My Mother and I are talking and she asks “How did you girls do it, coming home from university? Did we send you tickets, or money? I can’t remember, I just know it happened. You were so young! How did you manage?”
I laughed. “Mom, you sent us tickets to Philadelphia, and from there we took buses or shuttles to McGuire. (McGuire Air Force Base, the old home of the Military Air Transport command) At McGuire they would put a couple on this flight, a couple on that flight, until it reached some kind of critical mass and they had a hundred or so students waiting at McGuire, and then they would send us all out on one plane.”
When you’re young, it’s all an adventure. Even though we had terrorists then, too, the Red Brigade and the Baader Meinhof gang setting off bombs, taking hostages, etc. there wasn’t the same kind of anxiety about safety that exists now.
My parents sent tickets. When our last final was over, we packed our suitcases and headed to the airport, usually late at night to fly out space-A on one of the red-eyes to Philadelphia. We didn’t need a lot of sleep.
Airplanes were different then, too. My first year, I flew overnight sitting in a lounge, where people had seat belts, but not really seats. It was a curved sitting area with a table. Drinks were served all night, and people were smoking. All that mattered to us was to be headed in the right direction.
The plane would land and we would go to the USO or something – someone would point us to a bus or shuttle going to the air base, we would pile in, and upon arrival at the MAC terminal, we would sign in to the Space-Available list. We were like category zero – we had the very lowest travel priority.
And then – the fun began! You’d think it would be boring sitting in an airport waiting for a flight and you don’t even know that there will be a flight – but it wasn’t. This was a major gathering of Third Culture Kids, military kids, state department kids all headed to wherever home is this month, this year. It was like the biggest, most fun party anywhere. You’d see friends you hadn’t seen since their family moved, and you’d meet friends of friends headed to your own family post. There was always music, always talk about overseas adventures, and always an endless hearts game in one area and the serious bridge players in another.
You shared food. You shared rooms. You shared books. You shared transistor radios. You shared playing cards, and chess sets. You shared memories and made plans. You often napped on a pile of baggage (we were all post-finals, and exhausted.)
These friends would pop in and out of our lives the whole summer, it was all “when you come to Heidelberg/Stuttgart/Nuremberg/ Munich/Tripoli / Asmara (!), you can stay with us”. Our friends would usually arrive in town and call around dinner time and my parents always found a way to be sure there was enough for everyone, and an air mattress and clean sleeping bag for our vagabond friends.
Oh Mom. We had such fun.
“But where did you sleep? I know some times you were there for days, waiting for a flight.”
Oh yes. Sometimes, if we thought there was a plane leaving late at night, we just stayed in the terminal. Because my parents sent us some money, my sister and I would often go over early to the Transient Hotel and book a room, then head back to the terminal. If they closed the terminal, we’d take a bunch of people back with us, take the mattress off the beds and we could get eight young college women in one room.
One time they told us around two that there would be no more flights for the day, so we left for the hotel room, got in our swim suits and hit the pool. I stayed a couple hours and then strolled back to the room; when I got there everyone was packing in a panic; a flight was going out and we had to be there in 30 minutes to get on it. I ran back to the pool to alert my sister and the others, ran back to the room carrying towels and shirts, packed in chaos, and we were in the airport and on that flight. I think my sister had her wet bathing suit on under her clothes, she packed so fast. They put us all on a troop carrier. A troop carrier is really fun, no isolated rows of seats going down the length of the plane, but four long webbed seat thingys, two facing two, the length of the plane. Let the party begin 🙂
One time, there were over a hundred of us waiting, and they scheduled an extra flight, but it would only hold a certain number, so we had a lottery – and I lost. I was one of only two who didn’t make it on that plane. Somehow, though, after that first flight left, they put the remaining two of us on a plane to a military base in Spain, and from there we hopped another military plane to Germany, beating (I don’t know how) the arrival of the first plane by half an hour.
