About Elaine-iaK's Travels

As a graduate of Recreation Administration, from San Diego State University, I have made recreation and travels my career and life’s passion. After graduation, I traveled solo for one year throughout the South Pacific, doing travel photography in a wide variety of settings. Upon my return, many of my photographs became the subjects of my newly created line of handcrafted photographic greeting cards, "Exquisite! By, Elaine", a business I have had since 1986. Check them out at: http://ExquisiteCards.fototime.com . In 1983, I began teaming up with my mom, Goldie, teaching arts & crafts to cruise ship passengers, aboard Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean. In addition, I lectured on travel photography, as well as Australia and New Zealand history, aboard Princess Cruises. In 2004, I formed a new teaching team with my recently retired husband, Bruce, who serves as my "humble assistant" until 2010 when the cruise lines shifted the arts and crafts program to mostly being taught by their own staff. Currently, our favorite mode of travel is by river boat. Along the way, we enjoy poking around small European towns, meeting the people, seeking out interesting photo subjects, and always stopping at every chocolatier to make a purchase. Adding to my chocolate label and wrapper collection is a bonus! And, as a U.S. Masters swimmer, if I can find a pool to get in a swim with the locals, all the better! Cheers! Elaine-iaK ~ Believing in your dreams can be far more rewarding than living by your limitations~ -Karla Peterson

AMERICAN DUCHESS CRUISE: MADISON, INDIANA

Journalist Charles Kuralt once called Madison, Indiana, “the most beautiful rivertown in America.  Although we haven’t seen them all, Bruce and I have seen a lot of these little towns during out cruises along a few of the American rivers.

Mr. Kuralt was onto something.  Madison was so charming, it put a smile on my face as we roamed the quaint town on the Ohio River.

Back in the early 1800’s, Madison was a significant cultural and industrial town for the region.  Today, it’s just a cute little town that welcomes river tourists and road trip enthusiasts alike.

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This is a utility box for the street signal on the main street.  Quite a catch!

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Shrewsbury-Windle Home, built 1846-1849

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Lanier Mansion, built in 1844

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The mansion had quite a backyard and view of the Ohio River!  The community pool (below) is located next door to the backyard.

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It was a hot day in Madison, and this pool was very tempting!

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On Broadway, cars are permitted to park down the center of the street along the solid yellow line!

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There were so many wonderful houses, both big and small, in the historic district.   Laura, we thought of you the entire time!

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I love the Little Free Library system!  The first one I ever saw was on our road trip, and I fell in love with the concept of  “Take a book, return a book.”  I am proud to say that in our community of Spalding County (pop. 60,000) has 28 Little Free Library’s!  Check out the non-profit here.

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AMERICAN DUCHESS CRUISE: LOUISVILLE, HOME OF THE KENTUCKY DERBY

In 2015, during our seven-week road trip, we spent a wonderful day in downtown Louisville, touring the Louisville Slugger Museum and seeing other highlights of the city.  (See my blog post here.)

This time, we arrived in Louisville aboard the American Duchess, so we saw the city skyline from a different perspective.

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Instead of revisiting downtown, we did something we missed during our first visit:  took a behind the scenes tour of Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby.  Having seen Churchill Downs on TV over all these years, it was fun to be able to actually be there.  On this day, however, it was very quiet; not a horse to be found on the track.  It was a very hot day, and the horses that were there had been exercised hours before our tour.  (We had been fortunate to get to see the horses close-up during our tour of Keeneland Race Course during that road trip, but the timing just wasn’t right for this tour.)

One of the highlights of touring Churchill Downs was getting to meet 1970 Kentucky Derby winning jockey, Mike Manganello, who rode Dust Commander to victory.  We heard some interesting stories during our Q&A session with him and learned what life is like to be a professional jockey.

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The other highlight was watching a film about the history of Churchill Downs that we viewed in a theater with a 360-degree screen.  We sat on stools in the center with the screen surrounding us.  As they showed footage from previous Kentucky Derby races, we spun around to watch as the horses raced a full 360 degrees around the screen.  Since the sound traveled with the scene, and the camera angles were very close-up, the experience was thrilling and quite unique!

