Thursday, September 29, 2016


Princeton University, founded in 1746, was the fourth college in the colonies. First was Harvard, then the College of William and Mary, then Yale, and then Princeton.   What's so cool about Princeton? Its alumni include:
41 Nobel laureates
21 National Medal of Science winners
14 Fields Medalists
10 Turing Award laureates
5 National Humanities Medal winners
209 Rhodes Scholars
126 Marshall Scholars
2 U.S. Presidents (James Madison, Woodrow Wilson)
1 U.S. Vice President (Aaron Burr)
1 First Lady (Michelle Obama)
12 U.S. Supreme Court Justices
Bunches of members of Congress and Cabinet members
Lots of other famous people (e.g., Jeff Bezos, Jimmy Stewart, 
Brooke Shields, Lee Iacocca, Alan Turing)

Just walking around campus made us feel smart (at least as smart as this little boy trying to get the last drop out of the barrel):

On the Princeton University Campus itself, we admired the tower of the John D. Rockefeller College (named after JDR III, brother of Nelson Rockefeller, and yes, he was an alumnus, class of 1929):

Monday, September 26, 2016


After our sightseeing trip around Wilmington, Delaware, we moved on to Princeton, New Jersey. We had driven through New Jersey on a prior trip, but he hadn't stopped anywhere. New Jersey is only 170 miles long and 70 miles wide, the 4th smallest state in the Union behind Rhode Island, Delaware, and Connecticut. However, with 8.8 million people, it is 11th for population, making it the MOST DENSELY POPULATED STATE in the United States! I wouldn't have guessed that.
Before going to Princeton University, the purpose of our New Jersey detour, we took in the city of Princeton itself, population 30,000 (8,000 of which are students at Princeton University). I recently learned that one of Princeton's sister cities is Colmar, France.

One of the dominant buildings in town (not ON the campus, but nearby) is Trinity Episcopal Church:
The first part of the church was built in the Gothic Revival style in 1870, and a few additions and changes were made in the early 20th century.

Friday, September 23, 2016


When we finished our tour of Old Swedes we moved on to another remarkable but very different building: St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church. This Romanesque Revival church, patterned after the Basilica di San Zeno in Verona, Italy, took seven years to build and was finished in 1926. Much of the work on the building was done by artistically skilled parishioners. It is located in an Italian neighborhood of Wilmington and is famous for the Italian festival held here every spring. 

St. Anthony stands outside as sentinel. As you might be able to tell by his haircut and clothing, he was a Franciscan. 
He lived only 35 years, from 1195 to 1231, and is noted for his brilliant speaking and knowledge of the scriptures, for his dedication to the poor, and as the patron saint of finding both things and lost people--a nice guy to have around. Here he is again in the tympanum, holding what I assume is the Christ child:

One of my favorite things about the church was the Italian cathedral-style doors. The front door has ten panels, each with a caption from the Beatitudes:

 While not as ornate as Ghiberti's famous baptistery doors in Florence, I couldn't help but make the connection:
Ghiberti's baptistery doors, Florence, Italy

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


Delaware, with about 900,000 people, ranks 45th in population among the United States (although 8th for population density), and with only Rhode Island being smaller in area, it is 49th in land mass. By way of comparison, Los Angeles has a population of over 4 million people in one-fourth of the space.

I had never had my sights set on any tourist destinations in Delaware, which I thought of as a tiny, nondescript state, in spite of the fact that it was one of the original Thirteen Colonies and was actually the very first state to ratify the Constitution and thereby the first to be admitted to the Union in 1787. However, Bob wanted to spend some time there so that he could check off the state high point, and while we were at it, we decided we might as well take in the sights, such as they are.

Well, I was all wrong about Delaware. In fact, now I realize we need to return to Delaware because we missed seeing the state capitol building in Dover.

