Columbian Gold

            Columbia is an old gold mining town.  Its history is that of the Wild West.  Wooden sidewalks, a stagecoach, and gunslingers can be found throughout town.  Gold is why the town boomed and lack of gold is why it went bust.  You can still do a little panning in the area.

            There is something better than gold in Columbia now.  It is more valuable, more important, and much better tasting.  Columbia’s current rush is a sugar rush caused by the best candy anywhere. 

          At Nelson’s Columbia Candy Kitchen, the work is hand done.  A crew of lovely ladies in their calico frocks sits at marble tables, hand rolling chocolate.  At Christmas, candy canes are lovingly pulled on huge stone tables to cool the sugars. 

          At the head of this happy crew of candy makers is Mrs. Nelson who greeted me with her usual smile.

          With all that candy around, I guess I would have a smile too.  Rumor has it that one couple was so in love with the place, they got married here.

          I couldn’t decide which great hand dipped goodies to stock up on.  They all look so good.  This may be better than the treasures I had on my Swiss trip.

          Maybe I should stock up on something for my hikes in the woods.

          I could eat this all day long.  Maybe I’ll start the day with chocolate covered coffee beans.

            After consuming copious amounts of chocolate covered coffee beans I felt an inexplicable burst of energy and decided to stroll over to Jamestown and catch a train at the state park there.

            I waited around for a few minutes and found out the engine was in the shop for repairs.  I thought I would go take a look.

          I found the engine but I couldn’t get it to start.  Maybe if I checked it out under the hood.

          The shop has the latest in high tech tools so I gave fixing the engine a try.

          I found the problem.  No spark plugs.  Instead of fussing with the big engine, I found something closer to the cars I’m used to.  Even I can drive a car you don’t have to steer.

                                                           Where will the rails take me next?

Swiss Bears and Swiss Chocolate

     We thought we would break up our return train trip to Paris with an overnight stopover in Bern Switzerland.   We all wished we had more time to spend as it is a wonderful location.  The city center and train station were clear of the graffiti and poverty sometimes seen in other capitals.  Bubba was a little concerned with the bears which are the symbol of Bern.

          The train station in Bern is located in a shopping mall.  I later found out that the shopping mall is actually located in the train station, a subtle but important difference.  Bern has some strict opening and closing times for businesses.  As the train station is considered Federal property, any businesses located there are exempt from the city rules and enterprising entrepreneurs have taken advantage.   As soon as I got off the train, I felt I was being stalked by bears.  A couple of times when I turned around quickly, I thought I saw one ducking around a corner or climbing a tree.  Maybe I was being paranoid.  Our hotel was certainly nice and seemed bear free.

     As we strolled through the wide plazas we saw a group of people watching a man and a woman playing a game that involved some blocks of cheese on sticks.  I think it was Swiss cheese versus Gouda.  It looked like some kind of checkers type game.  I didn’t have a clue how it worked but I cheered for the man.  The woman silenced me with a big piece of Smoked Gouda.

We took a walk down by the river that encircles the old part of town.  It is a beautiful area but I still had that bear fear for some reason.

The shops line the streets in covered arcades that hint of the colder winter weather.  The streets have flags on the buildings and statues that show the symbols of each of the nation’s cantons. 

It was when we were walking down one of these streets near the grand, animated clock that we were attacked!  A bear dressed in armor and armed to the teeth confronted us.

I armed myself, put on a helmet and leaped in front of Rick and Spider to save them from harm.

After fighting a mighty and victorious battle and being somewhat injured I stumbled into a nearby store that sold mounds of chocolate. 

For saving my companions I was given ten times my weight in chocolate.  I hurried back to the room to immerse myself in my treasure.