Wednesday, December 27, 2017

A Day Trip to Blois

Pages From Jan's Travel Journal: Wednesday, June 14 2017

Desmond had to work all day, so Craig, Janey, and I decided to take a little day trip to Blois. We all headed over to the bakery, where we purchased pastries and Desmond bought lunch for us to eat on the train. We had coffee at home while enjoying the pastries. I had a delightful apricot and custard tart. After Des took off for the university, the rest of us prepared for our little journey. We arrived early at the train station, which was a good thing since we had difficulty purchasing tickets from the automated kiosk. We finally went inside and waited in line at the ticket counter where a young man very kindly assisted us. Soon we were boarding the train, not forgetting to validate our tickets!

Janey and Craig at Gare d'Orleans
The smooth train ride was comfortable; the scenery lovely. About halfway into the ride, we pulled out the lunch treats from Des and shared a tasty baked sandwich and some surprisingly good pizza. We had bottled water and cans of Orangina as well. It was Janey's first train ride, and she enjoyed the journey. 

Arriving in Blois, France
We stepped off the train to a bright, sunny day that was rapidly warming. After a couple of wrong turns, and an uncooperative GPS, the three of us asked directions to the Royal Chateau, which we knew was not far from the station. We approached the castle from the back, through a park and some lovely gardens. At the ticket counter just inside the entrance, we waited patiently for our debit card to be processed. Craig commented on the slowness of the machine, and the man who was helping us replied with a wink, "Well, it's an old castle." 

Approaching the Royal Chateau

The beautifully restored chateau has many interesting artifacts. I was glad the interior was cool, because every time we stepped outside, the rising heat slammed into us. Each gallery and room brought new, or I should say, old wonders to discover. The King's opulent bedchamber was fascinating to Janey, as was the display of medieval weaponry in another part of the castle. We all enjoyed the Roman ruins displayed there. There was so much to see, and yet we were only able to tour about 1/4 of the structure before it was time to make our way back to the train station. But first, we had to visit the souvenir shop, where Janey purchased a lovely sketchbook and I found a pretty eyeglass case. 

A view into the courtyard of the castle

Medieval weaponry

How would you caption this gargoyle?

Janey on the steps of the Chateau.
 How many feet have trod those stairs?

The ornate bed of a king
When we returned home, we refreshed ourselves with cool drinks. Des arrived from the university and we nibbled snacks while we all relaxed in front of the fan. We had plans to meet Jake at Oh Terrior for dinner at 8:00. The restaurant was very crowded and somehow, in all the chaos, our orders were mixed up with those of another party. We were too hungry to wait for new dishes, so we ate and enjoyed the meals. Jake had secured a table for us in the coolest part of the restaurant, where we lingered and talked for quite some time. He is an astronomer and had many interesting stories to tell. We always enjoy meeting Desmond's friends. It was a fun evening. We walked slowly home along the Loire, with Jake accompanying us for most of the way. 

Pausing along the Loire for a photo with Jake

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A Good Day to be Outside

Pages From Jan's Travel Journal: Tuesday, June 13 2017

Craig and I awoke before anyone else, and enjoyed coffee together while we talked about events at home and his journey to France. He was thrilled to be in Orleans again. When Des got up we walked across square to "our" bakery and chose pastries for breakfast. Because Janey was still asleep, we picked up a bag of chouquettes for her. 

Our breakfast treats.
Desmond had to go to work, and since the morning was sunny and comfortably cool, Craig and I decided to take advantage of the wonderful weather by weeding in the overgrown courtyard. A quick jaunt to Mr Bricolage supplied us with gardening gloves and a few small hand tools. Our efforts definitely made a difference, though we could understand how it had gotten out of hand. No one in the building, except Desmond, had ever pulled the weeds or trimmed the bushes. We could understand why the task had become overwhelming, since Des had not possessed any yard-care tools. After a couple of hours, we halted work so that we could get ready to meet our son at the university, where we would be able to sit in on a conversation class.

