And So It’s Summer . . . *

*  Meaning it’s like Florida . . . I don’t like that one bit!

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[The night before and opening night for theatre performance for the season . . . ]

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[Two famous Hoosiers meet again.]

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[Mr. Shelby introduces VocalEssence for a little . . . ]

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[Theatre night, the logo is back . . . ]

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[And Shelby meets another Hoosier!]

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[What can I add?  The Super was there for her free weenie!]

And so it was lake pump time . . .

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Later that same day . . .

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[We would be next door at the Runestone Museum soon . . . in the meantime, it was time for a stroll through the now almost completed Maritime Gardens.  A great venue for summer music and other stuff!]

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[They’re worldwide, you know . . . ]

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[Music in the Garden will begin soon . . . ]

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[Loon nests]

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[The maritime-themed gate was made by sculptor Larry Meyer.]

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[And, of course, the reason we were there, the Brandenburg Exhibit.  It will be at the museum through October.  How highly would we recommend it?  We had to go back for another glass of wine halfway through the 90 photos!  :-)  ]

Friday . . .

The start of Awake the Lakes (i.e., summer) weekend to include the Ribfest, the Vikingland Band Parade, Girls Hockeyfest, Legion Baseball Tournament, Buggsy Malone, and other things I’m sure I’ve already forgotten, all of which we could not attend because . . .

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[Josie at the winery (from her FB post).]

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[We laugh because it always seems she hits bad weather when she performs here.  She started setting up outside but then moved in when the weather arrived.]

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[Her fan club.]

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Later . . .

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[Photo courtesy Terry Kennedy.]

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[It rained here too, but it was a marvelous show that we hope will be reprised in other venues.]

The next day . . .

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[So, we were here at 9:00 am to help.  It didn’t rain, but it was hot!  Oh, and Big Ole is 50 years old now and needs a complete makeover.  I know I needed a makeover at 50!!]

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[Where we are.]

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[Our old buddy Al Skaar.]

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[An 18-pound walleye??]

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[The Cub Reporter makes his contribution to save Big Ole.  Is this photo proof enough for the IRS?]

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[Kids drawing “selfie” backgrounds.]

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[Mmmm, blueberry pancakes!]

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[Yeah, I got it all under control!]

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[There’s just not enough mustard . . . Oh, my forehead tattoo – my job to pass out to the kids.]

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[I was All-World hopscotch.]

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[Brad, our immediate supervisor.]

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[A voyageur (not to be confused with a voyeur).]

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[Brad posting the storytelling times.]

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[Paulette, the storyteller.  Of course I joined the kids in class – I’d never heard the story how dogs lost their tails!]

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[I’m still here!]

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[The gunslingers . . . ]

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[The musicians.]

Next . . .

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[A short stop at City Park, first looking across at whence we came where they were now setting up for Ribfest.]

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[Then it was on to the winery for an oh too short visit with Julie and Bruce, a/k/a Patchouli.]

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[The Super chipped in with some good ones!  :-)  ]

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[Then it was back to City Park to hear a state of the state from Representative Erin Murphy, St. Paul.]

Next . . .

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[Then it was off to Bug-A-Boo Bay to see the Salty Dogs, where, of course, it rained again.]

And Sunday . . .

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[Josie was back at the winery.  She finally got a nice day . . . ]

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[We only stayed for two sets.  We were pooped.  We learned all our friends showed up after we left?  ;-)  ]

It is hard, if not impossible, to snub a beautiful woman – they remain beautiful and the snub recoils.  ~  Winston Churchill

Up next:  Que sera sera.

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Father’s Day With Lisa

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The first day of summer – Father’s Day.  The Super and I lost our dads three decades ago.  I am not a dad.  Nevertheless, I received Father’s Day gifts today?  A quarter of a century ago the Super and I got together and I “inherited” her two young adult children.  They think I’m weird, I think they’re a hoot, and things seem to be going OK.  But now that they’re in their mid-40’s, any attempts at disciplinary actions on my part are simply met with scoffs. I’ve been dad to two cats, am currently foster granddad to two cats, and am not aware of any other parental responsibilities.  The point is, what were we to do on Father’s Day when the rest of the world is tied up with DAD activities?  You got it . . . road trip!

