Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Thoughts and facts about airlines

I promised it to you time ago but had problems with my PC and Internet, so I can write about it only today. And there are different notices to tell you.

So, I begin with the list of the best low-cost carriers (Forbes)

This year I travelled much with these type of companies and think they are good. The only problem I had was with EasyJet.

I prefer to buy tickets via Internet and there was written in my ticket: "Go directly to embark". I waited about 5-7 hours in airport for my flight and went directly to embark so as was written in my ticket. But it was not true. I had to register before and I didn't do it. If I felt good in that moment, maybe I had time to read more information in the time I had to wait, but I felt very bad and could not think about anything.
So I missed the flight because the confirmation mail had not right information.
And nobody from this company wanted to speak with me. For the team of EasyJet did not exist this passenger. The money they received from me, so what do you want else?

Other companies look for their passengers, call you 10 times to come to the place of embark, wait for you even if your airplane has to fly - so was with me before, with other companies, and this was the first time in my life that the customer service was so bad.

But the same EasyJet I found between the 3 best low-cost carriers of Forbes. The first is Jetstar Airways and the second is AirBerlin. In Europe.

What was the difference from low-cost ticket and normal price in one of the airplanes? Our places were in the tail of the vehicle and we had to buy coffee if we wanted it. The difference in price was about 200 euro for 1,5 hours flight.

The other notice is from Sweden.
In some of airports you will leave your finger-prints to check and then receive back your luggage. They say, it will help not only with terrorist's danger but the check up will be much more quicker and sure.
Something like this want to approve UE for the flights too. From February all the passengers will pass 3 types of control.

In airport of Naples they said me to undress completely (I don't joke) when a woman customs official saw a bottle about 30 ml of oil in my bag. Later I new that the law allows 50 ml of liquid to have in the bag. Without show striptease to presented persons.

Finally, if you read this post today, 30 January, you have time to win one of the prizes that other from the best low-cost carriers, Ryanair, will give to the best kissed couple in Dublin 31 January. 20 best of couples will have 50 euro prizes to fly with Ryanair on 14 February and all the best couple will sleep one night in one of the best hotels of Dublin.
So take your love and go to kiss her/him in Dublin tomorrow.

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Sunday, 27 January 2008

Abbotsham Cliffs

The sun came out today for the first time in ages, so after I'd finished painting the woodwork on my stairs I loaded the kids into the car and rushed down to Mum and Dad's to drag them out for a walk. Dad came along, Mum, I suspect, had a quick forty winks!
We drove down to Westward Ho! and went down past the rock pools, the Elizabethan, and all the holiday homes and beach huts til civilisation ran out and all that was left was the wild sea and the edge of the land. A path, that used to be the railway line from Westward Ho! to Abbotsham, runs along the cliff edge for about a mile and the views of the bay are fantastic. Today, despite the brilliant sunshine, it was a bit hazy in the distances but you could still make out Saunton Sands, Lundy Island and all the way round to Hartland Point.
The sun, shining low at 4.00, beat straight into us as we walked west and made taking the picture of the pebble beach above a bit tricky. We didn't follow the path all the way down, as little legs were getting tired by then, but its quite fun to go clambering on if you've a mind, and the cliff paths go on after that if you are interested in a longer walk, or you can turn left and follow the path inland to the village of Abbotsham where I believe there may be a pub!

Friday, 25 January 2008

Dulce de Leche in Argentina

What do you see on this photo is "Dulce de leche" and different forms of use for this product.

Why I write about this aliment in a travel blog?
Because it's a "national" product of Argentine.
And we are here in a travel-cafe or no?

Not that you don't meet it in other countries. There are many places where milk is worked in this way. It's concentrated milk with sugar boiled then for different hours, posted the tin in the pan with water.

But the Argentinians make worship with this product. They have infinite sorts of biscuits and chocolates where they use it. Some of them you can see on this photo. There are tins with pure milk like that on the left and there are all these other sweeties (on the right). I like "Bocadito" and that other biscuit in black (it's the same like other in white, but the recipe is much better).

So, if you are to go in Argentine, don't forget "Dulce de Leche"

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Wednesday, 23 January 2008

We Knew It Wouldn't Last

...the phone service, that is. Out again. The latest word I heard is that the phone company is working on it, but they don't have an estimate of when it will be repaired. If you have tried calling us, and only get lots of ringing, with no answering machine, then they are out. We're probably in, we just can't answer you. But we're here with email, so drop us a line.

Another Alberta Clipper came rolling through, so it was minus 22 degrees this morning. The temp is supposed to continue to rise now, and they are predicting highs in the twenties--above zero--for Friday to Sunday. That will feel like a regular heat wave after the snap. We've been seeing lots of blue skies during the cold weather, and the days are getting a wee bit longer. Can spring be far away? (Umm, don't answer that yet!)

On the really cold days, Moses and Jethro, the donkeys, only come outside of their barn to eat and take care of business. Otherwise, they huddle next to each other throughout the day, and maybe stick a nose or two out the doorway, when someone goes by on the road. Today must feel warmer to them, as they were still out and about, after they finished their breakfast. I marvel that they can stay warm all night long with just their fur coats on....Brrr. I'm happiest outside with a minimum of six extra pieces of clothing on--and often times several more than that.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

The Other Side

Here we are, on the other side....The other side of the cold snap, the other side of our telephone challenges, and biggest of all, the other side of Paul leaving home.

