Seasonal Odds and Ends

So it’s the end of October – one of my favourite times of the year.  It’s been gorgeous this weekend – ‘Chamber-of-Commerce Weather’ as they say – cloudless blue skies and cool mornings (which have blossomed into near-record high temperature afternoons).

In memory of our recent trip to Germany, we’re having Sauerbraten and Kartoffelklöße for dinner this evening.  With that, I’m having Heavyweight Old Vine Zinfandel from Scotto Cellars.  This Zin (82 percent Zinfandel, 14 percent Syrah and 4 percent Mourvèdre) was used in the marinade/gravy and it’s quite substantial.


Heavyweight Old Vine Zinfandel – California

One of my favourite ‘Halloween drinks’ is really quite simple – prosecco with crème de violette.  It’s extremely floral – which takes some getting used to, but the colour is fantastic.  Depending upon how much crème de violette you put it, it can range from a pale amethyst to dark inky purple.


Prosecco and Crème de Violette

While I was working outside last weekend, I ran across this fellow.  He was trying to hide in the ficus tree.  It was like ‘Jungle Book’ in miniature.


Garter Snake in the Ficus


Garter Snake in Ficus

Today was Halloween decoration day.  This is a phased approach with me.  Unlike Christmas, I don’t like to lay all my cards on the table at once.  I much prefer the ‘build-up’ so more things will be added every couple days until the big night.  Since it’s a Friday night this year, I’m sure the reverie factor will be upped several notches.

I love Halloween decorating, but I’m decidedly not a blood-and-gore kind of guy.  I’m really cornball – I love that old fun, non-menacing stuff from when I was in elementary school.  (I sure wish Disney would re-release its ‘A Disney Halloween’ show from the ’80s and ’90s.  That’s much better than any slasher pic.)

front door

Halloween Front Door

spooks and ghouls

Spooks and Ghouls


The Halloween Mantle

This clock belonged to my third great grandparents, William Carroll Jackson and Samantha Ellen Franklin Jackson.  They got it when they were married in 1848 in Lincoln County, Tennessee and brought it to Texas, wrapped in quilts, in a covered wagon in 1850.  I’m sure they never imagined, in their wildest dreams, that it would be part of an Halloween tableau.


Franklin Clock Halloween

And like I said, I love ‘corny,’ so this ‘ghost’ is one of my favourites.  Interestingly, Charlie the cat LOVES this thing.  Whenever it comes out of it’s hiding place, he falls asleep in its arms.


Muslin Ghost

Salt Lake, Cont.

Here are some photos of places I found interesting in Salt Lake City.

Memory Grove City Park

Memory Park SLC

Memory Grove City Park, Salt Lake City, Utah – October 2014

Memory Park SLC1

Memory Grove City Park, Salt Lake City, Utah – October 2014

Memory Park SLC2

Memory Grove City Park, Salt Lake City, Utah – October 2014

And from the Mormon Headquarters and Temple Complex

Mormon HQ Grounds

Grounds of the Mormon Headquarters, Salt Lake City, Utah – October 2014

Mormon HQ Grounds1

Grounds of the Mormon Headquarters, Salt Lake City, Utah – October 2014

Mormon HQ Grounds3

Grounds of the Mormon Headquarters, Salt Lake City, Utah – October 2014

Mormon HQ Grounds2

Grounds of the Mormon Headquarters, Salt Lake City, Utah – October 2014

Mormon HQ Grounds4

Grounds of the Mormon Headquarters, Salt Lake City, Utah – October 2014

Mormon Temple1

Mormon Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah – October 2014

Greetings from Salt Lake City, Utah!

It seems I just get back from one trip before I’m off on another.  This week, I’m at a Department of Labor conference in Salt Lake City.  I’d been here before, but only in ‘pass throughs’ on my way to Santa Barbara.

It’s a nice town – it reminds of Missoula, Montana.  Yesterday afternoon, I went running at Memory Grove Park.  It’s Salt Lake’s War Memorial.  A lovely place in the foothills with a river and waterfall. And the trees were turning, so fall colour!  I’m planning to go back tomorrow if the weather improves so I can get some photos.

I also wandered around the Mormon Temple complex.  Interesting.  I reminded me of ‘Schloss Neuschwanstein meets the Museum of Modern Art.’  I also need to go back there tomorrow for photos.

Mormon Temple Complex – Salt Lake City, Utah

Here are some photos I took from the plane.


