Archive for October, 2015

Nancy’s Dream Vacation Pt. 1

October 12, 2015

   

It was no surprise in the summer of 97,  to those who knew  Nancy Willson Gokey, when she announced  her  and good friend Monica Johnson,  a Sonora school teacher,  had booked a two week dream vacation to the portals of the Austria Alp’s,  the picturesque Sound of Music town of Salzburg Austria,  and from the majestic Alp’s, the two would journey to Egypt, the pyramids, the Sinai and the shores of the Mediterranean.

 

July 11th,   Nancy and Monica boarding a SFO British Airline 747 at 6:20 p.m.  for the 10 hour 10 minute nonstop flight to London.  Arriving at Heathrow Airdrome at 12:30 p.m. Greenwich mean time on the 12th,  an eight hour time difference.    The two having a 4 ½ hour layover,  boarding a Lufthansa Airline Airbus 320 for the hour and a half flight to Frankfurt Germany.  The 9:50 p.m. one hour flight arriving at Sandburg’s W. A Mozart Airport.

 

    

From the Gablerbraeu, StarInn hotel..   Nancy and Monica  looking forward to exploring this culturally historic city.   Their tour itinerary having scheduled a Sound of Music dinner show,  a sound of music tour of the scenic movie landmarks,  and a sound of music evening Marionette Show.  With a  bountiful itinerary of other tours available, more than sufficient to  fill their four day stay.

    

The two starting their elucidative journey venturing to the 241 mile long Salzach river which flows into the Johann  Strauss  music acclaimed Danube.   Viewing Wolfgang Medias Mozart’s birthplace home on the river’s edge, and from the pedestrian river bridge,  able to behold the majestic Hohensalzburg Fortress in the distance.  Their walking tour taking them to the center of historic Salzburg.   The Residenz Brunnen fountain residing in the center of the old town square.

     

The square erected between 1656 to 1661, enclosed within the Salzburg Cathedral grounds,  founded by Saint Rupert in 774 on the remnants of a roman town.  The cathedral was rebuilt in 11 81 after a fire,  and  in the seventeenth century, rebuilt in the Baroque style under Prince/Bishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau.  the Salzburg Cathedral still contains the baptismal font in which composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was baptized.   Continuing on to St. Peters Abbey,  the benedictine monastery and former cathedral, considered one of the oldest German speaking  monasteries.

   

The sentinel Hohensalzburg fortress, beckoning  from its vestige overlook.   Construction of the fortress beginning in 1077  and gradually expanding thru the centuries. The ring walls and towers being built in 1462 under Prince-Archbishop Burkhard  von Weißpriach II.  Starting in 1498, Archbishop Leonhard von Keutschach installing the magnificent state apartments, a chapel and with the richly decorated golden hall,  indicates the fortress served the archbishops not only as a sanctuary in times of adversity, but as a home.  Nancy and Monica entering, the two  discovering  a treasure trove of the heirlooms, princely artifacts and magnificent rooms,  one could spend hours emulsified in the grandeur.

   

The evening found the two enjoying the sound of music dinner show at the Stieglkeller restaurant and gardens.  The vacationers enraptured by the local musical  presentation of the songs from the Rogers and Hammerstein 1959 play and 1965 movie, the Story of the von Trapp Family Singers.  An enlightening  video narrated by Maria von Trapp was viewed,  giving insight to some of the events and realities encountered in their exodus

     

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he 9:30 morning  Sound of Music guided tour commencing, viewing the Mirabell Gardens and Pegasus Fountain, where Maria and the children danced in the movie.   A stop at the Leopoldskron Palace and Gardens  where the famous boating scene was filmed.   and  at the Herbert von Karajan Square with the famous “Horse Pond”, which dates back to the 17th century,  where the prince-archbishops’ stables used to wash off and groomed the parade horses.

   

Stopping at the Hellbrunn Palace,  behind the palace walls are some  60 hectares of artistically landscape gardens,  and the gazebo where Liesl and Franz sang to each other  the enduring song,  16 going on 17.   On to the Nonnberg Convent,   the Abbey is the oldest female convent north of the Alps, and the courtyard of the abbey is where the song “Maria” was staged.

 

The heart of the old city center is Residencz Square.  In the film, Maria crossed this square singing , “I have confidence”,  while on her way to the Trapp family home for the first time.    At the rock cliff  base of Mönchsberg  Mountain,  named after the Benedictine monks, the church caves overlooking Saint Peter’s Church and Cemetery, the cliff forming  the back wall of the church consecrated in 1178.   Saint Peter’s Church can be seen in the opening scene, where the military was searching for the von Trapps,  the family hiding behind the tombstones.

   

The two once again fulfilling a quest, a morning tour of the 500 year old  Salzbergwerk Dürrnberg underground salt mine located on the Dürrnberg plateau,  above the town of Hallein.    Disembarking from the gray line bus at the entrance to the mine,  the group provided protective coveralls for their personal attire before boarding the miners train, venturing them 1300 feet into the mountain.  Inside, instructions on mounting the impressive 138 foot wooden slide down to the grotto, and brine lake.  for many an exhilarating experience.  Once below, an informative presentation given of the salt extraction process,  the utilization of the addition of water, turning the salt into a brine and pumping it to the surface, where the water would be evaporated.  The domed underground area donned with emphasizing lighting, and a underground boating experience on the brine lake before the group exited the subterranean  cathedral .

There, coveralls returned,  the tour continuing in the 770 year old town of salt mine town of Hallein.  Nancy and Monica entering the pilgrimage church Maria Dürrnberg,  amazed at the pristine chapel and the numerous historic artifacts that they found to be characteristic of the inherent Austrian culture.  A return to Salzburg, the day’s journey coming to an conclusion.