I always think that it is the cold weather causing troubles like the phone was suffering over the weekend. It probably has nothing to do with it, but it sure is a convenient excuse. If you tried to reach us and were unable, we are sorry. Remember that you can always email us. We don't know how long this tenuous relationship with working phones will last, but for now, call away!

The cold snap wasn't so bad....just enough to remind us that we are in Minnesota after all. What would winter be without a blast or two? We hit about twenty-six below zero, and it warmed up each day to the low teens and even single digits below zero. We are on a warming trend again, with the temp already one degree above zero. Robert called the other day, and it was 15 above in Fairbanks, while it was 15 below here. And one other interesting little temperature tidbit: Yesterday Sharlene told me that Barrow, Alaska was reporting thirty-one degrees, and guess what it was in Atlanta, Georgia at the same time? Thirty-one degrees. Winter can be strange.

The snow, on the other hand, is great. The ten inches that fell a week or so ago has really improved the trails. Greg and Bob (from Gunflint Pines) were able to go out and groom all of the trail system, and folks skied over the weekend, despite the cold temperatures. Some chose to snowshoe instead, as that was a bit more of a workout, and kept them warmer. No matter what they did, the best part is just getting outside. The air is so crisp and fresh when it is cold like this. I had reason to call an office at the university in Morris last week. I learned that Paul needs to stop in to that office this week, and the woman pointed out to me that they were located in the same building as his dorm room, so that "he won't even need to go outside." I replied that I Want him to go outside, because it is good for him. She agreed, and also noted that it probably wasn 't as cold there as it is here. So Paul, if you are reading this--and Robert, too--go outside! It's good for you. (Once a mom, always a mom--grin.)

Paul and Greg took off from here early on Sunday morning, as it is about an eight-hour drive to Morris. They wanted to get to school in time for Paul to check in to his dorm room, but also so that they could watch the Packers game. One last evening together, in which the Packers did not win, but they had a good time. Today, Paul went back to the classroom--first time in better than seven years for that. He has a couple of friends already at Morris, so they will show him the ropes of the place. And I'm sure he is quite happy that he won't be having to haul firewood in to keep the place warm anytime soon.

When these young men with strong backs leave home, we need to find a new way to do the work that they have been tackling for the last few years. After Greg left Paul in Morris, he drove on to the Twin Cities to pick up a snowmobile. It seems like that should just be standard equipment at a winter resort. We do have an old machine--one that's been here about as long as I have. But it has seen its hard times in recent years. Robert had a knack for getting it to run, but lately it really was in trouble. It was time for an upgrade. Greg found this one on Craigslist, and it looks like it will meet his needs. Soon it will have a sled behind it, to haul things around, and it will also be used to go and check the ice thickness. After the cold snap, we should have more ice.

As I finish this up, it is snowing out. Not much new snow is predicted, but we can always use a freshening up. If the clouds stay, we won't be able to see the full moon tonight. Addie and I saw it rising last night, and what a beautiful globe it was. The brightness of it these days casts all sorts of moonshadows at night, so that even at two in the morning, we can see out the window with little trouble. It's an awesome sight.

Monday, 21 January 2008

Telephone Troubles

Our telephone service is currently down, so if you need to reach us, please drop me an email at
The phone company is working on it, but we are told that it could be a few more days before service is restored. Makes it a little rough to run a business, but we are used to challenges here on the Trail!
We're sorry for any inconvenience this causes.

Batu Caves Hindu's Shrines

I'm very happy to present you the second article of Berry Sudirno from Jakarta/Indonesia, author of these interesting blogs: howtoboostyourwealth, journeytomakemoney, sweetjourneyinmylife .
You know him in my blogs from the first article Endagered Species -Orangutans that many of you found interesting.

Batu Caves is a limestone hill in the Bukit Gombak District, about 13 kilometer north of Kuala Lumpur the capital city of the Kingdom of Malaysia. The cave is sacred for the Hindu�s and one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside India.

Batu Caves could be reached by taxi or by bus from the Pudu Raya bus terminal at the city of Kuala Lumpur or you may use the tourist bus which is available at your Hotel.

You must climb 272 steps in order to access the temple at the summit of the hill. They consist of 3 main caves and number of smaller one.

You will be greet by a lots of long tail monkeys which expecting some foods like peanut, banana from you. You must be careful because some of them are very naughty they will raid you and steal your hat, bag or any other things. Besides that there a lots of birds around and expecting you to feed them with corn. Those foods could be purchased at around Batu Caves.

�The site serves as the focus of the Hindu community�s yearly Thaipussam festival. A procession begins at Sri Mahamariamman Temple Kuala Lumpur with some people carrying kavadi and last eight hours. In 2007, the festival attracted more than 1.5 million pilgrims, making it one of the largest gatherings history.� (Wikipedia)

(photo of my daughter at Batu Caves was taken a few years ago)

If you are interested that I publish your article/post or your photo with MY post (I can host and retouch your photos) in one of my blogs you can write me a mail (my address you can find on the right side of the page) with very clear object (that I do not cancel your mail as spam). In change I ask you to post my blog's addresses in one of your permanent posts -like this (you can copy it):

My friend's blogs:
Animals as Friends,
Lazy Yogi,
Vacation and Travel Talk

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Saturday, 19 January 2008

Don't visit this places!

Every day I read now articles about different lists made by Forbes. People discuss if it's true and if translators know English good enough ecc ecc. Nobody wants to believe in these lists. So, I decided to control myself if these lists really exist and what are they about.