The "savage" garden
Craig, Janey, and I arrived at the designated spot, and Desmond joined us with his students as we gathered outside at a shaded picnic table. A cool breeze was blowing, but very quickly we were overwhelmed by a rank odor. We all moved to a distant table, but the nasty smell followed us. Someone in the group informed us that a building on campus had been flooded and the cleanup had likely begun, which was probably the cause of the horrible odor. Back to the classroom we went, where the conversation commenced. We enjoyed listening to the bright young men and women, who were diligently practicing their English-speaking skills.They had amusing and interesting stories to tell.

Des was able to leave after the conversation class ended. We decided to have lunch at Mt Fuji. Many of the items in the buffet were unfamiliar to Janey, but she was a pretty good sport and tried several new dishes. Before heading home, we had a bit of shopping to do. We went to Le Clerc, and it took longer than we had anticipated to find a new SIM card for the phone we had brought to France. We also purchased a few groceries and other items.

We had eaten such a big lunch that none of us were very hungry for dinner. We nibbled on fruit and cheese, and heated some leftovers. The fresh melon I ate was far better than any I had ever tasted in America! After our light supper, Des suggested a walk in his neighborhood, with Janey accompanying us on Desmond's bicycle. We strolled along the peaceful residential streets in an area which Craig and I had not explored on our previous visits. The area was quiet and charming, with lots of trees and green spaces. Janey enjoyed the bike paths while the rest of us walked around, admiring the pretty park we had found ourselves in. It was surrounded by lovely apartment buildings, many of which had large, inviting balconies. 

Janey enjoyed riding a bike to the park.

It was a perfect evening for a ride.
Desmond pointed out that we were near the beautiful old church, St Marceau, which we had often passed by on walks to one of our favorite patisseries. We were behind the church, where Desmond showed us the gorgeous flower gardens there. We could imagine that this must be a popular place for weddings and other celebrations, as it was obvious that in the spring, the garden would be a riot of color and scent. Exploring the garden was a lovely way to end the day.

A garden behind the old church

There were many flowers still in bloom.

A pretty back entrance to St Marceau

Saturday, November 25, 2017

And Now We Are Four

Pages From Jan's Travel Journal: Monday, June 12 2017

Desmond had left for Paris by the time I awoke. We were all thrilled that Craig would finally be able to join us in France. Even though he is a seasoned traveler, Des wanted to meet his dad at the airport after what that poor guy had been through to obtain his passport renewal. It was with a light heart that I threw open the windows to a fresh, cool morning. I enjoyed my coffee and one of those little blueberry crepes I had grown fond of. Azur kept me company  while I ate. 

My little pal, Azur.
As Janey slept on, I cleaned house and started a load of laundry. After a while, I walked into the kitchen to find a large puddle of water in front of the washing machine! The water had run across the floor and into the bedroom. I was certain I had broken the washer and was just about to send a frantic text to Des when I realized that the spin cycle had caused a large plastic dishpan to vibrate off the top of the machine. I had been rinsing silverware in the dishpan and had not yet poured the water down the drain. I mopped it up with relief!

It was around 11:00 when Janey awoke. She nibbled on leftovers while I ate a light lunch of Swedish bread topped with creamy herbed cheese and fresh tomato slices. I treated myself to dessert of a chocolate-dipped meringue with some fresh cherries on the side. 

A tasty treat for dessert.
Craig and Des made good time and arrived just before noon. It was so good to see Craig again! We had coffee and relaxed for a while before we all boarded the tram to Auchan where we picked up a new TV for Des. We had been using his laptop to watch movies, which is okay for one or two people, but would make it difficult for all four of us to watch a show together. We also picked up a few groceries and some of our favorite beverages.

Craig and Des managed to transport the new TV without much of a struggle. The box had been well-wrapped by a helpful clerk. We had fun rearranging Desmond's living room, which included moving two large bookshelves. It was hard work, so we took a short break for drinks and snacks. When we had finished moving everything around and replacing all the books, it was time for dinner.

