Monday, September 5, 2016

US - Hannibal & Mark Twain Lake

We had never been to the little town of Hannibal, Missouri, a riverboat town on the Mississippi River famous for being the boyhood home of Samuel Clemens (a.k.a. Mark Twain), a well known author & lecturer in the late-1800's.

The town still has a "steamboat", but it stays docked in Hannibal and takes tourists out on the river for short cruises.  The paddle-wheel is just painted on the back side of the boat; from the wake, it looked like it uses a more modern engine.
The riverboat, coming back from a tour.

Main Street still has many of the beautiful old-style buildings.  Each building was unique.  During the summer tourist season, I've heard that people dress up as Mark Twain and characters from his books to explain the history: Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, Becky Thatcher...

We expected some sort of celebration for Labor Day weekend (the unofficial end of summer), and we weren't disappointed!

The parade started with a vintage fire engine.

Followed by this beautifully restored car.

Then things started to get weird...
 It turns out, this was Hannibal's 3rd annual Steampunk Festival.  "Steampunk" seems to be how modern day people think people in the 1800's envisioned the future - lots of gears, everything driven by steam, personal jet packs, strange vehicles.  (Think of descriptions from the futuristic books by H.G. Wells & Jules Verne.)

We're still not sure what a "furry" (back row, 2nd from right) was doing at a Steampunk Festival, but everyone was welcome!  

Aside from many wearing similar goggles, every costume was unique.

Near the end of the parade H.R.H. Queen Victoria was riding her mobile throne!

And pulling up the rear, the beginnings of an airship. 

Queen Victoria officially opened the festival.

Many of the costumes were quite elaborate.

We don't know what the backpack was for but it was very ornate. It was either her personal time machine or it held her beer.. hehe.

A non-steampunk couple dressed appropriately for the Victorian era.  The man was riding the penny-farthing (bicycle) and letting some little kids try it.

This was one of the performers.  The instrument is called a hurdy-gurdy, and even though it's a stringed instrument, has a sound similar to bagpipes when the crank is turned.

Another person at the festival.  We don't know whether she was a performer, or just dressed that way for fun.  The lizard clinging to the front of her dress is real.

Could he fly? The boy has a personal flying machine.

This woman is using an old (ca. 1905) sock knitting machine. Load the yarn, turn the crank, and out comes a sock.  Originally from Michigan, she said the market for heavy, woolen socks that are good at -75 deg. F, don't sell all that well in Missouri.

A mysterious "police box" in the middle of Main Street, which looks suspiciously like Dr. Who's Tardis.

This vendor used an old stereo camera to make & sell old-fashioned 3-D tintypes - photos printed on tin plates, rather than paper.  The dual photos are viewed with an old-fashioned stereoscope to see them in 3-D (a technology that is being revived for 3-D video with Samsung VR & Google Cardboard.)

A rather interesting spectator.  Note the tail.  

She was also wearing a dog mask, and a t-shirt that read "People Against Humanity".

What do you think this machine is? Some old technology - in this case, a Linotype machine, used in the printing industry. 

It was hot, so we stopped in a vintage fountain shop for some ice cream.  See something heart shape there?

Main Street in Hannibal.  

If you go, I highly recommend the chocolatier near the end of the block.

After leaving Hannibal, we stopped at Mark Twain State Park, near Florida, MO.

Mark Twain's boyhood home.  The house was moved to the park, then the visitor center/museum building was built around it.

The museum houses furniture & other belongs of Twain's, including this carriage.

The park was having an "open house" for the Labor Day weekend.  In one area, they had a spot to try archery, slingshots, and kayaking - all free!  SinE tried archery for the first time and turned out to be quite good with a bow. 

I learned that I'm probably more of a danger to myself than whatever I'm shooting at with a slingshot.

Kayaking on the Mark Twain Lake looked like fun, but many people were waiting, it was hot, and they only had 5 kayaks, so we didn't try these.

This is the Clarence Cannon Dam on the east of lake.

Wrote by Steve

Saturday, July 30, 2016



她講起她的國家也是貪污,但現在的政府好些了,他們的首長還說,看看馬國的貪污 ~ 意思是印尼才沒像馬國那樣,現在沒得比了。他們的首長名字,我不詳,可是她却知道馬國的第一號官及夫人的名字。我無言。

Monday, July 18, 2016


Steve asked me whether I can save his shirt.  I said just buy a new one, it is old enough that you can get rid of it like previous shirts. 
He said this one is different, it's one of his favorite, ex-team shirts.