The Dutch and the Swedes, who were the first to colonize Delaware, left their mark on the area. After stopping by the state high point, the first place we visited was Old Swedes Church, a National Historic Landmark built in a single year and consecrated on June 4, 1699.  That's about as old as it gets for structures in the U.S. In fact, the church claims to be "the nation's oldest church building still used for worship as originally built."
The church was consecrated on Trinity Sunday and named "Holy Trinity Church," but over the years it became known as "Old Swedes Church." Information at the site informed us that this stone church is "a rare example of Swedish colonial architecture." The brick bell tower on the front was a much later addition.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016


In April 2016 we flew to New York City to visit our son, who is a student there. We went a day before he was available so that we could do a little traveling to neighboring states. Bob had several items on his bucket list that he wanted to cross off.

We flew into JFK and picked up a rental car, then got on our way.

It was fun to see one of the famous Brooklyn exit signs. Brooklyn has a very unique personality, that's for sure.

It was a beautiful day for a drive, and we had 135 miles to go to our first destination.

We were on our way to to Delaware high point, 6.5 miles north of downtown Wilmington in northern New Castle County and within a few feet of the Pennsylvania state line. We made several wrong turns on the final approach. It's not like we could see a mountain, a hill, or even a rise in front of us. Eventually we found this robin's egg blue sign:
"Ebright" is the name of the street that dead-ends into the sign. The word "azimuth" means "the angle of horizontal deviation, measured clockwise, of a bearing from a standard direction, as north or south."  A "bench mark," referred to on the sign, is "a marked point of assumed or known elevation from which other elevations may be established." Does this make sense to you? Yeah, me neither. However, this spot is listed as the state high point, even though we were only "in the vicinity of the highest natural elevation in the state." Maybe the exact high point changes from year to year based on roots pushing up sections of the ground, etc.
I wouldn't say the Delaware High Point was the high point of our trip, but it has its own kooky appeal.

It looks like hyacinths do well at high elevations like 447.85 feet above sea level. I was glad to have something to look at:

Only Florida's high point (345 feet above sea level) sits at a lower elevation that Delaware's.

Friday, September 16, 2016


After a Big Trip like this one to Morocco, my husband and I like to sit down together for a final trip evaluation. We did that on the plane on our L-O-N-G flights (stop in Paris, stop in Detroit) home. With almost no editing (except for adding a few pictures), here are my notes.

* The Atlas Mountains, with their three levels (Anti-Atlas, Middle Atlas, and High Atlas), are a significant barrier and effectively separate the north from the south. Even today, roads seem tenuous--easily washed out by a storm or destroyed by a landslide.
* Road repair, similar to in the U.S., is a constant struggle, especially on the winding mountain roads. It's one of the few places we saw heavy machinery.
* Mountain roads have few safety precautions, such as barriers on the cliff side.
* Morocco has incredible diversity of terrain and climate zones in a relatively small area.


* In some ways the technology was way behind, although everyone carries a smart phone, there are plenty of cars, and I've never seen so many satellite dishes. Still, it is as if they skipped over many parts of technological development. (No telephone land lines, for example.)
* There is a complete lack of farm machinery. Large areas of land are plowed by donkey and an old-fashioned plow. In fact, donkeys are EVERYWHERE.
* People in the middle of nowhere are walking alongside the road. Where are they going? Where did they come from?

Tuesday, September 13, 2016


Our Moroccan adventure was drawing to a close. After our cooking class we were driven back to our riad just in time to get our bags and meet our new driver for the 2 1/2 trip to Casablanca.

It was still light enough to enjoy the sites as we drove out of Marrakech. Two miniature horses and a camel are not the standard corner decor in the United States, at least not where I live:

People watching isn't quite the same in my neck of the woods either:

. . . and this isn't the type of church steeple I'm used to seeing:

Saturday, September 10, 2016


Our last full day in Morocco began with a delicious breakfast on the roof of our riad--cocoa for me and hot milk for Bob, Moroccan crepes (a bit tough and dry) with honey and fig jam, dates, marbled cake, bread, yogurt, and fresh-squeezed orange juice. I especially enjoyed it, knowing in a few days I'd be back to cold cereal or green smoothies at home.