You couldn’t do these things now. The world has changed; security takes priority. Parents hover to protect their children from very real threats. Our parents had the luxury of letting us fend for ourselves and figure out how to make it work. We made it work. We had fun. There is a whole group of those same people who gather on FaceBook, and meet up in Heidelberg, or Colorado, or Washington DC for a reunion, or even a dinner or a holiday. We stay in touch.
You weren’t oblivious, Mom. It was a different time. But what great adventures we had and what memories your questions bring me!
This trip is checking off a lot of blocks for us. Not only do we like exploring new venues, we also like experiencing specialty hotels, and since we are going to make a pilgrimage to The Alamo, we want to stay in a nearby hotel.
I checked Trip Advisor, and other resources. I read and read and read. There are some older hotels with character, and their reviews also feature words like “cramped” “musty” and “seen better days.” Then, there is the Emily Morgan.
The Emily Morgan is elegant, and the Emily Morgan looks right over The Alamo.
Why visit the Alamo? Here is what Wikipedia says about the Battle of The Alamo:
The Battle of the Alamo (February 23 – March 6, 1836) was a pivotal event in the Texas Revolution. Following a 13-day siege, Mexican troops under President General Antonio López de Santa Anna launched an assault on the Alamo Mission near San Antonio de Béxar (modern-day San Antonio, Texas, United States), killing all of the Texian defenders. Santa Anna’s cruelty during the battle inspired many Texians—both Texas settlers and adventurers from the United States—to join the Texian Army. Buoyed by a desire for revenge, the Texians defeated the Mexican Army at the Battle of San Jacinto, on April 21, 1836, ending the revolution.
Several months previously, Texians had driven all Mexican troops out of Mexican Texas. About 100 Texians were then garrisoned at the Alamo. The Texian force grew slightly with the arrival of reinforcements led by eventual Alamo co-commanders James Bowie and William B. Travis. On February 23, approximately 1,500 Mexicans marched into San Antonio de Béxar as the first step in a campaign to retake Texas. For the next 10 days the two armies engaged in several skirmishes with minimal casualties. Aware that his garrison could not withstand an attack by such a large force, Travis wrote multiple letters pleading for more men and supplies, but fewer than 100 reinforcements arrived there.
In the early morning hours of March 6, the Mexican Army advanced on the Alamo. After repulsing two attacks, the Texians were unable to fend off a third attack. As Mexican soldiers scaled the walls, most of the Texian soldiers withdrew into interior buildings. Defenders unable to reach these points were slain by the Mexican cavalry as they attempted to escape. Between five and seven Texians may have surrendered; if so, they were quickly executed. Most eyewitness accounts reported between 182 and 257 Texians died, while most historians of the Alamo agree that around 600 Mexicans were killed or wounded. Several noncombatants were sent to Gonzales to spread word of the Texian defeat. The news sparked both a strong rush to join the Texian army and a panic, known as “The Runaway Scrape”, in which the Texian army, most settlers, and the new Republic of Texas government fled from the advancing Mexican Army.
Within Mexico, the battle has often been overshadowed by events from the Mexican–American War of 1846–48. In 19th-century Texas, the Alamo complex gradually became known as a battle site rather than a former mission. The Texas Legislature purchased the land and buildings in the early part of the 20th century and designated the Alamo chapel as an official Texas State Shrine. The Alamo is now “the most popular tourist site in Texas”. The Alamo has been the subject of numerous non-fiction works beginning in 1843. Most Americans, however, are more familiar with the myths spread by many of the movie and television adaptations, including the 1950s Disney miniseries Davy Crockett and John Wayne’s 1960 film The Alamo.
There is a hint in that last sentence, just about every American around our age grew up singing about Davy Crockett, wearing Davy Crockett coonskin caps, and seeing Davy Crockett in the movies. We watched, horrified, as the wicked Santa Ana overpowered the Texans, including – Davy Crockett. Be careful, parents, what your children watch; some of these movies have a lasting impact. So here we are, a million years down the road, going to see the Alamo.
