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Monday, August 29, 2011


Blogging on the road can be tough. On our summer trip we’d pull into a Starbucks every few days. After coffee and a brief Wifi connection we'd head back into the wilderness.
It left little time to polished words or transfers photographs.
Now I have moments to add more of both.

Consider this young lady who ran past us in the middle of a tantrum. I saw her for five seconds before she ran past.
Did the Devil make her do it? We were hiking around his tower at the time.

Later we took seats for a rock climbing demonstration. I found myself sitting behind a guy who had chosen to wear Jesus’ crown of thorns every day.

Every time something strange popped up I’d grab for the camera. Usually I was too late.

We could not get enough of the Devil’s Tower. It was easy to see why the makers of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” were so enamored with it.

It sits high above the plains, impossible to ignore.
Scientists say its the leftover innards of an ancient volcano.
I prefer the natives’ explanation: The result of a giant bear
scratching his claws on the giant rock as he tried to eat people on top.

Presidential impersonator flock to Mount Rushmore every Fourth of July.
Watching them act the part while answering questions or posing with babies had me thinking, “There’s a job I’d never want, even I bear an uncanny resemblance to Millard Fillmore.”
Their business card were stacked nearby in case tourists might want to hire them for a gathering. Maybe we should get a few of these guys to hang out in Coconut Grove. Think of the possibilities!
Watching them do their thing reminded me to a friend in the junk food biz. He has spent decades pretending to be Ronald McDonald.

There are dozens of people in this country who make good money pretending to be Ronald McDonald or Abraham Lincoln. I suppose someone could even do both,
whatever the next gig required.
This Abe was two inches shorter than the real one but he had same facial mole as the 14th President. I wanted to ask him if he had it transplanted there but, out of respect for our country’s highest office, I did not.

Here is our van posing with
President Washington (look carefully) and
President Lincoln posing with his mole.

Gib did his act at Mt. Rushmore one day then took it to the Devil’s Tower the next. His clothes looked more like the Rough Rider than he did.

We drove across high, grassy plains
then saw them dip down into the Badlands.

Here are more
shots from
Badlands National Park.

It was quiet, relaxed,
and no one was
pretending to be a long-gone President.

It almost got too quiet so just for fun, I removed my shirt and gave a short, lusty speech pretending to be Ronald Reagan.
“Mr. Gorbachov, take down that wall, now!”, I shouted.

The only person within earshot
was Francesca. She did not take down her wall.
She preferred to sleep on it.

We drove west leaving the presidents, the Badlands, the Black Hills with the thousands of old guys riding there on much-too-loud Harleys.
For some reason they are attracted to hills of South Dakota like flies to the buffalo droppings we saw all over our next stop, Yellowstone.
More on that later.

Sunday, August 28, 2011


Our summer was filled with surprises.
In Iowa Francesca admitted that she was a twin and that she and her sister had been separated at birth.

She then walked away and moments later her Iranian twin appeared. She and I visited South Dakota’s Corn Palace the next day.

Here are we are on

the tour.
The palace guards would only let us in if I carried the dog, all 28 pounds of her.

We got to tour a Frank Lloyd Wright house in Iowa and nearby, several antique gas stations. The gas pumps prices were antique too, 29 cents per gallon.

We saw many captured animals on display.

Further west the deer and the tuna had much more freedom.

Chicago’s statues were fun.

Miami’s put you to sleep.

This piece entertained us by spitting on children.

Do you enjoy herbs with your vegetables? In Illinois, they grow them together.

The weekend is fading and soon I will too.
Thanks for coming along for another look
at Midwest America.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


As I tap these keys Hurricane Irene is bearing down on the Bahamas.
Here in Miami we are catching the fringe of the storm. It got so bad this afternoon that the wind threatened to topple a lawn chair.

The chair stayed safe but more falling leaves than usual fell on it.

That’s how it is with those whirling donuts. You get a little anxious but they pass us by 95% of the time.


I took a thousand photos this summer.

Fifty ended up on the blog. I’ll be add a few more in the next week.

Here are signs we saw out west.

