Sunday, December 29, 2013


 If you have tuned into the NBC network this week, you have no doubt heard the daily countdown they mention, in preparation for their broadcasting of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, in Sochi, Russia.  The poster shown in this photo of the 1948 Olympic Games is a reminder that we can all be thankful that such announcements can be made.  That is because the 1948 games were the first ones to be held in 12 years.  The Olympic Games were cancelled in 1940 and 1944 because of World War II.  They were also cancelled in 1916, because of World War I.  The photo shows the 5 intertwined rings, representing unity of the 5 inhabited continents---Africa, America, Asia, Oceania, and Europe.  The colors---blue, yellow, black, green, red---were chosen because every nation has at least one of them in its national flag. 
 When a city wins the bid to host the Olympic Games, it usually means there will be a boom in construction, as new sporting venues have to be built to accommodate the influx of large crowds of fans who come to witness this gathering of athletes from around the world.  The current promotions being done about the Sochi winter games make me recall my experience with the winter Olympic games in Vancouver, Canada in 2010 (which is where I took this photo of one of the hockey arenas used for those games). 
 Besides the thousands of spectators that witness an event in person, there will be millions of spectators around the world who will witness the event on television, and on-line streaming via the Internet.
 Considering the proliferation of smart phones with Internet access, the number of "witnesses" via smart phones, may break the 2012 record of the Summer Olympics, which were said to be the most watched event in U.S. history!
 Often, the elite athletes we witness on television may take on a "larger than life" persona.  These "hockey players" in Vancouver, Canada, are an example of that! 
 If you ever have the opportunity to visit a city that is hosting the Olympic games, you will probably find that it is as much fun to enjoy all the "free" promotions going on throughout the host city, as it is to sit in on the actual event!
 This mischievous hockey player  on stilts, outside one of the venues, had swiped a young boys cap, and was making him look high up in the sky to try to find it!
 There are always more people in town to witness the spectacle of the Olympic games, than there are tickets to an event, so large outdoor TV screens around the city keep the crowds updated on the latest competition results.
 Likewise, there are all kind of performers and musicians to entertain the crowds between competitions.  In keeping with the intertwined rings of the Olympic emblem, this dancer in Vancouver did some very fancy footwork with intertwined rings, while the band played behind her!
 One witnesses an amazing variety of people when you are in a large crowd.  On the day I took this photo, I was completely bundled up with several layers, from head to toe, while this young man seemed very comfortable with just his shorts, and "red maple leaf tattoos" to keep him warm!
 It seems that rain or shine, wet or dry, cold or hot---the crowds are not deterred!
 I was particularly intrigued by the sport of curling, which was a part of the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games.  It is definitely NOT something I had ever witnessed in Arkansas!
 My mind recently went back to the photos I had taken at the Olympics because I was trying to think of a visual aid to one of the memory verses for my First Place 4 Health ( ) class for the phrase "crowd of witnesses".  However, when I re-read the verse, I realized I was using the wrong phraseology.  The actual words in Hebrews 12:1 say "cloud of witnesses", and not "crowd of witnesses":  "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."  So, perhaps, this photo I took of the Olympic rings lit up on a barge in the Vancouver waterfront---completely surrounded by clouds---is a better visual aid for this verse.  It is a reminder that even though we can't see them, the saints of heaven who have gone before us, are the witnesses to the race we are running here on earth.  And they are cheering for us!  If you would like to join in the cheering for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, just log on to to find out how.  It will give you "miles of smiles"!!  Tricia
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Saturday, December 14, 2013


 The cold winter days can make one reflect on times in the past when you were in "paradise".  In my case, the reflections in my mind, go back to my visit to Paradise, Pennsylvania!  Living all my life in Arkansas, I had never even heard of Paradise, Pennsylvania, until a young Mennonite woman who was assisting with the care of my elderly mother, told me she was originally from Paradise, Pennsylvania.  The name had such an allure to it, I determined I would like to go there some time in the future.
 Paradise is located in an area called "Pennsylvania Dutch Country" or "Amish Country",  by many tourism publications.  For this reason, the visitor needs to be aware that just because something has the word "Amish" in it, it may---or may not---be associated with an authentic Amish lifestyle.