Our GoogleMap app guides us right into the heart of town, where we have to figure out how to be going the right way on Houston street to get to the valet service, because parking is a big problem around the Alamo/Riverwalk site.
It all turns out to be a lot easier than we thought it was going to be, we get checked in and our bags are taken to our room and it is glorious. It feels like coming home, it’s spacious, with bath robes and a lovely big bathroom and windows from wall to wall overlooking the Alamo:
This is our view of the Alamo:
It had been raining, and after the rain the air was that clean, clear air that almost sparkles. I loved all the sights from our window:
AdventureMan explored the Alamo. I have blisters on my feet from our huge walk around Benson-Rio Grande Valley Park, so I enjoy the big bathtub and a lovely cup of coffee and watch The Alamo from my birds eye perch. Now that we know about the Emily Morgan, we can come back with the grand-kids for a good visit on a sunnier day. 🙂
The Emily Morgan is a hotel you want to come back to. It has this great location by the Alamo, but also right by the San Antonio Riverwalk area, and a lot of great shopping and dining. The Emily Morgan also has special rates for military. 🙂
For those of you who did not grow up with Davy Crockett, you can listen the Ballad of Davy Crockett here:
I hope you will forgive me; I am not able to do the same work on the iPad I can do on my computer, so these photos are uncropped, unenhanced, they are what they are. It isn’t about the photos, it is about the people they are celebrating. These are more photos from the opening parade, which was rich with colors and sounds:
It’s one of those wonderful mornings, we are still on Pensacola time and wide awake. LO, why not, we hit the sack the night before around seven, unable to stay awake another minute. Quick breakfast in the lobby – we brought our own home-mix cereal, but there is milk and fruit we can add, grab a quick cup of coffee, then out to the glacier. When you say ‘the glacier’ you mean the Mendenhall. People havre been coming for years to visit this glacier.
When I was a kid, it was bigger, farther out, and there were only little trails to take out to get closer. Now, it is built up – a place to watch bear catch salmon as they swim up the stream to spawn, and several built up places where tourists can view the glacier, nice paths to walk on. Normally, there are bus loads of people, and I mean that literally. This morning – holy smokes – we are the only car in the parking lot at almost seven ayem.
There are blue places in the sky between white fluffy clouds. There is sunlight filtering through, lighting up the glacier, and making the icebergs glisten.
While AdventureMan shoots shots of Alaskan terns for his birding friends, I shoot icebergs. We listen to the silence, the utter peace of being alone out in this majestic location.
We spend about an hour, hiking around the various viewpoints, feeling so luxurious, the luxury of sheer privacy. As we leave, the buses start arriving. We take the Mendenhall Loop around the lake to Tongass National Forest campgrounds, to see the glacier from another viewpoint.
As we near Skater’s Cabin, full of old memories of my Mom tying up my ice skates and giving us hot chocolate out of a thermos, our old friend calls. We used to go out fishing and berry picking with them on their big former Coast Guard boat, Dad would go hunting with her husband. She is now 90, and she is on the phone inviting us to dinner the next night.
We are so honored. We don’t want to put her out, we don’t want her to have to fix dinner, but we always have such wonderful conversations with us (she asks us things like ‘tell me what it is like grocery shopping in Tunis?’) and we get her to tell tales of life in early Juneau, so we accept.
It’s been a wonderful morning. We know just where we want to have lunch, a place we haven’t tried before. And tonight is the opening parade for Celebration 2014!
“Oh,” the docent laughed, “everyone asks about that old bear. He hasn’t been around for years. He got all patchy because all the kids touched him and his hair fell off.”
LOL. I know one of those kids. There was a big sign that said “Do Not Touch the Bear” but he was a snowy white polar bear and . . . irresistible. My Dad worked in the same building as this museum, in its old location, and I would meet him there for a ride home after going to the library.
I loved this museum.