The first I found was the list of the most dangerous places (photo)where you have never go without professional security services or -in some cases- you have not to go there at all.
"Now, a tourist or business traveler might worry more about terrorist attacks on mass transit, getting caught in a spontaneous uprising or a bombing of a nightclub or hotel."
This is the list:
Dem.Rep. of the Congo,

I was surprised to see Haiti in this list. I thought, it's a paradise of beaches. But Forbes says it's paradise of drugs and corruption.

The other interesting list of Forbes for me is the list of the best Low-Cost companies. I use them from time to time and had a great problem with one of them in october. But I think it's better do not mix these 2 themes in one post.

Interesting blogs to visit:
Blogger Of The Web
OrCarrier Cruising

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Thursday, 17 January 2008

Indian coffee

What do you know about coffee?

I knew not soo much about it.
What I knew:
there is coffee from Brazil and from Vietnam. That from Brazil is ecological and biological, that from Vietnam is not very good because with dangerous, toxic substances. And I knew all sorts of coffee I can buy in the supermarkets here.

Today I learned, there are many different coffees from different countries.
And from India too. (I wanted to write a post about India and found this information)

Indian coffees are good balanced and mild with low acidity and spicy notes. And there is a special one -the Monsooned coffee. An other interesting case is High grown coffees with high acidity.

Coffee was introduced in India from Yemen by a Muslim pilgrim Bababudan Sahib in the Chikmagalur District in 1610. 123,681 farms with 3 000 000 workers produce it today. And India is the 2 in Asia and the 8 in the world. (I did not find all lists). And harvest is in November and February.

Interesting. I wanted to taste it too. Sunday we will go in a great supermarket, maybe I'll find it there?

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Violations in Goa

This map and really many interesting info about Goa -the best I found

I receive not very good notices from India for 2 or 3 days. You are right, I mean tourists and travel notices. They tell about very difficult situation, particularly in Goa, for european women travelling alone. Very great % of violations. Most women (that went in police) are Brittish but there are women from different countries. The men were not only first they meet on the beach for example, but the owners of the hotels, restaurants ecc. People, you would never think they can allow themselves something like this, because they had to think about the good name of their business.

All us we know this situation. It has different sides, surely. And we can say the same not only about Goa, but about many other countries.

1/ Many modern european women live alone, and are completely independent. They feel young, beautiful and full of energy in any age. They like to caress themselves. They have money and time for travelling. Why not? If she is a woman and doesn't want anybody that sit on her neck, it's forbidden for her to travel?

2/ Men in many countries (and european men in the depth of their souls too) want and continue to live in Middle Age mentality. They understand a woman only if she is sitting in a trunk (like in that fable about Jin). Women in that countries allow it to them because are dependent and for tradition. Every woman out of the trunk is for them a woman, inviting all men to abuse of her.

These 2 ideas are the main problem.
Women from all european countries don't understand they have not to feel sure and protected.
Because they are not protected.
Maybe now, after this scandal, the government of India will do something to assure it's income of money. And it will mean that India will become the most good place for alone travelling women. For some time.

I read many meanings about this problem in the forums.
Imagin, those who visited Goa, are saying 2 completely different things: it's true, it's impossible to go out there -and it's not true, persons are the best in the world there.
Can you add yourth?

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Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Saturday Night Adventure

Today, we have a guest blogger. Greg has written up the tale of what we did on the evening of Saturday, January 12th.

Somebody shook up the snow globe. The snow fell Friday and Saturday. I plowed all day on Saturday, then came home to get ready to go town. Paul plays bass in the Trail's End Band and they had a gig at the Gunflint Tavern in Grand Marais.

Our party consisted of Gramma Sharlene, Barb, Patrick (longtime friend of Paul's), Pablo and me. We climbed in to the van and drove to town, arriving around 6:30 or so. We ordered dinner, and waited for the band to start. It had been snowing heavily on the way down, so Barb suggested filling the gas tank before Buck's Hardware and gas station closed. That way, we would be driving home on a full tank. I had no idea how wise a decision this would turn out to be.

All the time the band played, we marveled at how much snow was coming down. The county pulled their plows off the road and told the drivers to get some sleep. We were hearing stories of how there was more than twelve inches on the Gunflint Trail. But people tend to exaggerate, so I figured that we would be okay.

The band finished playing, and everything was loaded up by midnight. Mark, the keyboardist, had to get up to the end of the Trail to feed his dogs. Andy, the vocalist, was driving up to stay at Mark's. Our van completed the threesome, all with two-wheel drive. Outside of the Tavern, a deputy told us how bad it was, but if we were still going, he would at least be able to break trail for us up to Pincushion, about three miles.

We hadn't gone two blocks when the deputy stopped in the middle of Highway 61 and walked back to tell Andy that he should park his truck, since he was sliding around too much. Andy said that he would be fine, and we continued on. Shortly, we lost lost him. Mark went back to see what happened. He came back to say that Andy had decided to stay in town. I followed Mark up the hill, but then stopped to speak briefly with another deputy. He told us that he didn't think we could make it. We could have turned back at that point, but Mark had kept on going, and I felt it was better if we travelled together. The deputy headed down the hill, and we prepared to go ahead. The slight incline caused trouble for us getting started again, so I backed up in my tracks to get a run. Ahead of me, I could see our bumper and license plate imprint in the snow that we had banked up. It took a couple of tries before we started to gain momentum. Twenty to twenty-five miles per hour seemed to be about the right mix of momentum and control. The little van would get tossed around, since it didn't quite fit into the ruts, so it took a fair amount of concentration to keep the thing pointed in the right direction.

By the lumber mill, the snow was around eighteen inches deep. There were some tracks to follow, but we were still pushing some snow with our bumpers.