 The photos shown here were taken on a Sunday afternoon drive through "Amish Country", and are simply posted to show what you might see when you drive through the area on any given day.  I cannot verify the authenticity of places that use the word "Amish" in their name.
 I am very thankful to the folks at the Country Living Inn ( ) for making this scenic drive possible!  Their expertise with the local area, is something I can highly recommend!
 I was a passenger in the owner's private vehicle, and took lots of "windshield tour" images, such as this one, of local teens enjoying a game of volleyball.
 There were numerous horse-drawn buggies out on the highways, so I was able to see a variety of different styles!
 The graphic art work demonstrated in this photo amused me, as I could imagine the farmer thinking he would help out all the "city folk" driving through, by spelling out the name of what they were looking at---a field!
 When you are out on many of the back roads in Pennsylvania Dutch country, you will see they are narrow, have no shoulders, and have a yellow line down the middle, prohibiting passing.  This may mean that you have to be behind a slow, horse-drawn vehicle for quite a distance before you can pass.  Therefore, it is best that you not be in a hurry when you take such a drive!
 My guide told me this building was an old-fashioned "one room schoolhouse", still in use for local families that choose to educate their kids in such a place.  
 When I saw this lush, green field, I sort of wished there had been a "sign" like in the previous image, telling me what was growing there, because I had no idea what this particular crop would turn out to be!
 The highways roll up and down the countryside, with no passing lanes or "cuts" made through  them to accommodate those with speed as their priority.  Like I said, it's best if you are not in a hurry!
 You never know when you may top a hill and be smack dab behind an Amish boy in roller blades (carrying his regular shoes!).  I had to wonder if he was off on a quest to go "court" a young lady further on down the road!
 Because of the opportunity to see the deciduous trees in all their magnificent colors, autumn is a popular time for tourists in this part of the country.  This business, located in Intercourse, Pennsylvania, is a popular tourist destination.
 Some shops use the more familiar Conestoga-type wagon in the displays.  
 This scene showing several small fields, growing a variety of different crops, is vastly different from a scene one might see flying over the western United States;  in that area you are more likely to see how gigantic circular irrigation units, provide water to miles of fields, of a single type of crop.
 Private vehicles, vans, buggies, and roller blades are not the only modes of transportation---you will also encounter plenty of motorcycles!  One reason for this, is the large Harley-Davidson Motorcycle factory located in Pennsylvania.  
 Since some of the residents in this area do not rely on electricity, you will probably get to see some of the familiar-looking windmills, from days gone by.
 One needs to be very cautious at intersections in this part of the world, because most horses cannot read "stop" signs,.  If the driver of the buggy happened to have dozed off because of the familiarity of the route, the horse will not be reigned back to stop!  Rather, it is headed for the barn!
 I enjoyed following this family for quite some distance.  The ones in the back of the buggy seemed to be thoroughly enjoying their "al fresco" ride through the countryside; likewise, the pig-tailed young girl seemed to be enjoying following them on her bicycle!
 The main thing that triggered my memory of my visit to Amish country was a Bible verse I am trying to memorize for the next session of First Place 4 Health ( ) at my local church ( ).  1 Peter 2:9 says, "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light."  I want to always remember that some of God's "chosen people" have "chosen" to dress  differently than the rest of the world .  Yet we are ALL called to declare God's praises!  I not only want to declare God's praises, but also the praises of those people who have chosen a different way of life in rural Pennsylvania.  Getting to visit there gave me "Miles of smiles"!!  Tricia
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Wednesday, December 11, 2013


 The riverboat, shown in this photo and named the Belle of Louisville, is having a 100-year birthday party, and YOU are invited!  I took this photo of the beautiful piece of history, when it was participating in "Tall Stacks", held in Cincinnati, Ohio, a while back.  Just as the street cars in San Francisco have been declared a National Historic Landmark, likewise the Belle of Louisville was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1989.  It is completely paddlewheel-driven, and draws only 5 feet of water.  It is the oldest operating Mississippi River-style steamboat in the world!
 For six days in October, along a beautiful waterfront park on the Ohio River, there will be a huge celebration of riverboat heritage, with live performances from a wide genre of musicians.  The Louisville, Kentucky, event is called the Centennial Festival of Riverboats, and is being held October 14 - 19, 2014.  Besides the gathering of nine riverboats from across the United States.  The Centennial Festival of Riverboats has been rated as one of the Top 100 events in North America in 2014.  