This time, it was one of the highlights of the entire trip. This museum is rich in well-curated pieces, and they are beautifully arranged. A new museum is going up; I can only hope that when it opens, it is at least as well done as this one is. Both AdventureMan and I could spend a lot more time in this museum.
Carving at the entrance:
Sun motif ceremonial outfit – look at the leg pieces – don’t they look like Sadu weaving to you?
Hand made hats. I was so surprised; these are like prayer caps in Oman and in Pakistan and I think in Indonesia. That they would be so similar in shape and geometric embroidery was amazing to me.
Eagle’s nest display, with eagle sounds. I love this! There is also a bear, but positioned so you really cannot touch . . . 😦
Corner pillars of Alaskan native houses used to look like this, not exactly totemic but with carved spirits:
There is so much more. I focused on the Alaskan Native inhabitants, but there are also exhibits of the coming of the Russians, the gold rush, the transition to territory and statehood . . . I can only take in so much at one time! Good thing we are going back 🙂
ALASKA STATE MUSEUM
395 Whittier Street
Juneau, AK 99811-1718
My friends and I had an animated conversation about Florida politics as we sat around the table having a late breakfast at Adonna’s Bakery, down on Palafox in Pensacola. We were explaining how in the last election, if it were not for the voters handbook the League of Women Voters published, explaining exactly what a yes or no vote would mean for each proposed amendment, Florida would be stuck with constitutional amendments voters never intended to approve.
The League of Women Voters cuts through all the baloney and explains the issues, clearly and objectively. Without their clear, cool voice of reason, voters would be blown to and fro by the turbulent election rhetoric which blows at hurricane force during each election in Florida, obscuring the clearest issues. The League is neither liberal nor conservative, but contains members of all parties. Their goal is getting people to vote, and to understand the issue on which people are voting.
So grown up. So mature. So wise and clear sighted. Way too grown up for me, all these years, until, after that conversation, one of these friends sent me an invitation she had received for an upcoming League of Women Voters annual luncheon. As an added attraction, a local NPR reporter would be the speaker.
I hate meetings. It brings out the ADD child in me; I fidget, I wish I were anywhere but in the meeting.
And yet . . . this is a group I have long admired, and I want to support them. So I agreed, and we attended.
It was so much fun. These women – and men, about a fifth of the attendees were men – are people focused on ISSUES. They have study groups for how juveniles in the local area are arrested and treated in our jails and custodial facilities. They have groups which study the impact on the environment of legislative and local government decisions. They go to civic meetings, speak out, and report back to the League. This is a group of people who take positions and recommend actions! Exciting stuff.
You know I am a believer, so I might see things differently from you, or others, but I met some really cool members, people I believe I was meant to meet. One said wonderful things about my son as he practices his profession. There is no Mother’s Day gift on earth that means as much as the words she spoke, praising his ethics and integrity.
An elderly man sitting next to me was leaving this week to go to Heidelberg.
“Are you going for the closing down?” I asked, and told him I had graduated from Heidelberg American high school, lo, these many years ago. “Yes,” he replied, he has family who have lived there many years, and he has been back many times. It led to a discussion around the table, where I discovered two other women who had been in DoDs schools in Germany. What an unexpected blessing!
Every now and then, as you lead your life, you get the feeling you are exactly where you are meant to be at this very moment, and I had that feeling as I left the meeting. I am so thankful for the serendipity that led me there, and for the rush of blessings the meeting provided.
LOL, the group I thought might be stuffy and staid played this wonderful Lady Gaga video:
I took a wonderful photo at Easter, wonderful because I have the same exact photo at the same exact age of my son, holding up his Easter Egg exactly (or, oh pardon me, I can’t resist, eggsactly) the same way. There are just some little things that make a Grandmama’s (and Mama’s) heart sing 🙂
Because AdventureMan has worked so hard with him, little Q has been moved up to a more advanced class, and we are all excited about that. I know there are some who prefer to be the BEST in their group, but we always learn and achieve more when surrounded by people a little more accomplished and skilled than we are. We are happy he will be pushing himself to be a really GOOD swimmer!
