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I have not really abandoned this blog, but I am in the process of transitioning to a new one.  I will get to work on, and start queuing up new posts here until I am ready to make the final transition.

I am moving posts from here to there one at a time (though I am compiling my National Geographic posts into one post per issue as I go) and making a few small edits as I repost.  Once all of the posts that I have here are at the new site, I will stop posting here completely.  I will let you know when that is.

The new site is http://www.to-hither.com and I am putting new content there as well.  For example, posts about my recent trip to New York City will be new content that will only be available there.  I will, however, keep up with my current schedule here for the foreseeable future.
The River Walk extends from Brackenridge Park to Mission San Francisco de la Espada.  Only the middle section, which passes through downtown San Antonio, is really the tourist attraction.  And that part of the River Walk almost didn't happen.  In 1921, the San Antonio River flooded, with devastating results.  50 people died in the flood.  And that was not the only time the river had flooded.  There is a U-bend in the river right downtown and which was considered to be particularly dangerous.  Following the 1921 flood, though, the city was considering just paving the bend of the river over into a sort of storm drain and being done with it.

This would, of course, have been a grave mistake.  San Antonio takes in millions of dollars from tourists every year, and a not-insignificant portion of it comes from people visiting this particular section of the River Walk.  And having part of the river paved over would pretty much have prevented the River Walk entirely, since a storm drain does not really say "tourism."  Without the River Walk, the city would have missed out on that money.  I think that this would have been  a mistake from an ecological and public safety standpoint as well.  If the bend had been paved over, all of those trees and habitat for animals would be gone, shoved underneath the streets of San Antonio.  Additionally, if someone fell  into the river just a little bit upstream, it would have been very difficult to rescue the person once he or she went into the storm drain.  In past floods, the water became fairly high on street level.  There are photographs of the flood in 1913, for example, show water at least knee-deep at street level.  If another flood like that had hit after the river had been paved over, where would all of that water have gone?  I am not a physicist by any stretch of the imagination, but I have a hard time believing that enough water to reach two feet above street level would stay put under the pavement.  I suspect that the end result of paving over the San Antonio River, even if the paving was at street level, was that they would have had to fix flood damage and damaged pavement.

Instead, the city began work on actual flood control measures.  In 1925, construction began on a dam upstream in Olmos Park, for example.  The rainfall from farther north builds up behind the dam, rather than flowing into the river.  Then, in 1929, flood gates were installed at the beginning and end of the U-bend and a channel was dug connecting the two ends.  When the river threatens to flood, the flood gates are closed and the water simply flows through that channel and onward south towards the Gulf of Mexico.

The River Walk is the brainchild of architect Robert H. H. Hugman.  He fought against the storm drain plan and instead offered a plan for turning the river into a region of restaurants and shops that he wanted to call "The Shops of Aragon and Romula."  This name, of course, never "took."  The city decided ot follow Hugman's plan, but construction was delayed by the Great Depression,  In 1938, money became available from the Works Progress Administration.  Construction continued until 1941 and soon afterwards, Hugman showed his belief in his project by moving his office down to the river level.  Close to the intersection of Losoya and Commerce Streets, there is a building with a rounded corner.  If you take the stairs down to the river level right there, you will see Hugman's name at the same level as the street and his office is just beneath that overhang.  Five years later, in 1946, the first restaurant, Casa Rio, opened up on the other side of Commerce Street.

I will probably do another post on the River Walk detailing some of the other buildings that can be seen along the downtown section of the River Walk and perhaps two more, one on the Museum Reach section, which extends north of downtown, and another on the Mission Reach section, which goes southwards.

Greece Debt Deadline Approaching

I discussed the National Geographic article on the debt that Greece owes to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in my May 23, 2015 blog post.

The IMF has demanded repayment of 1.6 billion Euros which Greece simploy does not have. As a result of the impending collapse, people are panicking.  There are runs on the banks, which have put caps of 60 Euros per day for withdrawals.  and people are considering canceling their travel plans to Greece, which would be an even worse setback to the already struggling country.

The IMF have offered a bailout, which was soundly, and (in my opinion) wisely, rejected by the people of Greece in a referendum held on July 5, 2015.

Interestingly, a man in London has come up with the idea of crowdfunding the payoff amount.  He insists that this is a legitimate attempt to raise the money that Greece needs so desperately, and with 36 hours remaining in the campaign as I post this, it looks like they will not make the deadline.  However, they are approaching 2 million Euros in pledges so far and the numbers go up every few minutes.  If you would be interested in checking it out, you can find it here: Greek Bailout Fund.

The man behind this campaign has promised that if the goal is not met, he will refund all of the money sent for the campaign.  The perks offered if the campaign succeeds, he promises, all will come from Greece and will be mailed by residents of Greece.  I just found out about this two hours ago and think that it seems like a decent idea.


