Monday, November 23, 2020

A YEAR IN WALES COMES TO AN END: A Brush with Royalty, From the Memoir of Carolyn T. Arnold, at The Intrepid Tourist

Valle Crucis Abbey near Llangollen, Wales
Perhaps the original intrepid tourist was Carolyn Arnold, my husband’s aunt.  A single school teacher in Des Moines, she began traveling abroad when she was in her forties, beginning with a bicycling trip through Ireland in 1950.  She went on from there to spend a year as a Fulbright Exchange Teacher in Wales (1953-54), to more trips to Europe and beyond, and eventually became a tour leader, taking all her nieces and nephews (including my husband Art) on her travels.  When she retired from teaching, she wrote of her experiences in a memoir called Up and Down and Around the World with Carrie.  Today, as I read of her travels, I marvel at her spirit of adventure at a time when women did not have the independence they do today.
In TIT post 10/7/2013 Aunt Carolyn described her arrival in Wales, in the small town of Mold where she would be teaching in the grammar school for a year. The piece below describes her living situation during her year of teaching there.
Carolyn T. Arnold, about 1954

So my year in Wales drew to a close. My home room presented me with a large bouquet of long stemmed roses–not very practical since I was leaving the next day–but Muriel enjoyed them. Pictures were taken, goodbyes were said. I felt I had left a bit of me in Wales, and I know that more than a bit of Wales remains in me.
After I left Wales, all American teachers were asked to report to Dr. Ford of the English Speaking Union in London for a final interview. Dr. Ford had received a good and generous letter from Mr. Joseph Jones, Headmaster. I was glad I had been able to please him.
Previous to leaving Mold, I had received an engraved invitation from the Queen Mother to attend a garden party at Lambeth Palace, London. In a group meeting following our interviews, we were informed of the courtesies and procedures. We were told a British citizen would curtsy with eyes lowered before the Queen Mother and then touch her hand if she extended it. We were not to initiate conversation but could speak with her if she spoke first. We, Americans, could do as we liked about the curtsy, but Dr. Ford showed us how to do it. I decided that since I was a guest in the country, I would follow the custom. I hope the Queen Mother did not smile while I did my best maneuver. Other dignitaries were present, and we did not meet them individually. The Queen Mother’s ladies-in-waiting stood nearby. The Lord Mayor of London was recognizable by his robes and gold chain of office. Many others gathered about the lawn. It was an extraordinary experience.
The following day all exchange teachers were invited to a cocktail party given by the American Ambassador. At the party, we met Lady Astor–American born. She was often an embarrassment to the British for she was outrageously outspoken. I had just an exchange of pleasantries.
On our final day before departure, Lady Churchill invited us to a reception. We all were instructed to line up at the foot of the stairs. Then, when one’s name was called by a steward in a splendid red uniform at the door, to proceed up the stairs. Finally, my turn came. After the door was closed, he announced in a stentorian voice, “Miss Carolyn Arnold.” All that was missing, I thought, was a trumpet. I advanced alone down a long room to meet Lady Churchill sitting in a chair at the far end. That was the longest walk I ever made; I was the center of all eyes.
I often think of my experiences in Wales and my friends there. I have returned several times to renew acquaintances. I will always be grateful for the opportunity that came my way.

All text and photos, copyright Caroline Arnold.  www.theintrepidtourist.blogspot.com 

Monday, November 16, 2020

AN EXCHANGE TEACHER IN WALES, 1953-54: From the Memoir of Carolyn T. Arnold, at The Intrepid Tourist

Wales. Welcome to Mold.
Perhaps the original intrepid tourist was Carolyn Arnold, my husband’s aunt.  A single school teacher in Des Moines, she began traveling abroad when she was in her forties, beginning with a bicycling trip through Ireland in 1950.  She went on from there to spend a year as a Fulbright Exchange Teacher in Wales (1953-54), to more trips to Europe and beyond, and eventually became a tour leader, taking all her nieces and nephews (including my husband Art) on her travels.  When she retired from teaching, she wrote of her experiences in a memoir called Up and Down and Around the World with Carrie.  Today, as I read of her travels, I marvel at her spirit of adventure at a time when women did not have the independence they do today.
In TIT post 10/7/2013 Aunt Carolyn described her arrival in Wales, in the small town of Mold where she would be teaching in the grammar school for a year. The piece below describes her living situation during her year of teaching there.


