A Day at the British Museum

The only thing on the plate for today was to spend it at the British Museum! Getting there was super easy. I just had to take the overground from Kensal Green to Euston Station, then walk a few blocks down Gower Street. Since the exterior set for “Sherlock” was literally on my route, with no detours, I stopped for a picture and to have breakfast at Speedy’s Cafe, also featured on the show.

I got to the museum just before 11AM. I had a plan to tackle it. I would start with what I came to see, the Rosetta Stone and the Egyptian artifacts, then work my way down from the top. Ha ha ha ha ha. The British Museum is a warren of rooms and staircases and it was impossible create any sort of logical path through it. I ended up doing the museum very haphazardly, often doubling back multiple times to the same rooms by a different staircase. I’m pretty sure I got to every room, but, obviously, I did not read everything!

I had lunch in the Great Court on the ground floor, a wonderfully flavourful baguette loaded with cheese, pickled onions, Dijon, and more. I could not believe how good it was! A few hours after that, my aching legs shaky, I went to the Great Court restaurant upstairs to have a cream tea. As research had told me, service was dire, but it was nice to sit for almost an hour with my treat and work on my Bulgarian. 🙂 A cream tea is a pot of tea with scones, jam, and Devonshire (clotted) cream. I have a full afternoon tea booked for tomorrow!

I stayed at the museum almost right to closing, going back to see things in less crowded conditions. The order of my pictures will reflect that.

The British Museum was everything I’d dreamt it would be and MORE! One thing that really delighted me was that there were “touch stations,” where you could handle real ancient artifacts.

After the museum, I thought of doing “something else,” then realised that I was completely tuckered. So I headed home, going out again about an hour later to the Kensal Rise high road to get some fish and chips for dinner. That walk did me in. My legs are sore!

Tomorrow is going to be interesting because of my Oyster/public transportation problem. More on that after the pictures. I’ve got some notes, but the pictures are more meant to be things that caught my attention than a way to educate my readers. 🙂

So my Oyster problem. The Oyster card is a prepaid card. You tap it when you start a journey and tap it at the end and whatever your fare is gets deducted from your card balance. I only had enough money left to travel today. I tried to “top up” three times today and each time, the transaction failed. No one at the ticket booths could help me. I called the bank and they said that the money was charged. I called Oyster (yay for Skype on both accounts) and they said there was nothing to do for me since they only refund money to UK residents with a bank account here. So now, I’m out about 60CAD (!!!), although I’m pretty sure I can get my money back by filing a fraud report with CIBC once the transactions post, although that will very likely take months to sort out. But what do I do tomorrow since there’s not enough money on my account to go anywhere? Needless to say, I’m not giving Transport for London my credit card again! Public transit in London is excellent, but you have to be very self-sufficient as there is no help available and the payment system is unnecessarily complicated and convoluted. What I will try tomorrow is a newsagent on the Kensal Green high street who has an Oyster symbol. Maybe I’ll be able to pay with cash…

Center of the West, Cody, WY

I’ve had no trouble filling the last three days in Cody.

Sunday was a bit of a down day for me. Vicki left for work around 7:00 and I got up very shortly thereafter. I got started on some work due Monday and didn’t go out until the afternoon, walking up and down Sheridan Avenue (main street) to get a sense of Cody’s tiny downtown.

Cody is, of course, named after William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody, the man who brought the Wild West to the world. It is my favourite kind of tourist town, similar to Dawson, as it is a robust community that exists outside of its tourism draw. There’s lots to do, plenty of good food, and the locals are very friendly.

Monday and Tuesday were eaten up by my visits to the massive Buffalo Bill Center of the West. This centre is actually five separate and unique museums. The centre is so large that your admission ticket ($19 for an adult) is valid for two consecutive days.

I started with a visit of the Draper Natural History Museum, all about the geography, ecosystems, flora, and fauna of the Yellowstone region. I liked how it was laid out, starting at the top of a mountain at about 6,000 ft, and then gently guiding you down to lower elevations. I especially liked the video on how to deal with a bear encounter and the giant mosaic map of the region.

Next, I went to the Buffalo Bill Museum. This was my favourite of the five! I really didn’t know much about either the man or the actor and this was a very comprehensive exhibit, full of artifacts from his life and shows. My favourite part was that there was actual video of one of his 1910 shows! This was so amazing to watch (especially the bit where we could hear him speak!) that I came back the next day and watched the video again! The video showed among other things, the popular “attack of the Deadwood stagecoach” portion of the show… with the actual stagecoach right behind me, restored to brilliant yellow! I saw a lot of myself in Buffalo Bill and I’m glad that I got to know him here.

