AdventureMan was perusing the Weekend Section of the Pensacola News Journal when he saw the opening of the Farmer’s Market in Foley, AL, and he said “Let’s go!”
“Let’s Go!” and my agreement doesn’t always mean we will really go. The market isn’t until 3 in the afternoon, and a lot can happen. Sometimes we just change our minds.
But at water aerobics, I get a great idea, and I can hardly wait to share it with AdventureMan.
“Let’s go to the Jordan River Cafe for their Friday buffet, then head down toward Foley through Fairhope!” He loves the idea, we run a couple errands on the way home, I call the restaurant to make sure they are still open (It’s been about a year since we last went there) and then hit the road for Mobile:
When we get to the restaurant, we discover it is no longer the Jordan River Cafe; it is now the Galilee Cafe, and I wonder if the food will still be so good as before. As we enter, we are shocked – the Cafe is PACKED. Every table is taken – no, no, there is one small table, over in the back, we can have that one, the welcoming waitress says.
Lunch was fantastic. Yes, the restaurant has changed hands; the current owner born in Bethlehem, and we are astonished and delighted to see so many people enjoying “Mediterranean” cuisine, which is suspiciously like what we used to eat in Jordan and Syria The restaurant stayed busy the entire time we were there, so busy that some people ate outside on the front terrace. The food is delicious, and worth the drive from Pensacola. The Friday buffet (and it appears they also now have a Sunday buffet) is all the usual suspects – hummous, baba ghannoush (some of the best I have tasted), tabouli, fattoush, etc. plus a lot of the home-cooked favorites, lamb, chicken, grains, beans and vegetables, pita bread – all delicious.
The first time AdventureMan went to this restaurant (as the Jordan River Cafe) he went with a Saudi buddy and his son, and he has talked ever since about the route they took, but we never knew how to find it. Yesterday, we experimented, taking a right on Azalea as we left, and driving down to Government and turning left. (These iPhones are great navigational tools) It takes you through an older part of town, with large glorious mansions, and into a rather quiet downtown Mobile.
The good news is, it takes you to another tunnel under the Mobile Bay, closely paralleling the one I-10 uses. We like to have an alternative; I-10 can get clogged going through Mobile. This route serves our purposes as it is Highway 98, and it is the road we want to be on to get to Fairhope and then to Foley.
It is a lovely day for a drive, and while we have taken this drive before, it is never the same twice in a row. As we are on the stretch between Fairhope and Foley, the clouds darken and a few stray drops fall.
“That wasn’t bad!” I said as we arrived in Foley, promptly at three for the opening of the Farmer’s Market. “Great parking, too!”
We got as far as the first booth, which was soaps and toiletries (I love hand made soaps) and AdventureMan walked off to explore the rest of the stalls – and the torrent broke forth. Rain came down in buckets, and lightning came, crackling and booming, one strike after another. It never lasts very long here, so I thought we would just wait it out. The wind is blowing the rain under the canopy, so we gather up all the soaps to try to keep them dry, and we wait. And we wait. AdventureMan comes back, soaked; the wind has blown the rain under his umbrella. We wait another five minutes, and then everyone is starting to pack up – and I never made it beyond the first stall! We quickly made our purchases, ran to the car, and drove home mostly without air conditioning because we were so soaked and shivering.
The Farmer’s Market is held on Friday afternoons, 3 – 6 pm, in Heritage Park:
It was a great adventure Thank you, Google Maps, for making it so easy to share the small adventure with our friends.
Zambia is in the central part of southern Africa:
It is a beautiful and varied country, with many peoples speaking many different dialects. It is an amazing country in that they have all managed to learn to get along with one another. They learn each other’s languages in the schools, they have instilled a culture of respect for the differences as well as a focus on the similarities they share. Our Zambian friends work hard, and they are very proud of Zambia. When you visit, you can’t help but respect and admire their pride.