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Here are scenes from the day at the track:

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Bill Shoemaker was one short guy! We toured the Churchill Downs Museum and learned about the great jockey.

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Standing next to Wilt Chamberlin proves just how short Shoemaker was– and, how tall Chamberlin was in comparison!

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AMERICAN DUCHESS CRUISE: NATIONAL QUILT MUSEUM IN PADUCAH

Without a doubt, the highlight of Paducah is the National Quilt Museum.  The massive wall murals along the river depicting Paducah’s history are quite a sight as well; however, the quilts are, in one word, amazing.  More on that in just a moment…

Back to the murals, I didn’t photograph them this time, because I had done so during a previous visit.  If you are curious to see them, check out my 2017 blog post about Paducah that includes photos of the beautiful wall murals.

In that post on Paducah, you will notice something missing:  Photos of the quilts at the National Quilt Museum.  At the time, no photography of any kind was permitted, even without flash.  I was so disappointed, because the artistry in the exhibited quilts was unbelievable.

I was happy to learn that photography (without flash) would be permitted this time.  I went crazy with my camera!  Although most of the photos can be viewed in the “American Duchess River Cruise, July 2019” album on my photo sharing site, I tried to limit my selection for this post.

As you can see below, these aren’t your grandmother’s old-fashioned Colonial-era quilts that keep you warm at night.  These are works of art.  They are so incredible, that even the men from the riverboat who were dragged to the museum by their wives were saying, “Wow!” over and over again, as they viewed one phenomenal quilt after another.  Seriously.  Bruce loves this museum as much as I do!

A warning as you view these pictures:  They don’t do these quilts justice.  At all.  There is so much detail that couldn’t possibly be picked up by any camera to match what we saw in person.  These are just small pictures on a computer screen.  You really have to see the real thing.  If you ever have an opportunity to visit Kentucky, you must go to Paducah and see all of the exhibits at this wonderful museum.  Send me a message after your visit, too.

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This “quilt” is actually carved from basswood! It is on display in the conference room at the National Quilt Museum. It was created by Fraser Smith, and measures 65″ x 42″ x 4″.

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One of my favorite exhibits at the museum was of miniature quilts, measuring no more than 24″ on one side. The quilts in this glass case were the smallest on exhibit, measuring just a few inches long.

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Look closely at the work that went into sewing each of the flowers. What patience!

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The artist’s statement of this piece: “I decided making a small quilt (14-3/4″ x 21-1/4″) would be a fun, relaxing respite from my current large quilt. How long could it possibly take? I figured a few hours work for a couple of weeks. Little did I know that this fun project would take two months of working seven days week for fourteen hours a day. It was a great accomplishment to complete this quilt, but believe me it was pure joy to get back to my usual large quilts.” ~ Shirley P. Kelly, 2006

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I first saw this quilt at the museum in 2017 during our “Mighty Mississippi” cruise. It was so disappointing at the time that photography was not permitted. This time, photos were allowed without flash, so I was thrilled to be able to photograph this amazing quilt.

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This is a close-up of the previous picture.  So much detail!

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This quilt was HUGE!

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“Corona II: Solar Eclipse,” by Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry, measures 76″ x 94″ and is made from hand-dyed fabrics. It is machine pieced and machine quilted. It was named one of the 100 Best Quilts of the 20th Century.

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“Breeze is the third quilt in my ‘Simply Sensational’ series using architectural settings to highlight each of the five senses. Touch is the only sense that involves the whole body. For this reason, I chose a rush of wind through and open window to completely surround the dog with the awareness of this sense.” ~ Rachel Wetzler

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This was one of my favorites! “Port of Cassis,” by Lenore Crawford, measures 52″ x 48″. It was created from a photo that she took in the south of France at dusk.