On the second Saturday morning after my arrival in Wales, I went to Mold to find a place to live. I wanted to be part of the community where I would be teaching.  On the street I met Mr. Ledbetter, head of the English Department. He said, “Oh, I know just the place for you. Miss Wotton often takes people in.” Just then, Miss Wotton came along and stopped to chat. Yes, she would take me. Her elderly father would be glad of the company. Miss Wotton and her father lived in the south half of a brick duplex, or as they say, “semi-detached.” The house, as others, did not have a number and had been given a name when it was built. Our house name was “Y Llwyn.”

Miss Wooten’s  father, whom I learned to call Gran, was a tall erect man, very active for his 90 years. He even mowed the lawn. Later, I found that every evening about eight o’clock, he would take his hat and cane and walk along to his favorite pub, have a glass of Guinness, a game of darts, perhaps, and be home within the hour.

I found renting a room included a “sitting room” and high tea soon after I returned from school. It usually consisted of something hot, perhaps a lamb chop, plus sandwiches, dessert, and hot tea–all for $35 a month. I loved it there except for one thing. There was no heat in the bedroom or bathroom. As winter came on, I was very uncomfortable in the bedroom, and as for the bathroom, imagine that without heat! I knew electricity was expensive, and I was not paying much. I asked Miss Wooten–I soon learned to call her Muriel–why there was no heat in the fireplace in the bedroom. She said that the fireplace had not been used since before the War, and she was afraid a fire would light the soot and other material in the chimney. They burned coal in the fireplace downstairs, in my sitting room, and in the kitchen. Her brother, John, who lived in Liverpool, arranged for an electric fire (heater) as they were very scarce at the time. I could use that for a half-hour before bedtime and a half-hour in the morning for an extra pound a month, about $2.80.

Muriel is a sociable person and I owe much to her in getting acquainted with people in town. The Welsh are still very clannish and do not appear to be friendly to strangers, but once one is accepted, there are no more friendly and helpful people than the Welsh. By the end of the year I had drunk gallons of tea at the homes of friends and of my pupils.
Landscape near Mold

Through Muriel I met many more people than I would have met otherwise. Her friends Griff and Chrissy Williams lived near a small village called Gwnymyedd about two miles up the hill from Mold on a farm called “Tros-y-Wern.” Their home is a very old stone building, rectangular in shape with a chimney at each end, which is characteristic of many old farmhouses. The ceiling beams were refinished and glowed with polish. The windows are 18 inches deep, saying something of the thickness of the walls and age of the building. The kitchen has a large fireplace and is large enough for a dining room too. In the scullery is a stove, but both the kitchen fireplace and scullery stove are used for cooking. The floor is tiled, making it easy to clean, for the farm workers ate in the kitchen. There is a fireplace in every room in the house, including the sitting room, the parlor, and the upstairs. Chrissy and Griff became my friends too.

I learned the size of the average farm in Wales is 80 acres, much of it usually too hilly or rough to be arable, so sheep raising is a major part of farming. The Williams had lived at Tros-y-Wern for many years so I was surprised when Muriel told me they did not own the land. It was part of an estate of some lord and could not be sold. Shortly after I left Wales, I learned the lord had died, and Griff bought the land. He divided it into plots and built bungalows. They sold the lovely Tros-y-Wern and moved into one of the new bungalows.

All text and photos, copyright Caroline Arnold.  www.theintrepidtourist.blogspot.com 




Monday, November 9, 2020

OAKLAND, CA, A Few Fun Facts and Places to Go, by Caroline Arnold at The Intrepid Tourist

 All text and photos, copyright Caroline Arnold.  www.theintrepidtourist.blogspot.com 

My second home is Oakland, California, and among its charms are the shops that feature various Oakland themed clothing and gifts. Recently, I was given a hand towel decorated with some of Oakland's notable sites. Included was a card with a few facts about the city and its history:

The earliest known inhabitants were the people of the Huichun Tribe, who lived there for thousands of years. The Huichun belonged to a linguistic grouping later called the Ohlone (a Miwok word meaning "Western People")

Oakland was first incorporated as a town in 1852.

In 1870, Lake Merritt became the nation's first formally declared wildlife refuge.

Walt Disney took inspiration for Disneyland from Oakland's own children's Fairyland.

Rocky Road ice cream was created in Oakland in 1929.