      

In 1938, national socialist workers party secretary Bormann,  embraced the construction of  a tea-house on the 6217 Ft. Kehlstein mountain.  Bormann’s goal was to impress diplomats from all over the world, to witness what German engineers could accomplish.  the original name of the tea house was the “D” ,   referring to “Diplomats”,   Later commonly known as Kehlsteinhaus,   the Eagle’s Nest.  The engineering project, including a 11,000 square foot structure erected on the rocky promontory,  included a tunnel,  elevator and employed 3000 well paid Germans, Austrians and Italians.   It was completed in 13 months,  and presented to Chancellor Hitler in 1939 as a gift on his 50th birthday.

   

   

The morning eagle nest tour bus leaving at 9:00 a m,  an overcast drizzle greeting on their past thru of Berchisgaden,  continuing the four mile elevated drive to the eagles nest parking area and entrance tunnel.  The group entering the 430 foot tunneled entryway inside Kehlsteinhaus mountain.   arriving at a circular reception room to embark on the ornate brass and mirror walled elevator for the 400 foot ride up.

  

The two somewhat disappointed, the weather not cooperating, the world acclaimed majestic view from the eagles nest was somewhat obscured with low cloud overcast.  Inside experiencing the presence of a tea-house ,  but sensing an indelibly inscribed atmosphere of a detrimental history.  From the quaint town of Hallein the Gray Line motoring along the Kings Lake-Ache,  continuing to the Obersalzberg, traversing the scenic valleys below the ever towering Alp’s.  A final stop at Berchtisgaden  before returning to Salzburg.

   

The morning bidding a farewell to Salzburg,  Nancy and Monica boarding  a 1020 a.m. flight to Frankfurt,  then according a Lufthansa Airline Airbus 320  to London Heathrow, arriving at 2:00 in the afternoon.   checking in at the Nevern Hotel,  the two opt for a golden tours hop on, hop off,  bus tour to the Kensington Palace and Gardens.  The Estate made up of several buildings,  rental apartments to bloodline royalty and other members of state.   a residence of the British Royal Family since the 17th century, and  currently the official London residence of Diana, Princess of  Wales, sons William and Harry.  The two enjoying the exhibits and the pristine Gardens.

 

 

Their visiting time having elapsed, a Heathrow departure  having arrived, Nancy and Monica boarding an afternoon British Airlines 320, bidding a farewell to London,  their journey to continue,  Cairo and Egypt awaits.

   

 

 

Nancy’s 1997 Dream Vacation – Pt 2

October 11, 2015

    

Their dream vacation continuing, Nancy Willson Gokey and Monica Johnson seated aboard a British Airlines 320 having fulfilled a lasting memory in the historic Austrian city of Salzburg.  A late night arrival at Cairo Egypt’s International Airport, the two provided transportation by Cross Country Tours to the Indiana Hotel, their two week journey into the anamnesis of  Egypt having begun.

 

A view of the Nile from the Hotels roof top garden restaurant was only surpassed with their morning visit to the Cairo Tower.  the towers appearance constructed to evoke a pharaonic lotus plant, an iconic symbol of Ancient Egypt.  It is crowned by a circular observation deck, and a rotating restaurant with a view of greater Cairo, making a rotation  every 70 minutes.  The two crossing over the 4,130 mile north eastern flowing  Nile, the longest river in Africa.  It’s Cairo banks projecting a park like setting, flourishing tree line gardens with horse and carriage tours available.

 

Their anticipation heighten with an afternoon visit to the acclaimed Cairo Egypt Museum, built in 1901, one of the largest museums in the region.  Entering the museums main room, Nancy and Monica were awed by the artifact’s and exhibits, a residing display of the historical past and culture of the land,  and in one respect, projecting a presence of  familiarity,  a probability, the two having viewed a lifetime of Hollywood movies scripted about ancient Egypt.

 

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he early morning found them boarding a compartmental European style train to Luxor and the Emilio Hotel to meet with the Adventure Center Tour group.  Luxor constructed in 1400 BC on the east bank of the Nile,  characterized as the world’s greatest open-air museum,  it includes the ruins of  several temple complexes.  The tour groups adventure beginning with the Luxor Temple, where many pharaohs of Egypt were crowned.  It’s Temple of  and the columns of sun court being commissioned by King Amenhotep the third.    The Mortuary Temple of Ramses II and the Temple of Ramses III also remain.   The Mosque of Abu Haggag stands atop the ruins of Luxor Temple,  Abu Haggag was a descendant of the prophet Muhammad.

      

The two returning from the history laden temple to what they thought would be the 20th century, but finding the hubbub of street vendors and an open-air markets, their endeavors and everyday presence having remained the same for the past millennium.  Still an ongoing public market place, not only for visitors, but frequented by the city’s population.  The afternoon traveling to The Karnak Temple Complex,  1.5 miles from Luxor. The temple comprises a vast mix of decayed temples, chapels, pylons, and other buildings. Construction beginning around 2000 to 1700 B.C.  Approximately thirty pharaohs through the millennia contributed to the buildings, enabling it to reach a size, complexity, and diversity not seen elsewhere.  Gracing the grounds is Karnak Temple Sacred Lake,  the largest of its kind, dug by Tuthmosis the third in 14 seventy three BC  and is lined with a stone wall and has stairways descending into the water.

 

The tour group bidding a farewell to Luxor, boarding a train for the 110 mile journey south to Aswan and a 190 mile road trip southwest to the Abu Simbel complex on the western bank of lake Nasser.   During the reign of Ramses II,  he embarked on an extensive building program throughout Egypt and the region of  Nubia, which Egypt controlled.  Nubia was very important to the Egyptians because it was a source of gold and many other precious trade goods.  Ramses II   built several grand temples in this region in order to impress upon the Nubians of Egypt’s might.   In 1264 BC he started construction of the Abu Temple Complex which was completed in 1244 BC.

 

 

With building of the Aswan Dam on the Nile River,  it was necessary to relocate the temple complex or it would have been submerged during the creation of the reservoir and  Lake Nasser.  There are two temples in the complex,  the Great Temple,  dedicated to himself, Ramses II the,  and the Small Temple, dedicated to his foremost wife,  Queen Nefertari.   The tour group experiencing the reality of the Abu Simbel Temples,   returning to Aswan.