Then, it was time to break for an early lunch. There was a coffee and sandwich bar at the museum that I decided to check out since I would otherwise have to walk back to town (not a long distance, maybe half a mile, but I didn’t want to spend the time). I was pleasantly surprised to find gourmet coffee and custom made sandwiches at a reasonable price and enjoyed my lunch so much I had the same thing (with different sandwich fillings) the next day!

I finished my day at the Plains Indian Museum. I kind of went quickly through this one, planning to do a second circle of it the next day since I was getting a bit tired. Lots of beautiful beadwork on exhibit and I liked learning about how the coming of the horse didn’t so much change local culture, but rather enhanced existing practice.

Before heading home, I stopped at the centre’s gift shop, where I picked up a pair of moose stud earrings. The cashier said that they were the most Canadian thing she’s ever seen, LOL.

By the time I got back to the campground, it was close to 2:00. I worked a bit until Vicki came home and then we did the grown up thing and went out to do laundry. We were supposed to have leftover soup from Sunday for dinner, but by the time we got done with laundry we were beat and instead decided to try the restaurant attached to the business where she works since she gets a hefty discount. The discount was enough that I went ahead and had the steak and prawns!

Tuesday was very similar to Monday. I got up and did some work, then headed out late morning to the museum. The man at the ticket counter recognised me (!) and thanked me for coming back.

I started with the Whitney Western Art Museum which had not appealed to me for some odd reason. No idea why since it was filled with sculpture and paintings of my favourite landscapes. I might not have been born in the West, but I always knew I would live there on the open plains. This museum had an audio guide, so I spent a lot more time than I thought I would.

Next, I went to the Cody Firearms Museum, of which I had about zero interest, but which gun nuts could easily spend a day or two in! So many firearms, from the mid 1400s all the way to today, and by all the major manufacturers. I tried my hand at “shooting a pistol” (no ammo in it) and did like the older weapons with a lot of carvings that made them works of art, but really didn’t spend much time.

Coming out of the firearms museum, I noticed a gallery along the walls of the mezzanine holding the administration offices, so I went up to check it out. I was perplexed to find a painting depicting a scene from Vancouver Island!

It was a bit early for my final exhibit, so I went back to the Buffalo Bill Museum to rewatch all the videos of him and then did a final circuit of the Plains Indian Museum.

Finally, I attended the raptor demonstration outside, where I saw a great horned owl, a peregrine falcon, and a red tailed hawk. This was an informal talk where the raptors sit on their handler’s hand and do not fly or perform tricks. It was very informative and I liked seeing the birds up close.

I’ve traveled all over this continent and have been to all manner of attractions. Cody’s Buffalo Bill Center of the West ranks right up there for me with MontrĂ©al’s BiodĂŽme, the National Aquarium in Baltimore, the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C., and the City Museum in St. Louis — a destination unto itself.

I’m not sure what I will do Wednesday. I have work to do in the morning and there’s not really anything more for me to see in town (the lovely gals at the vistors’ centre all pointed me to things outside of town), so I’ll probably just pop into the Irma Hotel and then walk around off the main drag. Vicki and I do have plans for Thursday a short distance from Cody!

Torrid Afternoon in Centro

I’ll be well on my way to the border this time in two weeks… I really have no idea where this winter went. 🙁

Having only an easy job to do this weekend, I planned my schedule so that I could go to Centro this afternoon for shopping and lunch and do a final run to JuĂĄrez tomorrow morning.

It is hot and muggy this week, but I’m not letting that stop me from living. The trick is to stay hydrated! So once I was done with work around noon, I dressed for town and headed out.

En route to the embarcadero I finally remembered to take a certain picture. Remember this house from last fall?

house under construction

Here it is today:

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What a difference paint makes!

First stop in Centro was the mercado since I wanted to buy some blouses. I went to my favourite dress shop, where the owner can be trusted to be honest about what styles and colours suit a customer best. What she first showed me was exactly what I wanted, but she pulled out other models so I could be sure. They are a bit too big for me, though, so she suggested that I find someone to put a few darts in the sides for me. Hopefully, the dressmaker I used earlier this winter will be available to do that for me this week. “My” price was $280 for one, $500 for two. I’ll probably pay about $100 to get them fitted correctly. Still a bargain for such high quality clothing! The pink one is the same shade as my pink dress, so I wasn’t going to get it, but the owner said that it’s my colour, something her assistant and several friends have echoed so I caved.

