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Jean and Leon Klatt

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Travel in 2015

December 2015

During the winter months that we have spent in the Rio Grande Valley we attend First Lutheran Church, Edinburg, TX. This is a small congregation with a significant fraction of the members of Mexican ancestry.

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First Lutheran Church
First Lutheran Church, Edinburg, TX

Over the years we've actively participated in some of the activities sponsored by First Lutheran Church, such as NOAH (Not Over Any Hill) social gathers. One of the more interesting culturally activities is the traditional Mexican meal with tamales during the Christmas Holiday. The NOAH group has assisted in the preparation of the tamales for several years, and during this time together we have gotten to know Eloy and Elma González, whose ancestors have lived in the Rio Grande Valley since the Spanish colonization of this part of North America.

Tamale: A tamale is a dish made from a corn based dough, filled with meat, cheese, chilies, or vegetables, which is steamed in a corn husk. The corn husk wrapping is discarded before eating. Tamales are an ancient Indian food dating from 5,000 - 8,000 BC. In Mexican culture tamales are the traditional entree at the Christmas Eve evening meal.

The making of tamales starts with the preparation of the masa. Ground corn is mixed with an alkaline solution; the alkalinity helps to dissolve the hemicellulose, the major glue-like component of the corn cell walls. The prepared corn is then mixed with lard and seasoning. A simple test involves placing a small ball of masa in water to determine when sufficient lard has been added - a floating ball is a positive result.

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Jean Working the Masa
Jean Working the Masa

The corn husks are washed, soaked to soften them, and drained. The masa is spread on the corn husks to a thickness of about 1/4th inch.

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Preparing the corn husks
Preparing the corn husks

The filling is added, the husk rolled, and the end without any masa is folded up. The final step involves steaming the tamales. Volunteers prepared about 40 dozen of tamales; these were the entree for the meal after the "Las Posadas" performance at First Lutheran Church, Edinburg, TX on December 19, 2015.

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Adding the Filling
Adding the Filling

"Las Posadas" means "the inns or shelters." It is a reenactment of Mary and Joseph's search for an inn where Jesus could be born. Las Posadas includes decorations, a nativity set, songs, a parade, and a party with snacks. After the parade comes dinner - traditional "Las Posadas fare" are tamales. The "Las Posadas" tradition was brought to Mexico from Spain by Catholic Missionaries in the 1500's.

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Manger Scene
Manger Scene


March 2015

Petroglyphs are images carved on the rocks. The base rock is of volcanic origin, and the artist used stones to carve away the desert varnish revealing the lighter colored stone. There are an estimated 20,000 such images on the rocks in the Petroglyph National Monument, Bernalillo County, New Mexico. Scientist think the images of circles and wavy lines may date from around 800 B.C. The images of small animals and human like figures are thought to be from the period 900 - 1300 A.D.

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Petroglyphs

January 2015

Our first hike in Ocala National Forest was in the Longleaf pine and Oak forest. Growing very close to the ground was a very fragile looking plant; it is Deer Moss Lichen. Our second hike was at Alexander Springs and the trail was through Saw Palmetto and tall Palm trees.

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Deer Moss Lichen

Central Florida has many springs, and Blue Springs is interesting because the Manatees speed the winter in this area because the spring water is 72 degrees. Manatees are manuals, eat only aquatic plants, and have no known natural predator. Mature adults can weigh as much as 1,200 pounds. Manatees are on the endangered species list, and man is their major threat mainly do to collisions with motor boats.

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Manatees

We took a day trip to the Crystal River, FL, which is located on the Gulf shore. We found a small beach and spent some time enjoying the sun. Most of the west Florida coast is swamp land. A flock of Black Skimmers were on the shore. We had hoped to find a seafood restaurant in the area but struck out; its hard to believe but fresh seafood isn't plentiful in Central Florida.

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Flock of Black Skimmers

On one of the beautiful days my Brother Ron took us for a boat ride. We passed through a lock on Haynes Creek and traveled the channel to Lake Eustis where we had a wonderful lunch at Al's Landing in Tavares, FL on the shore of Lake Eustis.

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Channel to Lake Eustis


Travel in 2014

November 2014

The campground at Cloud Lank State Park, Rising Fawn, GA is on top of the mountain ridge that extends south from Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, TN . This was our second stay at this campground, and during this stay we hiked the loop trail around the west side of the gorge; it was a very scenic but a strenuous 4˝ miles. The slide show contains views of some of the gorge cut by Sitton Gulch Creek, which we could often hear but could never view due to the heavy foliage.