Utah – Approach to Salt Lake City


Utah – Approach to Salt Lake City


Utah – Approach to Salt Lake City


Utah – Approach to Salt Lake City

All Ashore in Bergen

Well, the cruise has ended in Bergen, Norway and with it the fine weather.  I’d wanted to walk around downtown, but it’s a cold driving rain and very stiff breezes, so we fled back to the hotel so that I could dry out my pants with the hair dryer.  This evening, we’re keeping alive our long-cherished custom of trying the local Mexican food restaurant in the different countries we go to.  This trip’s adventure in dining is ‘Casa de Toro,’ advertised as Bergen’s only Tex-Mex restaurant.  The other rather intriguing option was ‘Tandoori Tapas,’ an Indian/Spanish fusion restaurant (doubtless with a Norwegian twist).

Here’s a fishing village on the way in to Bergen…


Fishing village near Bergen, Norway

This is another black-and-white experiement…


Coast of Norway

I did manage to get a couple photos of Bergen before I got drenched and wind-swept.  This is our hotel, Det Hanseatiske Hotel, in an old Hanseatic trading post, the Finnegaarden, which dates back to 1403.  The room has massive wood beams everywhere.  It reminds me of my room in the 16th century farmhouse we lived in in Marlesford, Suffolk, England when I was in high school.  (If you go to the hotel’s website, our room is the first one that shows –


Our Hotel – Det Hanseatiske Hotel


Along the Bryggen, Bergen, Norway


Along the Bryggen, Bergen, Norway

And this just blew me away – have you ever seen a McDonalds like this?!  The building dates to 1710.  And check out the special being advertised – it appears to be a Big Mac, fries, and a drink for 150 Norwegian Krone – that’s $23.30.


Fancy McDonalds, Bergen, Norway


Currently stopped for 30 minutes in Kristiansund – what a change in the weather – sunny, low 60s, and no wind.  I wish we had more time here as it looks to be a lovely little town.


Church in Kristiansund, Norway


From the MS Mitnatsol, Hurtigruten Line, Norway

And now back-tracking a little since I seemed to have started this travelogue in mid-trip.  We started out in Germany, arriving in Frankfurt on Sunday, 28 September.  The plan for Germany was to drive through the central and northern parts to places where my Brunnemann family was from since we’ve been to Bavaria twice before.

Day 1 was Frankfurt, Koblenz, Bonn, Koln, and Dusseldorf.  My third great grandparents were married in Koblenz and he was an officer stationed at the garrison their at Ehrenbreitstein.  My second great grandfather, August Brunnemann, was born in Bonn.  We stopped in Ehrenbreitstein and got some good photos and toured the Festung.  In Dusseldorf, we stayed at the Breidenbacher Hof, a very nice hotel.  Getting there was my first white-knuckle driving experience down packed, narrow cobblestone ‘roads,’ but not my last.


Deutsches Eck, Koblenz, Germany


View of Koblenz from the Festung Ehrenbreitstein, Germany

Day 2 was Dusseldorf to Hamburg through Munster, Lubbecke, and Bremen.  Lubbecke is a tiny little village, but my third great grandfather was a federal prison inspector there.  Munster was the highlight of the day – a well-restored medieval town center near the Dom.


Munster, Germany

Day 3 was Hamburg to Anklam, where my Brunnemann ancestors originated from when they left Sweden in the 1640s.  We began the day in the medieval town of Lubbeck which, unfortunately, was mostly under renovation. We toured the Mecklenburg family palace in Schwerin and then drove on to Anklam.  This part of Germany had been in the German Democratic Republic during the Cold War and you could certainly tell.  (We had the most interesting pizza for dinner in Anklam at a tiny cafe.  Brian got the ‘stark’ which we took to mean spicy, not anticipating much.  It was blow-your-head-off hot.)

Day 4 was Anklam to Leipzig via Poland and Dresden.  My sixth great grandfather, Christian Daniel Brunnemann was the rector at the church in Klein Rischow, which is was in German Pomerania but returned to Poland after the second world war.  Klein Rischow lived up to it’s name…tiny.  I wonder what the 10 or 15 inhabitants thought of two Americans driving through town to take pictures of the church.  Dresden was really amazing.  It’s hard to believe the town was razed during the firebombing of 1945.  Leipzig was equally as nice.  We stayed at the Steigenberger Grand Hotel only blocks from the Thomaskirche where Johann Sebastian Bach was the Kapelmeister.  We were assured by the folks at the Steigenberger that our room was the one always requested by George Clooney when he’s in town…lol.  But I certainly didn’t complain about the champagne they had for us.


Dresden, Germany


Thomaskirche, Leipzig, Germany

Day 5 was Leipzig to Berlin via Quedlinberg and Wittenberg.  Quedlinberg could have been the backdrop for several Grimms fairytales.  Medieval wood-beam and lathe houses and at least three gothic churches.  I could have spent hours there.  That evening in Berlin, we saw the Magic Flute at the Deutsches Komische Oper.  A modern setting that was surprisingly very good.