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We received the following Facebook message yesterday:

If you are blessed enough to be heading up to the Bowlus area to ride on the Soo Line bike trail and enjoy a fantastic brunch in the garden at Jordie’s Trail Side Cafe Sunday, you may see this (hair shorter now!) – I’ll be playing in the gorgeous and really special garden 12-3.  Miracles happen here….I’d stop by if I were you. ~  Lisa

Well, we’re in our Explore Minnesota mode and had never been to Bowlus.  So why not? We hadn’t seen Lisa Lynn for a long time since she moved out of geographically desirable range for performing in Alex.  So off we went, from Sauk Centre to Bowlus was new country for us as we meandered through the farmlands of Central Minnesota.

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[Through the new metropolises to us – Bowlus weighs in at about 290 inhabitants.]

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[Hello, we’re here!]

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[The Super was the first to shoot Lisa.  It was good to see her again.]

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[Still on top of her game and having fun!  :-)  ]

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[Jordie’s is a neat little place with a lovely garden.  The garden has a story, but you have to go there.  Lisa introduced us to Jordie, and I asked if she knew Duane Bobick (remember him?)?  She said very well, that he was 65 now and living in a VA facility – all those years of boxing took its toll.  Lisa has moved to Sartell now, so we hope to see her soon on the Alex music scene again.]

Remembering Dad . . .


I was a goody-goody growing up here.  I mean a gag-me-with-a-spoon goody-goody. And I know, even if just subconsciously, it was out of love and respect for Dad.  I did not want to do anything that would embarrass him as the editor of the city newspaper.  We were never a religious family, but we always took more than a little pride in knowing that some of the local clergy thought of Dad as the most moral man they knew.  It seems like we were always entertaining gentlemen of the cloth at our house as they just liked to stop in for a chat – the coffee pot, as they say, was always on.  Thanks, Dad, as I like to think we’ve all maintained those family values you taught us.

OK, I sired this blog, and it remains a dependent to this day.  ~  Cub Reporter

Up next:  How to support the arts even if you reply to, “Would you like fois gras?” with . . . “Whaaaa . . . ?”

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The Night of the Weird Clouds! *

*  Or How ‘Bout a Pontoon Ride Through a Space-Time Vortex?

‘Twas the last day of spring, June 20, 2015.  Six brave souls ventured out onto the biggest lake on the chain, Carlos, for a late evening (3-hour?) tour.  The sky was ominous from the beginning . . .

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We left the “garage” and boated to the north end of the lake to smell the camp fires.  Carlos State Park appeared to be SRO with regard to campers.  On the way back home, we were treated to a lovely rendition of heat lightning from somewhere over . . .  Lowry (?), and a crescent moon forming a perfect triangle with Venus and Jupiter.  Just a spectacular evening in Vacationland USA!  (Thanks again to our hosts!)

Well, since we seem to have extra space, our first boat ride on our lake, beautiful Lake Darling, in over a year on June 9th . . .

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The Super’s gardens are coming into full bloom and the trees we planted nearly 14 years ago are started to provide total privacy from the road . . .

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Friday night coming home from a Bug-A-Boo performance by Professor Miltich, the sky was ominous leading to overnight thunderstorms (almost 2 inches of hard rain) that rendered the Super’s peonies downcast . . .

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Marriage is an alliance entered into by a man who can’t sleep with the window shut, and a woman who can’t sleep with the window open.  ~  George Bernard Shaw

Up next:  Whatever happens next?  BTW, this is the 700th blog posting, yet another milestone!  :-)

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One Beautiful, And Another Not So Much, Afternoon With The Salty Dogs

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[Friday at the winery.  The quintessential perfect Minnesota day – temperature in the mid-70’s, not a cloud in the sky.  The new wine making building, last week just a frame, has its “skin” on now.  Erik, minus the other three Salty Dogs, was performing, getting the place warmed up for the whole group on Saturday.  Erik promised the same weather, but . . . ]

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[It was a gray, windy day, as Tom performed one of his signature ballads.  We were hoping for a pretty day so I could get some group photos for their promotions, CD, and album covers (well, they hope).  My qualifications in that regard is I know how to aim a camera and hit the shutter release button.]

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[He’s not known as the ‘Boy Tenor’ for nothing!]

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[Oh, and Annie, Greg, and Erik were there as well for artistic completion, as you will note from the three videos, included at no extra charge . . . ]

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[This was Greg’s first appearance with his ‘summer face,’ allegedly so he would no longer scare his infant daughter.]