Nine miles out of town, Mark's truck stalled. As a rule, Mark, Paul and I carry Gerber tools, but all three of us had left them at home. I found a vice grip in Mark's glovebox, and borrowed Gramma's Swiss Army knife. Between those two tools, we were able to check the air box and distributor cap. Then we traced back to a blown fuel-injection fuse. We replaced it with a fuse from his horn/hazard lights, and proceeded. That lasted for a half-mile. There was likely snowmelt causing a short somewhere, but there wasn't time to sort it out, with snow rapidly filling the tracks behind us, and the deepening the blanket in front of us. So we took the fuse from the dome light, plugged it in to the fuel injection slot, and searched for a side road to park the truck. We found one shortly, and the truck died just as Mark started to turn in. Four of us used our feet as shovels and cleared a parking spot, just large enough to push the truck into it. We transferred the keyboards, guitar and cold weather gear to our parked van. The clock said 1:30 AM. We had made it eleven miles.

John the deputy drove up to check on our progress. I asked him if he had time to break trail to Northern Light Lake. He agreed, and drove on ahead of us. He actually went a little further, to the South Brule bridge. Beyond there, we were on our own. The further up the Trail we drove, the drier the snow became, until it was powdery enough to turn itself into a down quilt, become airborne once again, and blanket our windshield. Mark and I would get out every couple of minutes to clear the windshield, the head lights and the grill. Each time, we would notice the mound of snow that had built up for several feet in front of the bumper. We weren't able to defrost much of the windshield, nor could we clear the ice and snow that kept building up on it. Every so often , we would plow into powder that would bury the front of the van, stall out the wiper motor, and I would have to look out the side window, gauging the bank to make sure we were still on the road. Our speed through this stretch was no more than ten miles per hour. But ten miles per hour is still moving, and it sure beats walking. The moose must have been laying low, because we only had to brake for two of them.

Finally, as we approached the Clearwater Road, there was a set of tracks from a four-wheel drive truck. The ruts didn't fit our van, but the differential had carved a trough down the middle, and that's all we needed to keep the snow from blanketing the front of the van. We followed these tracks for five miles. Beyond that, there were no more tracks, but the snow was not as deep. We had no more problems getting up to the end of the Trail to drop Mark off. We actually got stuck in Mark's driveway, but I was able to do a half-Jimmy Rockford (a reverse fishtail spin) that got our front end aimed downhill.

The drive back to Gunflint Lake was a piece of cake, except that there was no more excitement to keep me awake. So that became exciting in and of itself. That 72 miles took us four difficult hours, but we were finally home, with one last chore to do. I called the dispatcher to get a message to Deputy John to let him know that we had made it, and to thank him for breaking trail for us. We headed up to bed--the clock said 4:05 AM.

Throughout this whole ordeal I was feeling pretty guilty about keeping my mom, Gramma Sharlene, up until 4 AM. Barb talked to her the next day, and she said, "You know, I'm really glad that I was along for that. It was a good adventure." She's a cool mom.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Buddhist pilgrimage at Travel Pangs

I asked Footiam the author of very interesting blogs Stepping out, Dragon Descendants, Dhamma Delights, Beautiful World, Our Impermanent world the permission to write about his piligrimage in India to the places of Buddha birth and other important for Buddhismus places.

He sent me some photos ( inedit!!! Only for my blog!!!! I'm incredibly proud -unfortunatelly he forgot the description of the photos... but I think it's Bodh Gaya)
Bodh Gaya is the place of Enlightenment of Buddha
Lumbini is the place where the Buddha was born.

and this mail:
Dear Liudmila,
I read somewhere that a pilgrimage is a journey to a sacred place as an act of devotion and faith. In Buddhism, faith or Saddha shouldn't be blind or based on wrong view. The confidence on the religion has to be professed based on understanding of that religion. A pilgrimage is also all about the mental aspect. The physical part is easily taken care by any travel company and would satisfy any normal tourist seeking the pleasure of sightseeing and enjoyment.In a pilgrimage however, the sight of holy shrines and the veneration or reverence of the pilgrims for them, do not arouse craving but wholesome mental states such as Right Thought, Right Speech and Right Action. I was lucky thus to be invited by a friend to join a Buddhist group on a pilgrimage to North India, visiting some of the important Buddhist sites there, most notably Lumbini, Bodhgaya, Sarnath and Kusinara which form the four holy places of pilgrimage and Sarvvasthi, Rajgir and Vaishalli which together with Sankasia, are the four places of principal miracles. Do check out my travel blog and have a serving of a Buddhist pilgrimage at Travel Pangs!

Sarnath.The Dhamekha stupa is considered to be the sacred place where Buddha began to teach with the first discourse on the 'Wheel of Law'.The present size of the stupa is 31.3 m high and 28.3 m in diameter. (source)

Maya Devi, his mother, gave birth to the child on her way to her parent's home in Devadaha while taking rest in Lumbini under a sal tree in the month of May in the year 642 B.C. In 249 BC, when the Emperor Ashoka visited Lumbini constructed four stupas and a stone pillar with a figure of a horse on top. (source)

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Saturday, 12 January 2008

Everest's first conqueror died

this map you can find here click on the map to see it bigger

photo from click on the link to watch the video

One of the 20th century's greatest adventurers (GMANnews), 88 years old Sir Edmund Hillary, one of 2 (the other was Sherpa Tenzing Norgay) officially recognized first persons stand on the summit of Everest on May 29, 1953, died.

