Port Tobacco, Maryland

Thomas Stone National Historic Site.
Thomas Stone National Historic Site.

Port Tobacco was not on the water when I visited.

Prior to the American Revolution, this Maryland hamlet barely an hour’s drive south-east of Washington, DC was the second largest seaport in the American colonies. Ships anchored to be loaded with barrels of tobacco bound for Europe and the rest of the world.  Port Tobacco was on the world map.

In recent decades the nearest water to Port Tobacco was a marshy stretch where archeologists are examining residue for shoe buckles, clay pipes and artifacts from the original settlers in this area, Algonquian-speaking tribal peoples.  Hardly enough water near Port Tobacco to support a kayak hull, let alone a blue water schooner.  But that’s changing, thanks to community involvement in river restoration efforts and the Port Tobacco River Conservancy

The Catholics arrived in 1658, the Episcopals next.  One hundred defined lots originally made up the town limits, but the port was growing each year.  By 1819 the community built the courthouse

Port Tobacco, Md. historic road side marker.
Port Tobacco, Md. historic road side marker.

, now a museum.  Inside, only one original furniture piece remains, the clerk’s oak desk.   The St. Charles Hotel could seat 200 for dinner.   Sales of enslaved people for Southern Maryland plantations took place on the auction block outside the courthouse.  Sixty business and homes were listed within the incorporated area.

Tobacco was the local currency.  For the European market, the leaves were packed in kegs and shipped to England.  Most of the merchants were Scottish sea farers.  Merchants offered credit to plantation owners and it was the merchant’s responsibility to get the tobacco to Europe and England, taking their pay from the proceeds.  Surely agents, scrupulous and not, handled the sales paperwork and letters of credit.

Back in the day, there were more enslaved people of color than whites of European ancestry in the region.  After the Revolutionary War, the circuit court system was left in disarray.  The circuit court met every three or four months and the arrival of the judicial entourage signaled the opening of a fair, the market and trade season when people gathered in town to witness trials and punishments.   That was public entertainment of the era — exhibitionists in the stocks, blasphemers pilloried.  Doubtless there were worse punishments wrought.

Two newspapers operated in the town, the Port Tobacco Times and the Times Crescent.  The Maryland Independent, a relative newcomer, remains.

Warehouse Landing Road marks the location of the largest tobacco barn in the area, where they grade tobacco grown in Charles County.  During the 1920s, there were swimming camps (called  bathing camps at the time)  for children all along the river.  In 1940, the Society for the Restoration of Port Tobacco formed to preserve and protect this landmark settlement.  Catslide House was renovated. In the 1960’s, archeology dig led by the Smithsonian Institution excavated artifacts now displayed in the museum.  Elaine Racey, a Courthouse guide, dropped hints about a local ghost  while Dorothy Barbour, a docent working in the gift shop, said that more artifacts might be available for display in the museum if  a private foundation could be persuaded to sponsor a

Port Tobacco Archeological Project. http://porttobaccoarcheologicalproject.blogspot.com
Port Tobacco Archeological Project. Image from http://porttobacco.blogspot.com 

fixed temperature display area.  Dr. Barbour owned Stagg Hall, one  of several historic manor houses in the area.

How did Port Tobacco lose its waterside supremacy?  Over the centuries, plantations from here to the Potomac River cleared the trees and plowed the fields for a mono-crop, poor soil management causes erosion which silted up the waterways. Even in the 21st century, storm water  runoff and erosion are primary culprits in the degradation of the Port Tobacco River Watershed and Maryland’s coastal wetland port.

Notable figures from this area include:

* Wat Bowie and Mosby’s Men

* Dr. Gustavus Brown, one of George Washington’s doctors, who hastened George Washington’s death with numerous bleedings

Olivia Floyd of Rose Hill, a spy for the Confederates during the American Civil War

John Hanson, President of the First Continental Congress

* Matthew Henson, co-discoverer of the North Pole, born near Nanjemoy, Md.

General Wm. Smallwood, a Revolutionary War leader

Thomas Stone, a signer of the Declaration of Independence

Jihadi Stamps ?

People's Democratic Republic of Yemen, 1971 stamps depicting weapons and soldiers
People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen, 1971 stamps depicting weapons and soldiers

Jihad Stamps from Yemen

FDR collected stamps.  Has any president since?   Maybe philately should be a required hobby for NSA types.   Stamps are miniature works of art, symbols of national identity, achievement and aspiration.   If  Bush I or Bush II had been stamp collectors, they might have noticed evolving political sentiments expressed on the postage stamps in the Persian Gulf region.  Rising militaristic spirit is spelled out boldly on Yemen’s stamps, for example.

Let’s look at a few stamps from Yemen Arab Republic (YAR), People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen and People’s Republic of Southern Yemen. Same place, different guys with guns in charge.

On stamps from the 1920’s through 40’s, the nation was known as Royaume de Yemen and Aden.  Stamps resembled philatelic issues of Syria and Lebanon, then French protectorates.  Early in the 1950’s the country name is simply Yemen.

There’s a flashback to French titling and design on several issues celebrating the Arab Postal Union, Arab League and other pan-Arabian organizations. During the early 1960’s, a wave of modern philatelic design focused on great works of art, boy scouts and the United Nations.

Yemen Arab Republic stamps, 1963-64.  Images of military equipment.
Yemen Arab Republic stamps, 1963-64. Images of military equipment.

Uh oh, trouble ahead. Trouble behind…

Issues of 1963-64 are labeled Yemen Arab Republic (YAR) and the stamps depict patriotic themes – flags and tanks, raised torches, guns with bayonettes and more flags.

Yet in 1964, the YAR splashed  their stamps with JFK, Olympic sports and Soviet astronauts, a practice used by many small nations to generate sales to topical collectors.  Oddly, the New York World’s Fair appears on Yemen’s 1964 stamps.  There’s  prescient symbolism too, with New York City skyscrapers on Yemen’s stamps.

Yemen Arab Republic stamps, 1963-64 showing New York skyline with Yemen flag and aircraft in the center.
Yemen Arab Republic stamps, 1963-64 showing New York skyline with Yemen flag and aircraft in the center.

New York City Skyline

The Yemen flag appears inside an oval over- laid on New York harbor including the Empire State Building.  It’s tempting to read meaning into the stamps which show airplanes  aimed at the New York skyline, but the stamps were airmail, so the image is reasonable.  I guess.

Issues of 1964-65 depict a turbaned revolutionary figure (an image similar to 21st century radical Arab-Islamics) holding a machine gun aloft honoring the Yemen Second Revolution Anniversary, not the 2nd anniversary of a revolution, but the Second Revolution.  Was the  First Revolution skipped by government stamp designers?

Yemen Arab Republic stamp, 1964-65, commemorating the Anniversary of the 2nd Revolution.
Yemen Arab Republic stamp, 1964-65, commemorating the Anniversary of the 2nd Revolution.

JFK and Builders of World Peace

There’s a stylized peace dove on one YAR stamp issued in September 1964 for the Arab Summit Conference.     U.S. President Kennedy’s  face appears on a series honoring space exploration and Russian cosmonauts issued in 1966.

JFK image with space craft.  Yemen Arab Republic stamp .

Builders of Peace series, Yemen Arab Republic, 1966.
Builders of Peace series, Yemen Arab Republic, 1966.
JFK image with space craft. Yemen Arab Republic stamp .

Also in 1966, Yemen prints  the  Builders of World Peace series and includes JFK and Pope Pius XII, who famously built peace by appeasing Nazi Germany.  Can you find the Arab leader who was an honored peace builder?

Several years pass.  Birds, fruit, medicine, space craft, European and Asian art treasures, and Olympic winter sports are the subjects Yemen prints on its stamps.  Not a bad idea since these are topical subjects prized by world philatelists, translating to revenue for the YAR.

 

Countries like Turkmenistan and Palau issue stamps commemorating events in the U.S. featuring U.S. Presidents.  Sales revenue unknown.

Palau stamps commemorate the First Undeclared Gulf War and President Bush, I.
Palau stamps commemorate the First Undeclared Gulf War and President Bush, I.
Honoring Rescue Workers.
Turkmenistan honors U.S. Rescue Workers and President Bush, II.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soon Yemen has another name and a new revolution.  Would this be the Third Revolution? The Fourth?   In 1971 the postage stamps of the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen depict turbaned and masked fighters in white robes holding machine guns against a backdrop of barbed wire.


YAR barbed wire & fighter stamp

Perhaps the Yemen political propaganda department decided that didn’t encourage productive international relations, because in 1972, the commemorative stamps show folk dancing.

Southern Yemen abruptly appeared  as a new country in 1968.  (I’ve lost count of the revolution time line.)  The new name is overprinted on stamps of the Federation of South Arabia.  Subsequent stamps from the People’s Republic of Southern Yemen use images of girl scouts and soldiers aiming rifles out of a foxhole.  I wonder why is it,  that countries titled “People’s Republic” or “People’s Democratic Republic” never are?

Southern Yemen name overprinted on Federation of South Arabia, 1968.
Southern Yemen name overprinted on stamps of the Federation of South Arabia, 1968.
People's Republic of Southern Yemen, 1969=70 depicting explosions.
People’s Republic of Southern Yemen, 1969-70,  Palestine Day commemorative stamps depicting explosions.

 

Southern Yemen’s stamp designs and subjects for commemorative issues  in 1969-71, glorify rifles, fighters, explosions and soldiers with rifles.

Not surprising, the series titled Palestine Day bristle with military images.  The most explicit seems to be a jihad warrior ascending to the heavens on a cloud above what might be a sleeping dog.

Revolution Day in Yemen is October 14.

Might be a day to stay home.

People's Republic of Southern Yemen Revolution Day, 14 October 1965.
People’s Republic of Southern Yemen Revolution Day, 14 October 1965.

 

Chalk it up to your least favorite Bad President.

Images of fake stamps and coins from theskunk.org
Images of fake stamps and coins from theskunk.org

 

 

 

 

Kayaking the Chesapeake

Kayaking on the Chesapeake Bay

Kayaking will not save your soul or bring world peace, but it will move you from youth through the middling years and onward to wisdom.   We’re talking about kayak touring, not the rough and tumble white water sport that gets all the headlines and warnings.

Flat water or sea kayaks are long, stable craft, built to cut through swells and withstand wind.  There are other sports suitable for the aging weekend athlete  who wants to preserve physical dignity and prowess, but kayaking can’t be beat for visual rewards.

The views are better from a long stable kayak where  you sit on a comfortable seat, legs outstretched below deck and feet braced on pegs that connect to the kayak’s rudder.  (Not all flat water kayaks have rudders.)  During the summer,  I usually paddle without the spray skirt,  but it’s necessary when Bay chop is sweeping the boat deck or afternoon thundershowers catch you still out. No one can bail or pump accumulating water when you also clutch a double blade paddle.  A lifejacket, cockpit skirt cover, bailing pump, whistle and light are essential equipment.

Map of eastern Chesapeake Bay, Maryland.
Md DNR fishing map of Tangier Sound, Maryland

On flat water, found in the numerous inlets, rivers and tributaries of the Eastern Shore of Maryland or Southern Maryland, the land between the Potomac River and the Bay, the paddling effort is slight.  You can drift with the river current.

The Choptank and Tuckahoe Rivers water trail is particularly lovely.  When I’m out paddling the serpentine tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, I often think of the native First Peoples of the region.  The Native peoples of the Chesapeake region

“Their Manner of Fishynge in Virginia.” Theodor de Bry’s engraving of American Indians fishing, published in Thomas Hariot’s 1588 book A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia.
“Their Manner of Fishynge in Virginia.” Theodor de Bry’s engraving of American Indians fishing, published in Thomas Hariot’s 1588 book A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia.

can inform modern caretakers of our waterways.

Dip, swush, dip, swush…. Paddle cadence simulates a moving meditation, a soothing zen system for approaching the universe.  Suddenly a Great Blue

Great Blue Heron bird standing near water
Great Blue Heron.

rises from a burned out tree, wing span long nearly as long as the kayak.    A turtle claps into the water, a beaver dives beneath the water.  Overhead Canada geese fly formation and there, out of the corner of my eye, a carp burns its yellow belly in the sun drenched surface of the river.  If it is evening, and a more secluded watershed, perhaps  a deer will be nibbling on tree leaves, ghosting the end of the day, marking it in my memory for all time.

Boating excursions from St. Michael’s area and beyond:

arial photo of Poplar Island in Chesapeake Bay, Md.
Poplar Island Restoration

During the 1930s, Pres. Roosevelt, (Franklin D.) visited the hunter’s clubhouse on the four-mile spit of land as  a nearby weekend retreat.   The name honors the poplar trees on the island.  The island has been undergoing restoration for years.  Dredged material has restored the island nearly to the perimeters of 1847.

South Marsh Island in Tangier Sound is under the  Maryland Department of Natural Resources Wildlife & Heritage Service.

Smith Island, Maryland is famous for its cake.  That’s right, Smith Island Cake is like none other.  The locals serve a mean crab cake too. Board the ferry at Crisfield, Md.

Tilghman  Island, Maryland offers the easy going Bay lifestyle with rental apartments for weekenders from Edge City urban areas.

Tangier Sound – If you’re out kayaking on this water, seek local information about currents and tides.  Bear in mind there are rip currents both ways and possibly, motor boats piloted by well-oiled weekend day-sailors with impaired vision for kayakers ahead.

Watts Island off Tangier Island, Virginia might be too isolated for kayaking excursions.

Watch for mid to late afternoon winds which churn up the water and make paddling a strenous activity.  Keep your eye on shoreline landmarks such as towers or buildings to measure your progress.  If you’re not moving forward, make a new heading, possibly angling to shore.  You can’t beat wind force + currents with mere muscle.

Kayak memories are soft.  The sun at day’s end, the moon on black water, reeds rustling, nutria and muskrats scurrying away. Fish slapping the water surface with a force that can only be interpreted as glee when they realize that long shark-like creature isn’t a predator.

Resources:

Maryland Online Boating Access Guide

Chesapeake Bay Foundation boating trips

Virginia Tourism on the Chesapeake Bay

Touristville, Asia

Events - 1285Events - 1937 Events - 1955 I’ve been to Asia again and it sucks.   You know those places on the Lonely Planet beat?   They’re crowded with brusque, loud  travelers from  places where respect for other cultures wasn’t taught or the current bunch of road-killers didn’t learn.

Here we are in South East Asia, where the overland hippies from Europe and America brought banana pancakes to Samosir Island in Lake Toba in the 1960s and 70s. Where  Bali was already an artsy rest stop by the 1930s.  Where Thailand lured Vietnam War vets on R&R leave.  The same areas that by the 1980s found Swiss and Germans with months of paid vacation hanging out on remote Andaman islets frittering away long winters.

Then came the ’90s and the ’00s.  Western travelers flew to the obliging “Far East” for smokes and more-different-stranger-sex.   Indonesia’s money values swooped low, some Christians were killed in Ambon and there was a worldwide slump with the dot-com bust.  And hello, wake up,  what happened to quiet peaceful Asia?  Now comes terror bombings on the beaches where Ozzies rave.  The world recession-depression through the ’00s, meant travelers didn’t need a trust fund to waste a year on beer, naked mud slides, temple massages and cheap beds in Chaing My and Koh Tweetie.  Tsunami Tragedy and more of the same.  Wow, what an awesome mess.  No one spells correctly anymore and respecting local cultural norms has ended, full stop.  And don’t think it’s only the westerner travelers who dress inappropriately and spurn local customs.

Asia’s relentless push to acquire the  consumer veneer of success has displaced the traditional culture that attracted travelers in the first place.  Do locals have any images about life in the west except what is online or in film/video/tv?  They see a Droid sized version of superficial trappings.  A  highway of revved cars, bright skimpy clothing, painted fake fingernails and Red Bull parties. That’s the western culture dumped by itinerant bored travelers on gap year and beyond.   The intellectual and cultural understanding, once as necessary for successful travel as a passport and a guidebook, could be missing.

Development Requires Water

In a land of monsoons, peninsular Malaysia and Western Indonesia are developed with scant regard for water run-off or sustainable civic management.  Public buildings spring up swiftly without plans for increased car ownership, traffic routing, sidewalks or transportation safety amenities like cross walks, ramps for the handicapped and bicycle lanes.  Existing public facilities that don’t serve the image of the emerging computer chip state, like bus stations, cross walks, public toilets, are left unmaintained.  And all the bustle and growth is to the tune of the requisite recorded mullah blaring off-key from radio speakers, rooftops and storefronts.  No, I’m not politically sensitive, so what.  This is the reality I experienced.

Highway fatalities escalate because driver’s licenses can be purchased and training would take too much time.  Perhaps even contrary to the arrogant Muslim male who feels the seed of Allah in his loins, and struts as if he alone were responsible for populating the world.  Women are said to share public life, yet they aren’t seen and certainly not heard.  Facilities for women are limited and shared public space can harbor danger.   In a world of men, litter, urine, cigarette butts, trash, chewing gum and food wrappings are tossed everywhere.  No one cleans up when women don’t have a place or voice in the public spaces.

In a world where men believe they are the holy endowed, women are ignored, patronized or baited into compromising and uncomfortable situations.  Mercedes speed along the roads beside open sewer drainage ditches which irrigate the city and overflow when it rains.  Tropical forest has been slashed for furniture, replanted for palm oil production and bordered with toll plazas and shopping theme parks.

Huge tour groups from the new middle class of China and South Asia parade around,  while tour buses chug, sending fumes into the already smelly air as the drivers smoke and chat, or sleep in their seats, bus motors running to fuel the A/C.  How much water do these visitors use?  Can the local villages in Myanmar, for example, sustain their own people’s needs with the onslaught of tourism?

Contemporary politicians have grafted their ideas onto the glory and prestiege of the sultanates to gain depth to their history.  Has regard for the masses ever mattered to those elevated by lucre, king or church?

Did I really expect places to be the same?

In Kraabi, the town appears changed for the better with a jetty promenade and flowers planted down the new four lane roadway.  Why did they need a four lane road?  To handle the tourist influx.  Yet the old buildings endure and you can still find a clean bed for $4.  Thailand seems more prosperous than years back, but not in the flashy way Malaysia has opted to express prosperity.  Public services, structures facilities are reasonably advanced.  Trash bins, road signs, curbs, stoplights a bus station with waiting benches and an indoor  toilet.  Here, I see a balance of women and men in public.  Women wrapped in headscarves stare vacant eyed and follow careless, pushy loud men.  At least they’re not smoking.

In the bright morning light filled with promise, fishing boats chug out from Kraabi to sea. Dried fish on woven mats during the day.  A cat nibbles at the fish.  Women sort the dried minnows and smelt.  I saw a cicada caught in a spider web last night.  Cigarette butts everywhere around the public space.  Why is it travelers never realize they’re littering when they flick away a butt?

Resources:

Virtual Tourist – Dress Code in Asia

Got Passport – Correct Behavior for Buddhist Temple Visits

Who owns your water?

Water privatization hasn’t been explored much in the general consumer media in the US, although there are articles in the scientific and water industry press.  Water privatization generally refers to private contract operations of water systems owned by public utilities, however a few municipal water systems are moving to private ownership, usually when a corporation can provide economic incentives to a community that can be used for other expenses such as schools, parks, etc. in exchange for managing/partially owning a water system.

A cursory glance at the topic on the internet reveals that water privatization is a fundamental issue for the anti-government fringe by whatever fanciful name is currently in vogue — Tea Party, Tory Party, Whigs, Tipacanoe and Tyler Too?  The No Nothing Party has the right name.

U.S. water privatization is on the waste water side, especially municipal waste water systems.