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For lunch, I had thought to do a shrimp burger at Tony’s, but I’m really fastfooded out. So I bought a small agua fresca for the walk to the Water’s Edge Bistro for a nice lunch in their courtyard. They still have their lunch menu with several choices for $120 each, including a beer, limonada, or a soft drink. I opted for a limonada to stay well hydrated and asked for it sour. It was made perfectly and was very refreshing. For my meal, I succumbed to the lure of pesto (basil!) and Parmesan cheese to have their penne pasta with roast chicken. It was a bit of a heavy meal for the weather, but the flavours were most welcome and I liked how the chicken was diced and then caramelised on all sides. The food is so good at the Water’s Edge and the portion sizes are just right. It’s a nice spot for lunch when I’m tired of Mexican flavours.

I then wandered towards the water and popped in at the art museum to see if it might be open. I’ve been meaning to go for ages but knew that it’s tiny and not worth a special trip out. Well, it was open and admission was free!

The art was… strange. The museum only has a few rooms and the art just got odder and odder the deeper in I went. Here are a few things that caught my eye. None of these are the truly strange ones!

This one is called “night filled with love”:

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Lovely landscape.

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There were a lot of variations on this theme of dying and moving on to the next plane of existence.

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There is something about this one that spoke to me for some reason, even if I wouldn’t want it on my wall!

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The museum has those dark ceiling beams I love:

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I liked these black and white pieces showing the harshness of poverty:

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The courtyard of the museum had an interesting tree:

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This is an exterior corridor off the courtyard:

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And here’s the entrance, directly across from Macaw’s:

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I eventually made it to the MalecĂłn and caught this image of MazatlĂĄn’s Icebox Hill with an iconic pulmonĂ­a in the foreground:

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Found this house for sale that made me rethink my MĂ©rida plans (*winks*):

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I eventually found myself on Miguel AlemĂĄn, from which I turned left onto Carnaval to head back to the embarcadero. I popped into the gelato place I like, where they’ve up their price from $25 to $35, and got their delicious “Snickers” flavour (chocolate, peanuts, and caramel), then enjoyed it as I picked my way down several streets that were under construction to eventually end up on ConstituciĂłn, which led me straight to the Emilio BarragĂĄn a few blocks from the embarcadero. I was done in by the time we got to this side and the final schlep home felt very long!

Scorcher

It’s been hot here the last few days! I haven’t really noticed because I’ve been working and my home has a little thing called AC. With heat has come massive swarms of bird-sized mosquitoes, so it really hasn’t been outdoor weather!

Today is the start of a four-day weekend for me. I’m burning out from a really long and unending transcription marathon, so it’s nice to have some time to just breathe. Of course, I utterly failed at sleeping in this morning, but I did take it slow. I waited for the post to come, then went to town to run some errands.

By the time I’d hit the post office, the bank, and the thrift store, it was only 11:10 and much too early for lunch, so I decided to go walk around the Shurniak Gallery. This gallery is a real gem for Assiniboia, featuring lots of beautiful art in different mediums. There’s mostly paintings, but also some sculptures and other things. I’ve been to the gallery once, in October of 2013 for a music concert, and I didn’t have time to view everything.

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The artwork on display would belong in any world-class museum. My favourite medium is oil, so I spent a lot of time admiring the colours and brushwork on a variety of paintings. You really have to go through the entire building because there’s artwork tucked into every corner.

The gallery now has a cafe serving soups, sandwiches, and coffee beverages at a reasonable price and is really a lovely place to wile away an hour. Admission is free and donations are welcome.

After visiting the gallery, I decided to check out the lunchtime buffet at the New Moon Cafe. I usually do the buffet at Andy’s, but a neighbour told me that New Moon has ‘more stuff.’ It did and it was tasty and the same price as Andy’s, but the ‘more stuff’ isn’t things that I enjoy, like breaded and fried mystery meat in a very sweet sauce (typical Canadian-Chinese offerings passed off as ginger beef or lemon chicken or sweet and sour pork). So I’ll probably to stick to Andy’s, which has really good pizza! But I’m glad I tried it out and I did enjoy my lunch very much, especially the chicken wings and broccoli!