The best-known New Zealander wrote about this adventure:
"Another few weary steps and there was nothing above us but the sky. There was no false cornice, no final pinnacle. We were standing together on the summit. There was enough space for about six people. We had conquered Everest."
"I removed my oxygen mask to take some pictures. It wasn't enough just to get to the top. We had to get back with the evidence. Fifteen minutes later we began the descent." (source)
12 pictures about that adventure

The world's highest peak has 8850 m
These courageous climbers ascended through to the South Col from the Khumbu Glacier, and continued their ascent to the summit via the Southeast ridge. Their route is now referred to as the Normal Route (quote and photo of Everest)

And here more:
Absolutely incredible panoramic photo view from the top of Everest click on the photo there and pull it right or left

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Friday, 11 January 2008

Strange Snow Antics

A weird thing happened yesterday, and from what I read, it didn't just happen here on Gunflint Lake. The radar was showing that snow was falling for quite a while in the morning, but it never made it to the ground. I read something about snow falling in to dry air, and that it might make it to us, but it never did. It was certainly a disappointment, as we all were looking forward to a freshening up on the trails. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that the same thing had happened there. I figured that maybe this was nature's payback for all of those times I have seen snow come down when it is neither predicted, nor on the radar map.

Today when I got up, it was snowing a little, so I checked the radar. This time, it wasn't showing anything. Strange! The snow continued, and Greg and I went for a walk. I said to him that maybe we were finally receiving all of the snow that had fallen yesterday---perhaps it had been trapped in the "dry air" and was finally set free. But when I got home, I saw that the weather map had been upgraded, and indeed, the map and the actual happenings did jive. The best news, however, is that it has continued to snow all day, and we are starting to see it pile up. I was expecting an inch at best, but it must be at least two by now. Greg is out plowing the road to the point, and soon will be in to verify my guess. The Plowguy says it is a "couple-three" inches---that translates to two or so in some places, and three in others. This will improve the ski trails quite a bit.

While we were on our walk, I enjoyed checking out all of the animal tracks in the new snow. The fox had been through, as usual. The string of pawprints looked just like someone had laid a necklace of beads in the snow. Then we came upon some snowshoe hare tracks. These were fun to investigate, not only for their size, but also for the crazy path that the hare had followed. Soon I saw some squirrel tracks, small but sharply defined. Those red squirrels are so busy all year long, running here and there. When one dodges in to the road ahead of us, if we are driving, we will slow down and try to go by after he/she has either crossed or turned back. Eventually, the snowplow came along, and so that changed the track watching. I tend to look down when walking in the winter, just to be sure of my footing. I observed how the snow spit back from the tires, and sometimes even left minute hairline tracks as it rolled across the surface. That is similar to a mouse's track, but without the footprints. And as usual, I saw deer tracks, and even watched a doe in the woods just a few feet off the road. She stared at me, too, but must have felt safe enough with the few balsam trees between us. Every other morning this week that we went walking, I carried my camera, but never saw anything to photograph. Today I left it home, and of course I could have used it.

A couple of nights ago we were treated to the Northwoods "music" that I like best---the wolves were howling. Such a magnificent chorus to hear again! They were not far away, but since the sound carries so well, it is hard to pinpoint direction sometimes. I saw two wolves last week, out on the ice, right in front of the lodge. They looked to be younger ones, as they were not as large as some we have seen. They were headed west, so I ran to the ice to see if there was more excitement. One had already reached land, and the other was following, just past the shore in front of Sharlene's cabin. I haven't seen any deerkills yet, but the wolves must be busy with that, as it is their main food source.

More music this weekend---Paul and his Trail's End band buddies are back at the Tavern for more good times. We'll be there--stop by if you can!

New penality for smokers in Thailand

This map you can find here
I wrote about Thailand some days ago and here is
an other interesting notice from this country.

Specially interesting for smokers.
Don't smoke in bars, open markets and nights from 17 of February! It will cost you 68 dollars of penality. It will be valid for all closed places too.
This is the difference: befor smoking was forbidden in closed places where persons eat only. The health minister of Thailand said: it will be very healthy for all visitors of all these places and for those who works there.

This country is a very interesting for tourists from all the world in the last period but sometimes happen bad surprises to unprepared persons. There are notices that some tourists finished in a prison in Thailand. So be carful to respect new laws too.

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Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Hookah, the waterpipe

Hookah has different names in different countries. Nargile, shisha, waterpipe, hubble-bubble, ecc. One Pakistan dictionary says "huqqa" means in persian language "a little pot for incense and jewels".

In a village not far from us opened one italian, turned from Egypt, a little kebab-shop. He told me about something, I could not understand what it was. Only when he took the pipe in the shop was clear: we speak about the same thing.

This waterpipe device for smoking is used to smoke herbal fruits too, but the main is tobacco. Some persons say it's not dangerous to smoke hookah, at least not so dangerous as to smoke cigarettes. Egyptian researchers (physicians and engineers) were intrested to control it and here are the results:

1/ if you smoke 25 g of shisha they are equal to 60 cigarettes = 3 packs
2/ the t� of the moke is 450�C and when it passes through the pipe has not time to become cold
3/ to inhale 500-600 cub. cm of this smoke makes the lungs less flexible, they become bigger and do not work efficiently

But the hookah smokers do not want to accept these results. They say, it's enough to see on the towel after you smoke a cigarett and hookah to notice the difference.

Because it becomes more and more popular in Europe and America, the interested organisations think this research's results will help in the battle contro the hookah smoking.