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Cloud Mountain Gorge
Cloud Mountain Gorge


Travel in 2012

March 2012

There are four painted churches in the Schulenburg, TX area. We visited two of them in March 2012: St. Mary's Catholic Church, High Hill, TX and Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Praha, TX. The parish at High Hill was established by predominately German immigrants and the current building was dedicated in 1906; the parish at Praha was established by predominately Czech immigrants and the present building was dedicated in 1895. During our visit to Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary a tour group arrived just as we entered the sanctuary, and we learned from the tour presenter that his Grandfather helped with the construction of the current building.

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Blessed Virgin Mary at Praha, TX
Blessed Virgin Mary at Praha, TX


February 2012

Leon's Catch

The four fish were heavy, and pulling the largest one to the surface was hard work. A total of 31 people were on the fishing trip and it took about three hours to fill out everyone's limit of Red Snapper. The travel time to the fishing location was 2˝ hours each way.


Travel in 2011

November 2011

Each fall Mother Nature puts on a display of color that touches the imagination of nearly everyone. In the eastern U.S. a drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway provides one with the opportunity to see this spectacular display of red, yellow, and green colors. We took two days to travel about 150 miles; of the Parkway - from Cherokee to Boone, NC - to view the wonderful fall colors. Of course, the top was down on our Miata during most of the trip.

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Scenic Road
Scenic Road


August 2011

The Boldt Castle on Heart Island, Alexandria Bay, NY was being built by George C. Boldt for his beloved wife, Louise. Mr. Boldt was the most successful hotel magnate in America, who managed on a profit sharing basis the Waldorf-Astoria in New York and the Bellevue Stratford in Philadelphia. Approximately $2.5 million had been spent on construction of the castle when work was stopped in 1904 upon Louise's death - Mr. Boldt never visited the castle after his wife's death. The Yacht House is located on Wellesley Island and has three slips each 128 feet long with interior space 64 feet high.

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Boldt Castle
Boldt Castle


Travel in 2010

August 2010

Crater Lake was formed about 7,700 years ago when Mt. Mazama collapsed into the magma chamber after a extended period of intensive volcanic activity. The volcanic activity and the collapse of the mountain reduced the height of Mt. Mazama by about 5,000 feet. Further volcanic activity sealed the bottom of the caldera as well as creating Wizard Island and three additional lava domes submerged in the lake. Snow melt is the water source for the lake; no streams exit the lake.

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Pumice Castle
Pumice Castle

Panoramic View of Crater Lake

The blueness of the water in Crater Lake must be seen to be appreciated. Click on the thumbnail to view a larger picture.

Heceta Head Lighthouse

The Oregon coast is an interesting contrast of steep cliffs, sandy beaches, and along the mid-coast about 50 miles of extensive and huge sand dunes. Unfortunately, during our visit to the Pacific Coast the weather didn't cooperate - heavy over-cast skies and fog with cool temperatures, and the locals said this is the best time of the year to visit the Pacific Coast; this kind of weather is not for us so the family doesn't have to worry about us moving to the Pacific Coast.

Dungeness Crab Dinner

During our visit to the Pacific Northwest we had the best tasting fresh salmon we've ever eaten, outstandingly delicious local raspberries, tasty Oregon blueberries, and fresh Dungeness Crabs. A single crab is essentially a meal, but add a cob of fresh sweet corn and some wine, and one doesn't need anything else for dinner. Oh yes, we cooked the crabs - 20 minutes in slightly salty boiling water.

Fort Clatsop

Fort Clatsop is the location were the Corp of Discovery spent the winter of 1805 - 1806; it is located near the Columbia River just south of Astoria, Oregon. The current fort is a reconstruction of the original fort based upon drawings and notes found in Lewis and Clark's journals. During our travels we have visited most of the important historic sites associated with the Corp of Discovery's journey (Fort Mandan, the Great Falls on the Missouri River, crossing the Bitterroot Mountains, and Fort Clatsop) to and back from the Pacific Ocean in 1804 - 1806. This journey was an amazing event in the history of the United States. Leon is currently reading a book that describes the fate of the Corp members after their return to St. Louis, Missouri.


July 2010

Sunken Garden

The Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island, British Columbia are a National Historic Site of Canada. These gardens are the best we have visited in all of our travels. The Garden has several display themes - Sunken, Rose, Italian, Mediterranean, and Japanese Gardens, the Concert Lawn, Ross Fountain, the Rose Carousel, and the Todd Inlet. The Tibetan Blue Poppy is one of the unique flowers found in the Garden.