Women aren’t embarrassed when they buy men’s pajamas, but a man buying a nightgown acts as though he were dealing with a dope peddler.  ~  Jimmy Cannon

Up next:  Whatever?

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A Beautiful Afternoon With Harper’s Chord

My heart be still, we actually had great weather on a Sunday afternoon . . .

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[Harper’s Chord was coming to town, thus expecting an overflow crowd at the winery!  But for the first 45 minutes, the four of us usual regulars were treated to a private show!  We thinks the 1:00 start fooled everyone – usually showtime begins at 2:00.]

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[The last time they were in town, Micah, the bass player, had been added for the first time. This time they along brought a drummer – Pat, high school class of ’65 (though at St. Cloud Cathedral).]


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[Paul and Jill, doing what Paul and Jill do.]

Why Don’t We Pack Up the Van and Run Away for Awhile:

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[Roger and Micah, doing what Roger and Micah do.]

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[They’re baaaackkk.]

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[This was going to be the next CD cover photo . . . well, maybe by her.  ;-)  ]

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[Ending on the downbeat . . . ]

Travelin’ Soldier:

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[Dave was recognized for his 70th b’day, so he and Alice went out and cut the asphalt.]

The Super did her job as well . . .

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[Showing the group’s Medicare Fan Club (with two notable exceptions) was there in force, many of us sticking around for the entire 4-hour performance before heading home to bed!  But as Alice and Dave proved, we still have spunk!]

Natural Bridge:

[This is their signature song with which they usually end their performances . . . ]


[This is their last scheduled performance in Alex this year . . . so please write your congressman and senator!]

Before we go . . .

Thought some of you may enjoy our Bethany Hasz winning the state 1,600 (she won the 3,200 as well).  She and sister Megan usually finish 1 – 2 in these meets, but unfortunately Megan had to miss this year because of injury.  She should be healthy for cross-country in the fall:

A beautiful woman who gives pleasure to men serves only to frighten the fish when she jumps in the water.  ~  Kwang Tse

Up next:  Afraid to look at the calendar.

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How to Build a Rocket Stove

. . . with music chasers!

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[The Supervisor strides purposefully to the Community Education classroom on Saturday morning . . . ]

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[Son-in-law Danny Gaither provided the instruction . . . ]

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[Any yard will do for gathering the fuel . . . ]

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[Where we were . . . ]

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[Careful with those tin snips or you’ll lose a finger! . . . ]

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[An attempted overhead view –  the whole idea is to create airflow in your stove . . . ]

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[OK, let’s start that fuel burning . . .  ]

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[Of course it was a very windy day (when isn’t it?), so a young lady was being taught how to fly a kite by her dad.  But she kept being distracted by those rocket stove people . . .  ]

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[Do the marshmallows go on the pointy end? . . . ]

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[It’s weenie time . . .  ]

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[Pretty handy dandy little outdoor stoves!]

And now, the video:

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[And here’s a rocket stove on a somewhat larger scale . . . Danny building one in their place up north two years ago where it will used as the furnace!  :-)  ]

In other news . . .

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[Shirley turned 18 on June 1st . . . ]

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[In other other news, I supervised the Super and other supervisees in Friday’s exterior project from my usual perch on high. The inherent dangers of such activities came into play later when I had to rush the Super to the clinic to have a mosquito extracted from her inner ear through several wishy-washies. She survived but is now on antibiotics. Just another example of why I only venture to the outdoors in winter, when it’s much safer! Here we were adding more rock to the driveway with neighbor Arnie with his Bobcat, Danny with the rake, and the Super supervising from ground level. The “incident” happened later when she was mowing.  ]

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[In other other other news, a certain fun couple celebrated their 17th at SAWA Friday night to the dulcet tones of Dan Mahar’s “What A Wonderful World.”]

And since someone was so kind as to FB post my video from 2013:

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[After class on Saturday, it was off to the winery.  They’re constructing a new facility for wine production, thus being able to expand the existing tasting/music room to accommodate 100 people at tables . . . ]

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[But we were there for another afternoon with the now retired Professor Miltilch . . . ]

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[I think his fan support would largely be considered annoying, but he graciously puts up with us.  These Final Four photos are courtesy of the Supervisor.  We did not expect to be outside – the forecast was daunting and of course the wind was howling, but we made it through the afternoon.  Through a tornado watch last night, we did pick up an inch of rain.]

