At last I have managed to collate photos and blog posts of my incredible journeys over the past decade into published photo books. It has been rewarding. There are still countries and places which I have visited and for which a book is missing – New Zealand and Brazil for example. A cycle trip to New Zealand in January 2019 will stimulate me to produce a book covering the three or four trips to that country over the years.
All American medical conferences have routinely between 5 to 10000 registrants, in other words they are big! This “breakthrough” event was small , I would hazard a guess at about 1500 neurologists. On every table at which I sat, the conversation would immediately or within minutes, rapidly open with a passing query as to from whence one came. “Oh I am in Philadelphia, County Clinton, east side”. The other responded that he had recently moved down south from Alaska to New Mexico, County Cibola, west side.
Now the USA covers an area of 9 million square kilometres and has a population of 435 million. It is a remarkable fact that into which each and every conversation I eavesdropped, not one of the attendees did not immediately give the nonchalant impression that each, to within a bald eagles pin feather, knew precisely where the other lived as they forked food to mouth.
“Oh yah” each says in a way that reminds me of laconic Brainerd police chief Marge Gunderson in that memorable Cohn brothers movie Fargo. Turns out that each had either been born in the others current town or attended the local kindergarten or went there over more than 25 years to spend every Thanksgiving with their Ma and Pa or did a year of their training at the city hospital in 1995.
This compares to my response if I attend an Epilepsy Congress in Adelaide ( local) and a colleague shares his present address as Clovelly Park in the southern city of Onkaparinga.
Upon my return will install a similar billboard at the intersection of Grand Junction Road and Main North Road
Brain Screening can help you think clearly
Bulk billing with Dignity
Norton Synapse Institute
From afar the daily news of deadly gun massacres, the impending Trump presidential ascendency, paints the USA as a confusing, frightening cauldron of reactionary discontent. Yet from my first step on American soil I am amazed at the open, friendly welcoming citizens. They are to a man and woman – genuine! “You’re welcome” they respond to my “thank you” and I actually believe they mean it!
I ordered for “starters” at dinner last night the Purple Kale, pine nuts, raisins and Arizona goats cheese salad with a quince aioli dressing! My attentive waiter, Brian responded with a somewhat unsettling instantaneous, ecstatic affirmation of my request, so effusive, that I reasoned that I must have been the first person to order this wondrous salad which had been added to the menu 4 months ago at the beginning of autumn and neglected by every uneducated, unadventurous diner till this obviously cultured antipodean gourmet descended upon the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Restaurant on January 13th 2017. It apparently was their autumn signature salad. Again I actually believe he was genuine in his praise of my choice compared to the mostly superficial response “excellent choice” by his Australian counterparts.
Super size me is an American expression and the starter size salad set before me, was sufficient to satiate the entire table of 8 morbidly obese Americans seated at the adjacent table. For one fleeting moment I considered that the serve size of my Purple Kale signature salad was a consequence of the possibility that I was the lone order for the evening, and that the kitchen was faced with the prospect of a rather large barrel of wilting Kale lettuce by midnight. The Arizona goats cheese of course would be all the better for another 24 hours of maturing. I dismissed this as an unedifying if not unpalatable thought.
The other slightly unsettling aspect to my dining experience was that having done justice to the salad, Brian returned seeking my mains order and understandably I guess with breathless anticipation assumed I would opt for the Cheeks of Arizona Prairie Bison poached in elderberry juice with roasted cactus pine needles. I had to politely decline and he became as crestfallen as the Coyote in the Roadrunner cartoon.
Finally it was brought home to me as I dined in the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass restaurant, that Americans have a 2 step approach to eating: cut and dice with knife and fork then drop the knife and use the fork to “spoon ” food towards the mouth. I felt on principle I would continue to eat with both knife and fork as my dear mother demanded all those years ago holding the knife as it SHOULD be held ( never like a proletarian pencil – a solecism that invoked the feather duster across the knuckles).
To a man I was convinced that every diner lay down their fork and gazed at me as I demonstrated my dexterity and were in awe of my manifestly amazing fine motor skills.
The Hotel Schwarzwald
This hotel is remarkable on many levels. It is almost impossible to know where to begin. The hostlier is Herr Schafer. As an adolescent at the end of the war, he witnessed British soldiers dancing- not in the streets but what I guess we would call Ballroom Dancing in the clubs of Berlin. He was mesmerised by the fluid graceful movements of the couples , so at odds with the stiff precise routines of a German dance! He promptly enrolled in a summer dance academy in London over the next three years.
Somewhere along the way he met his German Wife – his partner in life and dance! He hosted a national TV programme on Ballroom Dancing for many years.
He took up teaching and in 1964 built the hotel with the aim of setting up a dance academy with live in accommodation. He rose up the ranks of professional dance teachers and was admitted as a Fellow of the Academy of International Dance Teachers!
His hotel and dance studio situated in the Schwarzwald became just as famous as a stopping point on the walking trails and he then added to his CV by his active participation in the regions tourist organisation.
I think the best way to indicate this man’ achievements, are by photos and the fact that on his 80th birthday he received a personal greeting from the German Chancellor Angela Merkel! He and his wife are so unassuming!
whilst I abhor senseless killing, I offered to take a pictute of his hunting trophies. From the 1960’s – deer!
Max the Red Deer Bull in s reserve that Herr Schafer has adopted almost like a pet and which he takes all the walkers to see!
Some pictures along the trail day 3 and 24 km
I have no idea why but Grandma has made rather spectacular recovery! Here she is on Friday (2 days ago) cracking a joke. Not sure she has the punch line down pat, but who cares
I belong to the “slide night” generation, having been subjected to these events in childhood, the consequence of having a father who enjoy photography. Not surprisingly I followed in his footsteps. My first trip overseas at the end of my fifth year in medicine was to Nepal. In Singapore I purchased a relatively expensive SLR Pentax camera. Over the next 15 to 20 years I accumulated a cupboard of Kodachrome slides. In the three months that I worked at a mission hospital in Kathmandu I wrote a diary in fact it was the beginning of a travel blog before travel blogs were invented! Those of you who have been intermittently reading this web-based travel blog realise that I enjoy creating and I think have a modicum of talent, in such writing. So it was a few weeks ago that I purchased an expensive Epson professional photocopier which had the ability to copy and archive Kodachrome slides. I have now dictated the typewritten diary which I turned into a bound book at the end of my university course and now plan to “publish” it in a more modern and user-friendly version To whet your appetite I post below two or three of the slides which I took and have modified in terms of size to incorporate them into my pending publication. My stay in Kathmandu was divided into working in the hospital and finally for the last month I trekked to Everest base camp and then returned, to enjoy after a month without washing, a beautiful warm shower. The pictures explain it all.
I am listening to a young Nepalese man complain of chest pain. Many were convinced they had TB and not without reason!
Everest : The summit from the Based Camp at Kalapatar.
Amadablam Some say this is more majestic than Everest.
First cycle is a hot shower with soap and srub
Then a rinse cycle in COLD water, enough to make everything shrink.