We dined at an African restaurant called Le Boloye, where each of us selected a different dish. Des ordered a meal made with tender goat meat. Janey chose grilled salmon, which was served atop colorful vegetables and salad greens. Craig asked for meatballs, which came with a large helping of fried plantains, and I had the poulet yassa with rice. It was a bit spicy, but very good. The little restaurant was warm, but the open door and a fan really helped us cool off. Creole music added a nice ambiance to the meal.

Playing the hand-stacking game
 while waiting for our meal.

Craig shared some fried plantain with me.
 They were very good.
We walked slowly home along river, pausing to enjoy the lovely view from the bridge. How wonderful it was for us to be together again!

Friday, October 20, 2017

Market Day

Pages From Jan's Travel Journal: Sunday, June 11 2017

It was a beautifully cool morning, and as I enjoyed my usual coffee, Desmond prepared a couple of protein smoothies made with chocolate, fresh strawberries, and bananas. As much as I love French pastries, these tasty shakes were a great way to start the day. I had more energy and didn't feel hungry until lunchtime. 

I love waking up to this!
By the time Desmond and I were ready to walk to the Arab market, the weather had warmed considerably. I'm glad Janey had chosen not to accompany us. It would have been too much for her. We walked along the river, admiring the beautiful view while panting in the heat. 

A pretty scene on the Loire in Orleans, France.
We arrived at the busy outdoor market, where cars were streaming into the parking lot adjacent to the large area which had been cordoned off for the weekly sale. Des and I had forgotten to stop at the ATM on our way, so we decided to pool our cash when we were ready to pay for our purchases. The vendors were all very nice. A few of them offered samples of fruit as we strolled by, and we found some beautiful produce. At one large stall, a young man was slicing samples of watermelon and cantaloupe. Their juicy goodness was irresistible, and I selected a small melon and a large chunk of watermelon. We also purchased sweet potatoes, chives, cherries, and garlic. When it was our turn to pay for our items, I discovered that my wallet was gone! After a few heart-stopping moments, I remembered that just before we had left the house I had emptied my wallet of all my American coins and must have forgotten to tuck it back inside my purse!. Des explained our problem to the vendors and them he would go back home to get our money. They said we should just go ahead and take our fruits and vegetables home, put them in the refrigerator, and then bring their money back. It was a kind offer, but we felt strange about doing that, so poor Desmond walked twenty minutes back in the heat, found the money, and then rode his bike back to the market. 

Meanwhile, I wandered around in the hot sun, looking at the various foods being offered, but soon became very warm, so stood in the shade of the the canopy near our packages of produce. The young man who had given me a taste of melon earlier was standing nearby. Every now and then, he would come over and hand me a slice of mango or melon. He would wait as I tasted it, and he seemed pleased at my reactions to those tasty tidbits. At one point he placed a plump cherry into the palm of my hand. I was thinking of something else and didn't respond. Suddenly, in a joking voice, he said "Thank You! You're Welcome!" I laughed, came to my senses, and properly thanked him. We attempted talk to each other, and actually managed to converse. He was from Morocco and had a hard time understanding my toddler-level French. When Desmond arrived, we paid for our goodies and then went to another stand for olives, red peppers, dates, figs, and plums. On the way out, I thanked my Moroccan friend for his kindness.

On the long walk back, Desmond pushed his bike, wearing a loaded backpack in the heat. Once home, we sat in front of the fan and began munching on olives and fresh fruit. Des brought out a tin of sardines, some cream cheese, and whole grain crackers. That made a great lunch, and it was funny watching Janey's reaction to a sardine sandwich!. 

We made quite a haul on market day!

Well, at least she tried a sardine sandwich!
Later that day, we talked to Craig, who was getting ready to drop the dog at Jennifer's house, go to lunch, then head to the airport. We cleaned house and did some laundry, then had snacks of beer, chips, olives, and sausage. We were simply too warm to think of cooking anything. Our day ended with a fun game of Scattergories. 