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This quilt as well as the following quilts (some are close-ups of the same quilt) were created by Danny Amazonas who started out as a professional floral designer in New York City in the 1970’s. I was mesmerized by how these quilts looked like photographs when viewed from a distance.

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This was a huge mural that was several feet long and stretched across a wall.

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A close-up of a fish from the previous photo.

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Another close-up shows the pretty fabrics Danny Amazonas used to create his fish.

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MEMPHIS: HOME OF THE BLUES & THE BIRTHPLACE OF ROCK ‘N’ ROLL

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When I took my mom on a Mississippi River paddlewheel cruise aboard the American Queen, in 2013, I thought it would be a one-and-done experience; a novelty that you do once in a lifetime and check off the bucket list.  I enjoyed the experience so much, however, that I convinced Bruce that he should give it a try.  Four years later, he went all in, choosing a “Mighty Mississippi” cruise (Red Wing, Minnesota to New Orleans, Louisiana) on the same boat.  And, as they say, the rest is history.  He was hooked, and the hook was set.

The following January, in 2018, he took me on the American Duchess (another American Queen Steamboat Company paddlewheeler) for my birthday, and even though it snowed in Memphis (!) and during the first two days on the boat, we had a blast.

Four months later, we cruised aboard the third boat of the fleet, the American Empress, on the Snake and Columbia rivers.

We thoroughly enjoyed them all, but there was one more itinerary with American Queen Steamboat Company that Bruce really wanted to do, and I was game:  Memphis to Pittsburgh aboard the American Duchess for the “Great River Race” cruise.

If you search “Memphis” on this blog, you will see that Bruce and I had been to Memphis together twice before; this would be our third.  (The cruise in 2013 also started out in Memphis, so this was my 4th time to the city.)

I have enjoyed Memphis during each visit, and even though I photographed the neon signs on Beale St. each time, I found myself drawn to them once again.  Here are the ones you won’t see in my previous blog posts:

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One of my new U.S. Master Swimming friends lives in Memphis, so she joined us for dinner at Blues City Café.  She told us about “Mighty Lights,” the light show that was installed on the bridge that we could view from the top of the Peabody Hotel where we were staying.  The summer nights show lasts about ten minutes and is repeated twice an hour until 10 PM.  It was quite a sight!  I had fun with my camera, playing with the light and capturing some of the images while purposely moving my camera.  Other times, the lights flashed “U.S.A.” and phrases across the bridge, so it was a beautiful display to watch (but impossible to photograph clearly with still shots).  Check out the videos on the Might Lights website; it’s amazing!

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This time while visiting Memphis, we toured Sun Studio, “The Birthplace of Rock ‘n’ Roll” and where Elvis Presley recorded his first album.  B.B. King, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and many other Blues, Gospel, Rock ‘n’ Roll, and Country musicians got their start at this iconic recording studio.  Our entertaining tour guide shared interesting stories, and the studio was full of wonderful photos and memorabilia.

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Staying at the historic Peabody Hotel this time was a treat, because our past cruises out of Memphis had us at the Sheraton for our pre-cruise night that was included in the package.

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Can I buy a “T”?

During our departure from Memphis, we were treated to nice views of the city skyline, the “Dolly Parton Bridge,” and a rainbow off the paddlewheel.  We were on our way to Paducah…

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NATIONAL SENIOR GAMES IN LOCAL NEWSPAPER

As a follow up to my last blog post about the National Senior Games, I was in today’s sports section in our local newspaper, Griffin Daily News, along with local cyclist, Bruce Reid.  We were the only two athletes from Spalding County, Georgia to compete in the 2019 National Senior Games, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

In case you are wondering, the “Submitted” was me.  Several people from my community suggested I write an article and send it in to the newspaper, so what the heck?

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NATIONAL SENIOR GAMES GOAL (FINALLY!) ACHIEVED

I remember the moment vividly.  It was the summer of 2004, and we had just retired to San Antonio, Texas.  The previous November, I had undergone a serious four-hour operation for thoracic outlet syndrome.  My surgeon, Dr. Richard Braun, had assured me that if the surgery was a success, I would be able to swim again.  In fact, he encouraged me to take the sport back up following my post-surgery rehab.