Progress on my Photo Scanning Project

So what originally started with flipping through my photo albums to try to create a more or less comprehensive list  of where I have traveled has become a major photo scanning project.  In the last month I have scanned in over 1,200 pictures and I still have two photo albums and about half of a photo box to go through.  And those are just the things that have travel photos.  I also have boatloads of family photos to go through someday.

I ended up ordering a new scanner that supposedly scans negatives in addition to prints in order to make this project go a bit faster.  Everything I have read says that you get the best scans from negatives, so I figured I'd give it a try.  I have the prints for most of those photographs, so if scanning the negatives doesn't work out as well as I've been told it will, I can just go back to scanning the prints.  I couldn't find a local store that carried the scanner that I want, so I ended up ordering it from Amazon.  It should be here sometime in the next week.

And on top of everything else, I cannot find any photos from either of my honeymoons.  I just had the one marriage, but we took two honeymoons.  My ex didn't have any vacation time yet when we got married, so we took a long weekend and went to Indianapoiis for our first honeymoon.  Then, once we both had vacation time, we took a little more than a week and drove to Florida for our second honeymoon.  I know we took pictures, but cannot find a single one.  If they don't turn up, I'll contact my ex and see if by some chance he has them.

Travel Finance: Grocery Shopping

I don't know if this is going to be a series, or if I will work it into my regular schedule or not, but in light of the fact that I'm about two weeks away from my 2015 vacation, I've been thinking about going grocery shopping on my vacations.

Off the top of my head, I have visited supermarkets in Seattle, Los Angeles, Maidstone, Wells, London, Toronto, Kailua-Kona, Asheville, Kitty Hawk, and Rome.  That's in addition to many supermarket trips during our visits to family in Chicago and Florida.

I like to visit supermarkets for three reasons.  One, it saves a bundle of money.  We usually pick up some baked goods and some fresh produce at the store.  Then we can take it with us as an on-the-go breakfast when we leave the hotel in the morning.  The hotel breakfast can run from around $5 to $10 per person.  A banana and a muffin is generally quite a bit less than that.  Two, it saves a bundle of calories.  Restaurant portions tend to be huge and most chefs load the food up with fat, which adds calories.  Stocking up on bananas or other fresh produce at the local supermarket lets us fill up on something less fattening than we would find in the restaurants. Three, it gives us a chance to see how the locals really live.  Normally when traveling, most people go from historic site to historic site or from scenic view to scenic view, without any thought for the fact that this historic site or scenic view is someone's home.  Additionally, as I want to live somewhere other than South Texas in my lifetime, I travel with a view towards how I would fare living there.  Visiting the local supermarkets gives me a better idea of what life is like for the locals than I would get just hitting the tourist attractions.

Now, to start researching supermarkets in Manhattan for my upcoming trip . . .


More Thoughts on Travel Destinations

The cities that I have called "home" (though technically, I lived  in the suburbs of Chicago) are two of the biggest tourist desinations in the United States.  The 2015 Top 25 Destinations list at TripAdvisor has Chicago in 2nd and San Antonio in 24th place, to be specific.

My first visits to both cities was in 1993.  I visited San Antonio when I came down to find an apartment.  I was still living in the Chicago area at the time, so that counts as travel.  Then once we moved down here, my now-ex and I went to visit my parents for the Fourth of July weekend.  Since I was living in San Antonio at the time, that counts as travel, as well.

If I were to include Chicago and San Antonio as if they were travel destinations, I would include them after my 1992 visit to Wyandotte Caves.  However, since there is just so much to see and I know them so well, I could get totally hung up on them and never be able to make it to my 1995 trip to Seattle.

So I'm thinking about including them as another topic.  Right now, I'm doing two National Geographic writeups, then one on my past travel.  I could stick Chicago and San Antonio (taking turns between them) in between the two National Geographic writeups, so that the pattern would be National Geographic, Chicago*/San Antonio, National Geographic, past travel.  And starting in July, I will probably be (temporarily at least) adding something on current travel, since my son's and my vacation, to New York City, with a side trip to Philadelphia, is this coming July.

*Bear in mind that I haven't been to Chicago since 2010.  As a result, my information may be ever-so-slightly out-of-date.  I am saving up for a long weekend in Chicago sometime in 2016, just as soon as I figure out what long weekend we will want to go.
It's early and I'm not terribly happy with my phrasing of that subject line, but at least it's up there.  I will probably change it later.

When I first started travel blogging, I thought that I might start posting travel-related news stories.  But so much news is bad, to begin with, and travel-related news tends to boil down to transportation-related tragedies (cruise ships capsizing and so forth), or travel "advisories" telling people to stay out of areas because of violence or the threat of kidnapping or things of that nature.

But I finally have what I think is a good one: The Science Of Why You Should Spend Your Money On Experiences, Not Things .