When we pick Q up at school, all his little school friends say “Q – your BaBa is here!” LOL @ all these little kids speaking Arabic!
Congratulations to all our Qatari friends and greetings on your National Day, December 18, 2012. One of my new favorite sources of information out of Doha, the Doha News, has published a great article, Everything You Need to Know About Qatar’s National Day 2012, which you can access by clicking on the blue type.
Sorry for laughing, but this year they have forbidden people to decorate their cars and some of the displays common on National Day. Good luck with that!
National Day in Qatar might be a lot of fun, if it weren’t for the crowds, and the grid-locked streets. If you want to watch the fireworks – and they are truly fabulous, the Amir and his supporters spare no expense, it is truly bread and circus time in Qatar – you just have to grit your teeth and buy into getting through all the traffic to a viewing site.
We found a great – and relatively remote – site from which to watch, us and our 300 closest Qatari friends, over at the Marriott marina; it was a great view, and only maybe two hours trying to get home afterwards, LOL, fighting our way through the party-SUVs with their foam sprays and their decor, and young Qatari males dancing on the top of the SUVs, yes, they did, I am not kidding.
LONDON — A female judo fighter from Saudi Arabia will be allowed to compete in the Olympics wearing a form of headscarf after a compromise was reached that respects the “cultural sensitivity” of the Muslim kingdom.
Judo officials had previously said they would not let Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani compete in a headscarf because it was against the principles of the sport and raised safety concerns.
But an agreement was reached after several days of IOC-brokered talks between the International Judo Federation and the Saudi Olympic Committee that clears the way for her to compete Friday in the heavyweight division.
“They have a solution that works for both parties, all parties involved,'” International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams said. “The athlete will compete.”
The agreement was later formally announced in a joint statement by the judo federation and the Saudi committee.
“Working with the IOC, a proposal was approved by all parties,” the statement said. “The solution agreed guarantees a good balance between safety and cultural considerations.”
Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani, the judoka’s father, declined to describe what changes – if any – will be made to his daughter’s head cover for the competition.
He told The Associated Press his daughter has been training with women at a special facility in London for an hour and a half every day since she arrived with her parents and her brother. Shahrkhani said his daughter, who has a blue belt in judo, is preparing for Friday’s fight in seclusion.
“It’s her first time in competition and it’s the Olympic Games, so she is focused on that,” Shahrkhani said.
Saudi Arabia, which had never sent female athletes to the Olympics before, brought its two first female Olympians to London on condition they adhere to the kingdom’s Islamic traditions, including wearing a headscarf.
Shahrkhani’s participation was thrown into doubt last week when judo officials said a headscarf could be dangerous because of chokeholds and aggressive grabbing techniques.
Without giving precise details, Adams said the headscarf agreement is in line with Asian judo rules and is “safety compliant but allows for cultural sensitivity.'”
“In Asia, judo is a common practice so they asked for something that would be compliant with that, and the judo federations have reached a compromise that both are happy with,” he said.
Asian judo federations have previously allowed Muslim women to wear the headscarf, known as a hijab, during major competitions. Headscarves are allowed in taekwondo, but taekwondo fighters also wear a headguard, which covers the headscarf.
Shahrkhani may be the first judoka to fight at the Olympics who does not hold a black belt in judo, a Japanese martial art. She did not qualify for her Olympic spot like most of the other judo fighters. The IOC extended a special invitation for her to compete as part of negotiations to bring Saudi women to the Olympics for the first time. The other Saudi female athlete to compete in London is 19-year-old Sarah Attar, a California-based 800-meter runner.
Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei had been the only three countries that had never fielded female Olympians in their teams. With all three now including women, these are the first Olympics in which every competing nation – 205 – is represented by female competitors.
“Our aim is that we want to have women from all national Olympic committees competing in the games,” Adams said. “Clearly one of those that is new is Saudi. We want to make sure we give a maximum chance for women from every NOC to take part in the games.”