I found a photo of Zambia’s flag on Wikipedia, and an explanation for the graphics and colors:
The colors used in the flag of Zambia are rich in symbolism. Green stands for the nation’s lush flora, red for the nation’s struggle for freedom, black for the Zambian people, and orange for the land’s natural resources and mineral wealth. Additionally, the eagle flying above the colored stripes is intended to represent the people’s ability to rise above the nation’s problems.
We traveled often to Zambia from our homes on the Arabian Gulf, but this will be a very different trip, crossing 8 time zones and flying a very very long time to get there. It will take us longer to get to Zambia, via South Africa, than it used to take us to get to Qatar or Kuwait. We’ll have two nights, one in Johannesburg and one in Lusaka, before we start out on our safaris.
It’s a different world. You know it as soon as you get there. It smells different. You smell wood-burning fires and dust. Out in the South Luangwa, where we are going, you hear the hippos saying ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-haaaaaaaaaaaah in the nearby rivers and ponds, and sometimes you will hear elephants fighting, and it is very loud with lots of crashes. You hear soft birds, and when you hear English, it is spoken with a different lilt, so you have to listen more carefully, pay better attention, so you will understand what is being said.
It’s a different world, too, in that sometimes your bags don’t catch up with you. Sometimes bags are just never seen again! We are carrying our nightclothes and a change of clothes with us to help us deal with unforeseen challenges.
Did I mention we are very excited?
I am thinking we need an eagle flying above our stripes to symbolize American belief that we can rise above our nation’s problems . . .
Google Maps is pretty good; I use it on my computer, on my iPad and most of all, on my iPhone. I love that when I tell it to get me from Grand Canyon Village to Mesa Verde, Colorado, it gives me a variety of routes, with the exact mileage and estimated travel time for each. It is very accurate, and also gets us through small towns where you might have to change roads a time or two. You just make sure the pulsing blue ball is following the bright blue road. Piece of cake!
Most of the drive today is through the very large northwestern part of Arizona that is the Navajo Nation, and where they actually ARE on daylight savings time, so your phones change time when you cross into the Navajo Nation territory.
We make a stop at a place I’ve always wanted to visit – Four Corners. There, people can have their photo taken in four states – Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona – all at once.
There is actually a line.
Just about every time we cross a state line, we go to the Welcome Center, and almost every state still has them, thanks be to God. We think it is a great luxury, while states are struggling to build and repair infrastructure, and give people decent healthcare, struggling to meet their budgets, they still find a way to welcome the stranger. We always get good local maps there, and, even better, good local insights and information. We stop in Cortez and pick up some invaluable literature on the Ancestral Puebloans (used to be called the Anasazi) to read up on before our tour the next morning.
The drive up to Mesa Verde is long and it just goes up and up. I am fit, but I had a little trouble with the altitude in Grand Canyon, and Mesa Verde is even higher, 8,000 feet. I can do fine with normal things, but any incline and I find myself huffing and puffing like a pack-a-day person.
Far View Lodge is lovely.
And from our room, we have the most expansive view ever. We can see for miles. We can see mountains, and in front, we have deer grazing. AdventureMan spots a gorgeous bluebird, one of the prettiest I have ever seen.
I don’t know what happened to my photos of dinner at Metate Restaurant; dinner was spectacular. AdventureMan had the sweet-hot chili port tenderloin, and I had the wild platter, with a tiny elk steak, a quail and a piece of boar sausage. It was a fabulous dinner, and I was sure I had photographed it, but . . . no photos! Hmmm . . . . maybe a couple of glasses of wine addled my memory . . . ?
The lodge is lovely, but old. Although renovated, sound carried amazingly, and during the night, I can hear the gentleman next door struggling to breathe. He is gasping for breath, at this altitude. He is up often during the night, trying to breathe. How often do you hear the person next door breathing at night?
I’m getting so many hits on my Perseids article today, that I thought I would tell you how to spot them. This is from earthsky.org, where you can learn a lot more about the night sky.
What is WAY cool is that they suggest a camp out as the best way to watch the Perseid showers. No better place than the desert, so pack those tents and head out of town, away from the ambient light. One problem – moonlight.
