Wednesday, February 27, 2013


It seems appropriate to use this photograph of a picturesque door, that I took last fall, to begin an article about Door County, Wisconsin.
 Door County is in the northern part of Wisconsin, and is situated as a peninsula between the body of water known as Green Bay on the west, and Lake Michigan on the east.  I don't know if the highway engineer that designed the strip of highway shown in this photograph had the intention of making it such a memorable, mesmerizing image, but it certainly meets that criteria!
 My visit to Door County took place in the autumn, and this apple tree overflowing with ripe, red apples, is just one of many that can be found in orchards of Door County, that allow visitors to pick to their heart's delight, all the while being shaded by an umbrella of leaves.
 For those whose leisure activities are more water-oriented, most resorts can arrange for you to have canoes, rowboats, paddle boards, or kayaks, to explore the watery surroundings at your own pace. 
 Likewise, many people come to Door County to do absolutely nothing, but sit and stare into the space where the water meets the horizon.
I took this photo around sunrise, from the beachfront, of the resort where I stayed.  The mist hovering above the water helped fuzz out the line between water and sky.
 Just about anywhere you go in Door County, you are just steps away from a marina that can provide both long term and short term boat mooring slips.  This photograph shows a marina in the Sister Bay area, which is adjacent to the downtown area, and is a factor in helping make the Sister Bay area so popular for tourists who arrive by boat.
 The same is true for "beach basking" in that, about anywhere you go in Door County, you are just steps away from a waterfront view and lawn chairs, arranged for relaxation.  Sister Bay has a well-maintained waterfront park system that hosts weekly outdoor concerts in the summer.  Their big event coming up on March 30 is the Sister Bay Egg Hunt ( )
 Since I have been a "little sister" my entire life, I had to take a photograph of this sign, when I visited the village of Sister Bay.  Sister Bay  is the largest community north of Sturgeon Bay, in Door County.  Even with that distinction, the AAA book just lists its population as around 900 people.  It is fitting that the sign shows an image of a Viking ship, because the town was settled by Norwegian immigrants in 1857. 
 Originally there were two communities---Big Sister Bay and Little Sister Bay.  But fortunately, they were able to get past their "sibling rivalry" and incorporated into the "Village of Sister Bay" in 1912. 
 For those who prefer a motor attached to their boat, ( as opposed to the "silent sports" using a kayak or canoe)  speed boats, pontoon boats, and fishing charters, can also be arranged for visitors.
 When I saw this sign, the question entered my mind: "Do they mean that only women who had been a 'little sister' could be buried in this particular cemetery?"   All others need not apply!
The cross atop this church steeple in the Sister Bay area, brings me to the reason I happen to be writing this particular article, at this particular time.  I was trying to think of a visual aid to help me learn my First Place 4 Health ( memory verse---which is about two sisters---so my mind went back to my visit to Sister Bay, Wisconsin.  The verse is from Luke 10:41-42, and is about Jesus visiting the home of  sisters, Martha and Mary:  "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."   A great way to clear the cobwebs out of your mind, so that you can make that all-important decision to "choose what is better" is by planning a retreat to Door County, Wisconsin ( ) .  You will store up memories that cannot be taken away from you, and also enjoy "miles of smiles"!  Tricia          Editor's Notation:  If you visit the website, and click on the wedding blog, you will see that they used the photograph I took of a heart-shaped rock at  School House Beach, on Door County's Washington Island, in their December 28, 2012 post.  The title of the post was "5 Unique Ways to Pop the Question in Door County".  A representative from the Door County CVB showed great courtesy by contacting me in advance, to ask permission to use the photograph, after they saw it in an article I published about School House Beach on my blog.  Check it out!
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Monday, February 18, 2013


 The federal holiday we call "Presidents' Day" seems like an appropriate time to talk about an expedition to Mt. Rushmore, South Dakota, where the faces of four famous United States presidents have been carved into a mountainside there.  As your vehicle drives up Hwy 16A/244 that leads to Mount Rushmore, you can begin to see the famous carved faces from many miles away.
 As you get closer, the grandiose size of the sculptures becomes more apparent, when you look at the top of the mountain, and realize those faces are 60-foot, man-made carvings, into solid granite.
 In this photo, I am wearing a light-weight black leather jacket, that was the perfect outer garment for exploring at this elevation, during the first week of May.  Ironically, I was also wearing a black leather jacket of a different design, the very first time I ever visited Mt. Rushmore, even though the month of the year was August.  That is because my husband and I were there on our Harley-Davidson motorcycle, in 1990, to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally ( ).  Even though the August  temperatures were warm when one was off the bike, you had to have your leather biking apparel on, to stay warm while riding to the mountain top via motorcycle.
