Category Archives: Life

Howdy from the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Texas

Eiffel Tower, Paris, Texas Post Card
Eiffel Tower, Paris, Texas
Photograph by Catherine Sherman

On a recent drive home to Kansas City from a wedding in northeast Texas, we detoured to gawk at the Eiffel Tower replica in Paris, Texas.  Ok, I’m the only one of the three of us to gawk…I have this thing for oddball roadside attractions.

This Eiffel Tower isn’t the tallest replica in the world, but it’s the only one sporting a cowboy hat. Following a tradition of American cities named “Paris”, Paris, Texas constructed a 65-foot (20 m) replica of the Eiffel Tower in 1993.  Paris, Tennessee, dedicated an Eiffel Tower replica in the same year that was 60 feet tall.  (The Tennessee version was moved from Memphis and refurbished in its new Paris location in 1993.) The cowboy hat insures that the Paris, Texas, tower stands taller.

Both replicas are dwarfed by the 540-foot-tall Eiffel Tower replica along the Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada, built in 1999. The original in Paris, France, is 984 feet tall.

Paris, Texas, calls itself the “Second Largest Paris in the World.” The town boasts 25,171 residents, as of the 2010 census.

Last year, we visited Paris, Arkansas, which doesn’t have an Eiffel Tower replica, but it does have a mural that depicts the Eiffel Tower, which you can read about and see in my blog post here: Every Paris Needs an Eiffel Tower  The post also lists other states with Eiffel Tower replicas and other states with a town named Paris.

Eiffel Tower Replicas Around The World

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Shattered

My shattered phone screen.

My shattered phone screen.

My luck ran out.  My Nokia Lumia 1020 cell phone fell out of my pocket and hit the floor of my garage.  The screen shattered. I never put my phone in my pocket, but we were having a garage sale and it seemed like a good idea at the time. (Yes, I swore I’d never have another garage sale. When will I ever learn?)

At first I thought the lines on the screen were a real cobweb, not a web of cracks. I was in disbelief and then angry with myself. I’ve gotten very attached to that phone. It sleeps next to me (actually it never sleeps) charging on my bedside table.

This is a re-enactment the next morning of where I found my phone at a Taos, New Mexico, motel.  My phone had fallen out of my handbag as I ran to escape the rain.   I didn't miss my phone until I decided to charge it an hour later. Then I couldn't find it. My friend Lynn and I looked for hours, not sure where I had lost it.  Later, I found it here, on the railing to the stairs.  It was wet, but it still worked.

This is a re-enactment the next morning of where I found my phone at a Taos, New Mexico, motel. My phone had fallen out of my handbag as I ran to escape the rain. I didn’t miss my phone until I decided to charge it an hour later. Then I couldn’t find it. My friend Lynn and I looked for hours, not sure where I had lost it. Later, I found it here, on the railing to the stairs. It was wet, but it still worked.

This is not my cell phone’s first escape attempt. It leaped from my purse in Taos, New Mexico, as my friend Lynn and I were rushing from the car to the covered portico of our hotel in the rain after dinner at a lovely restaurant on Easter.

It was our last night in New Mexico of our week-long trip. I wondered aloud what I would leave behind on this trip. There’s always something that goes astray. A toothbrush, some shoes, hat, gloves, scarf, jacket, a nightgown, a book. I didn’t realize that I’d already lost something — my phone! I discovered that the little dickens had gotten away when I looked for it so I could charge it. Lynn and I searched everywhere in the room, the parking lot, the car, the streets, even went back to the restaurant — twice — just before closing. Lynn called my phone five or more times, and we never heard it ringing. (Thanks, Lynn!) I roamed the parking lot in the rain, I talked to the desk clerk.

Finally, we gave up. I was already on the fourth stage of grief, when I decided to give the search one more effort. I remembered that I’d found a couple of phones in the past, one I had given to the desk clerk of our motel (it turned out to be hers), and the other I had picked up from the street and set on the curb. Maybe someone had placed my phone in a safer place? Minutes later I saw it, sitting on a stair post, sprinkled with rain drops but still in working order. I was so relieved.   How quickly we get dependent on these devices.  My grandparents had a party line phone, which was shared with several neighbors.