Alright, I was starting to stitch those broken parts, several holes. There were holes around both sleeves and arm pits.
He asked where I learned how to sew. I said I learned a little bit from my mom. (Both of my sisters are much better in sewing.)
Steve says he doesn't know how to sew, so while he was single, he just used a stapler to repair things like broken belt loops on his clothes.

It took me 2.5 hours to seal the holes. Is the result okay?
No respond, Steve is already in bed.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

US - Tennessee

7月7日我們駕車來到Tennessee 州旅遊幾天。
We stopped at Kentucky Dam, a lock & dam on the way to Tennessee.

The Woodlands Nature Station was closed when we drove through Land Between the Lakes.  This is a side route in the park.  

We followed this jeep until the water had completely covered the road.  Neither of us attempted to drive across.  The people were from the area and said the water is normally about 10 feet below the road level at this spot, but they had major storms the night before.

Fort Donelson - a Confederate fort during the U.S. Civil War.

 The Parthenon in Nashville, built for the Tennessee's 1897 Centennial Exhibition. This is a full-size reproduction of the original Parthenon at the Acropolis in Athens, Greece.

We were fortunate enough see the original Parthenon on a visit to Greece in 2009.  The original temple was dedicated to Athena, the patron goddess of Athens.

Close-up of one of the pediments, this one showing the birth of the goddess Athena.

Athena, goddess of wisdom, strategic war, and skilled crafts.

Athena Parthenos!
The statue of Athena is over 41 feet tall, and Nike, the goddess of victory in Athena's hand is 6 feet 4 inches tall.  Even taller than Steve!

The tour guide provided some great info about the artistic construction of the temple. 

A few notes: the extra tall steps going up to the temple cause the head to naturally bow as you go up to the temple doors.  As you enter, the door frames the statue. Unfortunately, the large bronze doors at the entrance aren't open to see this.

The pillars in the main hall could have gone to the ceiling but were split about waist-level on the statue by the horizontal beams. This immediately draws the eyes to the statue.

Due to its size, from the waist up the statue is oversized, which makes it look "correct" when viewed from below.

In the original temple, lighting would have been much dimmer, so the gilded statue in the dim temple would have been a much more impressive sight.

One of the figures on the 7.5 ton giant bronze doors.  Many people, including Steve, feel the need to pet the lion's nose.

A reproduction of one of the griffins adorning the roof of the Nashville Parthenon.  The Greek version of a "maneki neko" (beckoning cat) statue?

The opposite end of the building.  The pediment on this end shows the competition between Athena and her uncle, Poseidon, to become the patron god/goddess of Athens.  Athena won. 

The visitor's center at Stone's River National Battlefield.  We stopped just long enough to get a stamp in our National Parks passport.

We stopped in Chattanooga, TN, and visited the Ruby Falls cave on Lookout Mountain.

"At 1,120 feet underground, Ruby Falls is one of the deepest commercial caves in the world. "


"At 145 feet tall, Ruby Falls is one of the largest underground waterfalls accessible to the public."

"Ruby Falls" - the tall waterfall inside the cave.  Named for Ruby, the wife of the cave's discoverer.
This was one of the more beautiful caves we've visited.

The top of the inclined train on Lookout Mountain.

A panoramic view of Moccasin Bend from Point Park on Lookout Mountain, part of the Chicamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park.

Time for a little quiet meditation at Point Park, part of a Confederate fort on Lookout Mountain.

After leaving Chattanooga, we took a southern route, sneaking up on the Great Smoky Mountains from the North Carolina side.  We stopped briefly in Bryson City for information and some great ice cream from The Chocolate Shoppe, before heading up to Cherokee and into the mountains.

  At an elevation of 6,643 feet, Clingman's Dome is the highest point in the park.

The trail from the visitor's center to the observation deck is only 0.5 miles, but the altitude makes it a tough, uphill walk.

The 360 degree view from Clingman's Dome was spectacular.  This is the view to the east.


How far is the view?

To see the world, we need eyes.  Legs are important too, to take the eyes with us.

However, the eyes couldn't see very far.  The eyes need bring the heart, then we can see the far view.

The North Caroline-Tennessee border passes through the mountains.
Standing in two states at once!

Gatlinburg.  A tourist town - a cross between Niagara Falls in Canada and Branson in Missouri. 

The next morning, we went back into the Smoky Mountains to explore more.  This is the old homestead house at Cade's Cove beside the visitor's center.

At the American Museum of Science and Energy in Oak Ridge, Steve found the Tiny Titan - a small computer cluster used to teach high performance computing concepts.  Now, he wants to build one at home.

On the way home, we stopped to hike a little at Lilly Bluff overlook on the Obed Wild & Scenic River.
This trip we drove about 1,450 miles through 6 states: Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and North Carolina.