Our San Antonio community had a 20-yard pool, so I gave it a go. Once I got back in condition, I timed myself in the 50-yard breaststroke, my favorite event when I competed on my high school swim team.  Out of curiosity, I looked up the National Senior Games race results for the youngest age group, 50-54 years old, and surmised that in six years, I had a good shot at a medal.  It was that moment I said to myself, “When I turn 50, I am going to start competing in the National Senior Games.”

Five years later, we moved to an active retirement community in Georgia, and I competed in my first state senior games meet, Georgia Golden Olympics, the state qualifying meet for the National Senior Games.  I medaled and qualified in all my events; however, I opted not to attend the national meet in Cleveland.  In retrospect, I regretted that decision.  The National Senior Games take place only in the odd years, and I was unable to participate in the following two Games due to hip surgery and a shoulder injury.  Missing out on Minneapolis and Birmingham, even though I had qualified for both meets, burned a hole in my heart.

When I qualified in Alabama, in May of 2018, for this year’s National Senior Games, I was more determined than ever to succeed in my goal of competing in Albuquerque.  As I waited for my turn on the blocks for my first event, the 100 Yard Butterfly, I had tears in my eyes as I realized I was about to achieve my goal. I gave that race my best effort, so not only had I succeeded; but, I shaved time off my qualifying swim and swam my fastest time in three years, placing 5th for a ribbon (awarded for 4th thru 8th place finishes). Later in the day, I raced my fastest 50 Yard Breaststroke in five years, finishing 12th in a tough field of 21 swimmers. I couldn’t have been happier, even though I had no ribbon to show for it.

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My longest race of the meet, the 400 Individual Medley, proved to be a difficult challenge due to the high altitude of over 5,300 feet.  Although I was winded during the race and was unable to clock a good time, I was awarded a 6th Place ribbon for my efforts.

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The following day, I raced the 200 Butterfly, the most physically demanding event for female Masters swimmers in pool competition.  I was one of only 19 women across all age groups to compete in the grueling event. This race, as well as the 200 IM and 200 Breaststroke on my final day of individual races played out much the same as my 400 IM.  At the 100-Yard mark, I was winded in a way I had never experienced at sea level.  Comparing notes with several of the other swimmers at the meet, I was not alone.  Most of the gals had to stop at the walls during parts of their races to catch their breath.  Misery loves company, and most of us were in the same boat—uh, make that “pool!”

Getting winded during the most painful 200 Butterfly I had ever swum was well worth it in the end, because I won a bronze medal!  (Hey, you have to show up to win!)  I really, REALLY wanted one of those medals, because I thought the design was fantastic—a wonderful souvenir of my accomplished goal.  Check it out below.  Instead of a propane tank to inflate the balloon, it’s an Olympic torch.  The “flame” is a red chile pepper and green chile pepper, which, like the hot air balloon, are the iconic symbols that characterize Albuquerque.  In addition to the Albuquerque logo on the front, the backside of the medal depicts the National Senior Games logo and motto.

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On the final day of swimming competition, Mixed Medley and Mixed Freestyle relays were added to the events for the first time.  As in the individual events, the swimmers competed in their own age group; however, the age was determined by the youngest swimmer on the team.  I was determined to organize both relays with just swimmers from Georgia to represent our state, so I put out a plea on the Georgia Masters Facebook page.  I received an immediate response from Randy Russell (58), and after I was unable to nail anybody else down, he recruited Barbara Ingold (60) and Lane Schuckers (66) during the weeks leading up to the meet.  I was able to get a practice run in with Randy during a relay at an April United States Masters Swimming meet at Georgia Tech; however, I had never met Barbara or Lane.

Based on the (accurate at the time) seed times I submitted for our relays, we were in for a fight for a bronze medal.  All of us ended up swimming faster than our seed times in our individual events, though, so our hopes were up.