With the 2009 Perseid meteor shower due to peak on the mornings of August 12 and 13, people are asking, How can I find this constellation in the night sky, so that I can see the meteors?
One note before the excitement starts to build. This year, there will be a waning moon in the sky during the peak hours for the Perseids. So 2009 is not the best possible year to see this shower. You might try watching for meteors in the early part of the night. Or you might see some Perseids in bright moonlight – in the peak hours between midnight and dawn – on the mornings of August 12 and 13.
Moonlight is just a local problem. The meteors will be raining down as always, even if moonlight drowns them from view. The Perseid meteor shower is named for the constellation Perseus the Hero. It’s from this part of the sky that the meteors will appear to radiate. Today’s chart shows Perseus ascending over the northeastern horizon around midnight. That’s why this meteor shower is better after midnight: because after midnight, the radiant point for the shower is above the horizon. Just remember, the glare of the waning gibbous moon will wash out some Perseid meteors during the peak hours of 2009.
Notice the W-shaped constellation Cassiopeia just above Perseus. The constellation Perseus is faint, but Cassiopeia is noticeable and can help you find it. If you do see a Perseid meteor in 2009, and trace its path backward, you will find that it radiated from a point in the sky within the boundaries of the constellation Perseus. When the moon is out of the way, a meteors are raining down in all parts of the sky, you don’t need to know the whereabouts of a shower’s radiant to enjoy the shower. But people always ask! So here you are.
Many people look forward each summer to the Perseids. This shower always peaks at this time of year, and it reliably produces 60 or more meteors per hour at its peak, or an average of about one a minute. It’s great fun to give meteor-watching a try! It’s a chance to go to a dark site with friends and family – a chance to see some stars and enjoy the night air – and see some meteors. The 2009 shower will be troubled by the moon, but there’s still fun to be had, if you and your friends and family want to try a camp-out on the peak nights.
WeatherUnderground has an entire section devoted to the night sky specific to YOUR area; this is what the one looks like for Doha, Qatar:
How cool is that?
You will see Perseus on this map in the bottom left sector.
I thought there was a night sky thingy on Google Earth, too, but I can’t find it. Anyone know how to do that?
Every now and then I think “wasta” is a good thing. (Wasta is connection, wasta is knowing someone who can help you out. It can be good when you need a favor. It can be bad when it gets you out of a situation for which you are responsible.) I have wasta with Google Earth. When I moved to Kuwait, I complained that my area was all blurry and within a week – WOW. High resolution.
I got word this morning from my connection, Earthling, that new imagery for Doha is up and any blurriness is being cleaned up. Thank you, Earthling! You have no idea – Doha really doesn’t have street addresses that you can figure out, so Google Earth helps me get to where I need to go.
If you are not a GoogleEarth user – yet – I urge you to download and give it a try. It’s free, and it is awesome.
(Earthling, can you call it work when you love what you do and where you work so much?)
Scientists at the University of Duisburg-Essen were studying naked mole rats and discovered that when they build a nest, the sleeping areas are always south. They wondered if humans also had an unconscious magnetic sensitivity and decided to use GoogleEarth to study how campers set up their tents around the world, but found that it was too difficult to see tents, but they could see cows really well. Since they could see cows, they decided to survey the cows and discovered that MOST of the time, cows face either north or south. Who knew?
Cattle shown to align north-south
By Elizabeth Mitchell
Science reporter, BBC News
Have you ever noticed that herds of grazing animals all face the same way?
Images from Google Earth have confirmed that cattle tend to align their bodies in a north-south direction.
Wild deer also display this behaviour – a phenomenon that has apparently gone unnoticed by herdsmen and hunters for thousands of years.
In the Proceedings for the National Academy of Sciences, scientists say the Earth’s magnetic fields may influence the behaviour of these animals.
The Earth can be viewed as a huge magnet, with magnetic north and south situated close to the geographical poles.