 The popular Avenue of Flags, leads up to the viewing terrace.  It features the 56 flags of American states, territories, commonwealths, and one district.
 For a close-up view of the faces, one can hike the half-mile trek to the base of the mountain.  The faces represent the first 150 years of United States of America history.  Next to President George Washington in the front, is President Thomas Jefferson.  Next to him is President Theodore Roosevelt.  The last face carved is that of President Abraham Lincoln. 
 The group I was with chose to take one of the free group hikes to the base, that are led by a National Park Ranger (shown in the green uniform, and familiar "Smoky the Bear"-style hat, in this photo).
 During the hike, you are treated to several photo opportunities, that will enable you to get different perspectives of the mountainside, into your composition.  Your guide will tell you that construction of Mt. Rushmore carvings started in 1927, and ended around 1939. 
 The Park Ranger that led our group, prided himself on being able to walk down the trail backwards, so that he could tell us about various points of interest along the way.  It was nice to see that this part of the hike was handicap accessible, with its broad, concrete sidewalk.  There were plenty of benches along the way, where one could stop and rest, if desired.
 One of the most "co-operative" wildlife examples we saw during our trek, was this lovely creature.  The Park Ranger told us that they are tagged, so that the staff there can track their health and well-being, plus identify them if they go beyond the park boundaries.
 It is very appropriate that the "first" face of the four carvings, is that of our first president, George Washington.  When construction began, the original plan called for each carving to be a full bust-style design.  However, due to lack of funding, only President Washington has much of a "showing" below the neck.
 It is easy to see why Mt. Rushmore is sometimes called the "Shrine of Democracy".  The efforts of President Abraham Lincoln played a big part in the history of that democracy, as he led the country during the tragic Civil War of 1861-1865.  In contrast to the thousands of American soldiers that died during the Civil War, there was not a single fatality, among the "soldiers of construction" that carved out Mt. Rushmore.
 I think it is interesting that the sculptor included a likeness of eye glasses on the carving of President Theodore Roosevelt. 
 After about one-half mile, the wheel chair accessible part of the hike ends, and the stairs begin.  No need to do your Stairmaster Machine at the gym on the day you visit this spot, as you will get a vigorous workout going up and down these well-maintained stairs.  Fortunately, there are plenty of decks, with benches, along the way to let those who want to stop and rest.
 The design of the stairs was done in such a way, that they blend beautifully with the pine trees and boulders that surround them.  Those who come from a "sea level" elevation to hike at the 5,725 ft elevation of Mt. Rushmore, may feel the "effects" of the stair climbing, quicker than those who are used to being at the higher elevation.
 One can get the full story of how the sculpture was visualized, initiated, funded, completed, and maintained, by visiting the Lincoln Borglum Museum at Mt. Rushmore.  If you are there in the evening, you can also take in the nightly program in the outdoor amphitheater.  That production consists of a high-tech film, patriotic music, and a lighting ceremony.
 There is limited, controlled access to the very top of the sculptures, for those who really want to "get inside" the head of a president.  This photograph shows a human being, just to the left of George Washington's forehead.
 I was reminded of my visit to see these famous faces, when I was trying to find a mnemonic device to help me learn one of my First Place 4 Health ( ) memory verses that says "Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always."  Psalm 105:4  .   Although these faces represent outstanding "fathers of our country", they are all human beings, and looking to the face of ANY president for our salvation, is a mistake.  It is only our heavenly father that can supply our eternal salvation.  If you would like to know more about visiting Mt. Rushmore, visit ; likewise, you can click on for volumes of information, on visiting a state that advertises "Great Faces. Great Places."  Those great faces and great places will give you "Miles of Smiles"!    Tricia
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Thursday, February 14, 2013


It seems that the graphic design used to go along with the word "heart", has been tied to the celebrations of St. Valentine's Day, for generations.  For this reason, February 14, 2013, seems like an appropriate time to brag on the hand-crafted heart designs my father made in his woodworking shop, over the course of his retirement years.  The big red heart at the top of the photo is made out of a thin piece of plywood, and he copied the design by outlining a wooden heart I had bought at a craft store in Fayetteville.  Perhaps that was the inspiration for his setting off on a woodworking frenzy to make lovely, heart-shaped boxes out of various types of wood he had available, which was mostly cedar.  All these heart designs are ways of showing love, from the person who made them---to the person who receives them.
