CFFC: Bridges

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week has the topic of Bridges.

One of my early photos in high school, when I was learning how to take and develop photos. This is a bridge on my high school campus.
Amsterdam, taken from a boat tour
Pegasus Bridge in Normandy, France
This bridge in Cologne, Germany had a fence covered with padlocks, which represent love relationships.
That same bridge in Cologne, Germany, at sunset
Bridge and kayakers in Bamberg, Germany
International bridge at Panama Canal
On the Chicago river, this low red bridge is in the district of Chinatown.
Another bridge on the Chicago River
Devil’s Elbow Bridge, in Missouri
On the St. Lawrence River near Quebec

Sunday Stills: Getting It Straight

Terri Webster Schrandt has a Sunday photo challenge, Sunday Stills. The theme this week is straight.

Apartment building (Woodstock, IL)

Here’s a place I’ve really been missing the last few months – the library! (Des Plaines, IL)

Under these floor tiles, several hundred people were buried during the Middle Ages! (Oude Kerk, Amsterdam)

Bridges: Pegasus Bridge (Normandy, France)

Bridge over a river on the border of Germany and Austria (near Scharding, Austria)

A tall house (Mont St-Michel, France)

Entrance to a graveyard (Merville-Franceville-Plage, France)

A straight and narrow street in Passau, Germany

Ornate fence in front of the World Museum in Vienna, Austria

CFFC: Vintage Cars, Covered Bridges, Flowers & Murals

Cee posted this picture and her Fun Foto Challenge this week is to use the picture to find subjects for this week’s challenge.

Some of her suggestions are: Mural, covered bridge, car, green, grass, vintage car, people, trees, road, flowers, landscape, sidewalk, or come up with your own topic.





Covered bridge (Madison County, Iowa)
Red & yellow flowers (Des Plaines, Illinois)
20170731_172024Mural (Cuba, Missouri)
Vintage car (Kingman, Arizona)

CB&WPC: French Roads in Black & White

The theme of Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge this week is roads.

All these photos were taken on our trip to Normandy, France last June.

Roll out the red carpet in Cabourg’s touristy center, lined with restaurants and shops.
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Entering Cabourg
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Village in Normandy between Arromanches & Caen
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Mont St.-Michel
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Looking down on the causeway from the abbey at the top of Mont St.-Michel
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Approaching Pegasus Bridge
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Lens-Artists #84: Narrow Passageways

Amy at Lens-Artists this week invites us to explore the topic of narrow.

In my travels to “old” places – places built when there were no cars or crowds of tourists -I explored (or declined to explore) many narrow streets and other passageways.

Places like Old Town Tallinn, Estonia (where I got lost due to sidewalks and streets so narrow that I lost sight of our guide!)…
KODAK Digital Still Camera
A van that is nearly as wide as this street in Old Town forces all pedestrians to the narrow sidewalk on the left.100_0371
There were also narrow witches!
KODAK Digital Still Camera
In Stockholm, Sweden, I tried to imagine returning home to one of these narrow alleys on a dark afternoon in winter!
KODAK Digital Still Camera
Dale ends our bike ride through Stockholm coasting down a narrow cobblestone street.
Stockholm, like many European countries, also has tall, narrow buildings.
Even older is Old Jerusalem, Israel…Like elsewhere, vehicles have the right of way, squeezing pedestrians to the wall.
Some of these climbing narrow streets are divided between steps and ramps.
Watch out for motorcycles coming through!
In ancient Egypt, clearly people were smaller to fit into narrow passageways into pyramids and tombs.

Dale and a few other adventurous souls (such as this woman from our group emerging from a pyramid) did go down these narrow steps into a now empty room in the Queen’s tomb in Giza. I took one look and decided to wait outside!
Tourists descend a long narrow hallway covered with inscriptions and paintings to reach the tomb of Ramses IX in Valley of the Kings. These hieroglyphics declaim the deeds of the king during his reign, and there are also symbols of gods to accompany him to the afterlife.
At the Chateau of Caen, France, a narrow stairway leads down to…where??
On Omaha Beach, in Normandy, are the remains of WWII German bunkers, which I declined to enter, also reached through narrow passages and stairways. (I’m glad I didn’t go in – my son’s photos show empty rooms with an inch of rainwater covering the floors!)
On the way back to our Airbnb farmhouse through the Normandy countryside, we drove down the narrow roads of villages, flanked by houses on both sides.
A car in front of us navigates a sharp corner into another narrow street.DSC00482
A lot of traffic in Amsterdam travels its canals, which narrow on approach to bridges.
DSC00587Floating traffic jam!
Bridges have these traffic signals indicating when it is safe and permissible to proceed (or not!).
The day after our tour of the canals, we went to the “red light district” where we were told not to take photos of the sex workers who lived on either side of these narrow alleyways. Probably also not a good idea to photograph potential clients – good thing this one came out blurry!
In Amsterdam, we stayed in an Airbnb 2nd floor flat, with a narrow stairway winding up to it. That was one of our son’s obligations to us for paying for his trip – carry our suitcases up and down! The stairway was so narrow and windy that he had to carry the suitcases one by one in his arms!


Landscapes Around the World

Nancy’s A Photo A Week challenge this week features landscapes.

These are some landscapes from my travels, and closer to home.

July in Austria – scene looking down from Melk Abbey, where the Inn and Danube Rivers meet.
Austria – cruising the Inn River near Schärding
June at Kinderdijk, Netherlands
February in Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania
Mount Kilimanjaro – on a flight from the Serengeti to Arusha, Tanzania
Des Plaines, Illinois on a snowy February day
June at Devil’s Elbow Bridge, Missouri
June at the Painted Desert, Arizona
May at Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
June in Arches National Park, Utah
December along the Nile River near Luxor, Egypt

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Leading Lines

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #80 is about leading lines. Leading lines are one of the “rules” of composition: There are indeed “rules” of photographic composition, which like many other rules, are made to be broken. Whatever their skill level or experience though, understanding and knowing when to use the “rules” of composition can be helpful for any photographer. This week, our challenge will explore a key compositional element, Leading Lines. …Leading lines carry our eye through a photograph. They help to tell a story, to place emphasis, and to draw a connection between objects. They create a visual journey from one part of an image to another and can be helpful for creating depth as well.

This is how I spent the last two Junes, 2018 and 2019.

Our road trip (mostly) on Route 66: Sedona and Winslow, AZ
We visited the Painted Desert, too: first, horizontal lines.
Undulating formations which slope downward.
In Santa Fe, colorful pillars…
and a souvenir shop with paintings lined up along a counter.DSC_0626
When on Route 66, here’s a sight not to miss: Cadillac Ranch. It had rained the night before.

A year later, we were on a river cruise in Europe. One of the first ports of call was Cologne, Germany with its famed cathedral, with stained glass windows reaching toward heaven…
…and soaring arches decorated with sculptures of saints.
Later we crossed the bridge to return to our ship. The inner side of the bridge is covered with “love locks” – padlocks people leave in honor of their sweethearts. They stretch on as far as the eye can see!
Next stop was Marksburg Castle, which afforded beautiful views of the Rhein River and town below (I wish I could photoshop that pole out, but I don’t have the software).
And here’s a different view: a steeple rises up as seen through a turret.
Marksburg is definitely a “must” on any Rhine River cruise. It’s like a fairy tale castle!
Farther on down the river, a swan swam over near our ship.
We were passing through a lowland area.
I loved the small town of Miltenberg, which was so picturesque!
Inside a church, hymnals were stacked neatly in the narthex. One is drawn to the word Gotteslob, which perhaps means hymnal.
Our final stop on the cruise was Budapest, Hungary. A memorable part of the day we were there was a walking tour through the old Jewish Quarter.


Getting our kicks in Missouri: Vacuum Cleaners, Murals and Bridges – Day 8 (Part 2)

After leaving Uranus, we finally arrived at Devils Elbow Bridge.  Our AAA guide said, “This 1920s-era bridge takes the original 66 roadway across the Big Piney River.  Named for the tight bend in the river, the bridge and adjacent town were (and still are) considered one of the most scenic spots on the route.” After the kitschy-ness of Uranus, I was ready for some pretty scenery!

When we were in Oklahoma, we met an Australian couple, who was traveling Route 66 going the other direction. They told us we should visit a vacuum cleaner museum in the town of St. James, which they really enjoyed. Our curiosity piqued, we drove into the small town of St. James, Missouri, where we easily found the Vacuum Cleaner Museum and Factory Outlet.

As it happened, there was a group of people from a vacuum cleaner convention visiting that day. They occupied the guides with technical questions, but we hung around and got our questions answered also, saw some demonstrations, and also learned some interesting bits of vacuum cleaner history!
20180615_151540The museum exhibits are arranged by decades, beginning with the first decade of the 20th century, when vacuum cleaners were first invented. Scattered about are little signs reading “Did You Know” accompanied by facts or questions. One of these signs told us the first non-electric vacuum was invented by James Kirby in 1904.Some vacuum cleaners were  complicated to use: one type required two people, one to pull down on a lever and the other to do the vacuuming! Maybe that was a way to get husbands to help with housework in those days.
One of the Did You Know? signs asked the question: Why do vacuum cleaners have headlights? I don’t know – to throw a little more light on the dust you are vacuuming? The answer is, when electric vacuum cleaners were invented, there weren’t outlets in houses. The end of the cord had a screw-on attachment, which had to be screwed into a lamp socket. So of course, one had to take the lightbulb out of the lamp in order to use the vacuum cleaner – this made the room dark, hence the light at the bottom of the vacuum cleaner!

Each decade section was marked by a sign overhead and a few historical landmarks that happened in that decade. In that section were the vacuum cleaners that were invented or in vogue at the time.

Advertisements lined the walls of each section.

Some of these ads were interesting to read – and usually quite sexist!



Did you know that a shag carpet weighs eight times more being removed from the house than it did when brought in new?

Agnes Moorehead, who played Samantha’s witch mother on the TV series Bewitched in the 1960s, had a vacuum cleaner made especially for her in her favorite color – lavender!
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Dale decided to buy one souvenir at the vacuum cleaner museum: a yellow t-shirt with the museum’s logo on it!

Cuba, Missouri is known as the Route 66 Mural City. Driving through on Route 66, we saw murals on buildings all over town. Many of the murals were numbered, with informational plaques near them.

Mural #9: The River depicts the use of the river for recreation, beauty and transportation. The word “Missouri” comes from an Indian word, missou-ly, which means canoe.


Mural #14: Meeting in Missouri. By the 1630s, the Osage were the most powerful tribe in the Missouri region, when French explorers made contact with them. The French and the Osage maintained good relations for trade into the early 19th century.

Cuba’s series of Civil War murals depict conflicts between the troops of Confederate General Sterling Price and Union General Thomas Ewing in September 1864. The battles started at Fort Davidson near Pilot Knob, Missouri and ended with the rescue of the Union troops in Leasburg. The Civil War murals were a collaborative effort between Viva Cuba and the Eagle project of a young man from a local Boy Scout troop.



Mural #13: A Day in the Cooperage. In 2018, the McGinnis family celebrates 50 years in the barrel making business. The started with a small stave mill. In the 1980s, they expanded to produce quality wine and whiskey barrels. Today, they sell barrels all over the world made from logs purchased within a 100-mile radius of Cuba.


Mural #7: Prosperity Corner. In the 1900s, Prosperity Corner drew citizens to meet, do business or pass the time. Hayes Shoe Store (yellow building on the far right) stands on the original site of Prosperity Corner.


Just up the road from Cuba is Stanton, the base for an excursion to Meramec Caverns, considered the oldest geological feature along Route 66. Because we had been to Fantastic Caverns earlier in the day, we did not stop at Meramec Caverns, made famous by billboards and bumper stickers devised by their original owner. 

It was nearly 6:00 pm when we arrived in St. Louis. Because we had made reservations for a Best Western in a suburb on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River, we stopped to see the famous Arch, noting that the construction we had encountered there two years earlier was now complete.

Dale and I took a selfie in front of the St. Louis Arch.

We had been strongly urged, by our daughter and others, to sample St. Louis barbecue, so we looked up barbecue restaurants online and found one in the heart of downtown St. Louis. As it happened, there was a game this evening between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs, and many of the patrons at Sugarfire were fans of both teams, since the restaurant was only a short distance from the stadium. I had to wait for Dale while he took his time in the restroom, so I joked with patrons standing in line, to go ahead of me, “even though you’re a Cardinals fan!” There were plenty of Cubs fans having dinner there, easily identified by their Cubs caps and t-shirts. We hailed them and shared our solidarity. I began to feel eager to get home, as we would tomorrow!

The BBQ was quite good, although Dale said he preferred the BBQ place we sampled when we were in St. Louis two years before.

We didn’t plan to see anything in St. Louis, whether Route 66 related or not, since we had spent three days there only two years ago. So after dinner, we decided to cross the river to find our hotel and to go to Chain of Rocks Bridge, (3 miles west of Granite City, Illinois, via I-270 off exit 3, then south on SR 3 and west on Chain of Rocks Road to the river). This bridge was the crossing point for Route 66 for more than 30 years. Opened in 1929, this steel trestle bridge is no longer open to auto traffic but is part of the Route 66 Bikeway linking scenic trails on both sides of the river.
We watched the blazing sun going down and took photos of its reflection on the mighty Mississippi River.
Here’s the bridge we crossed by car.



A Photo a Week: The Bridges of Madison County

No, I am not talking about the movie The Bridges of Madison County, but the movie was inspired by the covered bridges in Madison Co., Iowa. However, the movie only featured two of these bridges, while we visited five bridges (a 6th was burned down) while we were in Iowa at the end of September.  For Nancy Merrill’s A Photo A Week challenge with the topic Bridges, here are my photos of the bridges of Madison County.

We drove from Des Moines south to the charming town of Winterset, which is the “jumping off” point for visiting the bridges. At the Visitors Center there, we obtained a map and information about the bridges.  The brochure we were given also described other attractions of Winterset: The Iowa Quilt Museum, Clark Tower, John Wayne’s Birthplace, and George Washington Carver Park (see separate post), among others. Of these, we decided to visit Clark Tower and George Washington Carver Park.

First, we drove out to the Roseman Covered Bridge, to the west of Winterset.
A plaque told us that the Roseman Covered Bridge was built in 1883 by Benton Jones and G. K. Foster. It is a covered timber town lattice truss overlaid by a queenpost frame.

It is 225 feet long, the truss itself being 104 ft., by 15.4 ft. wide and spans the Middle River. Roseman was one of the last of the covered bridges to be built, and cost $2,930.00.
The Roseman Bridge carried traffic across the river for nearly  100 years, until it was bypassed by a modern highway bridge in 1981.
The plaque further explained that the Roseman Bridge has withstood the test of time while most other timber truss bridges have been demolished due to a structural redundancy: Benton Jones had strengthened the truss further by superimposing a queenpost truss.
The floor boards have warped over time.
On the near end, the approach contains a lot of graffiti.
View from inside looking out toward the parking area.
Far end approach
We then drove back east through town, where we saw the Madison County Freedom Rock, painted by Ray “Bubba” Sorensen II.

We drove east through town and took a detour to see Clark Tower, which was a bit disappointing after a long, winding drive uphill.

Clark Tower is at one end of City Park and the Cutler-Donahoe Covered Bridge is at the other.
This bridge was built in 1870 by Eli Cox and is 70 feet long. It has a covered timber superstructure, a towne lattice truss with overlay queenpost frame. It originally crossed the North River, 18 miles northeast of Winterset and was moved to City Park in 1970.

To visit the Holliwell Covered Bridge, we drove 3.3 miles southeast of town. At 156 feet, Holliwell is the longest covered bridge and the longest remaining timber bridge in Iowa.
It was completed in 1880 by H.P. Jones and G.K. Foster, spanning the Middle River, at a cost of only $1,180!  SONY DSC
Like many of its predecessors, it was constructed with a town lattice truss configuration with a pair of timber arches superimposed over the truss.
The map in our brochure still points the way to Cedar Covered Bridge, although this bridge is no more.  A teenage boy, after a night of drinking with his buddies and despondent over a break-up with his girlfriend, set the bridge on fire. Soon afterward, he felt tremendous remorse for having destroyed this historic bridge, built in 1883 and featured in the movie The Bridges of Madison County. It is currently being rebuilt.

The Imes Covered Bridge, next on our tour, is the oldest of the covered bridges. It was located over Middle River near the town of Patterson, but has been moved south to St. Charles, near Madison County’s eastern border.

The last of the covered bridges to visit, Hogback Covered Bridge, is located off Hwy 169 (the main highway connecting Winterset and Des Moines) north of Winterset. To get there, we took a 4 mile loop on a gravel road.
Hogback is in its original location over the North River. It was built in 1884, the last all-timber truss to be built in Madison Co. Designed by Benton Jones, it is a covered timber town lattice truss overlaid with a queenpost frame.
It is 160 feet long, including a 98 ft. truss and two 62 ft. approaches, and 15 ft. wide.
Hogback is named for the limestone ridge forming the west end of a valley. In 1992, it was renovated at a cost of $118,810 – several times more than the original construction!

Nearby bypass bridge, which we drove over to get to Hogback.

It is not known how many covered bridges were built in Iowa between 1850 and 1900, but a conservative estimate is around 100. The vast majority were destroyed by flooding, fire, collisions or demolition, leaving us with only a few examples to visit and preserve.



Getting Our Kicks in Oklahoma (Part 1)

June 13, 2018

On our second day in Oklahoma, we picked up a comprehensive Oklahoma Route 66 brochure, listing 95 sites! Unfortunately, we didn’t have that on the day we crossed the border into the state, so I am listing a few that may be of interest here:

Roger Miller Museum
101 Sheb Wooley Ave.
Erick, OK
This museum is dedicated to the songwriter/entertainer Roger Miller, a native son. There is DVD footage on a big-screen TV showing Miller’s past performances as well as tributes to him by colleagues. There is, of course, a gift shop.

Washita Battlefield National Historic Site
North of Route 66, about two miles west of Cheyenne, OK is the site of Lt. George Custer’s Nov. 27, 1868 early-morning attack on the Southern Cheyenne village of Peace Chief Black Kettle. Run by the National Park Service, the site overlooks Hwy 47A and there are exhibits, ranger talks, a 27-min. film, and a 1.5 mile self-guided trail. Admission is free. For more information or to book a tour, call 580-497-2742.

In Sayre, OK are four places of interest:
Sayre RV & City Park – at Hwy 283 S., Sayre; nice collection of vintage. 580-928-2260
Beckham County Courthouse – at 104 S. 3rd, Sayre; built in 1911, it’s best known for its appearance in a 30-sec. scene depicting the Joad family’s western journey in the film The Grapes of Wrath, based on John Steinbeck’s novel. 580-928-2457
Shortgrass Country Museum – 106 E. Poplar, Sayre. Admission is free at this museum about all aspects of early-day life on the shortgrass prairie. 580-928-5757
RS & K Railroad Museum – 411 N. 6th, Sayre; model train museum with nearly 300 specimens in various gauges and a lot of train memorabilia. 580-928-3525

We stopped briefly in Elk City, home of the Farm and Ranch Museum, Old Town Museum Complex (2717 W. 3rd, Elk City) which includes the National Route 66 Museum and others (580-225-6266). Country Dove Gifts & Tea Room is famous for their homemade French silk pie, at 610 W. 3rd, Elk City (580-225-7028).


The tiny town of Canute (exit 47 off I-40) has several off-the-beaten track historic sites, including a 1930s WPA Park, a cemetery with a 1928 grotto, a 1918 jail and two defunct old motels with their neon signs.

Clinton (exits 61-69) is where you will find the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum (2229 W. Gary Blvd., Bus. 40). It has been completely remodeled and takes you through the entire history of the Mother Road, decade by decade. See vehicles and hear music. There’s a replica of a drive-in theater, the gift shop resembles an old fashioned curio shop and has a wide selection of souvenirs and gifts. 580-323-7866

I was interested in this museum but  it was almost 3:00 pm, and we wanted to get to Oklahoma City in time to visit the capitol, so we bypassed Clinton.

Besides the above, in Clinton you will also find the Mohawk Lodge Indian Store, (22702 Route 66 N., Clinton) established in 1892 – the first and oldest Indian trading post in Oklahoma. 580-323-2360

The next attraction for us was the Pony Bridge, which crosses the Canadian River near Geary. It is 3,944.33 feet (1202.23 meters) long and contains 38 pony trusses, making it the longest truss bridge in Oklahoma. It was also featured in The Grapes of Wrath. It was built in 1933 to support a realignment of Route 66 and is one of the longest bridges ever constructed on the Mother Road. Take exit 101 off I-40, go north on US 281/SR 8 (Historic Route 66).

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Crossing the Pony Bridge

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The Pony Bridge as seen from the eastern end

Stay on Route 66 to mile 108, the town of El Reno. We breezed through it, (not knowing about its attractions), but there are several places of interest:
Historic Fort Reno
7107 W. Cheyenne St.
El Reno, OK
Several of its structures are on the National Register of Historic Places. This military post was established in 1874 to provide security in Cheyenne and Arapaho lands. In 1908, it was converted to one of three Army quartermaster remount stations and also served as German prisoner of war camp during World War II.

Canadian County Historical Museum
300 S. Grand
El Reno
This museum sits on the 98th meridian, which divided unassigned land in central Oklahoma from Cheyenne & Arapaho lands in western Oklahoma. Including the El Reno Hotel, built in 1892 which is on the Historic Register of Historic Places, it has several building on its campus, including a depot, barn, jailhouse, church and one-room school. It has been rated one of the outstanding museums in Oklahoma.

Chapel Creek Winery
5005 Darlington Road
El Reno
Located on the Redlands Community College campus, it has an old Spanish-style chapel built in 1913, which serves as one of the trademark symbols for wines produced here. You can buy gourmet goat cheeses from the on-site goat dairy.

If you are hungry by now, try El Reno’s fried onion burgers at Robert’s Grill, Sid’s Diner or Johnnie’s Grill.

Upon arrival in Oklahoma City, we headed to the state capitol (in a separate post), then to the Milk Bottle Grocery, originally a small grocery that is now on the National Register of Historic Places. This “famous Route 66 icon” is a small triangular building with a large milk bottle on top. I pictured something more exciting than what it actually looked like when we arrived at 2426 N. Classen Blvd. in Oklahoma City.20180613_174007
Although the building was nothing spectacular, the Braum chain of dairies turned out to be common in Oklahoma and Missouri and had excellent ice cream!! I highly recommend it!

Mural on the side of the Milk Bottle Building



At some point we stopped in at a tourist center, where we picked up a free booklet, Oklahoma Route 66: The Ultimate Road Trip, which had many more interesting sites than our AAA guide. Unfortunately, because we were hungry and tired by that time, we did not visit some of Oklahoma City’s other landmarks:
Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum honors the victims and survivors of the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building, and educates visitors about the impact of violence, inspiring hope and healing through the lessons learned by those affected. 620 N. Harvey Ave. 888-542-4673
Route 66 Park has n observation tower, large playground, amphitheater, walking trails, and Route 66 Plaza. 9901 NW 23rd St. 405-297-2211
Gold Dome Building, 1122 NW 23rd St., 405-626-7000 – large geodesic dome and major landmark along Route 66. The Gold Dome was constructed in 1958, designed by Buckminster Fuller.
Bricktown Entertainment District – converted warehouse district, contains restaurants, shopping, nightclubs, public art, water taxi tours, 16-screen movie theater and more. East of downtown Oklahoma City. 405-236-8666.

Oklahoma Judicial Center

We checked into our usual Best Western hotel, and found out our room was on the second floor and the elevator wasn’t working! We insisted on a first floor room and ended up in an upgrade (at no extra charge) – a room with a jacuzzi!

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Dale enjoying the jacuzzi after a long day of traveling!