Oakland is full of fascinating facts and places to go. Here is a selection of posts from The Intrepid Tourist about sites featured on the hand towel:

USS Potomac, FDR's Floating White House 

Joaquin Miller Park: Nature and History 

Mountain View Cemetery: Bankers, Chocolate Kings and Ordinary People

Chabot Space and Science Center

Oakland Zoo: New Baby Giraffe

Huckleberry Trail in the Oakland Hills

Oakland Rose Garden






Monday, November 2, 2020

HIKING ALONG THE MCKENZIE RIVER NEAR EUGENE, OREGON, Guest Post by Caroline Hatton at The Intrepid Tourist

The McKenzie River, Oregon
My friend and fellow children’s book author Caroline Hatton took the photos in this post in 2019-20 when she enjoyed this free outdoor activity.

On the McKenzie River National Recreation Trail.

From Eugene, Oregon, driving an hour east into the Cascade Mountains leads through tall evergreen forest, up the rushing McKenzie River, to a treasure: the ~26-mile (~42-km) McKenzie River National Recreation Trail. My husband and I day-hiked different segments on three different dates. On each hiking day, we parked at a different one of the eleven trailheads, hiked upstream until lunch time, then back downhill to our car.

A quiet pool on one side of the river.

Since I love being near water (careful not to get wet—only to admire it, feel revitalized, and take photos), I found immediate rewards upon hitting the trail.

The trail crosses creeks on log bridges.
The trail took us through the same old, same old, dense, mixed forest, moss, and fern wonderland as in many hikes near Eugene.

The Tamolitch Blue Pool, where the river resurfaces after running underground for miles.


But a unique highlight, the most spectacular point near the trail, is the Tamolitch Blue Pool  where the river, having disappeared underground three miles (~4.8 km) upstream, resurfaces in clear blue gem tones. The nearest trailhead is 2.1 miles (~3.4 km) away. By mid-day on a summer weekend, the site was full of visitors of all ages.

Koosah Falls

Not all the waterfalls have names, and some have unofficial names, such as Our Lunch Spot. The 2.6-mile (~4.2-km) Sahalie and Koosah Falls Loop Trail  makes it easy to see both falls, as they crash over ~3,000-year-old lava flows. This trail, which goes on both sides of the river, is so easy that it is hard to imagine ever being alone on it, especially since parking is available at Koosah Falls.

Clear Lake


At Clear Lake, one of the few lakes along the McKenzie River Trail, I sat in the log shelter and through the trees that ring the water, cleared my mind while watching fishermen float past in rowboats. Parking is available at the Clear Lake Day Use Area. Near the north end of the lake, the McKenzie River Upper Trailhead is the upstream end of the trail.

The shelter at Clear Lake


We shared the trail with occasional mountain bikers coasting downhill, a few backpackers plodding toward campgrounds, and happy families strolling near picnic areas. Because most of the trail is only wide enough for one person, distancing, to reduce Covid contagion risk, required one group to step off the trail to let the other through. We always put a mask on to pass others, and most of the other people did too.

In some spots, we had to walk close to the two-lane road or even on the road shoulder, near fast car and truck traffic. But we never strayed far from the river, creeks, lakes, reservoirs, or waterfalls. And although the most popular spots attracted crowds like picnics attract ants, other parts of the trail remained uncrowded between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. even on weekends. And when summer temperatures in Eugene rose into the 80s F (near 30o C), the trail stayed cool because it goes through deep shade at an altitude of ~1450-3140 ft (~442–957 m).

Our three hikes added up to less than half the length of the trail. We were planning to explore the rest by the end of 2020. But on September 7, Labor Day in the U.S., hot dry winds fanned suspected sparks into an inferno, the unprecedented 173,000-acre or ~700-km2 Holiday Farm Fire, between Eugene and the nearest trailhead.

At writing time, a few weeks and as many heavy rains later, thousands of firefighters and other braves have achieved 96% containment, but the McKenzie River Trail is still closed, even though it runs entirely outside of the fire perimeter. For status updates, check the official web page and call the ranger at the number listed there. I’ll be watching for when the trail reopens, to go again through its portal to paradise.

FOR MORE INFO

Good map to plan mileage for a hike on the McKenzie RiverTrail, even though it doesn’t show trailheads or parking lots. Click on “view full map” to see the trail map and profile, then put the cursor on the profile graph. A blue line will appear at that point on the profile, with the corresponding distance from the upper end of the trail, elevation, and grade. A blue dot will appear on the corresponding spot on the trail on the map. The yellow dots are waypoints.

An excellent website for Oregon hikes is oregonhikers.org, even though it covers only parts of the McKenzie River Trail.

Best mobile phone mapping app for intrepid tourists, because even when you don’t have an internet connection, it shows where you are on a previously-downloaded, offline map.

 

All text and photos, copyright Caroline Arnold.   www.theintrepidtourist.blogspot.com