Hookah (photo)
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Hookah lounge

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Tuesday, 8 January 2008

January at Heston's

January came in with moderate temperatures and just a bit of a west wind as we enjoyed our annual bonfire. The stars were out briefly, and then the clouds rolled in and carried a few snowflakes to us. We were with our wonderful group of friends and neighbors that have joined us for so many of the previous New Year's festivities, as we bid farewell to 2007 and welcomed all that 2008 has in store for us.

We had started the evening with a buffet dinner from places I had never traveled to, let alone eaten the foods: Lebanese, Turkish, Syrian--just a few of the ethnicities we visited on our culinary tour. With much help from an excellent and experienced team, we hosted about sixty people for dinner that night. From Chicken with Pomegranate Molasses to Kebobs with Baharat seasoning, to tabouli and a bread called Manaaeesh, it was quite a feast. I don't think anyone left hungry, especially if they stopped by the dessert table, too. In addition to several plates of delicious cookies and holiday treats, Addie and Sophie came up with some spectacular offerings, most notable a pear tiramisu, and a peppermint ice cream cake. It was difficult to get by the dessert buffet, as some folks chose just to hang out right next to it. Can't say that I blame them!

Once dinner was over, our good friend Jim teamed up with Addie, Paul, Nic, and our neighbors Samuel, Erik and Hannah for some music. Sophie and her mom, Elizabeth, also participated. The music ranged from classical, with flute and piano, to jazz and rock, with guitars, saxophone and trumpet. Following the performances, we had a sing-a-long, with Jim on the guitar, and lively voices from the audience. I saw smiles and fun all around me. Many thanks to all who played and sang--the rest of us sure enjoyed it.

Sometimes I am a bit sad to see a year go by, but I have to admit that it was not the case this time around. 2007 sure had a way about it that didn't always make it lovable. Right out of the gate, it brought challenges, with the passing of Grandma Peggy in January, the fire in May (and the aftermath), and then all the rain in the fall. We were definitely grateful for all of that moisture that came down, but it really kept us hopping as far as securing boats and docks. As ever, we made it through, and are no worse for the wear. If there is just one thing that I can hope for in this new year, it is that life is calmer......I've seen articles in the newspaper about different groups choosing a word for the previous year. I think that I will choose the word calm for 2008.

Over the past weekend, January decided to do its thaw. I remember as a kid having a January thaw, and so it's somewhat expected. The temps climbed towards the lower thirties in the last four days, but for the most part, we have been fortunate here on the Trail. Despite the predictions, we haven't seen drizzle, and the sun has been hiding, too. The snow has softened up, and we have lost some, but not near as much as other places I have been hearing about. Earlier today, we had some new snowflakes falling, and the forecast has more predicted for the next couple of days. The temperatures are supposed to go down, and so we should be back to more normal patterns for this time of year.

Lake trout fishing opens on Saturday for the lakes outside of the BWCA--that includes Gunflint Lake. For the most part, it seems that the slush is clearing up. Last night it was mild enough to have our bedroom window open about a half-inch, and the lake was making all the right sounds for more ice. Sometimes it booms and cracks, other times it just sounds like odd instruments tuning up. My favorite is when it makes noises that sound like something straight out of an outer space themed movie. The thickest ice we've heard about is around twelve inches. When Paul punched the sauna hole, he found nine inches.

Speaking of Paul, he is soon to be facing his first challenge of the new year. He will be leaving next week for Morris, Minnesota, where he will start his first semester in college. We'll miss him like the dickens, but are very happy for him to have this opportunity. College life will be very different from homeschooling in the woods of the Gunflint Trail, but I think it will suit him well. Only Addie will be left at home.....she can already see all of the work lined up for her!

The King of Thailand

I could never imagin the citizens of Thailand love their king sooo much.
These are notices about the events of december, when the king has his birthday.

First of all who is he?
King Bhumibol (Phumiphon) Adulyadej, Rama IX of the Chakri Dynasty, born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States of America on 5 december 1927, is on the thron from 1946 and with 60 years of this work (in 2006) is the longest serving monarch in the world. In this period there were 21 prime-ministers and 15 constitutions in Thailand.
This year was his 80 birthday.
He has no constitutional power but is the most powerful person in the country.
His "names" are The Father of the Nation, The National Godhead, The Lord of the Lands, The Soul of the Nation, The Possessor of the Four and Twenty Golden Umbrellas.

In october the king was ill and passed 3 weeks in a hospital. When he went out he weared rose clothes because astrologists said to him this colour is the best for his health in this period. From that day there is a stock-jobbing in the country. Everybody wants to wear rose shirt.

From 2006s many persons wear yellow clothes mondays because the king's birthday was monday and yellow was his colour of that year.

The birthday of the king (December 5th) is national feast. On this days all shops, bars, places for entertainment and massage are clothed. Sex and alcohol are forbidden. There were many interesting manifestations like Festival of sand sculpturs and Pattaya International Balloon Fiesta 2007 where one of the presents for king was a fantastic Cake Balloon, Elephant balloon ecc.

BBC News (photo)
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Pattaya International Balloon Fiesta 2007 (photo)

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Sunday, 6 January 2008

The Mill Adventure Centre

If you are after exercise and don't want to go out in the winter this is a great place to get it. The Mill has been open for over a year now but this was our first visit. Although it calls itself an adventure centre it is really only a climbing centre with about ten fixed ropes, a traversing wall and several routes for lead climbing. It also has a bouldering room. But it does boast the fact that it is the largest indoor climbing wall in Devon.

