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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!

Watchtower

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.

Yodeling

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 https://493bgdebach.co.uk/ 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.

Eriswell

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
Contemplation

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
Fini
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
Nice!
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
Heather
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.

Rocks Rain Mud; all in a days work

Rain-gorged torrent

We walked Inversnaid to Invernnen in the rain today, 7 hours total. Where we walked yesterday was not passable because the creeks (Byrnes) were up too high.

Along the Loch all day
Keep moving forward

For those of you following Adele: she said that this was physically the hardest day of her life. She was able to keep moving because she knew there was no alternative, there was no turning back, there was no bail out option, just moving forward.

5 hours of this
Goodbye to Loch Lohman
The not so great tour guide

I could do better if I did this trip again, because I’ve learned a good deal about how things go here. But it’s been an adventure!

Scotland in real time

Siblings

We just finished our third day walking the West Highland Way north of Glasgow. The guides say today was 7.5 miles but my tracking apps say 11.1. We had all day so took it slowly, the trail was easy until near the end, and the rain didn’t start until the last half hour.

“Honesty Boxes” among the trail with drinks and snacks

We have been along Loch Lohman for two days, walking north along the east shoreline. The opposite shore is not so far away. The water is calm and clear. I see no fishermen; does that mean there are no fish?

This would be a lovely location for a leisurely canoe camping trip. There are lots of small beaches and on some sections of the trail, no development.

Steep hillside trails with many small creeks
Hotel Inversnaid tonight