Saturday, August 20, 2011



Let's fly off to Mr Terry's

wild and crazy art room!

This is what it looks like...

For the next ten months I'll be sharing what I know with 800 young students.

I teach art at an elementary school on the west side of Miami.

This week I was given a bare room to turn into an art space.

There was much to be done.

The rusting sides of my "new" desk was quickly covered up with Godzilla wrapping paper.

Pictures and posters were hung.

Small statuary were placed here and there.

At times like this I'm thinking,

"What would I want this room to look like if I were ten?"

It's actually not that different from how my bachelor pads used to look.

Neither of my wives were crazy about my stuffed sailfish. That's why it's at school.

I think it is amazing,wonderful and oh so Florida!

Francesca won't let me display this Independence Day monster at home either. She thinks it's creepy.

I think its great.

I can put anything I want in my art room.

When the alien is switched on, a motion sensor makes its jaws open and scream every time you pass by.

I turn it off after the first day of school.

There's screaming enough amongst the kids.

With the room completed I turned to our edible garden. It's just outside my art room door.

After a few weeds were pulled and the white statue(Anubis, the Egyptian goddess of the underworld) was placed, it was ready too.

Kids love it there. The summer rain did wonders and the black-eyed peas are ready to pick.

Come Monday the room will fill with forty new faces every hour. Again I'll spend a year trying to attach names to all 800 of them.

Friday, August 19, 2011


We've been home a week now and I'm getting used to having my own toilet again.
I went a little blog crazy this summer but I had a lot to write about.
Now Francesca and I are traipsing off to our respective schools everyday. We listen to our principals tell us we have to "soar higher" and become more "data-driven". After the speeches we go back to our classrooms and prepare them for the new school year.
Is that something to write about? Hmm.
I'll probably wait the usual week or two for something unusual to happen ,or, I might pull a few more stories out of our summer tour bag.
Stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Some of you wrote asking,
“So, we stayed with your blog for seven weeks looking at mountains, canyons, geysers and all that stuff but what we really wanted to see were pictures of your dog, Pi"
These letters went on to ask questions like,"What was the trip like from her point-of-view? “ and most important, “Was she able to maintain her high-level of cuteness the entire trip?”
We’ll let these pictures speak for themselves.
G & F

Sunday, August 14, 2011


Nothing lasts forever and this trip ended after 21 gas stops, 10,402 miles, and 49 days.

We spent the last one wandering down highway 27. We took our time passing roadside sellers of peaches, watermelons, and hot nuts. Gatorama is always alluring but we passed it by.

When we arrived in Miami we were surrounded by hoards of barely moving cars on the Palmetto Expressway. It wasn’t even rush hour but it was still the worst traffic we had encountered on our trip.

Pulling into the driveway we saw the sun hemp seeds we had sown had grown tall nearly covering the house. They’ll soon be tilled into the earth as we begin our fall garden and resume our Miami lives.

I thank those of you who took the time to read

the blog this summer. Many of you wrote to say you enjoyed coming along.

Francesca, Pi, and I were glad to have you with us.

We also would like to thank the many people along the way to who were helpful and kind. We hope we can do the same for them, and anyone else, who passes through Miami.



Many of the national parks we visited
encouraged vistors to switch from bottled water to the local, free brew.


Who would have thought Florida had caves?
We explored a great one north of Marianna in
Caverns State Park. A ranger led us though a crack in the earth and we hiked for an hour underground. Occasional a bat would whiz by to make it even more exciting. At 65 degrees, it was a nice break from the heat.

Jumping into Madison Blue Springs was another way to chill.
We never tire of plunging into these cool, clear pools in North Florida.

As we left, we passed a private spring, the source of Deer Park Water. An endless line of semi-trucks was transporting this month’s millions of plastic bottles to quench America’s thirst. Its a shame more of us don’t drink the local water. Much of the bottled water people buy is “local water”.

You can’t buy a bottle of water in many national parks. Everyone there just fills their reusable bottles and canteens with spring water.

Signs like this remind us that bottled water is a bad idea, a waste of natural resources. Next they’ll be selling us air.