 

A nights rest, Nancy and Monica’s group  venturing across the west bank of the Nile and introduced to the ships of the desert, the camel.  The camel ushered into the middle east about 900 BC.   The twelve member group at first somewhat hesitant, but all being adventurist,  discovering that you didn’t mount an upright camel,  all boarded the kneeling dromedary for their  excursion to the Saint Simeon Monastery,  a fortress-like seventh century monastery,  rebuilt in the 10th century and dedicated to Saint Simeon,  the monastery monks in hopes of  converting the Nubians of lower Nubia to Christianity.

 

The means of transportation to Luxor having changed, boarding a river cruise boat,  their down river Nile  journey continuing.   An itinerary stop at the west bank city of Kom Omobo, a morning venture to the view the ancient remains of the two distinctly different parts of the Kom Omobo temple.  The southern half of the temple was dedicated to the crocodile god Sobek,  god of fertility.  And  the northern part of the temple was dedicated to the falcon god Haroeris,  Horus the Elder.   The afternoon spent aboard the boat enjoying the waters of the Nile, the evening finding a relaxing time, the group doing a rendition of a hokey pokey dance line with even the crew members participating.

 

 

Casting off, the tour continuing to cruise down river, Edfu coming into view,  once a flourishing Greek city and in ancient times  known as Apollinopolis Magna, the city of the God Horus Apollo.  The excursion group embarking, viewing The temple  dedicated to the falcon god Horus, the structure consisting of elements of both Egyptian and Greek architecture dating back to the Ptolemaic times, between 237 and 57 B.C. and considered to be the best pre served in Egypt.  The tours Nile river cruise accomplished with the return to Luxor,  fulfilling  a scheduled visit to the Valley the Kings and Queens still on the itinerary,  the burial site of almost all the kings and pharaohs of the 18th, 19th and 20th dynasties from 1539  to 1075 BC.   Located in the hills on the west side of the Nile,  the majority of the 65 numbered tombs in the Valley of the Kings could be considered as minor tombs,  But some are larger and multi-chambered.  The valley having been a major focus of modern Egyptology exploration for the last two centuries.

 

The visit to the majestic valley of the kings experienced, a return to Luxor’s old town and a brief visit to the Luxor Temple,  the papyrus umbel capitals of the Hypostyle Hall,  the Colossal statue of Ramses II and other yet explored aspects of the grounds.   The morning found Nancy and Monica in the lobby of the Emilio Hotel, their dream vacation journey to continue to the red sea, the Sinai Desert, Saint Catherine’s Monastery, and Mount Sinai where Moses’ received the ten commandments.

 

Nancy’s Dream Vacation – Pt.3

October 10, 2015

Nancy and Monica’s tour group having returned to Luxor from their southern journey south.  The new day found the cross country tour  crossing the eastern desert mountain range, arriving at the red sea expanse of Hurqhada, with its miles of linear coastline and numerous beach-side resorts.    The tour group pausing for an overnight stop,  relaxing with a red sea boating excursion,  enjoying the beach-side hospitality,  a welcomed overnight stop before continuing their journey north,  entering the gulf of Suez.

 

the mornings progression provided a changing view of the ancient landscape and ancient ruins.  observing the fields of contemporary circular pyramids, the petroleum oil tanks of the Egyptian oil industry.   10 miles north of  the city of Suez,  their  bus entering  the Ahmed Hamdi tunnel beneath the Suez canal.    Their journey acquainting the expanse of the eastern desert  heading south down the shores of  the gulf of Suez.  A welcomed afternoon stop for the night at Rahs  Sudr,    the tour group once again able to enjoy the comforts of a resort and the blue waters of the red sea, only this time on the eastern side of the gulf.

 

The continuing journey and a  intersecting highway from the east, their desert surrounding now in transition,   experiencing the slopes of the eastern mountains.  A hesitation at  wadi feran,  wadi,  meaning dry river bed,  and Feran is where Moses struck a rock,  creating a spring to provide drinking water, and also the location of the ruins of an ancient convent.  It’s also the home of the Bedouins, once a nomadic people who were the stewards of the desert sheltered  in goat tents,  but now reside in stone huts.

 

The tour bus reaching the biblical surroundings of St. Catherine’s,  arriving at the Daniela Villiage  their overnight accommodations at the foot of Mount Sinai.  A darken morning awakening,  their predawn excursion beginning. Viewing the concession huts along the way  to purchase  hot drinks or rent a blanket for warmth because of the cool mornings temperature.  Nancy’s and Monica’s Bedouin guided group not alone,  with many others on their trek up Mount Sinai , where Moses’s received the ten commandments. The visitors walking the last 37 hundred 50 stone steps, appropriately  named the 37 hundred 50 steps of repentance, the morning sunrise inscribing an everlasting memory of where they were,   an awareness of what had transpired,  and a inner feeling of humble witnessing.

 

 

The silence of the twilight and awe inspiring sunrise slowly fading, the tour group assembling  for a photos,  and with the dawning of the day,  a better view of their surroundings and the Chapel of the Holy Trinity, a Greek Orthodox church built in 1934 on the ruins of a fourth century church built by the Righteous Julian of the Euphrates. Also south of the chapel reached by a stair case is a cave where Moses’s fasted for forty days and forty nights. A second cave is actually a cleft in the rock where Moses’s was hidden from the Glory of God… “And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a cliff of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by”.

 

On their return,  they were able to view  St Catherine’s monastery from above, pausing  to see the rock where the golden calf was placed by the Israelite’s, its effigy was  to deliver a majestic voice like Gods.   and  viewing the Church of Elijah, commemorates the spot where Elijah fled from Ahab and Jezebel after the killing of the prophets of Baal.    coming upon the  Chapel of our Lady of the Steward,  built to honor the apparition  visit of the Virgin Mary to the steward of saint Catherine’s Monastery in the sixth century.