After lunch, it was time to get groceries. The grocery store parking lot is absolutely chaos as the store renovations progress and I had to drive around the block to find a parking spot! It’s no wonder they are so adamant that baggers take out orders as I don’t think everyone would be bothered to walk their carts back several blocks!

They had some good deals today on everything on my list, so it was a fruitful expedition. Shopping in that store is such a chore because there’s no room and people for some reason don’t get that and just leave their carts in the middle of narrow aisles. I really hope that the expanded store will give us a little more room to move around. I really do appreciate the increased amount of selection in the store, though, especially when it comes to ‘ethnic’ foods and am optimistic that when I come home next May, I won’t feel a strong urge to go do a big Moose Jaw shop like I did this year.

Next thing on my list for today, make sure that I’m ready to move to my new computer, which should be here Monday but I suspect could surprise me tonight… I don’t think I’ve ever moved to a new machine running a newer OS before, so I’m not convinced that a ‘restore from last Time Machine backup’ will work.

It’ll be cooler over the next few days, so I’ll be able to start running some tests to determine where I’ll be installing the new booster antennas. There was a very justifiable delay in getting the booster out (which the Facebook followers know all about), so probably won’t get it till about this time next week. I can’t wait to write a report on that and give the awesome store and tech I dealt with some much deserved praise!

A Very Full Afternoon in Santa Fe

This afternoon, I drove to downtown Santa Fe to see what was what. John gave me a few street names about a mile from downtown as possible free parking spots. On the way, my ‘you need gas’ light came on and then came a nearly hour-long search for fuel. I am throwing my GPS into the Santa Fe River! It kept directing me to gas stations that haven’t existed in years or to turn the wrong way down one ways, all the while directing me through super narrow European-style streets. Not the introduction to Santa Fe I wanted. 🙁 I finally found fuel and put in 17 gallons. HOLY MOLY. The tank holds 19.5 and I’ve never put in more than 16 gallons or so. I was running on fumes! But I’m glad I found gas early in the day because my afternoon was going to take on an unexpected twist.

But first, I parked where John told me to park and hoofed it down the Old Santa Fe Trail, a busy thoroughfare that takes you to downtown. I passed the visitors’ centre and popped in for a walking map.

Courtyard of the visitor's' centre.

Courtyard of the visitors’ centre.

Front of the visitors' centre.

Front of the visitors’ centre.

Since it was getting late in the day, I decided to go straight to the history museum. But I still passed some interesting stuff on the way.

The oldest church structure in the United States (early 17th century).

The oldest church structure in the United States (early 17th century).

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Another beautiful church.

Another beautiful church.

Loretto Chapel, home of the miraculous staircase.

Loretto Chapel, home of the miraculous staircase.

Remember that miraculous staircase…

Yet another gorgeous church, and very ornate inside.

Yet another gorgeous church, and very ornate inside.

The history museum.

The history museum.

As it turned out, my pass for the New Mexico History Museum was good not only for that museum, but also for the Palace of the Governors! I’ve already gotten more than my money’s worth out of the CulturePass!

The history museum was smaller than I expected, but that’s just a statement of fact, not a valuation. It was really good and had a lot of interesting exhibits. The main exhibit is the history of New Mexico from prehistory to now. It’s a part of North American history I’m not familiar with, but it’s really no different from the history in my part of Quebec, only with different actors.

I enjoyed an exhibit about a top secret facility related to the Manhattan project, one about the Civil War, and one about what was probably the first chain of dining and hotel establishments in the west, Harvey House. I was going through this exhibit when I got a text from John asking me to call when I could, and another saying that there was no emergency. We are on the same wavelength! 😀

I called when I could and as it turned out, he had some free time and was wondering if he could join me. We had made tentative plans to hang out on Tuesday, but he wasn’t going to be free and the weather is promising to be miserable. I told him where I was and he said he’d text when he was closer.

I then went upstairs to the temporary exhibits and saw one on camera obscuras and pinprick photography, as well as one about the Virgin Mary.

Then, I went into the courtyard to check out the printing presses and go across to the Palace of the Governors.

Courtyard between the history museum and the Palace of the Governors.

Courtyard between the history museum and the Palace of the Governors.

Courtyard between the history museum and the Palace of the Governors.