We confined ourselves to about six of the ropes, as the other routes looked far too difficult. The holds are colour coded and the routes graded so you can make it as difficult or easy as you want. It wasn't too busy today and once the kids got the hang of it they were well away, going up some routes four or five times. They also loved the bouldering room. We never had to wait for a rope and even recieved some free tutition from one of the instructors.

You do have to be an experienced climber to just walk in off the street and use the place though. We signed up as members, which costs nothing and then we were in, but if you are a complete novice you have to book a session with an instructor in advance. And when I say experienced, I don't mean very experienced, just as long as you can tie a figure of eight and know how to belay, which is good cos that about all I can manage!

Entrance cost �7.50 for adults and �5 for children and you can stay as long as you like. If you are not climbing, just belaying, then you don't have to pay at all - also good, as the larger, more unfit, one of us (mentioning no names), decided HE wasn't going to climb! There's a nice cafe, which serves home-made food at a reasonable price and is in the same room as the wall so you can sit and watch other people exerting themselves whilst enjoying a nice rest. We had fun and the kids want to go again, so definately one to recommend to all you budding climbers out there.

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Carnival in Italy

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There are 2 great carnival feasts in the world, Brazilian and Venetian. Everybody knows about them and if you think to visit a carnival you think only about this two.

Not all of you know every town and village in Italy has it's own carnival and some of them are very interesting too.

The most popular is the Orange Battle in Ivrea. The carts with assailants full of oranges enter in the town to conquest it and the defenders have to drive them back.

You can participate on this spectacle when you buy oranges, but you have to know, the battle can provoke real wounds. That is why assailants have helmets on the heads, there are emergency-cars in the near streets and all visitors are behind the columns. But not only. Your clothes can be damaged by the orange-paste that arrives sometimes till your knees...

There are other interesting places to visit.

In Fano during the carnival-manifestation come all visitors with umbrella. They open and turn them to catch sweets that fall from the window on their heads.

Liguria is faithful to their car-sculptures and scenes. More popular is the procession of flower-sculptures that takes place some weeks before carnival, but it's beautiful to see too.

Interesting tradition can you find in Sardenia. The masks are horrible here, the dancers are not so numerous and they dress goat-hides and bells. Nobody knows where comes this usage from, so old is it.

Did you know that "carnival" comes from "carne"-"meat" and means last meal with meat before Great fast?


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There are no doubts,this is the most known volcano in the world.Scientists have an incredible quantity of their devices there,they study it day and night and are sure,they know everything about it.

I'll tell you a little story in this contest.

Some years ago one of the volcanologists become a minister.And he spoke different times to population,telling all,they have not to be afraid about Vesuvius.There is no other volcano we know so good as this,said minister.

I can't explain you how was it possible - was the same Vesuvius angree with scientists or maybe the mother-nature wanted to show them they have not to be too sure of their knowleges about her -but some days after one of these speeches happens a little eathquake.Just enough to catch out of their houses all residents of one of the villages situating on this mount.It was in winter in the night,people jumped out from their beds and remain till morning clothing their pijamas or what they wore that night in streets waiting for second shake.

Next morning there was no one person in Italy that did not ask that minister:why? And the poor volcanologo could say nothing only "It's unpossible, unpossible"

If you have seen other mountains,you can't be impressed seeing Vesuvio. It's not so high. One crater is only 1281 meters high,other 1133 m. You can visit them.

But when you remember the passed times and scientists that promise eruption in the next 15-20 years, you can't understand people building houses here. There are on 700 m hight.Then, this zone is the most populated in Europe with 13000 persons on 1 km quadr. The streets are too strict and there is no possibility to save if the eruption really happens. It will be great tragedy.

During it's life Vesuvio leaved signs in all directions.Last eruption of 1944 covered with 2 m of ashes Salerno distant about 30 km, I think. Those are not ashes from your oven,but real stones.

Vesuvio is the most famous but not only and not most interesting volcanic place to visit here.The same Neaples is situating on many craters.Inside one of them you can go for a walk.

Campi Flegrei

this article I found today in the

Geologists are reporting the ground at the Campi Flegrei caldera, near Naples, Italy, is undergoing renewed uplift.

Researchers at Italy's Geophysical National Institute and Volcanology Observatory report the volcanic area, which had its last eruption in 1538, started a new uplift episode in November 2004. That uplift began at a low rate but has slowly and steadily increased

According to previous studies, the 16th-century eruption occurred after decades of uplift coupled with brief periods of subsidence. Within the past 40 years, the caldera experienced a huge uplift phase until 1985. The new data indicate a subsequent period of subsidence has now ended.

... the uplift is associated with input of magma from a shallow chamber.

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This is the article.And it will be true.

But I remember about a year after I came to live here (1996-97, I think) there was a great story in this zone of Campania. They said, there were movements of ground there that arrived to 1 meter a year. This maybe is an urban legend because I tell you what we listened here about it. I know the region government wanted the residents go to live in other places but nobody left their houses.

This zone is very interesting to visit. Not only you can enter in the alive crater of Solfatara and to see an underwater-city from a boat, it was one of the most popular recreational places in the Roman time. There are too many places to visit there. And the other interesting thing,when you turn back to Neaples you can see clearly Neaples is situated on different craters.

I post here only this info and the article today.Later I'll describe this place and post some photos.

Castles of Campania

second part of this post is Castles (2)

If you don't know, Campania is a Region of Italy. Nord of Sud :))) Were you want to put your feet here, you find meters and meters of history under you. Prehistorical settlements, all sorts of travellers and occupants,medieval towns ... and unbelievable quantity of castles and churches.