 

Arriving at  St. Catherine’s compound, the monastery was built by order of Emperor Justinian the first,  who reigned from 5 twenty seven to 5 sixty five, and within the enclose was a small chapel erected by Queen Helena,  mother of Emperor Constantine,  the site where Moses experienced  the burning bush..    the 12 member group,  their Egyptology  guide accompanying them,  viewing the historic riches from the past,  the second largest collection of early codices and manuscripts in the world..   The complex housing irreplaceable works of art. mosaics and a collection of early icons, dating back to the 5th century.  Also incorporated into the monastery compound,  besides the main Church, were nine other smaller dedicated chapels.

 

 

The 12 member tour group leaving St. Catherine’s,  a two car caravan on an exploration of the biblical referenced valleys,  and the homage of the Jebeliya Bedouin,   the People of the Mountains.  some two hundred families brought from the Pontos of Anatolia, the upper Euphrates, and from Alexandria,  to guard defend, and assist the monastery monks.   The local Bedouins are considered to be the descendants of those families that were converted to Islam in the seventh century, and today form the Sinai Bedouin families that make up the Jebeliya tribe.   Their northwest journey finding the group once again acquainting the desert of the Sinai and the beach lined coast of the red sea as they trekked north,  their destination a return to Cairo, and  the Pharaoh Hotel.

 

A Cairo morning dawning,  Nancy and Monica venturing a brief trip Giza and the edge of the great western desert to view the World Iconic Pyramids.  Egypt’s pharaohs believed they would  become gods in the afterlife,  and to prepare for the next world, they erected temples to the gods of Egypt and within the massive pyramids,  tombs for themselves, filling them with all the necessities a ruler would require, to guide and sustain himself in the next world.  The Great Pyramid of

 

 

Giza the oldest and largest of the three pyramids was a project of Pharaoh Khufu,  beginning in 2550 B.C.,  towering 481 feet above the plateau.   Khufu’s son, Pharaoh Khafre, starting the second pyramid in 2520.    The third of the Giza pyramids is considerably smaller, its construction beginning in 2490 by Pharaoh Menkaure, but featured a more complex mortuary temple.

 

The Great Sphinx, the show piece of Giza, a colossal monument with the body of a lion, bearing a pharaoh’s head with a royal headdress,   said to be that of King Khafre, who reigned between 2575 and 2465 BC.   The Great Sphinx carved from a single piece of limestone.   measuring 240 feet in length and 66 feet in height, and for thousands of years was buried up to its shoulders in sand.   In 1817,  a Italian adventurer, captain Giovanni Battista Caviglia, with 160 men attempted to excavate it, but the sand poured into their excavation pits as fast as they could remove it.  The Egyptian archaeologist Selim Hassan finally freeing the statue from the sand in the late 1930’s.

 

 

 

Returning to the pharaoh hotel,  A cross country tour representative arriving to transport the adventurers to the bus station, a four hour journey  to Alexandria.   Nancy and Monica having reservations at the Alexandria Hotel.  Rising in the morning. The programmed  historic tour of  the city founded in 331 B.C,  by Alexander the Great beginning.   first on their itinerary was the Roman Amphitheater,  dated from the 2nd century AD.   The theatre once having a large auditorium seating 800, and at one time having been adorned with columns several story’s high.  Continuing on to the Serapeum,  an ancient Greek temple constructed for  Ptolemy the third Euergetes.  The two viewing the magnificence’s of  Pompey’s Pillar,  a 88 foot Roman triumphal column, one of the largest monolithic columns ever erected.  Entering the the artifact garden, viewing a statue of a headless Ramses the second sitting on his throne,  holding a haka scepter in one hand.  Monica standing behind the headless Pharaoh’s statue, providing him with a smiling face for the photo,  and the two having their picture taken, with one of the two red granite sphinx’s adorning the base of the Serapeum.

 

Their tour continuing, visiting the necropolis, literally meaning the city of the dead, an area of Alexandria including the catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa.  the underground burial chambers, that were in use from the second to the fourth century AD.    The necropolis more than a burial site,  at the different levels the underground burial tunnels displayed centuries of Egyptian, Greek, Roman legacy, culture and their dedications to the dead.    Entering the catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa, and it’s circular staircase leading down two levels, the third is underwater.  The staircase was  believed used to transport deceased bodies down to the numerous tombs tunneled below into the bedrock.  Nancy and Monica at one level viewing a room where mourners of the deceased would sit and bring offerings.  another room full of mosaic inscription,  sculptures, and a sarcophagus with bas relief,  showing Egyptian gods and priests offering sacrifices.  It was said that  Kom el Shoqafa is one of the best-preserved ruins of Egypt because of its hidden time lined centuries of mixed ancient cultures.

 

The two spending the afternoon addressing the majestic Mediterranean sea, viewing the Citadel of Qaitbay, better known as The Qaitbay Fortress, established in 1477, and erected on the eastern point of the Pharos Island, the exact site of the famous Lighthouse of Alexandria, built during the reign of Ptolemy Philadelphus in  two hundred 80 B.C.   One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.     The Pharos island and the citadel connected to Alexandria by an ancient stone causeway.  The fortress was considered one of the most important defensive strongholds, not only in Egypt, but also along the Mediterranean Sea coast in the 15th century,  it was considered a very significant port for Mediterranean trade at that time.  Their day long tour completed, Nancy and Monica spending a quiet evening at the hotel in preparation for their return to Cairo by bus.

 

 

The four hour bus ride to Cairo seemed prosaic, the two returning to the Indiana Hotel, the only  event remaining on their itinerary,  a 9 am morning flight departure for  London. .   Seated in a British airlines 320, their 5 hour 20 minute flight having begun, a final view from the air of the implausible pyramids and a farewell to the museum of mankind’s surreal history, Egypt.    A rushed arrival at Heathrow, the two having  only 30 minutes between conveyances.   aboard their British Airlines eleven hour nonstop excursion to San Francisco, the wayfarers in one respect, happy to be returning  home,  but it was still an anticlimactic journey.  their three week excursion, inheriting the majesty of the Austrian alps, adorning the sound of music historic town of Salzburg, and the haunting past centuries of mankind’s presence,  indelibly preserved and displayed in Egypt.     Nancy and Monica’s Dream Vacation,  their once in a lifetime journey,  would forever abide as an everlasting treasure.

