the bus towed?   I'm sending the photo to the Columbus police.
We took off at 8 a.m. and we made it to just outside of Cincinnati, Lebanon, Oh.   An rv park that cost an arm and a leg and they squeezed us into the last rv spot they had.  There are 2 bicycles here for each man, woman, child and pet.   I've never been to a family park and now I know why.  We are going to stay in HD in Cincinnati.   We needed a place though to empty tanks, vacuum and get the place spruced up a bit.  Tomorrow is the big day!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Niagara Falls Canada - Buffalo, NY

Great trip today.  We said our goodbyes to David and Marina this morning.   We had a nice dinner out last night and then a local fund-raising concert that is the precursor to the weekend music fest in Perth.

Hit the road by 8 a.m. and had a wonderful drive through Ontario all the way to Niagara Falls on the Canadian side.  We arrived there by 3:30 with tons of traffic in Toronto even though we took the expressway.
We parked in the rv parking at the falls and took the shuttle back to the falls.  It was a beautiful sight and a great way to end our Canada leg of vacation.  Off we go and in a big hurry.  Juan has the opportunity to meet with someone who can help him with his doctorate.   An ex-director in Arkansas where Juan did another Fulbright.   She will be going out of town on Saturday so we are going to beat feet home.   We have a stop for a family get together in Cincinnati before driving to Kansas City to see my brother, sisters, and my nephew. 
Then on to Fayetteville, Arkansas for the weekend before heading to San Antonio.  Our tenant may be moving in the next few months and we want to get things in order before heading back to Mexico.
BTW, we saw a Canadian gas frenzy.  We had left the Ottawa airport and all the way home gas had dropped to 1.19 per liter.  Lines everywhere and people filling up gas cans.  It is what it is but everyone likes a bargain I guess!
Parked at a Home Depot in Buffalo tonight safe and sound.   Tomorrow is a marathon drive but we can make it.  A big surprise on Sunday, can't wait and I'm not telling.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

On Our Way To Ottawa/Perth

Our friends in Nova Scotia!

It's Thursday morning and we are getting ready to head to the airport.   We've had a wonderful time here in Nova Scotia.  Paula and Jerry are great hosts and have given us the "tour de grand".   The food, the wine, the convivencia have been great. 
It was fun meeting Jill and Andrew and happy that good things are coming their way.   Meeting Karin the mystery guest was a real surprise and we hope to see more them all.   Dinner with Nancy and Terrie (hey I spelled it right) was a lot of fun and we got to see them twice.
I hope everyone here in Nova Scotia that we have seen and met all know that they are welcome in our home in Mexico anytime.  The door is open.
The door is open to all our Canadian friends but we'll save that for later.  As we head out of Canada on Saturday we'll be posting our farewell to Canada blog.