Sep 092014

‘OPA’ is a lover’s Greek Word for expressing joy, but also flexible enough to use anytime you just feel like saying hi, hey, or oops.
Greek Festival Salt Lake City #RetireForTheFunOfIt
The Greek Festival in Salt Lake City is a three day event that celebrates their culture, traditions, and heritage, but we go for the Greek food and dancing.  We joined over 50,000 people that attended their 39th annual celebration of being Philhellenes – lovers of all things Greek!
Greek Dancers #festival #RetireForTheFunOfIt
Are you old enough to remember the movie, Zorba the Greek? Naturally this is a popular favorite and I can’t help but hum along when they perform this dance.
Greek Traditional Dance #RetireForTheFunOfIt
Each dance tells a story passed down through generations about ancient wars, courtship, or physical prowess.  The ancient Zembekikos dance, involves trying not to knock over a glass set on the floor. If the dancer succeeds, he can drink what wasn’t spilled from the glass.
Greek Traditional Dance #RetireForTheFunOfIt
The Mihanikos, tells a story about how the dancer remembers his youth and love of sponge diving off the Aegean Island Kalymnos. It begins with a fast, high-spirited beat and then slows down as the dancer needs a cane. The sponge divers became crippled due to the “bends disease” from years of diving, and is retold in this dancers story.
Greek Hellenic Museum #RetireForTheFunOfIt
The Hellenic Cultural Museum has gathered its people’s life stories in photos, clothing and many personal artifacts. Greek immigrants came to Salt Lake City in the early 1900’s when mining and railroading were booming industries.

Young sons were sent off to America, where there were plenty of jobs. The hope was for their sons to make enough money, so they could return in a few years. The mining casualties tell a tragic story of families still living in Greece and unable to personally bury their sons.
Greek Coffee #RetireForTheFunOfIt
Greek coffee is an artistic production in itself. In a briki pot, he adds 2 teaspoons of Greek (or Turkish) coffee, a cup of water and then stirs in 2 teaspoons of sugar.

He explained how the coffee is slowly heated up until the surface starts to tremble. Once it starts foaming, he lifts the briki slightly from the heat until the foam settles and then is put back on the fire to let it start foaming again.

He said this step is very important to getting a good cup of coffee. He advised us to sip the coffee slowly to enjoy the robust flavor. Considering how hot this drink is, sipping is the only safe way to enjoy it. Drinking the coffee grounds at the bottom of the cup is really gross and not advised.

I found a Zumba coin scarf in their shopping center and felt this justified eating a Baklava dessert.  We learned more about the Greek faith from the guides inside the church. This stained glass window depicting the resurrection was colorfully striking in the afternoon sun.  

Using a fun greeting like Opa brings an unexpected smile. Do you have a favorite greeting?

Aug 042014

What does Liverpool, the Beatles, an Apple Club and Jelly Bellies have in common? Albert Docks, Liverpool #Beatles #Museum

The Beetles and their Apple Club began in Liverpool.  George Harrison said he liked Jelly Bellies.  George was hit in the eye when fans thought the band would be thrilled to get bombarded with them. Beatles Museum Apple Club #Apple Club #Beatles #RetirefortheFunofit

The Beatles Story Museum is down by the Albert Docks waterfront, where Liverpool’s musical heritage started.

My daughter and I may be from two different generations, but we can easily belt out duets of many Beatle tunes. We felt stopping in Liverpool during our recent European adventure, was our chance to “visit The Holy Grail” of the Beatle phenomenon. We were delightedly surprised that when we ate brunch at a local pub, all the music played was by the Beatles.

John Lennon’s half-sister, Julia, narrates her personal memories in our audio tour.  She guides us to the recreated Cavern Club, where the fledgling group played to a smoke filled room of admiring fans.  I guess the screaming and fainting Beatlemania began when they came to America.

A few of the many fascinating things we’d like to share are: Happy childhood memories were the basis for John Lennon to write “Strawberry Fields Forever.”  John and his friends played behind this Salvation Army Orphanage, while the Army Band entertained during the summer garden parties.

Paul McCartney took the first name from an actress and the last name from an alcohol store for the song “Eleanor Rigby.”  What’s weird is that the place where McCartney and Lennon first met is also where a gravestone, bearing this same name, is located.

