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



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 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.