22 July 2018

June 30, 2018 MICHIGAN Kalamazoo - #keepfamiliestogether

Per Save the Children: "Innocent children have been forced to flee their homes due to violence, gangs and crushing poverty in Latin America. After a dangerous journey, thousands of children seeking asylum have been heartbreakingly separated from their mothers and fathers when they reach the U.S. border."

Like so many cities around the USA and the world, Kalamazoo had a rally protesting these actions by the federal government. Even though the day was blistering hot (in the 90s), maybe 500 people attended in Bronson Park.

There was many inspiring speakers.

Because it was so hot most people were standing to the side under the shady trees. The first speaker invited people to move to the center onto the hot pavement and under the direct sun. Thus, we could experience the heat the kids might be feeling in the tent camps in the southwest. That really brought the circumstances to life. We could move about, but the kids were detained in place.

There was also a toy and diaper collection for kids held at Bethany Christian Services in Grand Rapids, Michigan (50 miles north of us). At least kids could hug the many stuffed animals in place of their parents. Some small consolation!!!
A month later this is still heavy on my mind. I cannot imagine being a child and forcefully being taken from my mom or dad and put in detention. Only a metallic blanket instead of a warm, fuzzy one to comfort me.

Today I went back to look at photos I had taken during the protest and decided to publish some here. There were so many great signs to make you think what American stood for in the past. Not so much today. Not hate or disdain or privilege.

This woman wore a jacket like Melania Trump's. It said the right thing though.

Please write your senators and congress persons to take swift action to correct this problem. Small steps have been taken, but much more is needed. It is never too late.

21 July 2018

2018 ICELAND 33 - One bit more... The Phallological Museum

So a couple of days after doing my Iceland wrap-up, I noticed a TV show titled "The Final Member." It was a documentary about a Phallological (Penis) Museum. I wondered if this was the one we missed seeing (on purpose) in Iceland. It was...and here is the show info:

Have to say I was intrigued, so I watched the show. The topic seemed a bit squeamish for public entertainment, but after the first 10 minutes I kind of got used to it. I mean, it is just another body part.

The show turned out to be quirky, but interesting and begrudgingly worthy of a watch. Siggi, the founder of the museum, takes an analytical and educator approach to the topic. The show took some very unexpected twists and turns though. Just wait for "Elmo."

In spite of your personal view, apparently there is a lot of interest in the topic. In 2011, Siggi says 11,346 visitors from all over the world came to see his mammalian phallus collection.

Siggi is also a wood carver of phallic items such as salt and pepper shakers. It's hard not to chuckle, but this man is serious and totally dedicated to the topic

To read more, go to: http://phallus.is/en/themuseum.html. On the website you can also order related items like condoms, fridge magnets, books, penis shaped pasta, t-shirts, and much more.

For a link to watch the documentary, go to: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2318701/. There is nothing salacious about it. Just keep an open mind.

14 July 2018

2018 ICELAND 32 - Wrap-Up

Wow, seven days and 32 long blog entries later. I could have said much more, as Iceland is a fascinating, mysterious, natural wonder of a place. Would we go again? Absolutely YES. What would be different?

First and foremost we would check for restaurants catering more to vegetarians and pescatarians (for me) BEFORE we went. My diet was pretty much Caprese sandwiches (and they were amazingly good) and Mike ate mostly ham and cheese or roast beef and cheese sandwiches. Mike actually lost two pounds on this trip and I lost a half pound. This is unheard of for our vacations. Usually we gain about five.

Well, we've seen it in late winter and that was having the best shot of seeing the Aurora Borealis during the long winter nights. We never did see the full effect, but we got the gist and we have seen it before in Montana at full strength although for a scant moment.

Sooooo...next time we would go in summer to see the beautiful green rolling hills that we saw in the painting at Skogar. See Iceland - 14. Also in summer we could take the full Ring Road around the island. We would try to find every water foss, as it seems each is unique and beautiful in its own way. We'd try the ice cave tour again, hoping it is not flooded out.

We didn't actually walk on black sand beach, so we'd do that. We'd like to see Reykjadalur, a hot water stream gushing down the mountain range. The Kerid Crater is similar to Crater Lake in Oregon. That was beautiful, so I am sure this is, too.

We would spend more time in Reykjavik. We barely scratched the surface. There are at least eleven art, history, and other "quirky" museums. I would probably NOT check out the Icelandic Penis Museum (http://phallus.is/en/) or the Punk Rock Museum (http://thepunkmuseum.is), but I (not Mike) would go to the Icelandic Wonders Museum (http://icelandicwonders.is) to learn more about Iceland's ghosts and elves. Ghosts are often mentioned in the Saga stories and elves are everywhere.
We'd go to the tower top of the Hillgrímskirkja Lutheran church, see inside the Harpa Concert Hall, and maybe check the Höfdi House where Presidents Gorbachev and Reagan met at a summit between the USSR and the USA in 1986 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Höfði).

We'd go to the northeast cliffs where the puffin birds hang out in summer. There are whale watching boats, but Mike does not handle that well. I think a flight-seeing trip over the waterfalls and glaciers would be great though. I'm sure there is one somewhere.

Even if we had another week we probably couldn't cover all the interesting things in Iceland, but we highly recommend you spend at least a week.

Next we plan a Russian river boat cruise from Moscow to St. Petersburg in 2019.

2018 ICELAND Reykjavik & Greenland 31 - Last Leg to Home

The Saga Club room in Reykjavik was unlike the lounge we experienced in Chicago. There the food was good and drinks were complimentary, but it was shared by several airlines and crowded and loud. We could not find four seats even near together, so Mike and Laur went across the hall to the bar, while Tom and I took the two available seats.