 The great thing about going to live musical performances in a riverfront park location, is the "backdrop" of cruising riverboats, as one enjoys the sounds of the music.
 And, if the performance stage is away from the river's edge, local artists can display their talent with a make-believe stage background!
 Just as the Spirit of Cincinnati is shown lining up for a special race on the day I took this photo, so there will be steamboat races in Louisville.
 Often at these big riverboat festivals in the USA, there are so many  big boats participating, that they cannot all have direct access to the dock.  In that case, the boats "raft up" together, and guests must cross the bow of one boat, to gain access to the boat on the far side.  
 Of course, being so close to another boat's passenger deck, filled with folks like yourself who are there to have a good time,  leads to some interesting banter back and forth! 
 The Spirit of Peoria was at the Cincinnati event, and will also be at the Louisville festival.  This boat captain has at his command, two Caterpillar 3412 diesel engine generator sets that will take him up and down the river with ease, even when the boat is loaded down with passengers!
 This beautiful floating palace is said to be one of the last true paddle wheelers.  At the website, you can buy tickets to take a ride on a variety of different paddle wheelers in attendance.  Besides buying a ticket to be on board for the Parade of Boats or the Opening Ceremonies, you can also buy tickets for an actual race!
 When you read that there will be races at the event, and you see how big the boats are, and the limited width of the river, you may ask yourself, "How is that going to work?"  The answer is, all of the boats do not line up all at once, and go full power at the sound of the starting gun.  Rather, the competition is divided into segments, with two boats racing against each other, and the winner progressing forward, like in a basketball tournament.
 When you see how low these riverboats sit down in the water, you can understand their widespread appeal back in the "olden days" of North America's history.
 The General Jackson is shown in this photo, and it, too, is scheduled to be in Louisville for the festival.  It is a 300 foot paddle wheeler and claims to be one of the largest showboats in the country.  It has 4 decks, with a two-story Victorian theater, where live music shows perform.  
 I took this photo of a storyteller in period costume, at the Cincinnati event, and news releases about the Festival of Riverboats in Louisville, indicate that there will also be storytellers stationed in waterfront park around the boats, to entertain visitors with tales of yesteryear.  
 Steam cannot only power a boat up and down a river, but it can also be harnessed to play a melody.  Getting to hear the sounds from the gleaming brass pipes on the Calliope of one of the boats, was a first for me!
 If you are a small boat owner and think you will just drive your motorboat up to the event, and access it from the water, you may want to do some further investigation.  When I have attended big river festivals such as this, there is a strictly-enforced perimeter of restricted water surrounding the official site of the festival.  You can still enjoy boating on the river, but perhaps not as close to the action as what you would like.  I took a photo of these private boats on the Ohio River, quite a ways down stream from the festival boat headquarters.
 In October, one starts to see advertisements for "haunted house adventures" or a "spook house", and water festivals adjust the theme slightly and have a "haunted boat" tour.
 Although  this bridge over the Ohio River is plenty high enough to avoid touching the tall stacks of this riverboat, most of the original steamboats had stacks that were hinged, so they could be lowered when passing  under bridges.
 There will be a variety of cruises offered, such as meal cruises, sightseeing cruises, fireworks cruises, and dance cruises.  I took this photo of a band performing on the upper deck of the General Jackson, to a very appreciative audience, during one of the evening sunset cruises!
 I took this photo of a riverside church on one of the afternoon sightseeing cruises.  Just as  boats may have the word "spirit" in their name, this church is also associated with the word "spirit".  In fact, it was the Holy Spirit that got me to remembering the photos I had taken at the Cincinnati Tall Stacks festival.  I was trying to think of a visual aid that would help me with one of the memory verses for the current session of First Place 4 Health ( ) that I am leading at church ( ).  The verse says "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom."  2 Corinthians 3:17
 In the USA, we not only have freedom in the Lord, but we have the freedom to travel!  So get out there and enjoy this big beautiful country we have!  Feel the spirit of exploration as you learn about riverboat history, by actually taking a ride on one!  Just log on to to get your tickets.  You can check out other activities in the Louisville area by visiting .  This rollin'-on-the-river adventure will give you many "nautical" MILES OF SMILES!  Tricia
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