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Battle of the Bulge

The biggest battle in WW2 in Europe was around the Belgian city of Bastogne, which is 20 miles north of here. Yesterday we visited the 101st Airborne Division’s museum. There is another, larger museum here which tells the broader story, which we visited in 2021.


I have been curious about Josette’s family’s involvement in the war. So far, I haven’t learned much, but will query her brother Jean Claude about it; he is a history buff.

Dioramas tell the story

In many of the dioramas, there is a historic photograph displayed, with explanations of what is happening.

Historically accurate presentation

Some are gruesome, like this field hospital scene.

Hard to look at for long!
Lots of artifacts
101st Airborne lore
Local bar scene

The city was liberated in September 1944, but then the German army can back 3 months later. The battle to hold Bastogne was a desperate one for both armies: the weather was very cold and there was snow throughout.


The American assault started with paratroopers, who are lightly armed and have limited munitions and food. Then the German army cut off the city from resupply.

Desperate fighting day and night
Fighting from a ruined building

The most disturbing scene is in the basement, where civilians shelter as the battle rages outside. A baby cries, the building shakes, tanks drive past, constant gunfire and cannon shells exploding.

The big picture
Vlessart is in the picture

I’m hoping to visit some WW1 sites and museums, although some are closed for the winter, like the Maginot Line, which we drove past a few days ago. I expect to make a day trip to Verdun, not far away in France. Americans who want to see a war (against Islam or a new civil war, just to name two) should come to these battlefields and read the names on the monuments in the center of each village and town.

Staying In Shape for the Trail?

People often ask me how I prepare for the trail. The short answer is, I don’t. If you don’t prepare for a long walk, you suffer, but only for the first week. My walks in Europe are generally 4-6 weeks long. However, I walk here twice a week to stay in shape. On this post I’m going to show you photos from what I call The Seven Summits: the seven high points in Enchanted Rock State Natural Area (ERSNA). The Summits in this post aren’t in order, and I usually hike only two or three on a visit. The Seven Summits all together are a hard walk which I’ve only done three times.

You never know who you are going to meet on top of The Rock.

Enchanted Rock is 17 miles north of Fredericksburg. This photo is from Little Rock with Enchanted Rock in the background. I met this cute Belgian girl 4 years ago in France. We walked trails together in France and Italy in 2018, 2019, 2021, and 2022. This October we visited the Grand Canyon and other amazing parts of the American West in October. Her name is Josette, and we communicate in French.

This is Sandy Creek in ERSNA. The deep sand isn’t easy walking, and it gets in my shoes. There is no trail to Flagpole (High Point #7), so we walk the creek almost to the northeast park boundary. Flagpole is the high point on the top right of the map.

This is Lorrie, one of my hiking companions, on top of Flagpole. The park boundary runs over the top of this seldom-visited high point. Lorrie is an avid long distance backpacker and was the 300th woman over 50 to through-hike the Appalachian Trail. She is tough as nails and has to slow down to walk with me. Even she is challenged by the steep ups and downs of this hike.

On the far left is Freshman Mountain (foreground, left, High Point #5) , then Turkey Peak, and on the right is Enchanted Rock Dome. The photo is taken from Buzzard’s Roost (High Point #6). I had never been on the very top of this high point before because I didn’t see the route. Lorrie found it.

These are Carnivore Boulders. One of my climbing friends, James, says they are named so because “they will eat you alive.” This is part way up West Little Rock (High Point #1). The park staff call West Little Rock “No Name Rock.” I beg to differ.

I don’t know what anyone else calls this, but its Kissing Rocks. They are near the top of Turkey Canyon on your way up Turkey Peak.

Black Vulture on top of Turkey Peak. High Point #4. This is not hard but it is steep, and a nice little summit. This bird landed without regard to me, and this is the closest I’ve been to a vulture. My Enchanted Rock Red novel has a Turkey vulture named Clairice as a character.

Little Rock (High Point #2) looking to Enchanted Rock Dome (High Point #3). You can see Turkey Peak on the right. I used this photo for the cover of my first novel, Enchanted Rock Red. I see the book has a 4 1/2 star rating on Amazon!

White Lace Cactus bloom in February
Greenthread bloom much of the summer.

This very steep climb up Little Rock can be accessed from the Interpretative Loop on the horseshoe parking lot. I go up this when I don’t have a lot of time and want to get my heartbeat up. It works!