In the Medley Relay, Barbara led off with backstroke, I swam breaststroke, Randy followed with butterfly, and Lane anchored with freestyle.  It was a come-from-behind race, but all of us swam our fastest splits of the meet, and we nailed down a bronze medal!  Watch it here.

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Barbara, Me, Lane (burgundy shirt) and Randy (red hat) receiving our bronze medals.

Then came the Mixed Freestyle Relay with our closest competitor in the neighboring lane.  We kept the same race order, and by the time I (the slowest sprint freestyler on our team) finished my leg of the race, we were more than half of a pool length behind.  All Barbara and I could do was hope Randy and Lane could make up the deficit.  Randy, gold medalist in the 55-59 age group in the 50 Yard Freestyle, closed the gap further; but, what we saw next was simply amazing.  50 Yard Freestyle silver medalist in the 65-69 age group, Lane, swam his heart out!  He later said that when he spotted the neighboring swimmer during his flip turn, he put this head down and sprinted the entire last 25 yards without a breath.  I never yelled so loud in all my life!  As they touched the wall at what I thought was simultaneously, I looked up at the electronic board and saw we had won by .08!  Another bronze medal!  What a way to finish the meet!  We were so excited, we didn’t even swim down after the race.  Instead, we gathered in the warm-up pool and celebrated!  Want to see something amazing?  Check this out!

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What a fun and exciting experience these National Games turned out to be.  Over 13,700 athletes showed up for the Games, shattering previous attendance records.  A couple of World Record holders as well as several USMS (U.S. Masters Swimming) All-Americans and Top Ten swimmers were among the 800+, 50-100-year-olds racing at the West Mesa Aquatic Center.  As a result, many National Senior Games records were broken.

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That night, Randy and I, along with our spouses, met up at the Celebration of Athletes.  Marching in with other Georgia athletes when our state name was called was an exhilarating moment I will never forget.  I truly felt like a Senior Olympian!

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Georgia swimmers, Chip Woody, Me, and my relay teammate, Randy

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The New Mexico contingent handed out state flags during the Parade of Athletes.

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On the jumbo screen:  103-year-old, Julia “Hurricane” Hawkins (gold medal winner in track), being welcomed to the Games by the 94-year-old founder of the National Senior Games.  Later in the evening, while the band played, she danced enthusiastically, swinging her hips back and forth!  I want to grow up to be just like her.

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My husband, Sherpa, videographer, photographer, and greatest supporter, Bruce, with me following the Celebration of Athletes.

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We attended a free event, Growing Bolder’s “Launchpad to What’s Next Live” at Kimo Theatre. It was an educational and inspirational program on healthy and active aging. Watch the short video about it here.  I’m in it towards the end! https://www.growingbolder.com/our-favorite-moments-from-the-national-senior-games-3059650/

 

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Three-time Olympic Gold medalist and the face of United States Masters Swimming, Rowdy Gaines, was one of the excellent speakers at the event.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Me with Rowdy Gaines

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Journalist and World Record Holder (Masters swimming), Marc Middleton, is founder of Growing Bolder.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New friends:

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Kari and I first “met” on the USMS Discussion Forums

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Samantha Martoni encouraged and cheered me on in my 200 Butterfly. I returned the favor when she followed me in the fastest heat.  She won a silver medal, and I won bronze.

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Penny Noyes is an All-American USMS swimmer (age 65) I had met previously at Atlanta area meets.  She won 7 gold medals, including one in the triathlon, as well as a relay bronze medal and a 4th Place relay ribbon.

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Ted and I met in the warm-up pool and encouraged each other throughout the meet.