I was able to get my screen replaced locally.  It wasn’t cheap. I obviously need a case for it.  A friend demonstrated the protective qualities of his case by dropping his phone on the floor. No damage.

As I looked at my shattered screen, this song came to mind. Now I can’t get it out of my head.

Here a cell phone takes the #ALSIceBucketChallenge.  I can confirm from personal experience that it’s darned cold! Writing the check was much easier. Paying for the phone screen repair is also going to be a shock.

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Cycling in Denmark

Bicyclists are everywhere in Copenhagen, and they are very skilled at maneuvering in traffic.  Here, two young lovers hold hands as they speed down the street.

Bicyclists are everywhere in Copenhagen, and they are very skilled at maneuvering in traffic. Here, two young lovers hold hands as they speed down the street.

One of the first things my husband and I noticed in Copenhagen was that it’s a city on two wheels. The city is flat, has many bike lanes, a lot of narrow streets, limited parking in the city and everything costs a lot — at least for Americans. So bikes make a lot of economic sense. Almost 40 percent of the city’s inhabitants commute on bicycles.

A crowd of bicyclists peddle rapidly at rush hour on H.C. Andersens Boulevard at the Town Hall Square in Copenhagen, Denmark.

A crowd of bicyclists peddle rapidly at rush hour on H.C. Andersens Boulevard at the Town Hall Square in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Almost everyone on the bikes looked fit and attractive.  It was like being a Ralph Lauren ad without the pretentiousness. Copenhagen is considered the most bike-friendly city in the world. More people commute on bicycles in Copenhagen than in all of the much, much larger United States. Pedestrians need to be aware, because they will easily be knocked down at rush hour. There also were a lot of bikes in Aarhus, Denmark’s second largest city, which is also a college town.

A mother and her son bike to the store together in Copenhagen, Denmark.

A mother and her son bike to the store together in Copenhagen, Denmark.

A father and son ride a tandem bicycle in Copenhagen, Denmark.

A father and son ride a tandem bicycle in Copenhagen, Denmark.

A pedicab enters an historic prison area at Slutterigade in Copenhagen.

A pedicab enters an historic prison area at Slutterigade in Copenhagen.

A biker crosses the courtyard of Amalienborg Palace, the winter residence of the Danish royal family.  The equestrian statue is of Amalienborg's founder, King Frederick V.

A biker crosses the courtyard of Amalienborg Palace, the winter residence of the Danish royal family. The equestrian statue depicts Amalienborg’s founder, King Frederick V.

Højbro Plads (Hojbro Square) is a popular spot for tourists and locals. On this July day, there were so many parked bicycles that there was hardly room for people.  Højbro  is public square located between the adjoining Amagertorv and Slotsholmen Canal in the City Center of Copenhagen, Denmark. According to Wikipedia, It takes its name from the Højbro Bridge which connects it to the Slotsholmen island on the other side of the canal while Gammel Strand extends along the near side of the canal.  The most striking feature of the square is an equestrian statue of Absalon, the warrior-bishop who has traditionally been credited as the founder of Copenhagen. It was inaugurated in 1901 to commemorate the septcentennial of his death.

Højbro Plads (Hojbro Square) is a popular spot for tourist and locals. On this July day, there were so many parked bicycles that there’s hardly room for people. Højbro is public square located between the adjoining Amagertorv and Slotsholmen Canal in the City Center of Copenhagen, Denmark. According to Wikipedia, It takes its name from the Højbro Bridge which connects it to the Slotsholmen island on the other side of the canal while Gammel Strand extends along the near side of the canal. The most striking feature of the square is an equestrian statue of Absalon, the warrior-bishop who has traditionally been credited as the founder of Copenhagen. It was inaugurated in 1901 to commemorate the septcentennial of his death.

 

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How Denmark Became a Cycling Nation.

Wikipedia: Cycling in Copenhagen

Wikipedia: About Denmark.

The Official Website of Denmark.

The Danish Royal Couple on Bikes (Horses, Yacht…)

The Danish People are the Happiest People on Earth.

 

 

Some of my Postcards of Bicycles in Copenhagen:

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Dragon Boat Races in Kansas City

Thess dragon boat crew members paddle hard as they reach the finish in the International Dragon Boat Festival on June 14, 2014, on Brush Creek in the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri.