Nancy’s Amazon River Rainforest Experience

October 6, 2015

Nancy Willson Gokey,  her life having been one of paradox’s, her professionalism rising to the status of  bank manager for World Saving, a division of golden west financial,  the country’s second-largest savings and loan association, and later for Wachovia.   Throughout her life,  her first priority,  the raising of her two children, and introducing them to the wonders of mother nature’s great outdoors.  Nancy at age 64, was yet about to implement a long awaited desire,   a journey to the secluded realm of the Amazon Rainforest.

    

 

With a internet inquiry, the adventurist pinning a travel included, week long Amazon River tour,  complete with a one hundred ten mile river excursion and a exhaustive rainforest experience.  Her sponsored host, Yacumama Lodge and the YTB Travel Network.    The agency E-mailing  a list of her 12 accompanying tour members and surprisingly eight were local,  from Columbia, Sonora and Murphy’s,  with the remaining members joining them at Miami for their flight to Peru

     

Nancy’s California group departing at 12:30 pm from SFO,  Friday January 18th,  boarding a american airlines Boeing 767 for the five hour fifteen minute non-stop journey to Miami.   Arriving at Miami International Airport,  a 3 hour and 10 minute layover before boarding their American Airlines to Lima Peru. The airbus 320 travelers attempting to get some sleep on another non-stop  five hours flight,  arriving at Lima Peru’s,  Jorge Chavez airport at 5:45 in the morning.  The itinerary calling for a 10 hour layover in Lima before their hour and 45 minute flight to Iquitos.  Not surprising,  some members deciding on a taxi tour of the city before their afternoon departure.

 

Iquitos, the ninth largest city in Peru, and the largest city in the world that cannot be reached by road,  accessible only by river and air.  The group greeted by a Yucamama Lodge tour guide having made transportation arrangements to the residential Yucamama, referred to as the backpackers hostal..  Nancy and others with camera in hand, venturing to the city square, the Plaza de Armas, and its land marks the Saint John the Baptist Cathedral, a roman catholic cathedral built on the sight of an ancient Peruvian temple demolished in 1919.

 

Other sights included La Casa Morey,  the mansion of a rubber industry baron, now a hotel and restaurant.  The Casa de Fierro, the Iron House, plates of steel donning the walls and ceilings, said to have been bought at the 1889 Paris International Exposition and reassembled.  The Plaza de Armas was not without eminence, a monument in remembrance of the death warriors at the Guerra del Pacifico.  What stood out about the town was the obvious, it was long inhabited by indigenous people, representative of the rubber plantation era, from appearances it’s populace still somewhat residing in the third world atmosphere of the past.

 

After breakfast the tour group boarding a river cruise craft for their 110 mile venture up  the tributary fed Amazon.  The scenic river journey providing  a picture of mother nature’s unblemished work,  the Amazon Jungle.   Their journey culminating on the Rio Yarapa contributory.   Their Yacumama Lodge amazon host welcoming the new arrivals, ascribing their lodging bungalows and a late lunch, enjoying an introductory rainforest excursion.  After dinner, one was able to converse in the spacious main lodge or retire to their private bungalow for a well deserved night of sleep in concert with. The Night Sounds of the Jungle

 

A breaking dawn finding the group once again boarding a river conveyance, enjoying the sunrise and the opportunity to view bird life and the primates among the terrestrial foliage and trees..    a bilingual Yagua Indian guide conducting a tour of the medicine trail,  able to discern the native botanical herbs and point out a wide variety of wildlife and insect..   Fulfilling the day was an afternoon river trip to view the rare Amazon pink dolphins.  The fresh water Dolphins being mammals,  like whales, they share the defining traits:  they breathe air, are warm-blooded, give live birth, suckle their young on milk.

 

Another amazon river morning venture, Nancy and the group gazing at the 115 foot  forestation thatched rainforest canopy viewing tower.  The climb up the nine tower levels somewhat of a challenge, but once attaining its view overseeing the rainforest, discovering it well worth the effort  even in the constant humidity  That is The Jungle.  The afternoon found a choice of activity time, including boating canoeing, fishing, hiking or just relaxing in the hammock room over the river.  The sunset hour found a night river excursion to view the amazon nocturnal life, including the black Caiman,  a night feeding a 16 to 20 foot alligator.

     

The morning breakfast concluded,  again seated in the boating craft,  an agenda to explore the famous giant water lilies of the Amazon.   The lilly leaves floating on the surface, being large, 10 feet  in diameter, their submerged stalk,  23 to 26 feet in length residing below the surface.  The amazon lilly being large enough to support a small child..   Moving on, a traveling lunch provided as one experienced the scenic wonders of the river and once putting ashore, the abundance of  birds, including the pre-historic Hoatzin, the Hoatzin,  a feathered theropod dinosaur,  it being noted that birds and crocodiles constituted today’s only living dinosaurs.  The tour continued on to explore  the remote inbound areas of the river before returning for dinner.

  

The jungle river tour would not be complete without a visit to an authentic Indian Village,  where one could trade for the hand-made crafts and experience their life on the river. The tour group acquainting the river side exposition, being introduced to native family members and their understanding way of life.   this their final touring day, returning to a variety of free time activities,  instructions in the use of authentic dug-out canoes,  piranha fishing lesson’s, and many just relaxing, pausing to take stock of where they were,  and all they had experienced.  After dinner, a final hosted jungle night walk,  to once again absorb and experience the nocturnal environment and sounds of the amazon jungle.