Day 6 was Berlin to Kirchenes, Norway via Oslo.  It just so happened we were in Berlin on 3 October – German Reunification Day – the 25th anniversary.  Since it was a national holiday, nobody was about so it felt as if we had the city mostly to ourselves.

In Trondheim

Today was a city tour of Trondheim, Norway’s third largest city and home of the ‘national cathedral,’ the Nidarosdomen, built on the burial site of Norway’s patron saint, Saint Olav (King Olav Haraldsson, canonized in 1031).  King Olav was quite the christian zealot – apparently an adherent of ‘my way or the highway.’  The Norwegians of his time weren’t particularly inclined to conversion, but the axe and forced baptisms seemed to have changed some hearts and minds.  As the French say, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

The Nidarosdomen was begun about 1320 and is an excellent example of Romanesque, Norman, and Gothic styles.  Unfortunately we weren’t able to tour inside, but here are some photos from the outside of the cathedral.


Nidarosdomen, Trondheim, Norway


Niedarosdomen, Trondheim, Norway


Niedarosdomen, Trondheim, Norway


Saint Olav, Nidarosdomen, Trondheim, Norway

We made our way back to the boat via the Nida river, with its many warehouse warfs, the oldest dating to 1750.  (The tour guide was quite distressed that none of the vast amounts of oil money Norway has amassed to be set aside to renovate this old shack.)


Warehouses along the Nida River, Trondheim, Norway


Oldest warehouse in Trondheim, ca 1750

Trondheim is essentially the last time we can leave the boat until the voyage’s end tomorrow afternoon in Bergen.  Cruising today through more fjords – currently over Norway’s deepest at 600 meters.  Today’s weather is windy, gray, darkly overcast, and spitting rain.  I hope the soup at lunch is as good as yesterday’s; I need a good warm-up and this is perfect soup weather.

Norway Continued…

On Monday, we stopped in Harstad and toured the area by bus and met up with the ship at Sortland. (We were told that ‘Sortland’ means ‘black land’ in Norwegian, but the town is trying to find a modern claim to fame, so the town council encouraged everybody to paint all the buildings blue.  Today it’s known as the bluest town in Europe.  Not sure what that gets you…)

The first stop was in the village of Trondenes and its church, which is the most northern Christian gothic church in the world. A lovely little church which is today Lutheran, but it certainly doesn’t look like any Lutheran church I’ve ever been in.  Decidedly medieval, the gothic door has Norse ruins carved    in it.  The alter pieces looked to me to be about 14th century.  The floor of the chancel area was black and yellow flagstone.  The church had quite an extensive burial ground; the oldest graves dating back to the 1790s.


Trondenes Church, Norway


Church Door, Trondenes, Norway


Architectural Detail, Trondenes Church, Norway


Alter Piece, Trondenes Church, Norway

The afternoon saw a brief stop in Stokmarknes, where we popped into a Norwegian grocery store so Brian could buy hot chocolate (which is apparently contraband on the boat).

As an aside – I continue to be gobsmacked at how outrageously expensive Norway is.  Ten packets of hot chocolate came out to about $9 dollars.  The evening cocktail approaches $22 each.

About five o’clock, we took a detour through the Trollfjord, a highlight of the cruise.  (Typical of Hurtigruten, there was a cocktail created for the occasion which could be purchased at an outrageous price…)  The fjord is approximately 3 kilometers long and 100 meters wide, so a bit of a snug fit for the boat, but it provided some great scenery as promised.  I’m playing around with the black-and-white feature of my camera, but Ansel Adams I’m not.


Trollfjord, Norway


Trollfjord, Norway


Trollfjord Norway

Today is mostly at sea, but we did cross the Arctic Circle on our way south.  I’ll of course buy the requisite t-shirt to commemorate the event (although we both got certificates).

Grüßens aus Deutschland und Norge!

So I’ve finally managed to get an Internet connection, but it’s slow, slow, slow.   We’re in the middle of our Germany-Norway trip.  Last week was driving 1,500 kilometers around Germany and Poland…now we’re on the week-long cruise down the coast of Norway.  This past day-and-a-half has presented some pretty bleak landscape – definitely what one would expect above the Arctic Circle – but we seem to be coming along to more fjords and glaciers.  Here are the pictures so far…


Hammerfest, Norway


Moss – Hammerfest, Norway


Brandenburg Gate, Berlin, Germany – 3 October 2014, ‘German Reunification Day’


Altes Rathaus, Quedlinburg, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany


Street – Quedlinburg, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany


Cathedral Door, St Peter’s Cathedral, Bremen, Germany