For Our Friends in New Zealand

            Our thoughts go out to the people of New Zealand, especially those who were so kind to us during our visit.

Making friends in faraway places means you shed tears when they suffer.

From the Gallipoli exhibit Wellington Museum, New Zealand

               From the Gallipoli exhibit Wellington Museum, New Zealand

Rest In Peace, Aunt Joan

            A dear friend and remarkable woman died this month and we felt the need to share her story, a small part of it, with all of you.

            Joan Reinke Robles, Aunt Joan, was a most amazing woman.  She died at age 90 in Tucson. The circle of her life intersected with ours in just one, significant point but that was enough to make her our friend forever.

            Joan was a fashion model, police officer, social worker, book seller, juvenile probation officer, and you might even be able to call her a Beatnik.  It was her role as a police officer that ended up bringing her into our lives. 

            In 1952, she became the second female officer hired for enforcement duties, for the city of Tucson, Arizona.  She partnered with the first female officer, Alice who would become my mother-in-law and they became known as “The Suede Slipper Cops.”  They patrolled the streets of Tucson in plain clothes because they never got around to getting uniforms.  None were available for women at that time anyway.  The department used them for duties they saw fit for women; juvenile delinquents, flashers, and sexual assaults.  At a reunion a few years ago, I heard plenty of stories of Joan and Alice on patrol (Joan playing the ukulele while Alice drove). 

Alice (left) Joan (right) in "uniform"

Alice (left) Joan (right) in “uniform”

            Joan left the department and moved to San Francisco, living in an apartment on Telegraph Hill with a view of the bay.  Her circle of friends included artists, musicians, and poets from the area in the Beatnik era.  She returned to Tucson, married George Robles (Uncle George), who was then a lieutenant on Tucson PD.  The two strong personalities were not to be married and they divorced, but stayed near each other and had some kind of contact almost every day. 

            Joan became a book collector, specializing in Southwest Americana.  Her home became an amazing museum of her life, with artifacts from her travels around the world and her many careers. 

            In 2013, Spider, Bubba, and I reunited Joan and Alice and brought them to Tucson PD where they were greeted by many of the current female officers who thanked them for paving the way.

Joan (seated), Alice (standing) and Tucson PD

Joan (seated), Alice (standing) and Tucson PD

            Joan was a true “class act” and she will be missed by all whose lives she touched.

 

A Stop in Venice

      I trained up in Ferrara and got off in Venice.  If you look way back in time, you can see my first trip here in July 2011.  That time I saw this tree growing out of a wall.

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    This time I thought I would look for some new sights.  I wandered down the narrow alleys.  I crossed a few bridges and I found this.

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I may need to improve my spontaneous wander skills.

     Honest, we were just walking down the street and I came across it…again.  It doesn’t seem to grow much but there were a lot of years in between these shots.

I decided to check out a new neighborhood but the big streets were flooded so I had to take a boat.

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Wet Street

                        Oh yeah!! Venice!!  That’s the way it is here.  Lots of water, no cars. 

     First stop, Murano.  A small island in the lagoon.  It’s easy to take the waterbus from Venice and arrive and a new group of islands connected by bridges.

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Murano Blvd.

Murano is best known for its glass.  And this hottie.  A real cutie but she looks a little fragile.

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Metropolis in Glass

This place has beautiful and delicate public art.  Where else can you find a garden like this?

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Or this thing.  I think I saw this wig on kid at a punk show in Berkeley.

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Blue Fizzy Blowout

                                    Or maybe it was a bottle of blue Gatorade exploding.

          Next it was time to hop back on the boat and head to Burano, another group of islands.

The buildings are very colorful and they are best known for their lace shops lining the main street.

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This lady had a big wad of thread.  She tied some knots and came up with a lace thing to stick under your Grandmother’s lamp.

The amount of work going into these lace items was amazing.  A true art form.

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I thought about buying some glass in Murano or some lace in Burano but ended up with this instead.

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The Good Stuff

                                        Gelato in a waffle cone.  Life gets no better. 

I took the waterbus back to Venice and bummed a ride in this smaller boat to look around the city.

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                                           Marco gave me a great tour of the waterways.

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                                        He took me by the Venice Casino.

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                     And I waved at this guy who seemed to be waving his fist at me.

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Fist Pumpin Lion

                                                       I don’t know what his problem is.

Marco took me down some side streets.  A quick right here, followed by a left, and down the narrow shortcut.

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Dark Alley

 

And stopping at a little Trattoria.  I felt like a real king…or maybe a Doge sitting on the seat all by myself.

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King of the Canal

 

                                                  Marco even let me handle the oar.

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My gondola trip was over.  Time for some food.  Besides, these people jumped in the boat and I didn’t want to share.

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I’m afraid my trip to Italy is at an end.  I left some sights unseen on purpose so that now I must return.  I have my medal from the Vatican to remember the trip and insure my safe return.

 

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Vatican Medal

 

     Venice has long been a place that I dreamed of someday, maybe someday, visiting.  I never thought it possible to actually go there, it seemed to be a place that only existed in books or TV travel shows.  Now, I not only find it possible to go there, I find it is possible to go there twice.  The people are way too nice for the number of tourists they encounter.  Marco the gondolier was very accommodating for the little yellow plastic guy and let us all pile down to one end of the boat so we could get pictures of him on the seat.  Posing with Bubba was just icing on the cake. 

     All through Italy we met wonderful friendly people.  From Marco in Venice to the Priests at the Vatican, to the guide in Pompeii, everyone was willing to spend a quality moment with Bubba.

              The impossible trips are actually possible.  All you need to do is take the first step.

Ferrara

A travel tip from the last post.  The one before Sherlock’s Birthday.  If you are in Rome and get a chance to see the Coliseum at night, take it.  It is a stunning building and a night tour gives it that otherworldly feel that seems to exclude the modern life outside its walls.

            Bubba now travels to the city of Ferrara.

When I arrived in the city, I immediately found this place.  It looks like it may be up to my B+B standard so I thought I would take a look around.

Big House

It has a nice swimming pool.

Big Lap Pool

                        The front desk must be around here somewhere.

Not A Lobby

I pounded on the table until someone finally showed up.  I demanded a room for the night and used the phrase, “You don’t know who I am!” like I have heard other tourists use.  The nice man said he had just the room for me.

Room With A No View

I should avoid being THAT tourist and go back to being a good guest in the country I’m visiting.  Low key and friendly works best.

          We actually stayed at the Hotel de Prati a block or so from the castle.  They deserve special mention because while we were in Ferrara, we learned of a family tragedy back home.  The staff of the hotel was very sympathetic and helpful.  Besides, it is a great location with some interesting rooms. 

Turning down the room at the Castle, I decided to take a look around the town.  This seems to be a town where it pays to look up.  These boys sitting on the balcony look like they are up to no good.

Gansta Cherubs

This guy looks particularly cranky.  I probably would be a little out of sorts too if the other guys got to hang out on the balcony and I got stuffed up under the roof for a few centuries.

Roof Hood

Looking up again, I saw these two statues of brothers who ruled this area.

Bros in Stone

It may be just me, but I think I can spot a definite difference in style here.

Planner

One is the couch potato with his renaissance remote control and the other is the sportsman on his high horsepower… horse.

Do-er

I’m told the horse from this town is called a Ferrara and as it evolved through the years it became a car with a similar name.  Could it be the Mustang?

I wandered over to this church.

Holy House

It looked friendly enough but looking up again, I saw a definite message about life choices.

Left or Right

You hang around with the wrong crowd and you end up…

Choice Maker

I asked for directions to a happy place and this nice guy offered to show me the way.

Crossing Guard

I’ll keep looking around, thank you.

Here is a friendlier looking fellow.  Just sitting around blowing bubbles.  My kind of guy.

Bubble Bear

He directed me to the phone and with coin in hand, I was ready to make a call.

Telabubba

The voice on the phone told me that for a good time, be at the corner Corso Ercole d’Este and Via Padiglioni, right next to the hotel, at sunset.

A Parade!!, with a fancy dressed band and flag throwers.  At first I thought this was the staff from the hotel, drying the sheets and an entertaining way.  This was the city’s notable citizens out for an evening stroll in their finest clothes.

Da Ladies

Then these guys showed up so I figured it may be time to end the night.

Time to bug out of town.  I’ll head north to Venice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lost World of Pompeii

I kind of like this Italy place.  I may have to look around to see if there are any homes I can either rent or buy.  This house looks okay from the outside.

Curb Appeal

It may be a fixer upper and looks like it was built a few years ago.  Kind of a mid century modern thing.  Mid second century that is.  I’ll have a look inside.

Inside the dome

Quite roomy, with space to entertain my friends.  Oh, Oh, I see a problem.  It needs a new roof.  There is a big hole in it that lets in too much light.

The Eye

I’ll keep looking.  It looks like they are building some new homes in this neighborhood.  They have just started construction on the columns of the clubhouse.

Urban Renewal

This looks like an up and coming neighborhood.

Old Hood

This might just be an apartment house under construction.  You can see they haven’t finished the top.  I think I could fit in here.

 

Dressed for battle

I’ll take a look inside.  This might work out.  Plenty of space for some nice digs.

Inside the Colosseum

I’ve heard if you are interested in a new home, you should visit the area at night to see if there are any problems.  So I snuck into the construction site at midnight.  If there are ghosts, they live here.  It is pretty spooky and I could swear I heard a lion roar.

Night Terrors

Maybe this isn’t the place for me.  Time to run, there is a shadow on the wall but I can’t see anyone casting it.  I hope it is the neighborhood watch.  I think I may have to leave town.

Shadow Warrior

Before I leave Rome, there is one more ritual I must attend to.  Not the Gelato thing, I already did that to excess.  This tradition says if you throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain, you will return.  I shall return to Rome.  It is a city that holds centuries of sights and would take a lifetime to fully explore.  I’m chuckin’ my money into the fountain.

Bubba Trevi

Heading south, I came across a big mountain with smoke coming from the top.  A barbeque!  I haven’t had pork ribs in a long time.  I found a sign, pointing the way.

Volcano?

I think it belongs to a guy named Vesuvius.  There is a road that goes up pretty far.  The problem is that it narrows as you go up and there really isn’t a good turn around.  It can get a little crowded at the end of the road.

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I can fix this.  I’ll do a little traffic direction and straighten it all out.

Jamm

Maybe it is time to climb the mountain and look for the Weber Grill at the top.

The view from up here is great but the smoke had died down and I can’t smell any BBQ masterpieces.

View from the Top

 

All I could find was this hole in the ground with steam at the edges.

Big Hot Hole

I’m not too sure about this, that smoke coming from the side of the crater is making me nervous.  Maybe it is time to just back out and go to a safer place.

Steam Vents

I found this nice place down the road.  You can still see the mountain but it seems plenty far away.  What could happen here?  The name of the town is Pompeii.

View of Disaster Mtn

This nice man is a tour guide and said he would show me around.  He even gave me a radio and a headset to use.

Guide at Pompeii

I kind of like this place.  I might just settle down here.  It seems to have wide streets and sturdy buildings.

Streets of the City

A gated community.  Looks good.

Gates to the New House

A nice theater.

Cheap Seats

Maybe the park needs a little restoration.

City Center

I’m not sure what goes on in this store and maybe I’m too young to find out.

Ad Space

Some of the other residents don’t seem to be in great shape so I guess I’ll skip this place as a vacation home.

Body in the Box

I’m not ready for this kind of retirement community yet.  I’ll head north again.