I have now made my third foray onto this enchanted isle of beautiful sunsets, gorgeous senioritas, and delicious margaritas. I am talking of course, of the magical town of Ajijic, Mexico located on the shores of Lake Chapala nestled in the shadows of the Sierra Madre mountains.
Ajijic is an Indian name meaning the place where the water flows. In 2021 Ajijic was appointed Pueblo Magicio (Magic Town) by the Secretary of Tourism of Mexico for the work of this town in protecting and preserving its cultural heritage. It is a sight to behold and welcoming place to visit. While we are here we will be looking at property and seriously considering joining the already large expat community that currently lives here.
We already have friends who live here and we are making more every day. Many of our friends and acquaintances make regular pilgrimage here. It is a wonderful place to visit and I hope to live.
Yesterday we went to a musical event at a local hang out called El Bar Co. They had a rooftop band called The Romeos and it was packed. Here included are a few snaps from the event.
Buddha and I go back many years and I love him like a brother. But you know how I feel about my brother. And it’s because of this guy that I started coming down here in the first place.
Buddha brings a little chaos with him everywhere he goes. Like the other night. We went to a dive bar called El Chameleon. On the way there he was on a video call with a friend from Louisville and showing her the way. He was walking 20 paces ahead of me. I asked him where this place was and he said he knew how to find it. Is it past Colon, I asked. I don’t know, he answered. So he took a left on some street and we walked two blocks to a dead end. Oh! This is a dead end he says. Well, why did you turn down this street, I asked. Because I don’t know what I’m doing, he said. Then he took off again retracing his steps and gabbing to the woman in louisville the whole time while I am trailing along behind him and wondering why.
Finally we get to El Chameleon and I call him out on the video call and he tells the lady, I got to go. So we go in and have a couple of drinks and he settles down a bit and we have a nice conversation. Turns out he was in there the previous night with another friend of ours and he meets this beautiful Mexican Chick who tells him to ditch the blonde. That’s why I wanted to come back here tonight to see if she shows up again. The truth comes out.
The next day He tells me he has slowed down a lot and is not so much always in a hurry. Yes you are! I say, and I remind him of the events of the previous evening. He says, and I quote, “Fuck you! And for now on, The first thing I’m going to say to you when I see you is fuck you, just to save time.” Maureen is falling out her chair laughing. With that, Buddha gets up and walks over to a beautiful Mexican woman sitting at another table and whispers in her ear. She turns her head to look at him and smiles. Then Buddha exits the restaurant.
Maureen and I recently went on road trip to Berea, Kentucky. We took Miss Scarlett, our newly acquired 1984 Porshe 994.
I said, “Maureen, why do you call your car, Miss Scarlett?”
“Because, I don’t give a damn, is why!”
Well, ask a foolish question…
Berea is a small Kentucky town known for it’s arts and crafts, it’s beautiful trail ways, and of course Berea College.
Berea College is tuition free, but the students have to work to earn their tuition. The hotel where we stayed is completely run and staffed by students. As a matter of fact, my own father attended Berea College when he was a young man and he too worked at the historic Boone Tavern and Hotel.
We visited the artisan village, walked around the college campus and one day I hiked the pinnacles while Maureen stayed behind and went shopping.
A very enjoyable stay only three hours from Louisville. We would definitely go back!
New Harmony, Indiana is a great place for a weekend getaway. It is an easy two-hour drive from my home base of Louisville, Kentucky (135 miles).
Maureen and I set out about eleven am figuring to get there in time for lunch. Only made one wrong turn but, discovered my mistake quickly enough that it didn’t really result in any loss of time. Yes, I have GPS but I usually only consult it as a last resort. I like the challenge of finding places on my own after an initial consultation with the map. I seldom get lost but sometimes I am surprised by my destination. And Maureen was no help as she would be the first to admit she has no sense of direction and seemed to be proud of it.
So, there I was on my own with no navigator. Well, I always say, Id’ rather have a navigator than an alligator. But lucky for me, Maureen was neither of these things. She was a fine traveling companion and lover as well. I had prepared a mix tape to listen to on our drive and we sang up every song we both knew and were in New Harmony before we knew it.
New Harmony is a small town, a village really, with a population of 850, situated on a stretch of the Wabash River. It was originally settled by a communal German religious group known as the Harmonists in 1814 wo attempted to create a Utopia. This worked for a while and then their leader, George Rapp, took them back to Pennsylvania, where they originated, in 1824. They sold the land to a socialist visionary named Robert Owen who believed in workers’ rights, an eight-hour work day, and communal living. Owen believed in a secular utopian socialism. He rechristened the community New Harmony in 1825. The Owenite community failed in the late 1820s.
The third utopia can be attributed to Jane Blaffer Owen (1915-2010). During her time in New Harmony she brought modern architecture to the town, such as the Roofless Church, the Atheneum and many public art pieces. She created serenity with Tillich Park, Church Park and the Cathedral Labyrinth and has left behind a legacy all her own.
While this is not a true Utopia, New Harmony truly is a unique experience. The village is very aware of its history and has done a good job in retaining its historical character and charm, and maintaining a state of genuine peace and tranquility. It features, public art and architecture, gardens, shopping, fine dining, a wonderful inn, live music, museums, a brewery, coffee shops, nature places, and an abundance of history.