We got picked up at 9:30 AM for a cooking class out in the country. On our way, we stopped at two other riads and added another couple from Turin, Italy, and then a jovial young man from Prague. Lucky for us, everyone spoke a little English. We drove about 20 minutes out of the city to Faim d'epices [Hunger Spices], listed by Travel and Leisure as one of the best cooking schools around the world.

The cooking school harvests some of their ingredients from their own organic farm on the property:

The facility is wonderful--a large, sunny room with individual cook stations, and lots of little accoutrements that add to the atmosphere.


Wednesday, September 7, 2016


We left the wild craziness of the Berber Market and drove the last few miles to Imlil.

On the way, I spotted this delivery truck on the road and wondered how many mothers in this area have the luxury of disposable diapers, and how the trash collection system works in the many small villages we passed.
There are some things you just don't learn when you are a tourist. 

The spectacular Atlas Mountains stretch more than 1500 miles across the north end of Africa. We had already spent some significant time driving through other sections of the Atlas (see here and here), but we were really looking forward to seeing Jebel [Mount] Toubkal, the tallest mountain in Northern Africa at 13,665 feet.

Aziz took us to the upper edge of Imlil, which serves as the starting point for those who want to make the trek to Jebel Toubkal's summit. Most people take a day to hike 5-7 hours to the base camp, spend the night there, and then rise early for the final ascent, which takes 2.5 to 4.5 hours, depending on the route. (For a complete description, see this site.)

At first we thought this majestic specimen was The Great Mountain:

However, later we got a better view of the real Jebel Toubkal, located to the left of and behind the mountain in the above photo:

Here it is, just over Bob's head:

Monday, September 5, 2016


We used Marrakech as a starting point for a trip to Imlil, a small village of about 5,000 people high in the Atlas Mountains. It was the closest we could get to 13,671-foot-tall Jebel Toubkal, the tallest mountain not just in Morocco, but in all of North Africa. Bob has a thing about high points.

We were back with our driver Aziz, who had driven us from Fes to the Sahara, and from the Sahara to Marrakech. 

We stopped several times for photos. It doesn't look very mountainous, does it?

The area around Marrakech is similar to the high desert of Southern California:

Sunday, September 4, 2016


Fes or Marrakech?

That's a question that many a time-challenged traveler asks. Of all the tourist destinations in Morocco, these two cities have the most to offer in the way of culture and history, but they are 300 miles apart, and the journey between them is not easy. Many tourists try to weigh the attractions of each place so that they can tip the scale in favor of one or the other, but the two cities really cannot be compared. While they have some things in common--a wonderful old town with all its cultural and historical buildings, a new town with its modern conveniences, crazy traffic, interesting people, relaxing riads--there is also much that is different.

In a Huffington Post article published a couple of years ago entitled "The Great Moroccan Debate: Marrakech or Fes?" Nicole Leigh West wrote: ". . . if they were both cakes made with culture instead of flour, Marrakech's other main ingredients are fun, color and exuberance, while Fes is flavored with history, mystery and its own serious brand of medieval mayhem."

The comparison I came up with is that if Morocco were to be compared to Brazil (where, admittedly, I have never been), Fes would be Sao Paulo and and Marrakech would be Rio during Mardi Gras, and the heart of the party in Marrakech is Jemaa el Fna Square, which has been around since at least the 12th century. The square is to Marrakech what Central Park is to New York City. It is a huge open space in the midst of a crowded city that serves as a place for entertainment, relaxation, and gathering.

On one side of the square is the souk, and the other sides are edged by hotels and mosques and cafes:

As in so many places in Morocco, it's a crazy blend of Old World panache and 21st century swagger: