Tucson Arizona Mailbox Art feat. Flora & Fauna Unique to Sonoran Desert

A composite of a variety of mailbox art in Tucson, Arizona.

A composite of a variety of mailbox art in Tucson, Arizona.

wired saguaro cactus bird sculpture mailbox

wired saguaro cactus bird sculpture mailbox

gecko stones encased in metal box

gecko stones encased in metal box

The bulk of these photographs are singling out the artsy and crafty mailboxes that Tucson, Arizona residents demonstrate. Others are capturing lovely landscaping or funky yards along with nature pics.

black and white cow mailbox

black and white cow mailbox

For the most part these are a sample of the creative, humorous and quite unique mailboxes that I’ve encountered here in this funky town of Tucson, Arizona. Some of the symbols and sculptures are descriptive of the kinds of flora and fauna found here in the Sonoran desert, including the cartoon character looking birds with a ‘graduation tassel’ hanging from their head, the

common backyard birds of Tucson - Sonoran desert Arizona, Gambel's Quail, Callipepla gambelii

common backyard birds of Tucson – Sonoran desert Arizona – the Gambel’s Quail (Callipepla gambelii)

To original 72 photos, I added 178 more, and then another 44!!! As I bicycle around, commuting to this or that event or errand, as I encounter them, I add to the mix. This could go on endlessly!

brick layer mailbox

brick layer mailbox

I apologize for the fact that rather than using my camera, I’m using an android cell phone that is not exactly stellar quality, especially when dealing with a very very strong sunlight. Many of the photos are sort of washed out, and I’m not going out at dawn and dusk, unless I happen to be out at that time to capture the best lighting.

artist craftsmanship mailbox

artist craftsmanship mailbox

I will naturally periodically add more mailboxes as I encounter any spectacular ones over the next months as I’m commuting by bicycle and come upon an extraordinarily designed mailbox or spectacular landscaping, but I don’t have endless hours to devote to this project, as I have too many other things I’ve got to tackle.

dragon mailbox

dragon mailbox

wagon wheel saguaro cactus mailbox

wagon wheel saguaro cactus mailbox

gecko shooting star mailbox

gecko shooting star mailbox

chili pepper mailbox attached to lamppost

chili pepper mailbox attached to lamppost

 

 

 

 

 

 

It has been fun, since this town is mostly full of one-story homes with the good old fashioned mailbox, that neighbors seem to escalate into an art form! I apologize but I will not be sitting here with photoshop to enhance the quality, so you the viewer will just have to live with the bleached out nature of many of these. Wow, so much fun to see different peoples’ craftsmanship and care going into making something unique for everyone else to see.

barbed wire nest mailbox

barbed wire nest mailbox

saguaro cactus stand mailbox

saguaro cactus stand mailbox

blue mailbox metal southwestern desert themes

blue mailbox metal southwestern desert themes

fire hose mailbox

fire hose mailbox

copper flute player mailbox

copper flute player mailbox

Another image often used is that of the Saguaro cactus, also unique to the Sonoran desert.

Saguaro cactus, onoran desert, southwest

Saguaro cactus unique to the Sonoran desert of the southwest

Sonoran Desert Region, Sonoran Desert Museum

Sonoran Desert Region and subdivisions featured by the website of the local fantastic Sonoran Desert Museum

Again this coming weekend, as in last weekend, there’s a two day Tucson artist open studio event. May 14th & 15th and 21st & 22nd.

inspirational_tucson_artist_diane_fairfield at the

inspirational_tucson_artist_diane_fairfield at the

I was powerfully moved by the artwork of a local Tucson artist, Diane Fairfield http://www.dianefairfieldart.com with whom I spoke briefly this last weekend during the two weekend long Tucson Arts Open Studios will be taking place again this coming weekend; Saturday and Sunday, from 11am to 5pm. It was in the Steinfeld Warehouse 101 W. Sixth St.

Bill Baker's, photography, desert.

Bill Baker’s photography of the desert.

 

 

 

 

I was stimulated as well by the photographs and conversation with a local photographer, Bill Baker http://bbakerphoto.com. These encounters are why my heart pulled me to stay in Tucson this last weekend to dis cover from without and within.

And though I’ve found a number of volunteering opportunities in this town – using my French language skills for African refugees and love of animals to lend a hand at a wildlife sanctuary on the outskirts of town – I still have no income what so ever. d’oh!

Carol Keiter selfie sun squint

Carol Keiter selfie sun squint

Cheers!

PayPal Donate Button

Carol Keiter aka nomadbeatz ~ As an avid blogger who is presently picking up where I left off with my eBook to complete it and and beginning again to compose music, I ask you rather unambiguously and unabashedly to please donate, if you are able. !-))

Intention Without a Plan, Evolves a Path of Action

I’m going to do something unprecedented, write with extreme brevity.

mountains ring the valley

 

pink adobe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Couldn’t resist a shot of the classic pink adobe.

Not one, but at least two resident iguanas.

Not one, but at least two resident iguanas.

 

 

 

 

Though this adobe isn’t my new home, these are some of my new apt flatmates.

 

 

 

 

There really couldn’t have been more of a circuitous way of arriving in this community. My head said simply, head south, plan B was to head to northern France to help with the refugees along the coastline facing Great Britain.

a hazardous bridge is far better than a wall :-)

a hazardous bridge is far better than a wall 🙂

I’ve since learned that French speaking skills will come in handy here because among a large number of refugees from all over the world coming to Tucson because of its low cost of living, there is a significant African population.

I’ve contacted several refugee resettlement groups here in Tucson, the IRC and the Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest-Refugee Focus program to volunteer in various capacities such as being assigned to a family to maintain continuity and build trust. I will also volunteer at the

The Tucson Wildlife center is a Sanctuary just east of the city, which also borders the Saguaro National Forest

The Tucson Wildlife center is a Sanctuary just east of the city, which also borders the Saguaro National Forest

Tucson Wildlife center. In the meantime looking for ways of employing my skills in a variety of different ways.

I’ve discovered that there’s a substantial number of writers, artists and musicians living in this town. I had to bypass an ultimate frisbee hat tournament (on a sort of stormy day) to attend the Spring Arts Open House festival Heart of Tucson Art. There I met with a number of artists in the intimacy of their own homes, checking out their art and chatting. Among my bicycle mode of transportation to go from here to there, I’ve amassed some photos. cactus man

My path to arrive here may appear completely haphazard, as I had mentally crossed off all communities not lying on the coasts, and yet I’m finding many of the things that a city can offer, as well as complete wilderness in a matter of an hour bike ride; yes, pleasantly surprised.

Now I have a bicycle, not the one pictured here which I used to move from Plan B, in which less is indeed more.

Small back pack and messenger bag.

Small back pack and messenger bag.

The desert is full of extremes.

gorgeous_bluegrey_april_storm_clouds

gorgeous_bluegrey_april_storm_clouds

And within minutes, one can leave the outskirts of the mostly one and two storied homes to reach the wilderness. Biking and hiking are common extracurricular activities around this plain surrounded by mountains.

artful mail boxes

artful mail boxes

the quirky, Skipper riding his bicycle several times across the country who was passing through

Skipper bicycling across country and stopping in Tucson

Skipper bicycling across country and stopping in Tucson

whom I met where I was fixing my bicycle at BICAS

BICAS bicycle inter-community art and salvage

BICAS bicycle inter-community art and salvage

desert palms

Coronado National Forest foothills

And where one’s bicycle can easily deliver them to wilderness.
moon flower desert cliffs

foothills of mountains

about to hike after biking to the trailhead
cactus flower
sunlit saguaro cactus
path to finger rockdesert
waxing moon
flowering moondelicate survival

Yet the culture is far from a desert…beam cloud

another glorious sunset

family walking cat to park

 

stickers_

stickers_1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you look closely, these people are not walking a dog, but their cat. The cat was actually boldly prancing toward a poodle. What? Fantastic!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And its humor.stickers_fab_gun_lawoh woof license plate

WHAT | Seeking Artist Residency /\ Sustainable Community | WHERE Europe | WHEN Yesterday

WHAT: Ideally, I’d like to find a place where artists, musicians, writers and creatives can live and exchange their board and meals with work on sustainable green projects and the commitment to adhering to a weekly or bi-weekly series of scheduled benchmarks of deliverables: what they’ve achieved in that period in terms of their own work projects. This achievement report would correspond with a meeting involving all of the residents; to offer each other advise, critique and possibilities of collaboration.

WHERE: I prefer to be based in Europe, though I’m always open to ideas and travel. Does anyone in the world, know of something of this nature that exists?

WHEN: Once again I find myself almost homeless, after a ‘workaway’ gig in Brooklyn that I had applied for and been accepted 3 months in advance, hadn’t worked out after the first week.

pic James and Lois Keiter

Pic a few years ago of my parents in the yard they planted. father James deceased 2013.

Here’s a drawing I just did of this photograph> a Christmas present for my mother Lois. Framed it after the final retouches!

sketch by Carol, daughter of James and Lois Keiter

Framed after final touches an illustration of my parents James and Lois Keiter

I’ve changed it a couple times before framing it, and this photograph of the framed one is the final version.

Carol's drawing of mother and dad, Lois and James Keiter

Carol’s drawing of mother and dad, Lois and James Keiter


My drawing of my parents James and Lois Keiter

My drawing of my parents James and Lois Keiter

In the meantime, I have dozens of articles to write, a book to complete, music to practice and compose and illustrations that I wish to continue to create. My requirements in order to deliver: time, shelter, nutrition and a positive & safe environment with electricity and internet access. As I am not savvy with my own marketing or google adware and the like – in order to monetize my blogs – I fall into the same quandary.

One thing I excel at, is approaching people whom I’ve never met before. I love to converse, exchange ideas, listen to peoples’ stories and further research and communicate subjects. I do this no matter where I am; interacting in public places and as a seasoned hitchhiker. Often the drivers who pick people up are those who like to converse, hear stories and tell their own. I’ve traveled to and lived in several countries (have barely begun to travel as extensively as I would like) and hosted people as well as surfed on peoples’ couches through https://www.couchsurfing.com. I love to communicate: verbally, in writing, illustration and photographs.

An option of mine is to couchsurf, associated with furthering my own project. I met a French girl at the PlacetoB in Paris who has been living for the past year and a half exclusively couchsurfing throughout France. She has had success. I could offer on my own youtube channel a video of the projects I’m involved in, and regularly reveal what I’m achieving on a bi-weekly basis. I would reveal my work in various media, adhering to benchmarks of what I deliver on a bi-weekly basis. In exchange for the couchsurfing hosts, I would offer cooking, cleaning, piano & bass guitar lessons, computer software music & graphic design training, language instruction, portraits of the family, health & fitness training, etc.

Why? >
>I thought that my blogging should pause while I seek out monetized income by delivering this same material – in the form of dozens of articles – querying environmental publications. Upon investigating a dozen or so publications. As someone unknown and low on the totem pole, though each have their own rules of submission, all say that there will be a 3 to 4 month time period before they can respond, if they do at all.

I have begun investigating cooperative sustainable communities and eco villages with the idea of living in a community and sharing the various activities and work needed to be done – growing food, cooking, repairing, child-care, entertainment – yet until one physically meets the people, it is hard to blindly commit to any length of time until one has visited the group in person.

I know that there are artist grants & residencies out there, however I don’t have 3 months or even 3 weeks to research these, for which most require scouting the contact people and apply within a particular time period and waiting in a potentially long line of people for positions.

4:20 in Lancaster county Pennsylvania | Amish country

It’s 4:20 and I happened to be in Lancaster county, the heart of Amish country! Happened to have my camera and yeah, the day began at 420_cig Smoketown_Elementary. Everything’s fine, I keep good company and have a Smoker Gard Attorney Smoker_Gard_Associates_Attorney

Lil bit later new_horse_eye Let’s say I was keeping my eye on a lot of new things, randomly making turns after moving in the direction of the Amish country, and getting away from the plastic-consumer civilized, uh hum, uncivilized world. to look at things with a different twist Goldie_gupsidedown

Okay, so fortunately, the weather is fine and the Amish are out and about. I didn’t intrude on taking pictures of the kids playing in front of their houses – in blue clothes, girls in bonnets, boys with bowl haircuts…but I did get a few discrete shots. such as the Amish horse-drawn buggies which are present everywhere, through the side-view mirror of the car i was driving.

through the side-view mirror

through the side-view mirror

and sneeking pics from the sun roof, uh, this was an accident that turned out pretty cool!

sneeking pics from the sun roof

sneeking pics from the sun roof

Yeah, the buggies are there living along with the modern culture buggy_car_traffic , you can see the grooves that the wooden wheels of the buggies make on the roads – over years and years – and residue from the horses – fresh every day!

remnants_of_horse_drawn_carriages

remnants_of_horse_drawn_carriages

Continuing on Smoketown_Inn

Stoney_Lane_Greenhouse

Stoney_Lane_Greenhouse

North_American_Pipe_Corporation

North_American_Pipe_Corporation

moving right along

Do Not Enter I was feeling good and enjoying the view immensely!

High_Car_Wash

frankly, in retrospect, this buggy blur going by has an odd reflection, as if it’s a premonition of something spooky!

buggy with strange reflection

buggy with strange reflection

and funny, though Amish strictly don’t drive cars or have electricity, Mennonites can drive cars, which are always black – the most toned-down non-materialistic vehicle that you can get..this one is typical in terms of the blackness of it “-)

typical_Menonnite_car

typical_Menonnite_car

and though some people stared blankly at me from their buggies (i mean, there are huge tour buses that drive on these country roads, so I’m sure the people get over-saturated with people gawking at them !-) One couple waved at me in a very friendly way and this girl riding by on her bicycle had a genuine smile.

amish_girl_bicycling

amish_girl_bicycling

parked_buggy_farm

gorgeous horse stride carrying the Amish buggy

gorgeous horse stride carrying the Amish buggy

typical_amish_farm

timber_corn_cat

timber_corn_barn

stone_house_pasture

stone_arch_bridge

stone_arch_bridge_fisherman

silos_green_fields

silos_amish_country

school_house

school_house_water_pump

remnants_of_horse_drawn_carriages

piles_wood

Pennsylvania_heart_of_Germany

parked_buggy_wider_view_farm

parked_buggy_farm

one_lane_bridge

one_lane_bridge_closer

Misty_Creek_Goat_Dairy

Misty_Creek_Goat_Dairy_Whole_Goat_Milk

magnolias_have_sprung

magnolia_leaves

lovely_property_rear_forsythia_lancaster_county_PA.

lovely_property_magnolias

lovely_property_magnolias_lancaster_county_PA

Lancaster_county_stonehouse_barn

green_hills_amish_farms

green_hills_amish_farms_2

farmfields_Lancaster_county_Amish_country

farm_fields_covered_plastic

ccc_not_consortium_collective_consciousness

canyon_wall

canyon_wall_close

canyon_wall_beyond_this_same_property

buggy_reflection_passing

buggy_parked_outside_house

buggy_car_traffic

brightly_colored_shacks_for_sale

blossoms_pink_haze

blossoming_tree

barn_3_tupelas

approaching_buggy_early_spring

approaching_amish_buggy

amish_long_green_barn

amish_horse_drawn_buggy_trot

amish_farm_wind_mill

amish_farm_fence

amish_farm_buggy_entering

amish_farm_barn_buggy_star

Amish_country_stream_Lancaster_county

Amish_country_stone_house

amish_country_green_fields_april

amish_country_buggy_scene

Amish_country_barn_Lancaster_county

Amish_canal_under_house

Amish_canal_through_house

amish_buggy_reflector_lights

amish_buggy_lancaster_county_pennsylvania

amish_buggy_beechdalle_rd

amish_buggy_approaching_through_sideview_mirror.

angel statue amish star

angel statue amish star

Here are the same labeled photos on a flickr link!

and that’s all folks

just a 'lil angel

just a ‘lil angel (that I drew a few years ago to send in a thank you note)

European Hitchgathering Liptovská Mara, Slovakia | August 8, 2013 | my hitchabout

This blog has been far too long ‘on hold’, mostly because I’ve been busy since my return to Berlin, Germany with relocation procedures, updating resumes with new contact info and searching for work. August 24th dates one month since my arrival in Berlin. The day after my arrival, July 25th, was the MayanDay Out of Time”, with the following day starting the new Lunar year. I realized this only in retrospect, though did feel on the day following my overnight sleepless flight as if I was in a zone without time.

My arrival intentionally coincided with the beginning of an event which tipped the scale, in terms of drawing me ‘Back to Berlin’, a couchsurfing event.

In between acclimating to my new location, time-zone and preparing for a short but sweet dj debut at the Saturday night party of the CS event, I began to map out how I would hitch to the ‘European Hitchhiking Gathering 2013’ in Slovakia, which I’d been introduced to through a Facebook group while still back in the United States.

European Hitchgathering Slovakia 2013

European Hitchgathering Slovakia 2013

I decided that there couldn’t be a better way to seriously start exploring Europe, on not a low, but no budget, than by continuing my hitchhiking tradition. As always, I began looking at google maps and ‘get directions’, to plan my route.

google_map_slovakia_location_hitch_aug3

I also consulted ‘hitchwiki‘ in which people share their experiences and recommend the best routes.

Hitchwiki resource for finding gas stations adjacent to cities along highways and their 'hitchability'.

Hitchwiki resource for finding gas stations adjacent to cities along highways and their ‘hitchability’.

And used bvg.de to figure out which stop to get off the train to just exit Berlin, after consulting the Berlin S & U Bahn transit maps. Hitchwiki is an excellent source to see where gas stations near cities are located, with recommendations provided by other hitchers about the hitchability of a place.

Having no accessible printer available, I began drawing my maps, which I prefer to do anyway.

Map of route Berlin to Slovakia

Map of route Berlin to Slovakia

Hand-drawn route map Berlin, Germany to Krakow, Poland.

Hand-drawn route map Berlin, Germany to Krakow, Poland.

Word-of-mouth as well as the hitchwiki site suggested that I begin my journey at a highway rest-stop southwest of Berlin near Michendorf in the Potsdam district. I was pleased to find a busy gas station and other hitchhikers there.

Five hours later, I’d met some of these other hitchhikers, particularly two guys who I learned were from Estland (found out later that is Estonia). They were having similar luck to mine. By the sixth hour I was offered a swig of Vodka from their bottle after we talked a bit. By the seventh hour, I decided to alter my route. Instead of heading to the destinations in Poland that I had already penned out, grabbing some bakery paper at the train station in Berlin (where I met an Israeli guy who observed that I was probably hitching, congratulated me and gave me some fruit & chocolate and wrote down my blog addresses).

European_Hitchgathering_Slovakia_sign_Wroclaw

European_Hitchgathering_Slovakia_sign_Krakow

I now decided to head to this outdoor music festival that was beginning that evening in Poland, just over the German border directly east of Berlin.

Woodstock  An open-air music festival in Poland

Woodstock
An open-air music festival in Poland

I had already thought of heading to this festival perhaps on my way back from Slovakia, so already had looked over the route. I realized that it would be probably be over by the time I got there, so decided to head there first, since it appeared that other hitchers with signs for this festival, had been picked up.

Kuestrin, Poland, Kostryzn is the Polish name of the town.

Kuestrin, Poland, Kostryzn is the Polish name of the town.

Now I held up the sign to go there, with the Polish name of the town.

Kostrzyn Poland

Kostrzyn Poland

Within minutes of making a new sign for Küstrin, Polan (Kostrzyn, Polska) the Woodstock fest, and approaching one car with 3 guys, I learned that they were on their way to Woodstock from Leipzig. They took me along. They were friendly and compatible the whole drive. They offered that I sleep in their car while they slept in their tents, sounded good. Once we arrived to the grounds, they proceeded to unpack their car and set up a table and chairs. I stayed with them, talked, hung out, laughed and we decided eventually to head over towards the festival grounds. Yet as we were about to leave after I’d put my pack in their car, something occurred that caused me to feel uneasy about leaving it there. I grabbed it out of their car and started walking with them as we left. I felt that it was painfully obvious that I was taking it with me. Yet something about the amicable tone had started to morph, I don’t remember exactly what.

Once we started walking, I realized how cumbersome carrying my pack would be. They quickly agreed that I should just leave it in the car. I laughed timidly, confiding that I had had a tinge of not trusting them, as we walked back to lock it inside the car. However, once we started walking again, pretty quickly the tone changed. Two of them walked a few paces ahead of the rest of us, talking quietly to each other. Something about their behavior made me once again feel uncomfortable, as though they were hiding something.

Within the first hours of this 4 day festival, already the parked cars in the fields began mushrooming into a big maze. After walking a quarter mile and getting more and more of a sense that something felt wrong about the situation, we approached a cross-roads. As I was contemplating what to do, suddenly one of the two talking turned around and said, “So, what are you going to do now?” After having wandered through fields of cars and now getting into a thicker crowd, I wondered if I would remember their car if we were separated. I had no phone. Explaining that I’d have to stick by them because my stuff was in their car, the same guy who was no longer smiling but rather short and almost hostile, was confronting me. I had to make a decision fast, we were approaching the gate with a mass of Polish police officers standing in a barricade. I walked away from them and approached a policeman. He didn’t understand German nor English, and acted confused and actually as if I was the person who was the problem. I then turned towards these guys again and said that I wanted to get my bag from their car. Without the slightest hesitation, the friendlier one promptly said he’d walk with me there, while the others stayed behind. I think they were nervous about my action and wanted to get rid of me. Strangely, the guy who had been friendly the whole time, was once again warm and talkative. We wandered through all of the separate car parking lots, and as we approached theirs he asked if I had a lot of money with me. I still wasn’t sure what to expect, thinking that he could even here ‘lose’ me and disappear, but he didn’t. He opened the car and I grabbed my bag without incident. Then instead of just dissing me, he engaged in conversation and we walked back to the same place where his friends waited near this entrance way. I was pretty surprised that he was as friendly and talkative as he was, and actually saying that I should join them, when in fact, I thought that they had been planning to leave me behind and rob me. Ten minutes later we were back by the cops and crowd, where his friends were waiting. I walking about three or four steps with them and within seconds, the friendly guy who was walking and talking with me immediately changed his tone, and was now once again walking side-by-side with the other ring-leader guy. He changed back to being sly and furtive, now that he was back with this other guy who was more of a leader. I was so happy that this drama was over and that I had read their strange behavior and intuited that something strange was happening. And I listening to my gut response and acting quickly. I was now off on my own at this massive gathering, sporting my pack and realizing that I would have to really be alert at a festival with probably already several hundred thousand people, since the combination leaned towards getting ripped off.

Happy to have divested myself from that troubled vibe, I was more than content to come upon the first tent with good sounding beats, where I danced for a while. Later I found a place to sleep under trees and as the sun rose, moved my location to shadows from trees holding off the hot sun. In the morning I wandered towards where the nearby stream was to have a little swim before heading back to negotiate which direction to take towards Krakow.

It was clear that I would miss the pre-gathering in Krakow.

Facebook pre-meet hitchgathering in Krakow

Facebook pre-meet hitchgathering in Krakow

Which I researched closer.

Krakow pre-hitchgathering

Krakow pre-hitchgathering

and made one of my own maps to figure out how to get to this place once arriving in Krakow.
Hand-drawn location of pre-gathering in Krakow.

Hand-drawn location of pre-gathering in Krakow.

Obviously, I missed this Thursday event, since it was Friday already. Once I figured out which direction to go in from the festival, I stood by the road. Across the road I saw two young guys standing and asked them if they were hitching as well, mentioning that I intend to hitch to Krakow. The one explained that they were waiting for his Grandfather to pick them up to have lunch. Confirming my direction, a few minutes later I was just off the road and heard someone call out. I looked up and it was one of these guys holding a map. As I got to the road I saw it was a map of Poland. He not only offered me a ride with his Grandfather, but also I was invited to join them for lunch. I was delighted. We went to a restaurant not far down the road. The two are studying biotechnology in Warsaw. They each spoke fairly good English. We had nice conversation and the Grandfather was very gracious in wanting to treat me to various Polish dishes. It was a very pleasant introduction to warmth of the people of Poland. The grandson firmly stood by his biotechnology choice of study, saying that it gets a bad rap because of the alleged dangers of bio-agriculture. He assured me that this was not true. (I’m one of the people believing that genetic engineering of seeds is by no means proven to be harmless.) After the meal, they let me off at a place along the road where I could begin my hitch to Krakow. The grandson, once again revealing his helpful and proactive nature, came over to talk to the driver of the next car who had stopped immediately. While he spoke with the man, I realized that I’d left my sleeping bag in their car. It was a huge relief to have realized this before they took off and to get it back. When I returned to the other car, as he continued to talk in Polish oblivious to the fact that I couldn’t understand a word, I decided not to drive with him. Thanking him, I got out of the car before he had even began. The two kids and grandfather were already gone. I was unsure of whether to bother making this long trip and stepped off the road. As I walked away, I heard a yell. I approached the van as one guy said he had seen my Krakow sign. The other guy was facing nearby trees taking a leak. When the one said that they were going all the way to – and beyond – Krakow, it was clear that my decision had been made for me.

Both in their mid-thirties, the passenger extended most of the conversation. I felt completely comfortable with them and certainly could communicate better than with the older worker guy whose car I exited. About 40 minutes into this ride that would take about 4 hours, I kept hearing the driver say the same thing. I thought he was saying curve, as he sped along the 2 lane highway, cutting into the middle lane to pass. Oh, there is no real ‘middle lane’, but the Polish style of driving, in which like Russian Roulette, you go for making a pass, hoping that someone in the opposite direction has not also decided to overtake the vehicles in the middle lane from their direction. The center of the high-way of two lanes, becomes the passing lane, literally – splitting the lanes – with some cars driving on to the shoulder to let you pass, and others not. A while into the drive I asked in German what ‘curve (coor vaa) meant. The passenger who was the most talkative, explained that it meant ‘f*$#’ fuck. Not the German word for curve at all. The driver had been swearing about every 6 words.

We were making time, and I was white knuckling it most of the way. It was a fantastically good ride, fast and direct to just outside of Krakow. Despite nervousness about the status-quo Polish driving habits, I felt very comfortable with the two.

Now evening, my last ride from a gas station just on the outskirts of Krakow, was with a polished and professional man who without question gave me a ride. He was dressed very business-like. He works for his mother’s successful hand-painted and hand-blown Christmas ornament business. She had worked for this kind of business during WWII and had lead a strike in her factory against the Russian owners. She was fired, yet wanted to contribute income to her family in addition to her husband. Getting advice and council from her uncle who managed his own similar business, she started out on her own. Her good business skills paid off, with an international business which he and his brother now have taken over. He spoke excellent English and was quite diplomatic.

More to come!! as the evening in Krakow turned out to be delightful…

Quebec’s major Ferrandez | Bicycle Proponent | UTNE READER |

Luc Ferrandez: Life in the Bike Lane

Luc Ferrandez, an ambitious Quebec mayor, shows how bike-friendly planning revitalized a historic Montreal borough.

“The Plateau is an Italian cathedral. It’s a forest. It’s something to protect, something sacred. I don’t want it to become a place where people come to live in a condo with triple-glazed windows for a couple of years. This has to be a place where people can be comfortable walking to the bakery, walking to school, walking to the park—where they want to stay to raise a family.”

Read more:

http://www.utne.com/politics/luc-ferrandez-zm0z12jazros.aspx?page=2#ixzz1zCgOzxye