You are surprised when you see them every step praticaly. Castles you see in this post I photographed on my way from Camerelle (Nocera Superiore) to Caserta -about 50 km. And this is what you see from the motorway. There are many others in the inner land.One man in Castel San Giorgio said me, he had photos of 12 castles situating near his town. I could not find the precise number of how much castels are there in province of Salerno or Neaples, but there are 25 only in Matese (nothern part of province of Caserta).

This castle is not far from my house.It's owners wanted to create a dancing place there, but had not success with this idea. Many owners try to do something to maintain their property. It costs too much to be owner of a castle. So you can find castles-museums, -hotels, -restaurants and others in Italy.

Castle of Lanzara is probably one of the 15 build here by Arechi I. He needed them mostly for supervision of conquered territory.

Sarno. Castle of Arechi II. You can see the difensive plan very clear here.

San Felice a Castello. Other Longobard castle. What is interesting: people finished to build castles because they were not efficient to protect them from cannons and firearms. But they were in use by germans and americans during the second world war (this castle too).

I asked the director of Archeological Group, why italians need sooo many churches and he said me: you go out in the morning in church for remission of sinns. But in the street is it unpossible not to sinn. So you enter immediately in an other church and remiss what you did. And so all day long.

The truth is probably this: forces that controlled the region changed very frequently during all italian history. Thenew governments had to be tollerant to previous uses of the population. And the second reason is every rich men wanted to buy good place in the paradise( this you find written on the door of the Dome of Salerno,for example). That is why they built their own churches or monasteries.

Medieval castles were born from the death of Roman Empire. There were not more central institutions to protect people, and the country was full of bandits and military troups,that were not very different from bandits.

And then it was a period of "famine, war terror, flood, plague and hunger", says one document in archive of Castel S.G.

So the first castles were wooden towers posted to protect a farm or to control important ways. The good known italian mafia was born from the necessity to protect the farms too.

Sometimes there was not only a tower, called mastio or maschio. This castle could have a yard and a wooden wall. The head of this group of men became a great person because all paesants called him to protect them. The castle became a residence for the head and his family, members of the group and their families. In this period the tower contains the room for banquet and privat rooms of the leader's family. At the end of the XII century began to expand castles of stones. This is what you find in the books about history, but castles on the photos are from the times of Arechi I ( VII century) and Arechi II ( VIII c). People prefere to build their houses of stones that were more accessible then wood even in that period. I think.

During the Middle Ages all towns, rural districts, ownres built their own castles.So I found an interesting word that characterizes that period "incastellamento". Close in the castles.

In the second part of the Middle Ages castles become what we are inured to see in films. Inside them live not only the owner's family and the families of the troup, but everybody can be useful for them. Entire towns praticaly. In our zone castles are in inacessible places and owners have palaces in the towns and the fortresses on the rock.

From 1500 cannons and firearms make castles not efficient protection and their building usless.

second part of this post is Castles (2)

Walking trough Neaples

Some times a year the statemakes feasts for citizens.They call them "open doors" in museums and excavations. It meens you have not pay the ticket that day.

These feasts have 2 interesting sizes. First of all they are organized on the weekends. What is so interesting in this, ask you? Saturday and Sunday are holy days for italians. They do not work, go in church and stay home. It meens everything is close from the 12:00 of saturday till monday. Museums too. So if you want to visit museums in Italy you have to chose working days for it. In the "open doors" sunday you find only some of them realy open. But you can visit excavations normally closed for public. There are even special busses for it.

Second interesting side is, there are not many persons that know about it.

I was 2 times fortunate this year: I knew about it some days befor and it was very beautiful sunny weekend. The weather was instable for 3-4 weeks, we could hardly seen some hours of sun in this period. And then 3 days of spring.

Neaples is not so far from Nocera, about 50 km, and I go there with train. I like this way because a part of it is so "romantic":

You can see Sorrento-coast (on the left here) and the island Capri (in centrum) when the weather is good for photography. This day the air was too wet and it was possible to see only the shape of the coast.


I like walking and came in Neaples for a walk this time, but I had a hope to find castles open this day. That is why I went directly to the Municipal square. Unfortunately the New Castle was closed.



Here on the right you see Real Palace. I go to the castle to feel the sence of it's enormous force. The "alias" of New Castle is Maschio Angioino, the fortress of d'Angio family. This "alias" is more known as the name. It happens often if you ask about New Castle people don't understand you, "Maschio Angioino" knows everybody.


The Real Palace begins with it's garden where there were many persons when I passed there.But the garden is not very sunny in the afternoon and I wanted to see if other castle was open.



When I'm near this entry, I remember always Horses of Klodt in S.Petersburg. Maybe they are from the same period. Ten steps and I reach Theater. But there is an other interesting place here. To see it I have only turn right. Galeria of Umberto I.



These are 2 little covered streets where you can stay with pleasure even if it rains. The only problem is they are too short.

Here everything is near: turn left and you are in the Plebiscit square. Sincerely I have the sence, somebody took parts of S.Petersburg and put them on this hill.


And when I turn my head left this time I see the entrance of the Real Palace, that is open for public. There are statues of forefathers on the front. Finally I "meet" Ruggiero Normanno, Carlo d'Angio ecc Till last character, Murat.


Here is the road going downhill to the sea. There is one of the most traffic streets under it and you see New Castle and RealPalace from their other side. This is realy very nice place for a romantic walk.


But my aim is other today, I continue on my way and enter in the part of the city named Santa Lucia.

read second part - in russian is ready here)