    

Nancy and her group bidding a farewell to the jungle, a life aspiration fulfilled,   the river and the 110 mile return journey to Iquitos having begun,  the 5:35 pm  flight to Lima awaits, and a return to the reality of the twenty first century.

     

Nancy’s 1994 Australian Quest – Pt.1

October 5, 2015

 

It was the latter part of July when Nancy Willson Gokey, Monica Johnson, and several other friends first inquired  at the Sonora Travel Service,  about touring the eighteen hundred mile east coast of Australia,  and the island state of Tasmania.  Nancy and Monica arriving at the Sacramento International Airport, their September twenty one day journey having begun.  the two boarding  a United Airlines flight to LAX to embrace a Qantas Airlines 747 for the 7,300 mile non-stop journey to Cairns in Queensland Australia.  A 6:30 arrival at LAX, with a 9:20 departure, both travelers questioning the new experience of the long flight, and somewhat beguiled by the time zones and international date line,  leaving California at 9:20 p.m. on the 10th, traveling 22 hours and arriving at Cairns at 6:15 a.m. on the 12th, agreeing September 11th was never played and must have been shuffled back into the deck..

Nancy and Monica enduring the relatively long flight confinement with forbearance,  in anticipation of their venture.  It was welcome, the pilot with an Australian accent, announcing  their decent to the Cairns International Airport.  Debarking, the two travelers joining the flight  arrivals at the passport control station.    Cairns was situated between the Coral Sea and the Rainforest Mountains,  a city of 70,000, and was noted as  the commercial center of the east coast.  A representative of the tour company having arrived,  providing transportation to the Floriana Guest House, their residence for their stay in Cairns.   Experiencing the throes of jet lag, little sleep and an early wake up call for their sea adventure,  a day long Quicksilver snorkeling cruise to the great barrier reef,  deciding to curtail any extensive exploration of Cairns.

The early morning departure found the adventurers boarding the Sandurio,  a 62 foot, 2 mast ketch at the Marlin Marina,  located a short distance from their Floriana abode.  Others joining as they embarked on Quicksilver’s outer edge of the great barrier reef  cruise.  The morning found refreshments and an informative presentation about the great barrier reef by a marine biologist.  The journey taking them to the very edge of Australia’s continental shelf, to the Agincourt Reef, a kaleidoscope of underwater color and brilliance.

 

The two enjoying a tropical buffet lunch, followed by an instructional course on snorkeling, realizing they weren’t the only ones who had never meant the challenge.  Soon discovering that those with no experienced would not be free lancing in their underwater endeavor,  a flotation device would limit their underwater depth.  The new great barrier divers,  in addition to  their snorkeling view, were able to get an up close view of the underwater world from Quicksilvers underwater observation platform, discovering,   several other touring enterprises provided underwater great barrier reef viewing platforms.  On their return, the  gentle swells of the coral sea provided a solace of satisfaction, their introduction to Australia, five stars.

The morning found Nancy and Monica arriving at the Cairns central train station for the 8 30 departure of the scenic Kuranda Railway Tour.  A brief wayside stop at Freshwater found additional tour groups boarding.   The two experiencing the viewing comfort of the carriage cars, their  two hour journey to Kuranda  encompassing the crossing of 37 bridges,  the train slowing to view the Stoney Creek Falls Bridge,  being one of the most photographed bridges in Australia because of its structure and  the spectacular beauty of its location.   It’s concrete foundations on which the wrought iron trestles are mounted was started in 1887 and  is one of only two Queensland railway bridges constructed with wrought iron trestles.  Their railway journey passing through 10 hand carved tunnels as they continue to view the scenic splendor of numerous waterfalls that frequented the surroundings.  A non-station stop was enhanced, enabling those aboard to absorb the breath-taking steep tiered Barren Gorge, with its cascading falls of the cresting Barren river descending from the Atherton Tablelands that bordered the majestic rainforest.

Arriving at Kuranda Station, world renowned for its tropical gardens and historic significance,  noted as one of the most photographed railway stations in the world. Departing the train, the two finding the station but a short walk into town, visiting the   art galleries and ethnic Aboriginal crafts displays.   After lunch a scenic rainforest walk before  returning to Cairns,  their day still having more to come,  attending a tour scheduled Night Fire Show at the Tjapukal Dance theatre, in the Abor Tjapukai’s Aboriginal Cultural Park, six miles northeast of Cairns.  The two experience meeting the Bama, the Indigenous rainforest people, taking  you on   a historical journey, telling of actual events passed down through dance and music, with the haunting sounds of the aborigine didgeridoo, a 1000 year old conical instrument. The fire dance presentation  highlighting the their use of fire to open a canopy in the rainforest, enabling a savannah, to increase the number browsing and grazing animals for them to hunt..

With the dawning of day four , a 7:30 boarding of their transportation found the explorers traveling north viewing the coastline of the Coral Sea,  arriving at Mossman Gorge in the middle of the rainforest.  A bushwalk from the gorge to acquainting the Daintree River for their morning river cruise.   The Daintree River sharing its presence with the realm of 2000 lbs, 17 foot saltwater crocodiles.   The river very much isolated from shoreline rainforest access, no roads or foot trails on it banks, the ten boating occupants viewing the encompassing forage, the pictorial  waterfalls, flora and bird life.  Their scenic river run complete, leaving the Daintree, the group partaking of  grilled barramundi,  tropical salad and fruit lunch.  A brief excursion of  Port Douglas,  then stopping at Harley’s Creek Crocodile Farm,  viewing  the crocks  up close and acquainting the  Australia native emu and cassowaries.      Their Daintree River and Rainforest excursion coming to a conclusion, once again enjoying the views of the breakers of the  coral sea coming ashore as they returned on the coast highway to Cairns..