I’ll be in Belgium for a while with Josette, then walking in Italy most of May. I also plan to return to the Isle of Man in September. In the middle of that I hope to make a trail in both Crete and Spain. When I’m home I love taking people to Enchanted Rock. If you are interested in walking any of these trails, come on!

See you down the trail.

Robert Deming

Wild West Tour

Balmorhea State Park, Texas
Sunrise, West Texas
Prada Marfa
Deming, New Mexico
City of Rocks SP, New Mexico
Petrified Forest NP
First time camper
Grand Canyon sunrise
Bright Angel Trail, Grand Canyon NP
Grand Canyon Sunset
Lees Ferry, Colorado River, Utah
Bryce Canyon Sunrise, with Tyler
Bryce Canyon NP trail
Bryce Canyon Sunset
Zion NP
Zion trail with Tyler
Broken Arch, Arches NP
Landscape Arch, Arches NP
Tunnel Arch, Arches NP, Utah
Tapestry Arch, Arches NP, Utah
Castle Peak, Colorado
Cindy and Josette near Durango, Colorado
Second Ave Brewery, Santa Fe, NM
Santa Fe, NM
Roswell, NM
Carlsbad Caverns NP, NM
Eastern New Mexico
South Llano River, Texas

Jodelling in Wien

I’m visiting friends from the trail in Italy. What do they do for entertainment? They sing, and they walk, sometimes at the same time.

Vienna Woods walk

We met at 10 on Saturday morning and walked up a mountain, stopping to sing every few minutes.

Songbook for Jodlers

I stood next to Gerhardt, who sang bass, and followed his lead. On the fourth rendition of one piece I finally got it right, and was complimented by Gerhardt and the director (who also created the songbook).

Berghuette (mountain hut)

We climbed to the top of a mountain and had lunch in a cozy mountain hut. It is run by volunteers, and the food was fabulous!


Then we climb to the top of another peak and went up a watchtower to see the view of Vienna.

Berghuette #2

We had dessert and coffee at the second hut. I had a classic crepe, although the menu item was in German and I had no idea what to expect. Again, fabulous!

Gabi and Monika

These mountain huts are accessible by trails and don’t have a parking lot. Our walk was 5 1/2 miles and 1200 feet of up.


Station 152

Adele and I visited the site of an Air Force Base known as Station 152, located near a village called Debach. When I learned that Dad had been in the 863rd Squadron of the 493rd Bomb Group (from one of dad’s family newsletters Adele had kept) I quickly found the museum associated with it.

Adele and Darren Jelley

We soon learned that Darren Jelley had extensive knowledge of the unit and it’s history.

Back row, second from left

Darren sent us this photo of dad‘s crew taken at Debach. We were very surprised, because nothing came down to is through Dad or the family, or through the US Air Force archives.

The 863rd Squadron living areas were over there

All that remains of the base is some concrete paving, the control tower building, and other buildings which have been used by the farm since the base closed. Richard, the owner of the farm, is very supportive of the museum efforts and himself is a collector.

Darren explaining how the bombers found their way home

We drove around what is left of the runways and taxiways, where the mess halls had been, where the crew quarters were, and where the aircraft parking handstands had been.

Richard’s collection of old military trucks
Richard Taylor, right

The volunteers in this museum do a lot of programs for school children, and they are diligent in presenting factual stories and correctly restored equipment.

B-17 engine

Dad told me once that his job as navigator included pulling the propellers through a cycle by hand during preflight. This brought oil up into the cylinders.

Darren has the records of our dad‘s missions, obtained from microfilm records held by the US in its archives. The last two missions he flew were food drops to the starving Dutch people in Holland; one where the big airport is now and another over a golf course. They flew at 400 feet and dropped 10-1 British rations, ten days for one man’s worth of food. (May 1945).

B-17 of the 493rd Bomb Group

Darren also had records of the two combat missions Dad flew, April 1945, which must have been very difficult for him. One was to Czechoslovakia, where German jet fighters shot down four of the aircraft on the mission. The other was over Royan in France. I suspect that Dad did not have any mementos from the war because he wanted to forget about it. The paperwork Darren had included crew lists and formation position. I will write more about that in the future.

493 Bomb Group Memorial

See for much more of the story, thanks to Richard Taylor for his commitment, and to Darren Jelley for his passion in wanting to tell the story.