I have always thought that my pleasure in spending money on experiences was odd. I very, very seldom think "If only I had that (television, car, boat, whatever) my life would be so much better." I do buy books and electronics, but those, too, are experiential. Reading a book is, after all, an experience and if reading the book wasn't pleasurable enough that I look forward to reading it again someday, I sell it. I use my computer to learn and to connect to other people, both of which are experiences.

But, apparently, most people are like this. According to the studies mentioned in this article, the longer we own a thing, the less pleasure we get from it. However, the longer a time passes since an experience, the more we enjoy the memory of the experience. And we are more likely to bond with others over shared experiences than over owning the same things (though I have seen quite a bit of bonding with others over things, particularly in the case of cars in my life).


National Geographic, October 1888, Part 2

Geographic Methods in Geologic Investigation, by William Morris Davis

Well this was every bit as gripping as I expected it to be.  Apparently, in 1888, schools didn't have geography courses as we know them today.  Also, apparently, the intended audience for National Geographic was men (judging by the assumption that the people who attend school are boys).  Also, thank heavens for Librvox.  I was able to listen to this article as I scanned in photographs from my family's 1988 vacation to New York City.  I made a good 1,000 steps according to my pedometer in the process, as well.

The basic premise is that by studying how things look now, we can draw conclusions about what happened in the past. One of the examples that Davis gives (relatively late in the article, to my mind) is that we don't need to watch the acorn sprout in order to know that that's where the oak tree came from.  We spend a lot of time in New England here, from discussing the age of the Appalachians to talking about lava sheets in the Connecticut Valley.  Much of the rest of the article discusses examples from the United States.  This may be due to the fact that the publication is named "National Geographic" and not "International Geographic," but also Davis makes the point that the United States is the first nationt to make a detailed description of the topography of the country.  In fact, Davis says "the systematic study of topography is largely American," due to studies of the topography of the United States done in the period from around 1840 to around 1870.  This study was not done by the United States Geological Survey, however, since the USGS was not formed until 1879.

Davis goes into how to tell a young landform from an old one and by his argument, the Himalayas are much younger than the Appalachians.  And, indeed, that is still the current theory. The Himalayas are likely the youngest and the Appalachians are likely to be the oldest.

The article ends with a plea for more geographic instruction in schools and offers the idea that models be used rather than maps.  Davis's first idea was definitely implemented; my son and I both had geography courses our Freshman years of high school.  At least in my course, however, we didn't use so many models.  We stil relied largely on maps.

Our next October 1888 article, The Classification of Geographic Forms by Genesis promises to be another real page-turner.  Fortunately, however, The Classification of Geographic Forms by Genesis is only ten pages long, as compared to the 16 of Geographic Methods in Geologic Investigation.
I've found documentation (mostly photograph albums) of most of our trips from 1977 through 1989. I have no idea where we went in 1983 through 1986, however. Somehow, this search for data has morphed into a project where I am scanning in all of our old photographs. And I am now in search of software that I can use to modify the metadata and label these pictures with their locations.

Speaking of the search for documentation, my dad and I have been discussing our trip to Niagara Falls. I was certain that the bridge to the Canadian side was the first time I had ever been to Canada, and that we went to Quebec City and Montreal in 1981, so it seemed to make sense that we had been to Niagara Falls before 1981. My dad was certain that we went to Niagara Falls in 1985.

It turns out we were both wrong. I found the schedule from the Quebec City and Montreal trip and it turns out that Niagara Falls was our first stop on that trip. So it was my first visit to Canada, but had not been in an earlier year.  I still have not found our photo album from that trip, however.

I'm still trying to find documentation of our early trips to Florida. I think that my first trip to Florida was in 1969, though it might have been 1970. My mom and her brother took me to stay at my grandfather's house and I have heard stories of it, but don't have any concrete memories. I remember more about our trip in 1972, and I know that there is a photo album of that trip somewhere around here. I have seen the album a lot of times over the years. In fact, if I were much of an artist, I could draw some of the pictures in it reasonably accurately. There is another album of another trip to Florida, likely 1973 or 1974, that should be in the same box. If we can find the box.

We've Found Some of Our Old Photo Albums

I can remember a lot of the places we went when I was growing up, but cannot remember which years we went where.  So I've been digging in our garage for our old photograph albums.  I have found two boxes of them so far, and the first that I had my dad drag out has 1978 and 1979, which means that my memories did serve me correctly regarding where we went in 1980, even though I haven't found the album yet.  I also can remember 1988 and 1989, so I just have to fill in the years from 1981 to 1987 and see if I have anything on any smaller trips we might have taken in 1990 and 1991.

A lot of the photos are weird and faded-looking and I'm not sure if that's because they haven't aged well, or if my standards for a "good" photograph have changed that much in the last 35 years.  I suspect it's the latter.

That reminds me.  I also need to contact my ex-husband to see if he has any of our photos from after we switched to digital photographs in the mid-1990s.  I think I have all of the analog ones in my garage, as well.