Many species – including birds and salmon – are known to use the Earth’s magnetic fields in migration, rather like a natural GPS.
A few studies have shown that some mammals – including bats – also use a “magnetic compass” to help their sense of direction.
Dr Sabine Begall, from the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany, has mainly studied the magnetic sense of mole rats – African animals that live in underground tunnels.
“We were wondering if larger animals also have this magnetic sense,” she told BBC News.
Dont’cha just love these scientists? They figure out things just because they are curious!
The groom, my favorite nephew, Earthling, invited us to tour Google and have breakfast there this morning. What a thrill. We are all such geeks; being in Cupertino is just so much fun. Even Mom raved at the good breakfast available at Google, and . . . at the HEATED toilet seats in the ladies room!
We are a bunch of travel and geography nerds in my family. Nothing makes us happier than jumping in a airplane, reaching an exotic location and driving, getting our feet on new ground, seeing new things, learning new ways. We all have cameras glued to our hands and laptops stuffed in backpacks.
All my married life, people have looked at me with pity and tole me how they can’t believe I live with such uncertainty, never knowing where I will be in the next year – even the next few months. What I tell them is this – the truth is, we ALL never know. We ALL never know when something will happen that will change our lives dramatically, forever. We live day to day, not thinking about all the things that can happen. If we think too much about them, we might go crazy.
I consider myself blessed. I was created with a restless spirit, a spirit for new experiences and new ways of thinking. I was given a life where all those things became my daily bread.
What is fun for me is watching the next generation of young adults discovering their own lives, who they are meant to be.
My nephew, at Google Earth took his love of geography to new heights. He works in a place he loves, doing work he loves. He wrote to me yesterday, to tell me about a new game being played, a grown-up version of the old “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego.” (one of the earliest computer games for kids) He has published a really really hard one on the Google team LatLong blog (as he says, he has the home court advantage in this game!) and he refers us to another blog, Where on GoogleEarth? where there are a series of contests to see if you can identify landmarks, special places, from the sky.
Here, for example, is the photo from contest #22 – and people have to write in telling what it is. Can YOU tell what it is?
News from BBC
Google Banned From Military Bases
Last Updated: Friday, 7 March 2008, 05:45 GMT
There are concerns that detailed maps may threaten security
The US defence department has banned the giant internet search engine Google from filming inside and making detailed studies of US military bases.
Close-up, ground-level imagery of US military sites posed a “potential threat” to security, it said.
The move follows the discovery of images of the Fort Sam Houston army base in Texas on Google Maps.
A Google spokesman said that where the US military had expressed concerns, images had been removed.
Google has now been barred from filming and conducting detailed studies of bases, following the discovery of detailed, three-dimensional panoramas online – and in particular, views of the Texan base.
It said such detailed mapping could pose a threat.
Google spokesman Larry Yu said the decision by a Google team to enter the Texas base and undertake a detailed survey, had been “a mistake”.
He told the BBC News website that detailed study of such sensitive sites was not Google policy.
You can read the rest of the story HERE
A week or so ago, fellow blogger Macaholiq8 mentioned StatCounter in his entry, and how much fun he was having with it. I had a couple minutes, so I took a look, and signed up to give it a try.
Oh, what fun.
It doesn’t work on all WordPress functions – or maybe it would if I knew how to tell it to, but the things it doesn’t do for me – analyze key words, most viewed pages, etc – WordPress does just fine.
UPDATE: THANKS TO YOUSEF at Some Contrast who rescued me with the key key command to take a photo of my visitor map:
What StatCounter does is something else. My very favorite part is looking at where the viewers are coming from, they divide it up, give you percentages. I can see that a lot of schools in the United States follow the blog, but also, people in Australia, China, Iran – oh, it is so much fun to see all the drops show up on the map.
You can get an idea what StatCounter can do for you at their website demo:
And it’s free. You can buy upgraded service that gives you more, but for me, and for right now, the free service is just fine, fascinating, really.
Thanks, Mac, for a great recommendation.