Olympic Mountains from Hurricane Hill

The hike to Hurricane Hill, Olympic National Park was about 3 miles round trip with an elevation gain of 650 feet. Mount Olympus is the highest peak in this panoramic view.

Mount St. Helens

A significant volcanic explosion occurred on Mount St. Helens on May 18, 1980. The major events of the explosion were a 5.1 Richter scale earthquake that triggered a massive land slide on the north slope of the mountain followed by a lateral explosion that reduced the height of the mountain by 1,300 feet; the stone-filled blast wind toppled trees over 150 square miles. The heat from the explosive gases resulted in the sudden melting of glaciers on the mountain side causing a massive mud slide; 57 people perished on the mountain on that fateful day. Today a new lava dome is growing in the crater left by the 1980 explosion.

Mount Rainier

One visits Mount Rainier when the weather is clear; we made the visit on a day with a cloudless sky. The mountain appears close and appears to be an easy hike to the summit, but the Park Ranger said climbing the mountain can be very dangerous; a hiker disappeared just a very weeks ago.

Glacier Lily

The summit of Mount Revelstoke in British Columbia has large meadows that once the snow melts large expanses of wild flowers appear; during our visit the Glacier Lily was in bloom with the flowers covering several acres.

Emerald Lake

Emerald Lake is located in Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada. We hiked around the lake and took a series of pictures that were stitched together into this panoramic view - we think this is a beautiful site.

We played one of the most scenic golf courses in Canada, Tunnel Nine at Fairmont Banff Springs Resort. The view from the Club House Veranda looks from the ninth green toward the tee. Leon had a great tee shot but his second shot ended up in a green protecting bunker. Jean missed a birdie on the first hole when her pitch shot ricocheted off the flag stick.

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Jean's Tee Shot
Jean's Tee Shot

Moranine Lake

Moraine Lake is about one-half the size of Lake Louise, but still is a spectacular site. It is located about eight miles from Lake Louise nestled in the Valley of the Ten Peaks; five of these peaks are visible on the left side of the lake. This picture was taken from a look-out atop the Rock Pile, which forms the dam that creates the lake.

Lake Louise

Lake Louise is regarded as one of the world's seven natural wonders. It is surrounded by mountains on three sides and is fed by melt water from the Victoria Glacier that hangs on the steep slope of Mount Victoria. The lake is 1.5 miles long, 1,640 feet wide, and the maximum depth is 295 feet, the warmest summer temperature of the water is 39°F.

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise

The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is one of the finest mountain resorts in the world; it is located on the eastern end of Lake Louise. The Chateau was originally built by the Canadian Pacific Railroad to attract rich clientele to the Canadian Rockies. Today it still is a place for the wealthy - rooms with a lake view can cost upwards of $800/night.


June 2010

Devils Tower

The vistas, thermal features, and canyons in Yellowstone are what makes it a special place.

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A Cascade at Mammonth Hot Springs
A Cascade at Mammonth Hot Springs

One of the special features of Yellowstone National Park is the variety of wildlife a visitor can view. Some of the large animals we've seen during our touring of the Park the last couple of days are in the slide show.

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Bull Elk
Bull Elk

Devils Tower

Using the newly passed Antiquities Act President Theodore Roosevelt declared Devils Tower a National Monument on September 24, 1906; it was the first declaration under this legislation to preserve scientific and man-made wonders in the United States. The Tower is 867 feet high with a diameter at its base of 800 feet. The top is 450 feet north to south and 250 feet east to west. The Tower was formed by magma that forced its way through miles of sedimentary rock and then slowly cooled to form a rock known as phonolite porphyry. Over millions of years the Belle Fourche River eroded away the surrounding rock slowly exposing the Tower. In 1977 the Tower was used as the setting for the space ship landing in the movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind."

Jewel Cave was declared a National Monument by President Theodore Roosevelt on February 7, 1908. Until 1959 only about 1˝ miles of the cave were known. Today about 150 miles have been explored and the end hasn't been found making it one of the largest caves in the world.

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Small Draperies
Small Draperies

On top of Crazy Horse's arm

The date is June 5, 2010. Yes, we made it to the top, and we weren't the only old folks to make the hike. Needless to say we took it easy the rest of the day.

Crazy Horse Carving

This is the view of the Crazy Horse Carving taken from the Volksmarch trail. Some of the early hikers are on the top of the arm. When completed the carving will be 563 feet high and 641 feet long. The face of Crazy Horse is 87 feet high and the horse's head will be 219 feet high. The blocking out of the horse's head is about 50% complete.


Travel in 2009

November 2009

Ginkgo Tree

The fall colors can be beautiful. The ginkgo tree in our front yard is particularly beautiful this fall.