 Since Dad did not like to waste anything, he would carefully cut out the center of the thick cedar planks he was using, so that his cut-out could also be made into something useful.  By drilling holes in the cut-outs, he made  heart-shaped pencil holders.
 Of all his hand-made wooden items, I think these cedar heart boxes are my favorite.  When I left the lid, and smell the cedar, it is a pleasing aroma reminding me to give thanks for the family I was born into, especially my Dad who made the box, and my mother who assisted him.
 Dad would sometimes leave the unstained, cedar cut-outs remaining after completing a box, in their unfinished state, so that they could be placed in closets to ward off those pesky moths that want to eat holes in your woolen items.
 Looking at the inside of the box, one can see the evidence of it being handcrafted, and not "factory made".  To me, that makes it even more special.  This was my father's way of showing his love for his family.
 When I was photographing the various wooden hearts my dad had made, I came across this one, saved from some of the personal effects of my mom.
 It was a sweet note from my son, thanking mom for assisting him with some sort of costume item for his high school prom.  My mom was a big believer in writing thank you notes, so I am sure, this thank you note from her grandson, along with the accompanying wooden heart, touched her "biological heart" as well!  This was my son's way of showing his love for his grandmother.
 I also came across this heart, made of alabaster, which my son gave to me on some holiday occasion.  Like my mother before me, this touched my "biological heart", as well as making a nice keepsake.  This was my son's way of showing his love for his mom. 
 Besides it being Valentine's Day, the other reason I was on a "photo quest" of heart designs, is because I was trying to find a picture I could use as a mnemonic device to help me with my First Place 4 Health ( ) memory verse from Psalm 31:24, that says "Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD."  This stack of Bibles could also be thought of as a type of Valentine greeting, even though they do not have the graphic heart design.  That is because the Bible contains God's message of LOVE---the greatest Valentine greeting anyone could imagine.  It is God's way of showing love to his greatest creation---humankind.   I hope  your celebration of the love expressed on St. Valentine's Day, will bring you "miles of smiles"!    Tricia
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Saturday, February 9, 2013


 A few years ago, I made a trip to Germany, which included a tour through the famous Black Forest.  While there, I had the opportunity to visit a studio where the components of the iconic Black Forest German cuckoo clocks were being carved by skilled artisans.  As it turns out, one does not have to travel all the way to Germany to visit an authentic German Clock Shop.  There is one right here in the USA, in the town of Frankenmuth, Michigan ( and ).
 The exterior of the shop has the design synonamous with an old-time German village, with its white walls,  brown timber trim, window boxes full of flowers, and colorful shutters on all the windows.  You can find that "OPEN" sign lit up inside the window, 7 days a week.  In addition to being open every day of the week, they also have a  secure website ( ), where you can order anything they sell, 24 hours a day!
 One thing I noticed when visiting small German villages, is how immaculately "groomed" were the parks, yards, and grounds of the shops there.  The same is true for the Frankenmuth Clock Company!
 In addition to their inventory of clocks, a person can order "made in Germany" souvenirs and decorations from their website.  Some of these items are also in stock, at the Frankenmuth location.
Representations of deer antlers are not only a common feature of wood sculpture for German cuckoo clocks, but "the real thing"  can also be  souvenir for your belt or key chain.
 Besides cuckoo clocks, there are dozens of "special interest" or novelty clocks, such as the ones shown in this photo, that might appeal to someone with a military background.  (Whereas a grown man might be teased for playing with miniature army tanks and navy destroyers on the desk in his office,  if these "toys" had a clock as part of their design, he might be the envy of his co-workers!)
 Frankenmuth Clock Company has over 1000 clocks on display, including rhythm clocks, wall clocks, mantel clocks, anniversary clocks, grandfather clocks, and various designs of 3D wooden clocks. 
 All these images of clocks came to my mind, when I was trying to visualize a way to learn this First Place 4 Health ( ) memory verse.  It says "My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises." (Psalm 119:148)  I am quite sure that my eyes would DEFINITELY stay open all night long if every one of these clocks were saying "cuckoo", every fifteen minutes, all night long!  (Perhaps that is where the phrase "driving me cuckoo" originated!)  I would DEFINITELY have to be meditating on God's promises, in order to keep from going "cuckoo" in such circumstances!  So the next time you cannot sleep at night, just start meditating on God's promises----that will give you "Miles of Smiles"!  Tricia
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