Another early start, Nancy, Monica and their tour group boarding a 6:00 a.m. Qantas Airlines 7 37 for the 4 hour, 12 hundred  mile flight to Sydney.   Arriving, the two secured transportation at the Sydney airporter,  a hotel, motel shuttle service to their lodging, at the Chateau Sydney,  in pomeroy building.  After lunch, they procured a hop-aboard tour bus,  acquainting them with the city Sidney,  with a stop at a city district known as  the Rocks, an outdoors museum.  The streets, courtyards, and facades, a treasure trove of artistic, architectural, archaeological detail, and  galleries of fine crafts, specialty shops and boutiques.

The morning once again found them on a bus seeing more of the city,  with an afternoon  stop at  the Royal Botanical Gardens,   its 72 acres  surrounded by 130 acres of open parkland.   The Garden forms a large natural amphitheater, divided into four major sectors called the Lower gardens, the middle gardens, the palace cardens and the Bennelong precinct.  The Gardens acreage adjacent to the Sydney Opera House grounds, the two later scheduled for a later tour, but deciding to venture to the Drama Theatre,  to take in an afternoon theatre production.

 

Day three In Sydney found a full tour agenda for the two, starting with the Governors House, the complex construction started in 1837,  including the house, a garden and greenhouse, a chalet with courtyards,  garages and gatehouse, taking six years to complete.    A visit to another Australian landmark, Paddington and the Town Hall, with its foundation being laid in 1890, the 105 foot clock tower added in 1904.  Their venture continuing to Kings Cross,  colloquially known as The Cross, the area once known for its music halls and grand theatres, but then was transformed during the conclusion of  World War II by the influx of troops returning and visiting from the nearby Garden Island naval base, and remains known as Sydney’s night entertainment, and redlight district. .

The afternoon found Nancy and Monica enjoying a  Captain Cooks luncheon Cruise, viewing  Sydney’s beautiful skyline,  cruising under the Harbour Bridge, past the Opera House, Fort Denison, an off shore fort built in 1840, and seeing the expansive harbor as the landmarks continue to roll by while  they enjoyed their lunch.  From the harbor cruise, the iconic Sydney Tower beckoned,  the tower a Sydney showcase, completed in 1981,  rising 1014 ft., the cities maximum building height limit of 915 ft. having been set back in the era of pontoon flying boats,  being raised. The two looking forward to the view, taking one of three elevators, it being publicized the emergency exit stairwells had 1504 steps, the equivalent for a 98 story building. Reaching the  observatory level of the tower, finding it somewhat unimpressive, even with a coffee and snack counter and viewing binoculars, but the view was something else.

 

It was the last excursion of the day, a guided tour of the world renown Sidney Opera House, with its 1000 rooms,  concert hall and opera theatre, the Joan Sutherland and  drama theatres, the play house, the studio, and Utzon,  with the outdoor forecourt and north broadwalk,  providing spectacular outdoor performance space.  The complex’s construction began in 1959 in three stages,  and completed in 1973, with Queen Elizabeth the second, at the official opening.   Nancy and Monica amazed at its conception,  an international competition was organized for the design of a performing arts complex that was won by Danish architect Jom Utzan,  to be built on Bennelong Point, the birth place of  the first aborigine to speak english.  Their building tour long and impressive, and with day’s activities fulfilled,  a bigger day instore for tomorrow.

The morning again found the two explorers traveling, this time to the most visited city in the Blue Mountains,  Katoomba and its spectacular surroundings.  Boarding the  Scenic Railway,  the railway built in the late 19th century to serve the Katoomba coal mine, down a 52-degree incline,  the steepest railway incline in the world.  Seated, they continued down the sandstone cliffs,  dipping into a rock tunnel, next to the famous Orphan Rock landmark, and then re-emerging to incredible views of the Blue Mountain surroundings.  At the bottom station Nancy and Monica dismounting, deciding to take the mile and half Scenic Walkway back through the Jamison Valley rainforest.

Returning to Scenic World, the two deciding to venture on the Scenic skyway, a large gondola suspended 885 feet above the bushland, the car with its many passengers  gliding between the clifftops, a 4 mile journey gazing over the treetop canopy of the val lee below. The two viewing Cahill Lookout, Katoomba falls, traveling by the famous Thee Sisters and experiencing, the scenic wonders of the Blue Mountains.

Returning back to Sidney, the evening was not on entertaining but educational, the two attending The Jolly Swagman Show Dinner Show.  “Waltzing Matilda” being Australia’s best-known bush ballad, and described as the country’s “unofficial national anthem” . The two learning the title was Australian slang for travelling on foot (waltzing) with one’s belongings in a “Matilda” (swag) slung over one’s back.  The song narrates the story of an itinerant worker, or “swagman”, making a drink of billy tea at a bush camp and capturing a stray jumbuck (sheep) to eat.When the jumbuck’s owner, a squatter,  landowner, and three troopers , mounted policemen,  pursue the swagman for theft, he declares “You’ll never catch me alive!” and commits suicide by drowning himself in a nearby billabong, a watering hole,   after which his ghost haunts the site.  The translation of words in the Australian colloquialism bringing meaning to the song.  The two enjoying the dinner show, the performer having dressed appropriately in hat with corks, bowyangs and worn out boots.   the swagman throwing down his swag and billy can, spinning his yarns with songs, poems and folklore.  the hour long show an unforgettable experience.

 

It was their last night in Sydney,  The morning found members of the touring group joining Nancy and Monica in a renting a van, continuing their tour itinerary schedule trekking north.

Nancy’s 1994 Australian Quest Pt. 2

October 4, 2015

Nancy Willson Gokey,  and Monica Johnson , having explored the historic and scenic wonders from Cairns and Sidney, continuing  their Australian tour.  Renting a van and exiting the captivating city of Sidney, the two, accompanied  by other members of their tour group, ventured north on motorway 1, known as the Pacific Highway.

The travelers first stop,  171 miles north of Sidney at Seal Rock and Sugar Loaf Point. The Sugar Loaf Point lighthouse, sometime referred to as,  the Seal Rock light,  consisted of a Mid Victorian watch tower,  and a complex of living quarters, it was one of only two beacon’s in Australia with an external stairway.  Beginning service in 1875,  it’s guardian post giving notice of the notorious Seal Rocks, a treacherous rock formation to the south, the lighthouse location and the panoramic lighthouse beach are both popular  attractions within the Myall Lakes National Park.