One outstanding example of a private water system is in Auburn, Alabama.  Set up in the early 1980’s before changes to the tax law in 1986 killed private initiative investments, Auburn’s water system has been studied by universities, used as a model of successful privatization of public works.  Indianapolis, Indiana  is another waste water system operated on a contract basis, with private investment.  U.S. municipalities embracing privitization include Syracuse, N.Y. , Georgetown, Kentucky, Coral Gables, Fl. and Santa Margarita, Calif.

Currently,  U.S. municipalities are underfunded for infrastructure (including water systems) maintenance,  investment and repairs so they are encouraging private investment to fill the breach.  Multinationals  — particularly French and British water companies — are aggressively looking for water utilities to manage on a contract basis with a view to partial or full ownership in the future.

It would be useful for people in the U.S. to know who owns their local waste water operations and water supply systems.  There may be public-private arrangements where a local government council sets regulations, but who picks up the profit on your flush? Entrepreneurial operators are making an impact as their contract operations managers save money through economies of scale and engineer water plants to work more efficiently.

My Books

Book CoverTravel Writing by L Peat O'Neil
Book Cover
Travel Writing by L Peat O’Neil

E-Books are just right for travel -lightweight, nearly infinite, a library in your hand.

If you plan to buy books, try my web-store, Double00Books!  Use the Search function to find any Amazon title.

Pyrenees Pilgrimage Cover The Way

Pyrenees Pilgrimage, my recent book about walking across France alone, is also for sale in Kindle format on Amazon.  

Prefer a paperback edition?  Pyrenees Pilgrimage on walking across France alone is ready to read, available on Amazon.

Recent interview on my Travel Writing experiences on Money for Travel.com  with Canadian inspirational speaker John Beede.

Get started in travel writing with Travel Writing: See the World, Sell the Story.  Signed copies available from the author on Half.com

Wish You Were Here article in Writer’s Digest Magazine May/June, 2011 on travel writing tips and tricks.Travel Writing pb edition cover

A few copies of Travel Writing : A Guide to Research, Writing and Selling are available online.

You are welcome to visit and subscribe to my websites and  blogs —   AdventureTravelWriter.org  *   FranceFootsteps

NoWhiteFood   *    MexicoEducation  *   OpenGrave    *   WorldReader   *   PyreneesPilgrimage

*   Writing Wild NatureWriting

 

Do it Yourself :: Panama Canal

Women and their children in Panama City old town.
Women and their children in Panama City old town.

Viewing the Panama Canal from a cruise ship might not be the best vista.   Canal bound cruise ships are so large and the decks so far above the water line that you can’t see what is going on below in the lock passages.

Boat tours of the Canal locks are offered by various providers.  I went with Argo Tours on a partial transit, the only option on the day I contacted them.  I couldn’t find a web link to Argo recently, so maybe their name or management has changed, but whoever offers the canal lock passage tours, the experience is worthwhile.  The food was much better than I expected for a tour boat, and copious.  The guide explained the history, natural lore, and mechanical process of the lock transfers in English and Spanish.

Panama Canal at Gatun Lock. image courtesy of Commons Wikimedia.org
Panama Canal at Gatun Lock. image courtesy of Commons Wikimedia.org

I had hoped to walk the isthmus during this two-week trip to Panama, but had difficulty lining up maps sufficiently detailed for a solo walker. Next time I travel in Panama, I plan to ride the Panama Canal Railroad which has been refurbished for the tourist trade, but will offer another perspective of travel across the isthmus.

Prior to exploring the Canal area, I spent several days at Bocas del Toro  on the Carribbean side and enjoyed a 1 day island boat-snorkel tour  offered by several tour operators in Bocas. Make sure you hire a boat with a canopy as the sun can be fierce.

Bocas del Toro floating settlements. © Air Panama
Bocas del Toro floating settlements. © Air Panama

Another day, I flew from Panama City to Isla Coronado in the Pacific for an overnight in a spiffy cliffside beach hotel.  Various high-level international refugees have stayed there —  the Shah of Iran, possibly Manuel Noriega and other shady characters.