The museum has many nostalgic items on display that we enjoyed seeing, like George Harrison’s first guitar, their suits and John Lennon’s round glasses.
Beatle Museum Abey Road Crosswalk
This image on Abbey Road is unique and cleverly composed.  I hadn’t noticed the white Beatle VW before.  Interestingly, that license plate was stolen many times and the car became a museum piece.

I’m always shocked at today’s concert prices, considering a front-row ticket to the Beatles first American concert was $12.50.  Who is your favorite singer and what’s the most you ever paid for a concert ticket?

May 172014

Come along and enjoy our ride on what’s left of the “The Impossible Railroad.”  Our tour begins on the San Diego & Arizona vintage train in Campo, California.

The designing engineers originally dubbed it “The Impossible Railroad” because of the mountainous terrain.  After 13 years and almost 19 million dollars, this became a monument to the challenges and determination of the last of the great railroad builders.

In 1907, John D. Spreckels, a sugar heir, developer and entrepreneur, ceremoniously broke ground in San Diego for the railway. The route went south across the Mexican border to Tijuana, east to Tecate, then back to the United States. It then traveled north through Carrizo Gorge, and east to a connection with Southern Pacific near Plaster City at El Centro, California. San Diego & Arizona railway map
The builders experienced delays in the ruggedly beautiful, but difficult, terrain of Carrizo Gorge from cave-ins, fires, floods, and hard rock. Other delays came from a scarcity of labor during harvest seasons.

Then World War I threatened to halt completion of the rail. John D. Spreckels successfully argued that the line would benefit the war effort, because of San Diego’s military installations.
San Diego & Arizona RR Mexico border
Finally in 1919, the golden spike was driven to open the first modern line between San Diego and the East.San Diego & Airzona RR international border
As the train moved along past the international border fencing, we asked the guide about the border patrol station at Campo. He sadly shook his head and said the border is an ongoing dangerous problem and drug trafficking is a major concern for the town. Self-appointed Border Militiamen protect their ranches along the border.

Also, the guide explained that Border Angel volunteers constantly re-stock plastic containers with water at stations. They are marked with wooden crosses to offer relief to the desert crossers. He said many don’t realize how harsh and dangerous the climate and terrain becomes when attempting to cross the border areas.
San Diego & Arizona RR Trestle at Border
As long as we stayed on the train, we didn’t need passports to enter Mexico. The volunteer guides are certified to unlock and open the gate, so the train can cross the border. We only went far enough into the tunnel to say we crossed the border and then started the journey back to Campo.

In the Carrizo Gorge, the railroad crosses 14 trestles and goes through 21 tunnels in only 11 miles.  The final passenger run on the San Diego and Arizona Eastern was in 1951. A brush fire burned two trestles in 1983 and, coupled with diminished freight traffic, terminated freight runs to El Centro.
Carrizo Gorge Trestle
There is hope for a joint continuation of the route into Mexico one day again.  It depends on Mexico’s meeting some agreements and refurbishing a section of track.
Golden State Limited
The Pacific Southwest Railway Museum in Campo has many trains and locomotives outside in various stages of restoration.  Several restored trains with their bells and horns of yesteryear are stored in a large building to comfortably walk through as well.

This train ride can now be crossed off our bucket list. What train ride is on your bucket list?

Nov 222013

My husband and I became volunteer managers of an HO Scale model train room at our area’s Senior Recreation Center last year.  How we have created the waterfalls and other scenes are shown hereTrain Room RR MuseumTrain Room scenic painter Train Room scenic painting

We found donated, non-working trains stored away in old boxes.  They deserved to be seen and enjoyed.  So, creating a railroad museum allowed these antiques to be displayed.

I’ve never considered myself an artist, but the walls needed some painted scenery for the trains to travel past.

A (circular track) helix that’s designed to bring the trains to the upper or lower level of tracks doesn’t allow me to reach portions of the wall.

Train Room scenery Great Salt LakeI had to devise my own “painting wand” out of a paint roller extending rod.  Masking tape holds an artist brush to the rod and allows me to add mountains, trees and clouds on the walls.

HO model trains pass by the Kennecott mine on the upper level and vignettes of our West Valley City and surrounding areas on the lower level.

We recently added the Great Salt Lake scene with its historical Saltair and Antelope Island.  Sail boats launching from the marina are included on the lake.

Trains, both real and make believe, hold so many wonderful childhood memories.

I would love to hear about your favorite recollections of watching or playing with trains.

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