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Relay teammates, Lane & Randy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This photo was taken of fellow USMS “Forumite,” Kurt Dickson, at the conclusion of the meet.  Kurt broke National Senior Games records in all six of his individual events, including the 500 Freestyle, where he shattered the  record by 20 seconds.  He then won gold medals in the mixed medley and mixed free relays. The entire pool area had emptied out, and he was sitting by himself waiting for his wife to pick him up. (She competed in cycling.) His jug of milk had turned warm, but he was powering down a bowl of Cheerios as he waited. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

POMS: NEW DIANE KEATON MOVIE PANNED

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“POMS,” the new Diane Keaton movie, was released today; however, Sun City Peachtree (“Sun Springs”) residents viewed a special screening for us on Wednesday in two of Regal’s theaters, in Griffin.
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Our community looked fabulous in the movie, and several of our friends appeared as extras.  In addition, our neighbor around the corner, Karen Beyer, has a speaking role in the movie.  If you see POMS, Karen plays a member of the welcoming committee and drives Diane Keaton around “Sun Springs” in a golf cart tour of the community.  She was great!
We all got a kick out of seeing people we knew as extras in the movie, including some friends.
Bruce (below center) is an extra in a gym scene where he walks by with Victor (pictured below) behind Celia Weston and the welcoming committee.  Unfortunately, all you see is the top of their heads, because the gym eqt. obscured their faces.
They are also in the scene in front of the recreation center where Celia Weston and Bruce McGill drive by in their golf cart; however, all you see is Bunny’s orange shirt.  Oh well, know he’s there!
As for my hopes of making it in the movie, the entire last day of filming made it squarely on the cutting room floor.  Those scenes were supposed to go into a montage of “A Day in the Life of Sun Springs,” a video that would be used as a sales pitch to get Diane Keaton’s character to buy a house in the community.  I guess they decided to cut that part of the script out.  The movie cuts straight from Diane Keaton in New York to moving into her house in “Sun Springs.”
It was interesting to see what made the movie and what didn’t.  The funeral scene took several hours to film (I watched for a couple of hours); however, only a small portion of the scene made the movie.  I also watched the main pool scene and gym scene being filmed.  Both scenes appear in full.
Although we all had a blast watching the movie, the critics didn’t.  They weren’t too amused…  I just read a bunch of reviews, and the movie was panned by all of them.
Here is an AP movie review that made it into today’s Griffin Daily News.  The paper used my picture again; however, the caption is as poorly written as the movie, according to Lindsey Bahr.
If you go see the movie, our wonderful Sun City Peachtree really shines!  Just know that our community is nothing like it’s portrayed in the movie.  Our Vicky (HOA Manager) is way nicer than Vicky in the movie (Celia Weston), and we don’t have those crazy rules!  We have no security guards like Bruce McGill’s character, and their security office is really our tennis club!  The houses, however, were real houses that were repainted (interiors) and refurnished for the movie.  That indoor pool you see through the gym?  That’s my home away from home where I train!  The gym is Bruce’s second home.

NEW DIANE KEATON MOVIE FILMED HERE AT SUN CITY PEACHTREE!

During late July and early August of last summer, our little Sun City community had a lot of excitement!  Georgia has become one of the top filming locations in the country, and the latest Diane Keaton movie landed on location right here.  “POMS,” written by Shane Atkinson and directed by Zara Hayes opens in theaters on May 10.

In the early days of the movie’s inception, this was the official description: “45 minutes outside of Phoenix lies a retirement community. A place where palm trees line the streets, the skies are always clear and the “taxi” (ambulance) drives by two or three times a day – a final destination for retirees. This is the story of America’s first cheer-leading squad for women aged 60.

Phoenix and palm trees were eventually dropped for Georgia, and Sun City Peachtree became “Sun Springs,” the community where Diane Keaton comes to “die.”  She is joined in the film by Jacki Weaver, Rhea Perlman, Celia Weston, Pam Grier, Alisha Boe, Bruce McGill, and more.

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A Georgia-based casting company was used to hire all the extras, and us residents had first crack at applying for the roles.  If you see the movie, almost all of the extras in the retirement community scenes are either our friends, neighbors, or fellow Sun City residents in a community that was less than 2,000 residents at the time.

In addition, the house scenes were all filmed in the homes of residents who applied to have their houses used in the movie.

I was originally cast to be a water aerobics instructor; however, after jumping through a bunch of hoops, the scene got canceled.  As a matter of fact, an entire day of filming (and numerous committed extras) got cut.  Putting two and two together, I quickly surmised as to why that happened: budget.  Just a guess.

That was just one of many scheduling changes that took place each day.  Suffice it to say the entire three weeks of filming here could be summed up in one word:  chaos.

Having said that, there were a lot of fun moments here as well.  Bruce was cast as a “gym goer” and was filmed for a scene out front of our recreation center where Bruce McGill and Celia Weston pass by in a golf cart.

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Bruce (middle) with Bunny and Victor

In the gym scene, Bruce walks by in the background for a scene that included our actress friend who lives around the corner from us.  Karen Beyer has a speaking role in the movie, and she appears briefly in the trailer.

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Karen Beyer is in the pink blouse.

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Rhea Perlman is lifting weights in this scene.  Bruce was an extra in the background of the gym scenes.

 Although it was a long and boring day for Bruce, I enjoyed hanging out and watching the filming.

The only scene I may appear in is when the crew filmed a resident tai chi class.  Evidently, the footage the crew shot of “real” residents will be used for a “Day in the Life of Sun Springs” montage that Diane Keaton’s character watches at the sales center, when she is considering moving to “Sun Springs.”

One thing for sure:  Diane Keaton was really nice to the residents here!  When she wasn’t filming, she posed for pictures with anybody who asked.  Right before I was photographed with Diane, a lady on the way to the pool with her grand kids asked Diane she could take her picture.  Diane responded, “Only if you are all in it with me!”  Diane asked her assistant to take the picture for them and then did the same for me.  In this shot, Diane turned to me and said, “Oh f*@#!  He took the picture when I wasn’t ready!”  That’s why I’m cracking up!

At the funeral scene (see the trailer; it’s a hoot!), I had the opportunity to chat a little with Diane Keaton, and she was quite friendly.  It was very hot that day, though, so she spent most of her time between shoots in her air conditioned limo.

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Diane Keaton is under the umbrella.  The sun was very hot that day!

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Rhea Perlman is in all black.  Her husband dies in the movie, and this is his funeral.

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Jacki Weaver (facing me) and Diane Keaton in the funeral scene.

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An amazing amount of equipment was needed to film the funeral scene!

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This was some of the equipment used for the pool scenes.

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Filming scenes at the tennis and pickleball courts.

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I wasn’t allowed to get any closer than where I shot the picture above, so this was the best shot I could get of Diane Keaton.

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Bruce and I got to know Caesar, the caterer, during the filming.  Caesar is the regular caterer for the TV series, “NCIS New Orleans,” where he is now based. Caesar invited us to have dinner twice, including after filming wrapped.  That night, he served crab legs and filet mignon!  He also sent us home with extra food that he didn’t want to see thrown out.  Lucky us!

The “grunts” of the film crew were also friendly.  We could see as the filming progressed over the three weeks, however, that they were stressed, exhausted, and ready for the film to wrap!

Our HOA ended up with $35,000 for allowing the crew to film onsite, and the experience gave us all a lot to talk about!  We are looking forward to a big screening party here when the movie is released.  Whether the movie is a hit or bombs out, it sure will be fun watching all our friends on the screen!

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Check out this article on the movie.  Here is another article from PeopleThis article shows a screen shot from the trailer that includes Karen Beyer.

 

 

 

 

ADRIATIC COAST: DAY 18 (FINAL)- BUDVA, MONTENEGRO

The final two nights of our trip were spent in the coastal town of Budva, the center of Montenegro’s tourism industry.  Between the Adriatic Sea, beaches, its well-preserved medieval walled city, restaurants, and night life; Budva attracts all types of tourists, especially the 1% jet-setters.

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Just outside of the walls of Old Town was a row of very expensive luxury yachts owned by wealthy visiting tourists.  As we turned away from the docks and entered the walled city, it was like stepping back in time.  Sure, there were gift shops and restaurants to remind you that it was the year 2018; however, the architecture and cobblestone pathways were historic reminders that Budva is, indeed, old—2,500 years old!

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Budva is one of the oldest settlements on the Adriatic Coast.  Archaeological evidence proves that fact, and we were able to see where some of that evidence was discovered.

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The walled Old Town is situated on a rocky peninsula, and it was beautiful to explore during our private morning walking tour, before it was overrun by tourists.  We looked forward to returning in the late afternoon, following our driving tour into the mountains to see Cetinje, the former capital.

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The views were spectacular!  We were fortunate to have sunny skies, so we could enjoy the view of the city below.

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On our way to Cetinje, we stopped at a restaurant up in the mountains where we were treated to a local beer, and a “snack” of a delicious sandwich of prosciutto and cheese, after being shown their smokehouse where we learned about the smoking process.

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Following our tour of Cetinje and its museum, our little group had a nice lunch together at a restaurant.  We then headed back to Budva to enjoy the remainder of the afternoon on our own.  This was the highlight!  Exploring the Old Town and coastal walking path during the golden light of the evening was the exclamation point to cap off our visit to Montenegro.

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Dinner the previous night was enjoyed with our guide, Sinisa, and our new Canadian friends; however, this final night was just the two of us enjoying a fabulous buffet while dining on the patio of our hotel.  It was a lovely evening, and a perfect way to relax and reflect back on our amazing experiences in Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and, finally, Montenegro.

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Thank you, dear readers, for hanging in with me until the end—nearly five months after our travels concluded.  I hope you will join me again later this year when I return with more traveler’s tales!

 

 

ADRIATIC COAST: DAY 17-KOTOR, MONTENEGRO

Our cruise aboard La Perla came to an end much too quickly!  Isn’t that always the case when you are thoroughly enjoying an experience?  Time just speeds on by!  Stand in a long line at the airport, though, and time stands still right along with you.

Sinisa had our tour guide/ driver to Montenegro take this last group shot with Ante and the crew of La Perla.  It brings back great memories to me and Bruce of the experiences we shared, friendships we made, and wonderful places we saw along the way.

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Good-bye’s were said to all but our new Canadian friends and our guide, Sinisa.  It was just the five of us traveling on to Montenegro for the post-cruise extension.

Our drive to Montenegro took us on a winding road along the Bay of Kotor, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  With its narrow profile and steep walls, it is often called Europe’s southernmost fjord, even though it is actually a ria, or a submerged river valley.

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Mussel farms were a common site on the Bay of Kotor

Kotor, our destination for the day,  is a fortified medieval city located at the head of the bay.  Dating back to the first century, the small city of less than 14,000 people is a popular tourist destination, because of its history and Old-World charm.  It is one of the best preserved medieval old towns in the Adriatic, and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

When we arrived, I looked up and saw the switch-back walking path that led up the steep side of the mountain behind the Old Town.  I knew it was a path I wanted to conquer after our walking tour, and I was happy Bruce was all in to join me!

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The archway through the thick wall of Kotor’s Old Town was impressive, and I was instantly charmed by the quirkiness of a few unexpected sights that greeted us:

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The narrow, winding cobblestone streets were charming, and I instantly understood why tourism is Kotor’s top industry.

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Our private tour led us to Cathedral of Saint Tryphon, a Roman Catholic church dating back to 1166.  The cathedral was badly damaged in the earthquake of 1667, so it was rebuilt.  Again, in 1979, the cathedral was damaged by another earthquake.  It wasn’t until 2016 that the restoration was complete.

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The view from the second floor of the cathedral.

Fortunately, the 14th century frescoes and rich collection of artifacts survived both earthquakes.

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Following our tour, we had free time to wander the cobblestone streets and make our way back to the stone stairs for the steep climb up the mountain.  Our fitness and endurance paid off; the views were spectacular!

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Returning to town, I shot a few more pictures before settling in at a table on the patio of the restaurant reputed to have the best chocolate cake in Kotor.  Sharing a slice was our reward for enduring the hot climb up and down the mountain!  Yes, it tasted as good as it looks!

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