Sunday, October 1, 2017

A Warm Day of Shopping

Pages From Jan's Travel Journal:  Saturday, June 10 2017

Since it was weekend, we slept late. In fact, Janey was still asleep when Desmond and I went out for coffee. We walked over to the French Coffee shop, where I breakfasted on a trio of mini beignets - chocolate, apple,and raspberry. We relaxed while listening to the bluesy notes of a saxophone, drifting down from an apartment window. 

When we were able to rouse Janey, the three of us headed into town to a thrift shop. There, we had fun buying lots baby clothes for Chris and Mathilde's unborn son. All of the items were of excellent quality. I also picked out two tops for myself. Janey is at that awkward in-between stage and was unable to find anything she liked (that fit) in either the children's or the women's section. Des got several great shirts and some jeans. 

The thrift shop is on this pretty street
 in Orleans, France.
At home, we snacked for lunch on sausage, cheese, chips, cashews. And we heard good news from Craig! He had received his passport and would be arriving on Monday! That really gave a boost to our spirits.

That afternoon, the three of us took the long tram ride to Auchan, where we picked up some new pillows and a few other things for the house. We were very hot and tired by then. What could be better than a stop at Autour de la Terre? We each enjoyed a glass of iced green tea as we lingered in the cool, calm interior of the tearoom.

The calm interior of Autour de la Terre.
In the evening, Desmond made noodle bowls for supper. The soup was delightful, full of grilled zucchini, spinach, lardons, kimchi, sesame oil, and curry paste. Yum! We ended the day with a game of Racko. The weather forecast was for a 90 degree day on Sunday, so we made plans to go to the Arab market in morning and stay in the rest of the day, cleaning house and preparing for Craig's arrival. 

Tasty and colorful noodle bowls
 made a wonderful meal.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Another Walk in the Park

Pages From Jan's Travel Journal: Friday, June 9 2017

Ahhh, I was able to sleep late! I had hung a towel across the top of the window, which effectively blocked the bright morning sun. Desmond had already left for work, so I sipped my coffee, nibbled a blueberry crepe, and then took care of some household chores until Janey awoke.

A beautiful day at Parc Floral
 in Orleans France

We had planned to meet Desmond at Parc Floral for a picnic lunch. I packed a baguette, along with cans of chicken and pork rillettes, potato chips (grilled steak flavor), and fresh fruit. It had rained during the night and the air was fresh and cool. After lunch, we had some time to explore the grounds. We meandered over to the children's section, where we viewed the animals, including a peacock that was perched on a low tree branch. Janey tried the huge slide, and liked it so much that she went down several times. There were many children in the park, obviously there on school trips. They seemed to be having a great day, as were we.

Des captures a posing peacock.

Janey on the climbing frame at Parc Floral.

Now, that's a slide!

A lovely scene at Parc Floral.

Soon it was time for Des to go back to work. Janey and I headed home, with the tram becoming more crowded at each stop. Even though we had stationed ourselves fairly close to the doors, we still had to fight our way through to disembark at our stop. We barely managed it!

I called Craig as soon as we got home and learned that there was still no news regarding his passport. The lack of information was depressing. We were missing him, and were very eager to have him with us in France. 

When Desmond arrived home, he and I made a quick run to Carrefour. We took the groceries home, grabbed Janey, and hurried into town to meet Erica for drinks at  le Paxton's Head, an English style pub on the Rue de Borgogne.. It was good to see Erica again. She and Des ordered beer and I enjoyed a tall, refreshing Monaco. Janey had a complimentary drink of water sweetened with mint syrup.

We were famished by the time Erica left to catch her train. We ate kebab sandwiches and crisp, hot fries at the nearby Grec Gourmand, sitting at a table outside. Janey and Desmond were facing the cobblestone street, and they kept up a hilarious running commentary regarding the pedestrians. They would place bets as to which ones would fail to notice the  pile of dog doo which a passing canine had deposited in the middle of the busy street. Disgusting and yet somehow quite funny. 