This dragon boat crew paddle hard as they reach the finish in the International Dragon Boat Festival on June 14, 2014, on Brush Creek in the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri.

Dragon boats full of hard-working crews raced on Brush Creek at the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri,  today (June 14, 2014).  I enjoyed the race loafing on the banks.  It looked like hard work, especially turning the boat to return to the starting point, which was also the finish line, but I’m sure it was a lot of fun, too.  Two boats raced each other in each race.  Whichever boat got around the pink buoy at the turn first was hard to beat.

Dragon Boat races are a 2,000-year-old tradition in China that arrived in Kansas City ten years ago.

The two dragon boats make the turn in their race in the International Dragon Boat Festival on June 14, 2014, on Brush Creek in the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri. Whoever is able to make the turn first has a great advantage.

The two dragon boats make the turn in their race in the International Dragon Boat Festival on June 14, 2014, on Brush Creek in the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri. Whoever is able to make the turn first has a great advantage.

The annual International Chinese Dragon Boat Festival in Kansas City was founded by Mr. Robert S. Chien with the Society for Friendship with China.  The crews debuted the four new fiberglass boats that were made for the event in China, part of a fleet commemorating of the death of Qu Yuan in 278 B.C.  The dragon boat tradition began, according to Chinese legend, because friends and admirers of the statesman and poet used boats, noise and food to scare away hungry fish after Qu Yuan drowned after throwing himself into a river.  Qu Wanshen, a 71st generation descendant of Qu Yuan, was on the schedule to attend. That’s some genealogy chart!

During the festival, sticky rice rice dumplings are eaten in honor of the rice dumplings thrown in the way two millennia ago. The rice dumplings, called Zongzi in Chinese, are sticky rice wrapped in bamboo/lotus/banana leaves. I, unfortunately, didn’t stumble across the food tent so I missed out on those.  Next year, that will be my first stop!

Chinese lanterns blow in the breeze on a footbridge over Brush Creek in Kansas City, Missouri.

Chinese lanterns blow in the breeze on a footbridge over Brush Creek in Kansas City, Missouri.

Qu Yuan was the earliest great patriotic poet as well as a great statesman, ideologist, diplomat and reformer in ancient China.  He lived in the latter part of the Warring States Period (476 BC – 221 BC). According to the Society for Friendship with China,  Qu Yuan was a minister to the Zhou emperor during the Warring States Period (475 – 221 BC). He was a wise man who was strongly opposed to the corruption of the imperial court.

Because of Qu Yuan’s success, he aroused jealousy in his fellow ministers. They plotted against him and convinced the emperor that Qu Yuan was a traitor. Qu Yuan was banished, and returned to his home town. During his years of banishment, Qu Yuan collected legends and folk tales, and wrote poetry. He never lost his patriotic love for his emperor, and was greatly concerned about the future of the Zhou dynasty.

Eventually the Qin warriors overthrew the Zhou rulers and proceeded to plunder the country. On the 5th day of May, 278 BC, Qu Yuan learned about the fall of his capital city, and in a fit of despair, committed suicide by throwing himself into the Miluo River. The townspeople, hearing of Qu Yuan’s fate, rushed to their boats to try to save him. Since he was much loved, they tried to prevent the fish from eating his body by throwing rice dumplings into the water. They beat drums to keep evil spirits away.

To this day, the 5th day of the 5th lunar month is celebrated by eating rice dumplings (zong zi) and racing dragon boats. It is also a day for wearing talismans to keep away evil spirits. Adults drink Xiong Huang wine, and children wear fragrant silk pouches to guard against evil.

In Chinese culture, Dragon boat festival has been an important holiday for centuries, but in recent years dragon boat racing has become an international sport.

Four dragon boats are tied up at the dock, awaiting their races.  These boats were built in China for the Kansas City race.

Four dragon boats are tied up at the dock, awaiting their races. These boats were built in China for the Kansas City race.

 

Spectators have fun while waiting for the next dragon boat race to begin on Brush Creek in Kansas City.

Spectators have fun while waiting for the next dragon boat race to begin on Brush Creek in Kansas City.