We are staying at an Airbnb in the village where we went to school from 1956-1959. Our Airbnb hosts, Andrew and Valerie, have been great. Andrew picked us up at the train station as this is a difficult place to get to. This morning we went with them to Ely Cathedral for worship. Their grandson was singing in the choir.

Choristers practicing

The Bishop processed in with two women at the start. I presume the women were priests. The Bishop is quite tall, and he came in wearing the tall hat called a miter and carrying a wooden shepherd’s crook. He started his eulogy by relating a story: he had been seated next to the queen at a dinner, and she asked him if he’d had enough to eat. He said yes, and she replied that “there is quite a bit of you.” The choristers, the congregation singing hymns, backed by a huge pipe organ, all fabulous.

The Bishop spoke, he was quite interesting
Adele, Andrew, & Valerie.

Andrew (Airbnb host) has been carting us all over the place, and we all went to eat lunch at “The Packhorse Inn.” It was excellent!

Saint Laurence Church, Eriswell
Music class was held on the left side.

According to Open Domesday, Eriswell was a settlement in Domesday Book, in the hundred of Lackford and the county of Suffolk.It had a recorded population of 26 households in 1086, putting it in the largest 40% of settlements recorded in Domesday.” The origins of this church are 13th century.

Grave of James Paul (1820), a Native American He died at 16 of disease.
Home for three nights

This evening Pearl and her daughter stopped by the cottage, and we talked about Eriswell and the school.

Tomorrow we continue our history walk by visiting the museum of the 493 Bomb Group in Debach.

Warning: Elderly People on the West Highland Way

We finished our 8 day version of the WHW today along with numerous friends accumulated along the path. Adele met me for the last several miles walk into Fort William.

The UP starts here

It ended up being 16.8 miles and 1976 feet of up. The weather was good by Scottish standards, with no actual rain. However, at times it was rather “midgey”.

Lochleven in my rear view mirror
Once up the trail was relatively level
Many walkers excited about the upcoming finish
Historic place
Rainbow greetings, Ft William down below
The old finish with French/Canadians Anna and daughter Margo
The bar behind the finish
The Geographer Restaurant with Kristien and Drew
Tomorrow- Glasgow

Tourism Appreciation Day

We took a bus to Glencoe Crossing this morning.

20 minutes ride
Fabulous Scones and Coffee!
Loch Leven
Town of Lochleven
Bank House B&B

We are staying in a lovely B&B which also serves breakfast! Lochleven is not large but has several restaurants and other shops.

A short hike brought us to this waterfall just at the edge of town.

I very carefully walked planks with cables and chains to get closer to the waterfall.
Gray Mare Waterfall
The Ice Factor
Serious ice tools
Of course, the climbing gym has a cafe
Red Deer in the city park
West Highland Way

Tomorrow I plan to walk the last stage into Fort William. Adele plans to bus partway and finish walking (it’s 15 miles, at my outer limit and twice Adele’s).

The Tube

It’s a micro-lodge, but I’d call it a tube. We are at a ski resort off-season, lots of walkers here.

I walked solo again today, 11 miles of easy trail in treeless mountains.

Bridge of Orchy, the start
Plantation pine along the way
First high point on the route
Lots of hikers, but spread out
Rain coming
Micro lodge
Dinner and rehydration
Two days left

Sunshine, at last!

I walked 15 miles today to our hostel at a railway station. Adele needed a rest day, so she took a train. She learned the ins and outs of riding trains from fellow passengers.

The bunkhouse will be full tonight. The only restaurant in the tiny community of Bridge of Orchy, in the hotel, was full with two tour groups and couldn’t offer us any dinner. I was able to rehydrate with a couple of pints of local beer. We had a couple of “add hot water and stir” meals. It was fine.

Fish and chips

I had fish and chips in Tyndrum, half way here. It was a very touristic place. Bridge of Orchy is not.

Site of the battle of Dalrigh

Here in 1306 two warring Scots clans fought a significant battle. Robert the Bruce was the leader of the losing side. Nothing remains from the battle despite archaeological examination. There was lots of violence between clans in this area.

Young London PhD candidates on the trail.
Long and lonely road.
Rivers are up from recent rain
Just me and the sheep

The weather was perfect for walking, but it was still a hard walking day. I ended up with 15 miles, I like 10-12 much better.