Janey at the Grec Gourmand, Orleans France

As the evening drew to a close, we walked slowly home beside the river. A movie was a fun and relaxing way to end the day. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

A Disappointed Trio

Pages From Jan's Travel Journal: Thursday, June 8 2017

I awoke at 7:30 with the sun in my eyes. I loved having the window open at night to allow the cool air to circulate, but I wasn't quite ready to get up! I rolled over and tried to go back to sleep, but then the construction noise began and there was just no way. I'm not exactly sure what the workers were doing in the square, but it certainly made a lot of racket!

Des had the day off and we made plans to visit a flea market in a neighboring town. Desmond had been there before and described it to me, so I was looking forward to finding some bargains. We had a quick breakfast of chocolate chip brioche, which was very good. After checking the website to be sure the flea market was open, we rode the tram to the other side of town and then we boarded a bus for the long ride to the warehouse where the market was held. Poor Janey had motion sickness, but once we arrived at the bus stop, she began to perk up and was soon skipping along quite happily.

There was quite a bit of traffic on the road which the sidewalk bordered, and we noticed many cars and some pedestrians that were headed in the same direction as the three of us. After a ten minute walk, we reached the flea market and were soon disappointed to discover that they were closed while preparing for a big sale over the weekend! Well, that would have a nice thing to put on their website! We turned away and trudged in the heat back to the bus stop.

Walking to the bus stop after an unsuccessful journey.

Janey tried not to complain as her motion sickness returned. She sat quietly, slumped next to me, and I felt bad for her. Des and I decided to stop at the pharmacy on the way home to purchase some medicine for Janey. When we reached Orléans, we treated ourselves to tea at Autour de la Terre. Janey fell in love with the place, as we knew she would. This lovely little tearoom is a peaceful oasis near the cathedral. Actually, it's not so little. There is a cozy front room, a sunroom, and a garden. Each area is charming in its own way. Janey took her time choosing a tea while she paged through the menu/sketchbook. Sadly, none of us had a pen or pencil for her to sketch with.

Janey's tea was served in a lovely iron teapot. Des had chosen hot chocolate. The shop has offerings of coffee, tea, and chocolate from around the world, and I know how wonderful their coffee is, but I chose an iced green tea that was delicious and very refreshing. We promised my granddaughter that we would return another day so that she could add a drawing to the sketchbook.

This tea room is a pleasant place to linger.

Des and Janey at Autour de la Terre, Orleans France.

On the way home, we purchased ice cream cones and ate them as we walked slowly along the beautiful streets near the Loire. That evening, we treated ourselves to Chez Ming for dinner. We invited Mathieu, whom Janey hadn't seen in years. It was a fun meal and we all enjoyed the food and the conversation. 

Can you spot the kitty?
We saw this on the way to the restaurant.

A beautiful view of the Loire and Orleans, France.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

I Get By (with a little help from my French)

Pages From Jan's Travel Journal: Wednesday, June 7 2017

I awoke at 7:30, leaving Janey to sleep in. She had not rested well during the night. Desmond was also sleeping late, which was a treat for him. I leisurely sipped my coffee while checking email and messages from home. Craig was still diligently working on his expedited passport renewal, which was a frustrating activity. It seemed he was usually on the phone for hours and often received conflicting information.

Desmond woke at 9:00 and we talked for about an hour before waking Janey for a breakfast of pain au chocolat. It was a type I had never eaten before, made from a tube of refrigerated dough! We had fun assembling the pastries by placing two little logs of dark chocolate onto each rectangle of the buttery dough, and then rolling them gently into shape with our fingers. We enjoyed them fresh from the oven. Janey was still exhausted and soon crawled back into bed. Des left for work while I busied myself with household chores.

I woke Janey again at 1:30, so that we could go shopping. She had earlier expressed concern that we wouldn't be able to do much without Desmond along to translate. Des had assured Janey that her grandma knew enough French to get by quite well, but Janey still had some doubt.

