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Minuteman. Memorial to the Elite of the Militia


The Bridge Where the Fighting Occurred 1775


Walden Pond


Henry Thoreau and Cottage Facsimile

Berlin, Ohio 7th Sept.


This is Amish country. After days of flat corn and bean fields it’s a delight getting back into a few hills, trees, and a bit of action. Though the Amish are not renowned for too much action in the modern sense of the word.

It is amazing how they have kept their way of life when all around them are tuning in to the 21st century, although many have melded their old ways with parts of the modern and you sometimes see a golf buggy trundling along the road instead of the more sleek and romantic horse and trap. The women with their long skirts and bonnets and the men in braces and straw hats look odd initially but you soon get used to it. They are friendly and happy to get into a conversation. Joan was intrigued in the washing on the lines in the front yards of the farm houses laid out in perfect order: towels all together, sheets next, then the men’s garments followed by the women’s. Not sure if they colour coordinated the pegs like my Mother used to. Many schools with the kids playing outside. And paddocks mowed by genuine horse power.

Talking to one of the RVers at the camp site he was saying how they loved coming to this area. The people were so friendly, so different. Then I realized to him it was the easy way to visit another country and not have to leave the comfort of your own. You don’t even have to learn a new language!

It’s a real tourist dive. The Amish don’t seem to mind getting their pound of flesh out of the gullible. But once you hit the back roads you experience their simple way of life.


Lionsgate, Vermont 16th Sept


A lot has happened since the last post. We made it to Boston in time to meet Adam who ended up a day late with his British Airways plane breaking down. Where we stayed at Framingham, a suburb of Boston, is only 20kms from Concord where in April 1775 the Revolutionaries made their stand against the British who were marching on the town to confiscate weapons they knew had been stashed there. The bridge where the skirmish happened and where Waldo Emerson composed his famed words “The shot heard around the world.” Of course it’s not the same bridge, I believe its been rebuilt some seven times but it IS a very historical place and not ruined by over commercialization.

Very nearby is Walden Pond where Henry Thoreau lived for two years, built his little cottage and tried living as independently as possible. It is a tranquil lake surrounded by lovely trees showing their first signs of autumn colouration.

The airbnb at Framingham was a delight. Under the main house it was spacious, comfortable beds and looked out onto woods. We watched squirrels storing acorns and chipmunks scurrying from shelter to shelter.

We took the scenic route to where we are now. A mistake as it took us almost 9 hours to get here. But Lionsgate is an inn at the end of a gravel road. In the middle of forest where the fall is more advanced although greenery still outnumbers fall colours. A very beautiful area. Today we went for a drive ending up on the islands on Lake Champlain a kilometre or two from the Canadian border.

The Barges on the Illinois River at Havana



Our First Covered Bridge. An old Rail Line


Loading the Bakkie onto the Mack Truck


Havana, Illinois. 6th September


Not the best start of for our two months away. I mentioned in the last blog how the van started the first time but after sitting in the campsite for a day all it would do was cough and wheeze when started. That was on the Saturday of the Labour Day long weekend and of course nothing was to happen until the first day back, Tuesday. Chad, the bloke who serviced the bakkie in our absence kept putting us off and I think had lost interest in our situation. On the Tuesday I rang a mobile diesel mechanic who duly appeared, changed the fuel filters that Chad had said were not available in the US. Tried it but still the same. That was US$441 worth. But he did call the Mack tow truck which turned up and soon had the van on the back and us clambering mountaineering-like into the cab.

Our sprits were decidedly low. However, at the workshop, Nick, a young mechanic, came out, introduced himself, asked what year the bakkie was, and with no further ado, grabbed a couple of spanners, and started fiddling. Remember this type of vehicle is not sold in USA, there was no diagnostic plug, and so he was flying blind.

Fifteen minutes later, the motor was idling beautifully, revving well and ready for a test run. Things were looking brighter. But it was evident to Nick something was still not right. It lacked power. No acceleration. By now it was late and they needed to keep at it the next day. The dropped us off at the nearest motel, a Motel 8. Now Joan has always been disparaging of this hotel chain but it was roomy, clean, comfortable bed and friendly staff. Could’ve done with a couple more pillows but we did have a TV remote. Kenneth, the Uber driver said his experience with a Motel 8 stay included not even a TV remote.

I called the workshop a couple of times the next day only to hear bad news. But they were persevering and even had the big boss over to give advice. In the meantime I started looking at hire car agencies, as we needed to get to Boston to meet Adam on the 12th. I also started looking up local car wreckers. What a terrible way for the bakkie to end its life! We had faith in these mechanics and I didn’t think anyone else could do a better job but one had to be practical.