In the campground at Lake Junalaska, NC very large and interesting toad stools were growing on the side of a hill.

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Two toad stools
Two toad stools


July 2009

The bar between the village of Bar Harbor and Bar Island is what gives the village its name. The hike across the bar can only be completed at low tide and you should return in about two hours or you have to wait ~12˝ hours for the next low tide. We hiked many trails in Acadia National Park and toured the Cranberry Islands.

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Bar Harbor Village from Bar Island
Bar Harbor Village from Bar Island

May 2009

Cumberland Mountain State Park, Crossville, TN is about 60 miles west of our home in Oak Ridge, TN. The park was originally built by the Civilian Conservation Corp in 1935 - 1940. The dam and the bridge are the largest built by the CCC. The dam impounds a 30 acre lake on Byrd's Creek with the spillway 28 feet above the stream bed; the bridge is 18 feet above the water level and is faced with Crab Orchard stone. While visiting the park the Mountain Laurel was in bloom - scroll through the slide show to view pictures of these beautiful flowers. See the Travel News web page to learn more about our stay at this park.

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Cluster of Mountain Laurel
Cluster of Mountain Laurel


December 2009

Border wall just north of the Rio Grande River

Part of the wall that is being built on the U.S. side of the Rio Grande near Progreso, TX. It is interesting to note that President Reagan ask the Russians to take down the Berlin Wall, but President Bush built a wall separating the U.S. and Mexico. According to an article in the local paper the construction cost is ~$9.3 million per mile - a questionable use of our national resources.


Travel in 2008

August 2008

Scenes in the northern section of the Keweenaw Peninsula of Michigan.

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Snowfall Gauge in Keweenaw County, Michigan
Snowfall Gauge in Keweenaw County, Michigan

Views of Pictured Rocks National Lake Shore on Lake Superior at Munising, MI.

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Miners Castle
Miners Castle


July 2008

The historic sites in Boston, MA date from the pivotal period of U.S. history - events leading up to and the initial battles of the Revolutionary War. The War started with Paul Revere's ride, signaled by two lanterns from the Old North Church steeple, followed by the battles at Lexington - Concord and Bunker Hill. The British victory at Bunker Hill was a tactical success but a strategic failure because it brought the colonialist together with the realization that they could defeat the British Army and gain independence.

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Old State House - Boston's oldest public building
Old State House - Boston's oldest public building

Acadia National Park is a beautiful and peaceful place. This was our third visit; yes we've seen just about everything, but we still enjoy going to Bar Harbor. This year the blueberries on top of the hill in the campground were exceptionally plentiful - we picked about four gallons of wild blueberries.

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AcadiaParkSign.jpg


April 2008

Spring in East Tennessee is a beautiful season with trees, shrubs, and perennials painting the landscape.

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Dogwood blossoms
Dogwood blossoms


April 2008

Jean at Elvis Presley's birthplace

Jean is resting on the porch of Elvis Presley's birthplace in Tupelo, MS. The house is very small!

Natchez, MS has probably the largest number of antebellum houses of any city in the South. These were and still are grand houses.

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Antebellum houses in Natchez, MS
Natchez, MS


March 2008

Holly Beach was totally destroyed by hurricane Rita in September 2005. The first picture shows the ruins of a house build on stilts as protection from storm surge; obviously, the high storm surge and the wind blew the house away. The other pictures are general views of the remains of Holly Beach, LA. In April 2008 only nine structures were being reconstructed.

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Ruins at Hollybeach, LA
Ruins at Hollybeach, LA

Church ruins in Cameron Parish

This picture shows the ruins of a church in Cameron, LA, which is located east of Holly Beach, LA and was destroyed by hurrican Rita in September 2005. The items remaining include the steel and laminated beams that supported the A-frame roof and the foundation of the educational wing.

Goose Island Tree - oldest tree in Texas

The Goose Island Tree is the oldest living tree in Texas - approximately 1,000 years. The tree is a live oak, has a crown spanning ~89 feet, and is ~44 feet high. It is located on Goose Island near Aransas, TX.


February 2008

Mexican Folkloric dancers

We attended the performance of the "Ballet Folkloric" at the University of Texas - Pan American on February 9, 2008. The music, dance, drama, and the performance excitement of Mexico's culture was absolutely splendid.

NOTE ADDED March 7, 2017: We attended a combined Folkoric, Mariachi and Conjunto performace presented by the students at La Joya High School, La Joya, TX. This was an absolutely wonderful afternoon of excellent music and dance performance by very talented high school students. The video is a small sample of the total performance - ENJOY😊