On one of the weekends, friends of Experience Panama tourism guru Ana Rojo invited me to join them for the cross country drive  west-north-west to Boquet in the highlands, for cooler temperatures, ranch-style living and coffee plantations. Isla Verde guest house is nice there — run by a friendly German family.  The hike up the mountain is worth the effort.

In Panama City, use good sense and hire a car and driver to view the tourist highlights, because public transport can be problematic unless you have lots of time to sit around and wait.  Cabbies can be helpful, or not.  I rode city buses a couple of times and boarded efficient inter-city buses to reach Bocas del Toro from Boquete.

The Smithsonian operates a world-class tropical research institute at Barro Colorado, an island in Gatun Lake.    The day was interesting, but we were kept close to the administrative buildings.  Experienced hiker-naturalists might find the nature walk a disappointment.

If you can, book into the Country Inn and Suites Hotel (an American style business hotel with the usual discounts for AAA, government/military and seniors) because of the direct view of the Canal and all the ships.  For me, that made the trip, to be able to look up from the balcony and see a tanker nosing through the canal, or the sun setting over the tropical forest on the opposite side of the canal.

Panama - Amador CausewayA 6 km causeway made from dirt excavated from the canal runs alongside the canal, open to pedestrians and cyclists.  At the end of the causeway, there’s a handful of charming islands, one of which is a small Smithsonian marine research/education facility, converted from a WWII-era lookout station.  The recreational port  area attracts sightseers and  the marina area is bracketed by seafood restaurants.  For me, it was restful to walk along the causeway, maybe visit the marine research island, have a snack at one of the restaurants and walk back to the CountryInn Suites hotel then finish up the evening looking at the canal  during twilight.  All along the causeway, sea breezes rustle the palm trees and folks of all generations run, rollerblade, walk and cycle.

The birdwatching at Canopy Tower and nearby trails is incomparable.   Panama offers many national parks, though transportation to the parks could present a logistical hurdle.

Travel Tips.  Bring along a roll of $1 and $5 US banknotes.  For some reason it was hard to get singles and that’s what you need in this tip driven economy.  US currency is used throughout and some prices were quite modest,  except for classy hotels in the city and resort areas.  If you do find yourself taking taxis, be aware that the first rate quoted by the driver is the tourist price and the normal price is perhaps 1/4. ( e.g. for a $1.25 cab ride, 8 minutes travel time, the driver will quote me, Miss Gringo Tourist, $7.00, then come down to $5.00 and even when I offer $3.00, will still try and get me to agree to a “tour”.

Sequoyah :: Cherokee Genius

Portrait of Sequoyah courtesy Wikipedia.

Sequoyah was a Cherokee silversmith who created an alphabet and syllabary for the Cherokee nation.  Noticing the effectiveness of the “talking leaf” (pages of writing) used by the pale skins, he divined that his people needed a similar written system to communicate.  During twelve years of labor and study he completed a syllabary of 85 symbols representing the sounds in Cherokee spoken language.

Sequoyah’s achievement is all the more remarkable in that he did not know any written language — was illiterate — when he embarked on this project.  The syllabary that Sequoyah developed enabled the Indian nation to attain literacy in their spoken language.

The Sequoyah League in California was founded to  improve conditions for First Peoples.

Further information:

*Foreman, Grant, ”Sequoyah”, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman,OK, 1938.

*Biography/Early Life of Sequoyah  – http://www.georgiahistory.com/containers/1146

*Chronicles of Sequoyah – http://digital.library.okstate.edu/chronicles/v008/v008p149.html

* Wikipedia Biography of Sequoyah – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sequoyah

Alien Weeds

Patterson Clark shared his harvesting and art making processes at the Annual Meeting of the Audubon Naturalist Society last week at Woodend Sanctuary in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

I admire his dedication and inventiveness.  Take a look at his brilliant art made of weed pulp paper and essence of weed ink, plus a ferocious amount of creative energy.

In my own quest to help native plants, I  usually pull Lonicera japonica out of the trees or bushes it is choking and weave  the vines into baskets.

Lonicera japonica aka honeysuckle.

More information:

Urban Jungle column in Washington Post

Invasive  Plant Species in the Mid-Atlantic – National Park Service

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