Juan phoned us early the next day, Thursday and I could tell by by the sound of his voice he had good news. Problems solved. It all comes back to storing the bakkie in a non temp-controlled shed for over 12 months in below zero temperatures for weeks on end. In that situation the diesel takes on a turpentine appearance and changes its viscosity. It becomes more sludge like and that clogs up the filters, pump, the works. They took out the tank, emptied it, put another fuel filter in as the ones put in the day before were full of the sludge. Replaced a couple of fuel line that were cracking causing air to creep in and bypassed one of the fuel filters as the pump on it was dicey. We were ecstatic.

So, at ten yesterday morning we hit Interstate 80. A shit of a road as it’s full of semis, but so good to be moving. We stayed the night at Rock Creek state park and today branched off onto the local roads and experienced some of Small Town America. Many lovely places with their spired court houses and clean streets.

Havana is one such place. There is a delightful little campsite here over watched by Deb. Perched on the banks of the Illinois River metres from the broad river. A tug boat went up river not long after we arrived pushing 15 barges, five long and three wide each 20 metres in length. It was an amazing sight. This is Oktoberfest weekend in Havana and the festivities started off tonight with a parade. Very lively and enough candies thrown from the floats to ruin the most shiniest of kids teeth. There were feed and trinket stalls up town. Also a MAGA stall filled with Trump insignia. It was pleasing to see no buyers of goods in there the two times we walked past.






A Model of the Book Depository and Elm Street With Bullet Trajectory.


The JFK Memorial Near the Book Depository


The Window From Where Oswald Fired


Book Depository in Background. Old Court House in Right. From Hotel


The Sliced Lady


Kevin Keen to See Joan. Where We Stored Bakkie

USA 2019

29th August. Dallas

There is an ‘X’ on the asphalt below and to the right of the southern side of the Texas Book Depository which marks where the fatal shot hit President Kennedy. If Lee Harvey Oswald was right handed, the angle required for him to fire those three shots was very acute. He must’ve have been a good shot to hit a moving target travelling away at such an angle. He did have a scope though.

The Sixth Floor Museum is now the most visited attraction in Dallas. Not a pleasant fact that the most popular site is where a President was assassinated. But it is a very interesting display especially when it shows how unpopular Kennedy was in the city especially with his civil rights stand. Prominent citizens had taken out a full page advertisement listing their grievances before he arrived and the local democratic party was split between the progressives and the conservatives in the party. His visit was to heal those wounds and as a fundraiser for his pre election. He never did make the fundraiser dinner where he was heading when shot.

Something that I didn’t realize was Oswald had been employed at the Book Depository a few months earlier and was questioned by the police when leaving the building. But when told he was an employee he was allowed to leave. The death of Officer Tippet by Oswald would have been prevented if he had been apprehended at that point..

Our hotel is a couple of blocks from the museum. The interesting old red courthouse with its cones and bell tower, at the moment all swathed in scaffolding, is to the right with the Book Depository a further block away.

The Perot Museum of Natural Science was also an interesting destination. Most remember Ross Perot when standing as an independent for president some elections ago. He made his money in oil and one of the four levels of the museum is dedicated to oil and gas. But the remaining floors were all very interesting especially for kids. The exhibit that stood out for me, and more so when Ron, the volunteer, explained it to me, was these three full length images of a woman’s body. But they weren’t images at all. It appears this German woman in her 50s was dying and wanted to donate her body to science. But not just bits here and there. So when she died they stored her in formaldehyde for two months then froze her for a similar time. Then they sliced her body with a bandsaw head to foot just like they do salami in the IGA. Not sure of the thickness of each slice would but I would say about 10mm. As you can see with the photo you can see through her quite easily. Then she was enclosed in glass for the world to see. At one time a doctor told Ron that it was possible to see what she died of. Lung cancer. She was an athlete who smoked heavily. Bit creepish but very interesting


30th August. Koa West Omaha Campsite.


We stayed at this camp site 14 months ago when we packed up ready to head home. It was an ideal place to head to to sort out the van after being stored all that time. Things were musty, had to be washed. Opening a cupboard Joan was confronted by slivers of glass falling out. Four tonic water glass bottles had frozen then expanded in the cold winter they experienced here. The same with a bottle of nice Napa wine given to us on our last trip. The cork had blown and the wine ruined.


Been some very helpful people here. Kevin, where we left the bakkie, and Chad, the bloke who serviced the vehicle while we were home. The bakkie started well when we drove off and also when we exited Walmart. But this morning, already to start our drive east, all it could manage was a wheezy idle. Checked for air and water in the lines but all well. To make it worse, Monday is a holiday so nothing can be done until the Tuesday. That’s when we are booked to be in Chicago, some 8 hour drive from here.