In Reykjavik the ambiance was quiet and serene. The club style was simple, classy, and natural. An example is this table built around a rock. There was a spacious choice of seating areas and various types of chairs and loungers.
One big bolder sat in the middle of the club and carries on the ideology that elves exist and play an integral part in the life of Icelanders. Maybe a bit hard to read, but the story is below.

There was lots of art, even in the bathrooms. Private shower stalls were available, if one needed to freshen up before a flight. Some very nice amenities.

There was quite a spread of hors d'oeuvres with a variety of food to suit any taste. This pix was taken just before they refilled. The full bar was help-yourself, including beer, wine, and hard liquor choices.
We sat near a live fire in cushy chairs with outlets for recharging our tech items. We had a couple of hours here, so we read, chatted, took blog notes. We met an  Icelander woman who owned a second home near Wilmington, North Carolina and had visited Fish Town in Leland, Michigan (one of our favorite leisure spots).

We had one more check-point to go through just before boarding. Because we were biz class we bypassed the longer line and got through pretty quickly. For take-off it as raining, but 4C degrees, so above freezing.

As we passed over Greenland (for maybe 25 minutes) we were amazed to see not one living thing or sign of civilization--no people, houses, roads, boats, nothing. Just ice and snow. Fascinating to see so much land, but no trace of mankind.

 Glacier paths.

I read later that icy Greenland wanted more people to move to their island so they enticingly called it Greenland; while Iceland wanted less people to move there, so they called their island Iceland to put newcomers off. Not sure this is true, but it obviously did not work. Greenland is still mostly barren land and Iceland is a hot spot for tourism these days.

True happiness when we saw the Lake Michigan beachy shoreline of our home state of Michigan. Not quite sure where this is. Maybe Saugatuck or Holland, MI.
Uneventful flight and that is the best kind. Customs and immigration went fairly quickly. Here is the setting sun on the drive from the airport to the parking lot. A fitting welcome for us.
The drive home was a little hairy because our trunk was totally full and messed with my sight lines. Didn't seem like we bought that much or maybe we were not as organized in our packing, but it was hard for me to see out the back window. I avoided passing or got help from my car-mates. It was such a relief to get home.

A trip is always fabulous but getting home is, too. And Bella was VERY happy to see us...sticking like glue, mostly to Mike.

11 July 2018

2018 ICELAND Reykjavik 30 - Airport Drama

Got to the rent-a-car return and breezed through. No accidents, no volcanic ash or sand damage, no windshield chips. We had one that seemed pretty close, but it was raining, so maybe hard to see. So no extra charges applied.

But there is a BIG BUT. One of our bags was somehow left behind outside the hotel door at Silica--mine with all the computer stuff, cameras, digital photos. Yikes!!! The Hertz clerk called Silica. They checked and it was still outside the hotel door. They arranged for it to be brought to the airport via the airport shuttle which was leaving there shortly. We had plenty of time, so I did not completely panic.

While awaiting the bus, I checked the outdoor art. This first one is titled Jet Nest. Is that a newborn jetliner wing sticking out of the egg? Hmm! Next is the Rainbow Sculpture...which makes a lot more sense.

A half hour later the bus arrived. No bag and the driver knew nothing about it. Oh, geez! He said to check with the bus desk. I went there and that clerk started making phone calls. I was holding back the tears. I was there about 20 minutes waiting for some info. Then I spotted a man walking up to the desk and he was miraculously carrying the bag.
Then the tears started flowing, but with happiness. The lady clerk and I hugged. She was so happy for me and I was so thankful to her and her company (Icelandic Excursions) for coming through. Not sure how it happened, but I was elated it did.

T&L had proceeded ahead to the Saga Lounge (waiting area for business class passengers). Mike hung back til I got the bag. After a sigh of relief we continued through a very easy security check point.
Continuing on we stopped by duty free and bought two bottles of Brennivin (Iceland's Black Death). One for us and one for bro-in-law Jim, who loves trying new liquors. We also looked for Meyers rum and a brand of tequila, but none. Icelanders don't know what they're missing!

Lots more art in the very long hallway to the lounge. The first is Silver Sabler by Erró, a cartoon action piece.
The second stained glass art hung under the skylight.

And a cabinet warned of species near extinction and items confiscated for illegal transport.

Finally we made it to the Saga Lounge, bag in hand, smiles on our faces, finally ready to relax.

2018 ICELAND Blue Lagoon 29 - So Long Silica

Woke bright and early. Anxious to get home, but reluctant to leave such a lovely setting. Feeling like the rich and famous for 24 hours.

First thing was sustenance. This might be the most fabulous breakfast buffet ever. I'll just show the pix rather than describe, but there was something to suit no matter what your country of origin was. Your mouth will start watering, I'm sure.

There was actually more, but you get the idea. And there was the obligatory cod liver oil. I guess I should read up on this and find out what the health benefits are. Iceland sure stands behind it.
Laur and I decided to take a last dip in our beautiful Blue Lagoon, an hour of pure relaxation. It was so hard to leave when we knew a long plane ride home was next on the agenda.
We met a man from Dublin, Ireland. He was incredulous that my last name was Killarney. He had never heard of any person with that last name. He said it is a place, not a name. We had heard that before.

The guys enjoyed the view from the lounge.
Our flight wasn't til 16:45, so we had a leisurely departure. We checked out at 11:00 (the last possible moment) and filled the gas tank one last time. I think that was $27 USD. Then off to the airport.