Pain au chocolat from a tube! It was pretty tasty.
The two of us had fun wandering through the stores in and around Halles Chatelet. Janey wanted to purchase some bulk tea, so we went to Duo Thé et Chocolat, a shop that Desmond had recommended. The proprietor was as nice as Des had said, and even though he spoke only a bit of English we were able to communicate quite well. I noticed that he kept looking at Janey, seeming to study her features. At last he hesitantly asked me if she was Asian. When I replied that my granddaughter was half Chinese, the gentleman became quite animated and began searching through photos on his cell phone. Soon he proudly showed us an adorable picture of his own granddaughter, who is also half Chinese. By the time we left the tea shop, I felt that I had made a new friend. As we walked out into the street, Janey exclaimed, "Wow, grandma! You DO know how to speak French."

Janey was becoming tired and hungry, so we headed toward home while looking for a place to have a snack. We chose Garden Ice because it had a nice view of the Loire. After looking at the menu, I realized that there was really nothing snack-sized from which to choose. Janey ordered a plate of pasta carbonara, and we both had a coke. She dug into the pasta with eagerness, while I nibbled on a small piece of the accompanying bread. We were able to take the leftovers with us, which is something that is becoming more common in France.

A "snack" at the Garden Ice Cafe, Orleans.
On the way home, we stopped by the hardware store to purchase a fan. I'm glad the store wasn't far from home, because poor Janey was worn out. She kept apologizing for slowing me down, but I told her not to worry and that this was her vacation, too, and I wanted her to enjoy it. When Desmond returned from work, we relaxed over some cherry beer and nibbled on veggie chips. Janey had a glass of water with a splash of flavored syrup in it, and she really enjoyed those chips. For dinner, we ate the delicious lemon cream chicken that Des prepared. After that wonderful meal, we watched a movie and went to bed rather late. Janey didn't feel well, and cried and said she should have not have come to France. I comforted her as best I could, saying that she was still a bit jet-lagged and reminded her that she was not used to so much walking. Even so, she didn't fall asleep until 3:00. Still, it had been a good day.

Lemon cream chicken
 with spinach and sun-dried tomatoes.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Crepes for Breakfast

Pages From Jan's Travel Journal: Tuesday, June 6 2017

How good it was to awaken in one of my favorite places on earth! The night had been wonderfully cool, and after a sound sleep, I felt alert and ready to enjoy the lovely day ahead. I was able to chat for a few minutes with Desmond as I drank my morning coffee, but soon he was out the door to go to work.  Janey slept on, curled beneath the blankets and looking very cozy. 

I was reluctant to leave, even just to cross the square for pastries. Concerned that Janey might awaken and feel disoriented and frightened, I settled on a breakfast of packaged blueberry crepes that were surprisingly tasty. Janey slept late and crawled out of bed feeling groggy. It took a while for her to become awake enough to want to go out. 

Packaged crepes.
Who knew they could be so good?
We rode the tram to the university and had lunch with Desmond. We had wanted to grab a bite at a nearby restaurant, but found it was closed, so we picked up sandwiches and chips at a local supermarket and took them back to Desmond's office.  It was Janey's first time there, and she was interested in everything. We were able to talk with a couple of Desmond's coworkers while we ate.

Later, we all shopped at Carrefour to pick up ingredients for dinner. Before going in to the market, we enjoyed coffee and pastries at Paul. When we returned home and were prepping the vegetables for dinner, Jeff called. He was immediately invited to stop by for drinks and we all had an enjoyable time together while we nibbled on cheese, sausage, and chips. We had purchased some non-alcoholic beer for Janey, which made her feel a part of the fun. 

Azur seems to be waiting for his share!

Jeff was unable to stay for dinner, but after he left we weren't very hungry, so we ate rillettes, spread on a fresh baguette. For dessert, we savored our own French version of strawberry shortcake, made by spooning sliced berries over some mini Tropezienne. Yum!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Summer In Kansas

Once again, I am taking a small break from documenting my travels. In this post, I wish to tell you about our summer. Desmond was able to return from France with us and since he is a teacher, we were thrilled to have most of July and August together! 