So, like I said, we arrived right at noon, with the time change, just in time for lunch. I parked my car in front of the Bread and Breakfast where we were staying (The AC Thomas House) and we walked into to town. The first place we went was jammed packed so we made our way across the street to Sara’s Place. It is a coffee shop on one side and a pub on the other. We got into the long line to place our food order to the overworked barista and finally made our order. I had a panni and Maureen had a grilled cheese sandwich which is her “go to” choice in such situations. We carried our food out of doors to the patio, that’s when I noticed the pub. Say, I said, would you like something to drink? Sure, I’ll have a Hendrick’s gin and tonic, she said. So, I marched back inside to place our drink orders only to discover they didn’t serve hard liquor, only beer and wine. So, I, ordered a Stella and beat feet out to Maureen to see if she wanted a wine. She declined. We had a pleasant lunch out there on the patio under the warmth of a golden sun. A few minutes later her friend shows up with his daughter in tow and we make our acquaintances and exchange pleasantries. We are going to meet up with him and his partner later on that evening at the Red Geranium for dinner. Until then we were on our own.
We walked around the town a bit and visited a couple of the unique shops along the way. Maureen bought something to wear for later on that night at dinner. We moseyed on back to the AC Thomas house to unload the car and get unpacked. Her friend was going to pick us up on his golf cart a little later and take us back to his house for drinks before dinner.
Dan and John own an art gallery in town with many pieces of lovey art. We would visit their store tomorrow. Meanwhile it was drinks at their stately mansion on Main. Then we all piled onto their golf cart for the short ride to the Red Geranium for dinner.
The Red Geranium is known for its fine dining and congenial atmosphere. We ate out on the terrace. Food was delicious and the company was solid. We had a lot of laughs as Maureen caught up with her friends. David and John were from Louisville and thy had just moved to New Harmony a few year ago to open their art gallery and to lead a more tranquil life with their daughter. They had started coming to the village as a weekend getaway and fell in love with the place and decided to move there permanently.
After dinner we walked around the town a bit more. It was surprising how different everything looked after dark. Things took on a more sinister aspect and even the religious art had a pagan look to it. When we got back to the B&B we were exhausted. We quickly disrobed and climbed between the sheets and fell to sleep listening to the strains the mixtape I had prepared which I was able to play on my cell phone. The last thing I remember was Toni Braxton singing Unbreak My Heart before drifting off to La La Land holding Maureen tightly in my arms.
Next morning, we were up bright and early as our hostess prepared our breakfast of coffee and quiche. It wasn’t bad but not as good as expected. Today we would explore the village a little more before heading back to Louisville. We walked out to the labyrinth and wandered around there for a while then we came back to town to visit John in the art gallery. Of course, I took copious amounts of pictures which I will now share with you, dear gentle reader.
My trip to Asheville, North Carolina would not be complete without a visit to the Biltmore estate. I was a little hesitant at first to fork over $75.00 for the price of admission but once on the grounds and into the house I soon discovered the tour was worth every penny. Buy the ticket, take the ride as Hunter would say.
The first ride was on a bus from the remote parking area to the mansion proper.
George Vanderbilt opened the Biltmore House on Christmas Eve 1895, after six years of construction. He created Biltmore as an escape from everyday life for his family and friends. The 8,000 estate was home to George, his wife Edith, and their daughter Cornelia. In 1924 Cornelia married John Francis Amherst Cecil. They lived and entertained at Biltmore. The Cecils opened Biltmore to the public in 1930 to promote tourism in the area during the depression and to generate income to maintain the property.
Vanderbilt decided to construct Biltmore in 1888. He acquired 125,000 acres of woodland in North Carolina. He hired architect Morris Hunt to design a limestone house to be modeled on the Chateau de Blois of the Loire Valley in France. It is said to be the largest domestic home ever built in the United States encompassing four acres of floor space.
Cornelius “Commodore” Vanderbilt, George’s father, made the family fortune in the shipping and railroad business. At one time he had a monopoly on all rail service in and out of New York City. As legend has it, he started his ferry business as a young man with a $100 loan from his mother, worked hard, and became one of the wealthiest men in America during the so-called Gilded Age.
Today, Biltmore remains a family business employing over 2000 employees who continue Biltmore’s mission to preserve what has been described a national treasure.
The house is beautiful and handsomely furnished, as the pictures will attest, but one is slightly turned off by the ostentaciousness of the luxurious surroundings.
One wonders about all the concentration of wealth in the hands of so few while America continues to be run by oligarchs and income disparity strangles the middle class and starves the poor.
George Orwell said it best I think: “A fat man eating quails while children are begging for bread is a disgusting sight, but you are less likely to see it when you are within the sound of the guns.”
Once upon a time in a land faraway (New Jersey) I made a road trip with my then wife Robin to Niagara Falls. On the way we made a stop in Corning, New York for a business meeting which justified our trip.
We traveled in my new convertible Crossfire which could go from 0 to 100 in under 10 seconds. It came equipped with it’s own green frog whose name happened to be Kermit.
We stayed at the Embassy Suites Hotel on the Canadian side.
While walking around the downtown area of Niagara Falls we sort of wore ourselves out. Robin commented that if I was a few years younger she would make me pick her up and physically carry her back to the hotel.
I responded that if she was a few pounds lighter I would pick her up and carry her anyway. She laughed and I laughed and we both had a good laugh.
Next day we went out to the falls which were nothing less than spectacular.
Mary and I started on a road trip today in our Fiat 500. We packed light and are bringing our dog Gideon. He thinks he is a human.
We are on our way to Boca Raton Florida to celebrate Mary’s cousins 50th birthday. Miriam has requested all her guests to wear white for the party. So we are coming prepared. Including Gideon.
We drove about 500 miles today. Making four stops along the way. We stopped in Smith’s Grove Tennessee, Murfreesboro Tennessee, Chattanooga Tennessee, and Forest Park Georgia just outside of Atlanta. We made our final stop for the night in Macon Georgia. Found a pet-friendly Best