Click on a thumbnail to see a full-size photo and a caption.

About the Society for Friendship with China.

 

 

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Post Rock Fences in Kansas

I saw these limestone fence posts, called post rocks, on a recent drive to western Kansas.

I saw these limestone fence posts, called post rocks, on a recent drive to western Kansas.

I’ve lived in Kansas most of my life, but I hadn’t seen more than a few limestone fence posts until this past weekend when I saw miles of them as I drove west in a section of the state I’d never visited before.  It has been estimated that at the peak of their use, there were about 40,000 miles of these stone post fences in central Kansas.  In the last  quarter of the 19th century, ranchers and farmers needed fences to keep the cattle from wandering onto cropland, but wood was scarce. Providentially, there is a bed of limestone buried only a few inches beneath the top soil, which is about about 18 inches in thickness, the perfect dimension for fence posts. It was easy to shape the soft stone, which hardened, enabling the posts to resist weathering in the elements.

About Post Rocks in Kansas.

More about Post Rock Fences and Where to Find Them.

 

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UFO Cattle Crossing Sign in New Mexico

Pranksters have placed UFO stickers on cattle crossing signs on US Highway 68 between Santa Fe and Taos, New Mexico.

Pranksters have placed UFO stickers on cattle crossing signs on US Highway 68 between Santa Fe and Taos, New Mexico.

My friend and fellow photographer Lynn and I recently returned from a thousand-mile (probably more) photography road trip, starting from Kansas City and making a round trip through New Mexico. I took about 4,000 photos, some great, some lousy, most were fun, especially this one of a UFO sign on a cattle crossing sign on Highway 68 from Santa Fe to Taos.

Pranksters placed the stickers on signs, which officials remove and then more stickers re-appear.   Click the link if you want to know the less humorous history behind the stickers… (I don’t recommend it.) Cattle Abductions.

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I Gotta Crow About Kauai Chickens

A chick stopped to take a drink in the rainwater in a snorkel mask in the yard of the house where we were staying.  His mothers and siblings are just ahead.

A chick stopped to take a drink in the rainwater in a snorkel mask in the yard of the house where we were staying. His mothers and siblings are just ahead.

Clucking and crowing chickens, crashing waves and whirring helicopters are the sounds I’ll always associate with Kauai, the oldest of the main inhabited Hawaiian islands.

Every morning during our too-short visit to paradise, my husband and I awoke to huge waves crashing on the beach in the bay outside of our house and the crowing of roosters.

A mother hen and her chicks would make the rounds of the neighborhood several times a day. First, you’d hear the cheep cheep cheep of the chicks and then the occasional cluck of the mother as they pecked their way through the grass and bushes of the yard.

Helicopters were often crossing the sky to take tourists to view the many incredible sights, which have often been filmed for movies (“Jurassic Park,” is one example.) I’ve only been in a helicopter once — to fly over Maui almost 20 years ago. It was gorgeous, but I haven’t gotten up the nerve to get into a helicopter since. My husband and I did take a boat trip on this vacation. First time I ever got sea sick. (More about that later…)

Mother hens and their chicks were everywhere on Kauai.

Mother hens and their chicks were everywhere on Kauai.

Chickens were everywhere! Other islands have wild chickens, (A rooster showed up for my son’s beach wedding in St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands) but Kauai has CHICKENS. On every trail, on the beaches, in shopping center parking lots, on the sidewalks outside of restaurants, in parks, in churchyards, every neighborhood, everywhere. They are gorgeous and colorful. They are descended from the Junglefowl that the ancient Hawaiians brought with them centuries ago. They’ve bred with other types of chickens that others have brought to the island, but have mostly retained the gorgeous Junglefowl coloring. The chickens have no predator, other than man and cats, so they thrive.  People say they aren’t good to eat, so they are mostly even safe from humans. There are mongooses on some of the other islands, such as the Big Island and Maui, which eat chickens and eggs. There are mongooses on St. John, too. But mongooses were never introduced to Kauai.

Here’s What I Wrote About The Mongoose in an Earlier Post.

Here are some of my chicken photos. Yes, I do like to take photos of chickens, maybe a little too much.

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