It was delightful to have our son at home. We all tried to make the most of his time here by seeing lots of friends and relatives, eating out at Desmond's favorite restaurants, shopping, and taking a few day trips. We visited both of Desmond's grandmothers regularly. Desmond and I often cooked together, which is always fun. He made noodle bowls on a couple of occasions, and they were so delicious that we will be making them at home on a regular basis!

One of Desmond's delicious
noodle bowls.
We visited Botanica in Wichita, which is a lovely botanical garden that has grown and improved over the past several years and is definitely worth visiting again and again. It's a peaceful and beautiful place.

I love the colors in this scene at Botanica in Wichita, KS.

The dragon wall in the Asian garden at Botanica.

Craig and Desmond entering
 the Children's garden at Botanica.

One day, we drove up to Cottonwood Falls. We had lunch in town and then headed toward the lake and waterfalls. The lake was nearly deserted and the day was warm. The path to approach the falls took us directly across the spillway. The scenery was beautiful, and as we made our way down along the trail through a wooded area, we listened for the sound of the waterfalls. Alas, due to lack of rain, there wasn't much to see when we reached our destination. Had we been there in the spring, the falls would have been quite a sight! We really weren't very disappointed. The scenery and the small trickles of water made a peaceful and lovely tableau.

This pic was shot from the spillway at the lake.

We saw many beautiful  wildflowers, dragonflies, and birds. The falls step down in a long series of natural rock terraces. (When I was a child, I often visited a similar place with my cousins where we cooled off by sitting on the "water stairs".) There were fish in the deeper pools, and tiny schools of minnows darting about in the shallows.

We attended, with Marjorie, the Threshing Days parade and festival in the tiny town of Goessel, Kansas. The festival and the museums there highlight the importance of farming and the role of the Mennonites who immigrated to this country, bringing with them the Turkey Red wheat. Desmond was able to view photos and other items in the museum that were brought from Europe by his ancestors. There were plenty of tractors and harvesters on display, many of which were over 100 years old and still running! A lunch was served, which consisted of several traditional dishes such as verinika, German rope sausage, borscht, tender zwieback, bierocks, and more. 

Craig, Marjorie, and Des wait for the parade to begin.

I was fascinated with this old steam tractor.
This candle mold was brought to Kansas
 by Mennonites fleeing Russia.

August 21, just one day after my birthday, was the solar eclipse! Desmond hadn't planned his visit to America to coincide with the eclipse, but we were all very glad it had worked out that way. In order to view it in totality, we needed to drive to the northeast part of the state. The forecast was bleak for that entire area. I was willing to stay at home and at least be able to see a partial eclipse, but both Des and Craig were urging me to agree to a road trip for this rare event.  

We drove in light rain for much of the journey.  Desmond had created a playlist of songs which featured the sun or the moon. As we listened to the music, the three of us were in high spirits despite the cloudy skies. We had packed snacks and a picnic lunch because we anticipated crowds wherever we happened to end up. As Craig was driving north, I began to search the weather map on my phone and it looked as if little Marysville, Kansas would be our best bet for clear skies. We arrived in time to settle down on our picnic blanket and enjoy lunch in the shade before moving the blanket to a grassy slope where we could lie back and watch the show. There were a few fluffy clouds which soon disappeared. Every now and then, some high, thin clouds veiled the sun just a bit and then floated away. We knew we were in for a treat.

The park wasn't overcrowded, and everyone there was in a high state of anticipation. Children were laughing and running through the grass or playing on the wonderful playground equipment in a shaded area of the park. We donned our NASA-approved eyewear and looked to the sky as the eclipse began, taking frequent breaks to look away. As the great moment approached, everyone in the park grew silent. Then, when the sun disappeared, cheering and applause and exclamations of wonder were heard throughout the entire park! It was a phenomenal event and was a thrill we will never forget!

Craig and Desmond viewing the eclipse.
It was a wonderful summer, and of course it went by all too quickly. Before we knew it, we were seeing Desmond off at the airport. I'm sure he was ready to return to his life in France. We all had made some wonderful memories together and look forward to our next trip to France.