Saturday, April 4, 2009

Last Leg

Can one in all honesty write a diary after finishing a trip? I think not. So, as I hope to be in Chautauqua tonight, I'd better write about my journey since Minnesota.

Madison, WI is where my fellow Ghana 1 Bob Klein and former Nigeria PCV Phyllis Noble live. They had a party at which I spoke, and I also spent a morning at Sennett Middle School, talking to three groups of children about West Africa. Enjoyed both, but I do love speaking to children, though they generally don't buy books.

Klein/Noble's neighborhood has a plethora of ethnic restaurants, and I enjoyed Indian and Thai meals there, as well as a surprisingly good pizza and Bob's doctored spicy tomato soup.

Spent my 75th birthday with them, a leisurely time with no schedule, no obligations. That's the way a birthday should be.

Took a slight detour to Milwaukee, where I stopped at the Omanhene Chocolate Company U.S. headquarters to meet Steve Wallace. He has a factory in Tema, Ghana that produces chocolate, which he sells in the U.S. and Japan. I bought a bunch of his small chocolate bars and have been giving one to everyone who buys my book.

Had lunch near Chicago with my sister-in-law, Betty O'Grady, catching up with family news. A night in South Bend, IN and I'm now near Cleveland, and shall head home almost immediately.

Skirting the Blizzard

After Ellensburg, WA I drove through Idaho: farmland with a great advantage.The names of the crops were posted on the fences along the highway! No more "I wonder what that is growing there" in Idaho! Even though, in March, there wasn't much growing anywhere.

The weather forecasts and my friends warned me that a big snowstorm had hit the Dakotas and Nebraska, so I stayed in Billings waiting to see which way was better: 90 through N.D. or 94 through S.D. The next day, south looked a little better, so I took off, through a corner of Wyoming and then east. The days were sunny and the roads perfectly clear, with an occasional wet spot.

In Wyoming I was pleased to see a herd of antelope. I recall people hunting them when I lived in Thermopolis; brought back memories. Don't think I ever ate one, for which I'm grateful after seeing these graceful animals.

A lot of the driving in South Dakota was through hills (mountains?) that were bare and brown or tan. Maybe there were dead grasses. When one is at the crest of a hill, looking down at more hills, one has that on-top-of-the-world feeling. You can never get that when there are trees around.

In Minneapolis I had a new speaking experience: I spoke in an art gallery. It was an exhibit of the beautiful metalwork of Rabi Sanfo from Burkina Faso, just north of Ghana. I had an interested crowd, and sold more books than usual.

The gallery is owned by former Nigeria PCV Lynn Olsen and her husband Frank Stone, who is also a metal artist. They own the gallery building and rent space for other artists and craftsmen's workshops. They've watched the somewhat run-down neighborhood change to one occupied by artists side by side with the ethnically mixed population. Had a great few days with them, had a look at the city and the Mississippi River, and went into the Guthrie theater complex. Interesting building.