 

Continuing the their trek north to Coffs Harbor,  a major regional city, midway between Sidney and Brisbane, where the great dividing range meets the sea,  a hill laden landscape overseen by the forested mountains.  The traditional inhabitants of the Coffs Harbour region were the Gumbaynggirr people, who have occupied the land for thousands of years, one of the largest coastal Aboriginal Nations.  The visitors touring the harbor, viewing the its entrance and visiting  Muttonbird Island.  Their day complete, the travelers checking in at the Pier Hotel.

The van resuming its travel in the morning, a brief stop at Woolgoolga, the site of the first Sikh Temple built in 1968.   Sikhism was relatively nonexistent because of  the 1901 White Australia Policy, restricting the immigration of non-whites , but was  altered with the racial discrimination act of 1975.  Continuing on the Pacific Highway, enjoying the scenic landscape, the bustling agricultural topography, crossing the inland rivers flowing from the mountain divide to the sea.

An arrival at Byron Bay, a stop to visit to Cape Byron, named by Captain James Cook when passing the area in May of  1770  Cook naming his discovery after John Byron, a fellow global circumnavigation of 1776  The group viewing the 1901 Cape Byron light house, its awareness overseeing the treacherous rocky outcrops of Cape Byron Point and entrance to Byron Bay.  The group sojourning a scenic beach walk to an overlook displaying the most easterly point on the mainland,  documenting their presence by posing for photos before resuming their travel north to once town of Coolangatta. The town now a suburb of Gold Coast.

 

 

The city of Gold Coast was historically called South Coast, because it was south of Brisbane,  but because of the inflated real estate prices and prosperous goods and services of the fifties, in 1958 south coast name was changed to gold coast.   Then in fifty nine,  the city formed an amalgamation with the towns of Coolangatta,  Southport, and other coastal areas,  its boundaries expanding to an incorporated area of 160 square miles, with 37 miles of imposing beach shoreline, making it the second largest city in Australia.   With their travels done for the day,  the group having prior reservation at the pristine seven story, one hundred thirty four room Greenmount Beach hotel.

The sun rising on their third day, the group having scheduled a guided tour of the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary,  the ten member contingency boarding a far horizon scenic day tour van.  The Sanctuary was established by beekeeper and floriculturist Alex Griffiths in 1947,  as a small scale tourist venture, featuring guest interaction with a medium-sized vocal,  and exceptionally colorful parrot native to Australia, the lori keet.  Griffiths adding a variety of other wildlife everything from the native  kangaroo and wallabies, to the emu, cassowary’s and the Australian canine dingo.  It was not without the notorious dangerous crocodile,  but  included the human friendly, docile cuddly Koala Bear.  Griffiths dream blossoming into a renown 44 acre wildlife and Botanical garden,  a display in which tourists could interact with the surroundings.  The interaction and togetherness of a guided tour making for an unforgettable experience.

 

A morning venture into the Gold Coast hinterland,   a day long tour of the Lamington National Park,  and  O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat.  The arriving group experiencing a spectacular view from the summit of Tamboring Mountain,  then proceeding into the subtropical rainforest on the scenic and informative natures walk.  An Aussie barbecue lunch complimenting both appetites, lunch,  and the experience of communicating with the Rainforest and the inhabitants of the wilderness. At O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, the tour able to get an up close look at native plants, birds and even the koalas.   The Retreat having an half mile,  52 foot elevated treetop walk,  providing an  aerial rainforest view of the scenic wonders.  Returning from their day long exploration,  Nancy and Monica,  opting to spend a quiet evening on the beach, and the sound of the cresting sea gently coming ashore.

 

A late morning checkout and a leisure hour long drive to Brisbane. A return of the rental van,  Nancy and Monica having reservations at Dooley’s, the Irish Hotel.  The two taking advantage of an afternoon tour, once again venturing to a rainforest environment, this time to the Springbrook National Park.    The southern cliffs in Springbrook are the remnants of the northern rim of the ancient Tweed Volcano,  their circuit walk beginning with the view of the proclaimed Twin Falls.  The parks rainforest and eucalypt,  a result from the cliff-lined headwaters of the numerous rivers and creeks.  the waterway flowing over the escarpment of the cliffs,  providing 16 waterfalls seen in a relatively short distance in the plateau section of the park.

It was Nancy and Monica’s last day in Brisbane, the two deciding on a city tour,  boarding a Hop on Hop Off scenic tour bus, their first stop the Brisbane city botanical Gardens. The two venturing on the walkway, discovering more than the flora.  The Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium, named for the governor of New South Wales from 1821 to 1825,  who was an astronomer, and established the first observatory at Parramatta in 1822.  Another stop at the Roma Street Parkland, the two amazed at that botanical habitat of Brisbane and the surrounding area.

 

Change of venue, Nancy and Monica,  boarding a Brisbane river scenic tour boat.   the Brisbane River headwaters located in the great dividing range east of the town of  King a Roy,  winding its way two hundred and fourteen miles to its union with Morton bay,   and the sea.  aboard, the two viewing Kangaroo Point cliffs,  passing under the landmark Story bridge, witnessing the flora and fauna,  and getting a glimpse of Brisbane’s historical past and present,  from the likes of the old custom house,  to the city’s most popular tourist attraction, The South Bank Parklands, established at the site of the 1988 World Exposition.   Their touring day completed, the two returning to Dooley’s Irish hotel, a final night in Brisbane.

 

A morning arrival at the airport, Nancy and Monica boarding a Qantas airlines seven thirty seven for the two hour  and ten minute flight to Melbourne.  A two hour layover for the Tasmania flight was scheduled.  once aboard, the  two settling in for the one hour airborne Tasmania sea journey to Hobart, the capitol of the Island State of Tasmania, their host for the next five days.