Courtyard between the history museum and the Palace of the Governors.

Nothing says May more to me than lilacs. I will be planting a lilac tree at Haven!

Nothing says May more to me than lilacs. I will be planting a lilac tree at Haven!

This building was originally constructed in the early 17th century to be Spain’s seat of government, and then was adapted and remodeled to suit other needs as the years went by. There was an interesting exhibit that showed different stages of development on plexiglass that you could layer to see the changing floor plan.

This was an expansive building taking up a full block and full of white plaster walls and dark ceiling beams. I’m really digging that decorating scheme. 🙂

There were lots of interesting exhibits about settlement and governance in New Mexico, religion, and, my favourite, hide paintings, that is scenes of New Mexico life painted on animal skins.

John still hadn’t arrived when I was through at the Palace of the Governors, so I headed out to explore the immediate area.

Across from the Palace of the Governors.

Across from the Palace of the Governors.

The area really reminded me of Plazuela Machado, only much more touristy (which will make my Maz friends laugh). John says that Santa Fe used to have a ‘real’ downtown, but now, it’s all for the tourists and full of expensive shops and restaurants.

Plaza.

Plaza.

Front of the Palace of the Governors.

Front of the Palace of the Governors.

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John texted me just as I finished my tour of the plaza to let me know he was at the entrance to the history museum. We met up and headed across the street to the Museum of Art, which was once the ‘fine arts’ museum. We just did a quick tour since it was getting very late and I’ll actually be able to go back if I want.

The art museum.

The art museum.

Egyptian obelisk in the courtyard of the art museum.

Egyptian obelisk in the courtyard of the art museum.

I really liked what I saw on our dash through it. The museums in Santa Fe are all very small, but they pack in a lot! There was a photograph exhibit that we both liked that featured the subject at a young age, then as an adult.

When we came out, John asked if I was thinking about food, which I was. I hadn’t had lunch and planned on having linner after doing the museums. He suggested we go to a burger joint owned by friends of his called Santa Fe Bite. The restaurant used to be a 10-seater located outside the city limits, but now it’s a proper downtown restaurant. I wouldn’t have thought to go in since I figured it was just a basic diner attached to a hotel. It pays to play tourist with a local guide!

I ordered just a basic burger with lettuce, tomato, pickles, and onions. It was really good! The meat was lightly seasoned and juicy while the homemade bun was buttery and chewy. I had the whole bun, but I left most of the delicious kettle chips. John had a spicy-looking chili with cornbread. Best of all, his friend was working and they were able to have a quick catchup. Serendipity!

From the diner, it was decided that we would walk to John’s car and that he would take me back to my truck.

We stopped at the Loretto Chapel on the way and since it was past closing, we were allowed to very quickly go into the chapel and get a picture of the miraculous staircase without paying the museum admission fee.

The miraculous staircase. Can you see why?

The miraculous staircase. Can you see why?

I love spiral staircases and knew about this one, but didn’t realise it was in Santa Fe. It is an engineering marvel! Can you see why?

The chapel is lovely, too.

Another beautiful chapel.

Another beautiful chapel.

We went into another church, the third one I saw on the way to downtown, and then made it to his car. Before going to my truck, we drove to Fort Marcy Park. It’s a sinuous uphill walk to a viewing platform on the site of an old fort, with plaques all the way up detailing the history of New Mexico.

A place I wouldn't have found on my own.

A place I wouldn’t have found on my own.

Breathtaking views of Santa Fe.

Breathtaking views of Santa Fe.

Breathtaking views of Santa Fe.

Breathtaking views of Santa Fe.

Quite a climb, but worth the effort.

Quite a climb, but worth the effort.

Breathtaking views of Santa Fe.

Breathtaking views of Santa Fe.

We then got back to my truck and I followed him most of the way home, where he detoured to show me the site of an old pueblo that was excavated in the 1970s. It felt like a place of immense power. What amazed me the most was all the potsherds just lying around on the ground. I had to take a picture of an incredible find, but, of course, left it behind!

Black on white potsherd. What a find!

Black on white potsherd. What a find!

The day didn’t start off too well, but definitely improved! It was a wonderful afternoon and I was once again grateful for a local guide.

Now, I have TONS of work to do in the next couple of days, so I will probably hunker down at home for a bit. But John’s not ready to kick me out (I think…), so I may extend my stay a bit to go on a field field trips in the environs.