Time and trouble will tame an advanced young woman, but an advanced old woman is uncontrollable by any earthly force.  ~  Dorothy Sayers

Up next:  Harper’s Chord?

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Boat Trip, Last Day

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[This is Bucharest International Airport, located in Otopeni about 10 miles north of Bucharest city center.  The speediest and most civil airport I have ever been in!  We took a TAROM (Transport Air ROManian) flight to Amsterdam, and then a Delta flight home.]

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[Now a perpetual favorite, flying over Greenland and into Northern Canada.]

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[I mostly laughed my way home watching “Comedians in Cars Having Coffee.”  The Super kept poking me in the ribs because surprisingly my laughter was annoying other passengers?]

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[Then over the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes, from l – r:  Harriet, Calhoun, Lake of the Isles, and Cedar.]

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[The airport.]

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[And the Twin Cities in a single shot, Minneapolis on the left, St. Paul on the right.]

That’s it, folks.  Show’s over.  Please police your immediate area upon leaving and don’t forget to thank your flight attendants and Wilbur and Orville Wright.  So, what have we learned?  That it’s better to give than to fall off a roof?  That no good deed catches the worm?  That rainy days and Mondays means it’s spring in Minnesota?  Well, yes, but also that the Danube rocks!!  Enjoyed this trip immensely, everything went about as smoothly as it could.  Prague and Budapest lived up to post trip expectations, Bucharest (and Belgrade, too) even more so.  But since they’re all cities of a couple million denizens, one can’t do them justice in a day or two.  The small city side trips give a better flavor of the individual countries.  This was not so much a cruise as overnight floating to the next land destination.

As you may recall, the family Gross went on for four extra days in Romania.  Their report:

Sibiu is a very interesting city. Just finished beer. Dinner soon. T shirt in shop says “Send more tourists. The last ones were delicious.”  ~  Bert

We had a fine time in Romania. (I’d hate to say that you missed the best part of the trip, especially since it is probably only that for me it was the most recent part of the trip, so I remember it best.) We traveled to three medieval towns with fortified churches, old squares, etc. including a visit to “Dracula’s” castle, and the real but only 100-year old castle built by their first king. Since Romania was pretty much always under someone’s thumb, they don’t really have the old castles etc but instead had towns, at least in Transylvania where there were a lot of Saxons, that were governed by councils and guilds. We visited a Roma family, had lunch in a bed and breakfast in a quaint village, stayed in an old inn in a room once reportedly occupied by Prince Charles.  The weather continued to cooperate, our 28-year-old guide spoke excellent English, drove quite sanely, and was quite knowledgeable. (He has a masters in civil engineering but prefers and makes more money doing tours.)  The mountains and countryside were lovely.

The most annoying thing was the smoking: a couple of the hotels did not have nonsmoking rooms and almost none of the restaurants. And figuring out how to shower sans shower curtain without spraying the whole room!

The flight back was long but completely, thankfully, uneventful.  I bet Bill can send some pictures when he gets to that week, but that is all I have to say. Back to work.  ~  Anne

Previously unpublished comments:

My most memorable travel moment:    I was staying at an apt. hotel not far from the City Market (maybe half mile to your left as to walked out to the promenade)…..was very tired arriving approx. 10 pm after long train ride from Prague (and struggling with walk/subway from Budapest East train station with bags).  Decided I’d better go for a walk before collapsing, and headed 1 block down to the river promenade, where I walked past your Marriott, and seeing Chain Bridge and the imposing buildings on the Buda side all lit up was a true “Holy Crap”  moment (and I’m sure you were among the throngs who had their tripods set up to get just the right shot of the car lights approaching via Chain Bridge from Buda)  ~  Basketball Dan

Cannot read your blog any more without getting hungry.  So much for Annen’s request for food pix.  ~  The Fieldhammers (lived in Slovakia for three months a few years ago)

The Super and the group have future destinations in mind.  If you don’t mind, you can vote for your favorite at 1-800-whatareyougonnadowithouthemobyobie.  The winner will win an all expenses paid trip to the end of the block:

1) Baltic;

2) Galapagos;

3) Svalbard;

4) Banff;

5) Hawaii;

6) Someplace from whence we’ll never return!

The Greeks, aided by a warm climate, had invented geometry, and they used this advanced knowledge to conquer the surrounding cultures by piercing them with the ends of isosceles triangles.  ~  Dave Barry

Up next:  Whatever?

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