Savannah, Georgia: A City of Squares

by Dr. Denise R. Ames

I recently visited Savannah, Georgia with a group of women relatives for our annual reunion. It was really fun but I also got to see the city of Savannah up close for several days. I would like to share with you my impressions of the city.

B. Matthews in Savannah, Georgia
photo Denise Ames

Savannah is known for its superb southern cooking and our group was only too willing to experience the taste sensations. After mouth-watering BBQ the night before, we had reservations for brunch at B. Matthews Bistro in an old Savannah neighborhood.

Crab Cake Benedict, photo Denise Ames

There were many unusual selections but I settled on Crab Cake Benedict, egg on English muffin with sauce and eggs. It had a taste of the South with a side of savory grits. Yum! After our breakfast the eight of us decided to walk around old Savannah. After a while, some got tired and returned to the house, while my daughter, my daughter-in-law and her mother, and I decided to walk along scenic Bull Street heading towards our Airbnb.

Johnson Square, one of Savannah’s 22 squares dotting the city,
photo Denise Ames

The street was delightful! The day was delightful! The humidity, which can be stifling in the southern city, was low, the temperature mild, and the beautiful live oaks provided cooling shade. We were particularly enchanted with the squares located at frequent intersection along Bull Street. I read where “the squares and parks of Savannah are the community’s most beloved icons.” Originally city planners had designed 24 squares, luckily 22 remain today.

I find the fact that these squares that take up a large chunk of urban land to be an anomaly in American cities. Where urban land is often priced according to the square meter, Savannah has devoted generous tracts of land to “unproductive” squares. However, now these places of tranquility and beauty are paying for themselves by helping to attract over 14.8 million visitors in 2019.  

General Oglethorpe, founder of the colony of Georgia in 1696, came up with the idea of laying the city of Savannah out in a grid pattern with squares, which are open areas made for public use, spaced out throughout this grid. These Squares were originally used to practice and drill for the militia,

As our group of four strolled along Bull Street heading away from the river, we marveled at the enchanting squares. Located at Bull and St. Julian Streets, Johnson Square was our first intimate look at a square. It was designed in 1733 and named for Robert Johnson, the Royal Governor of South Carolina when Georgia was founded. Johnson Square was the first of Savannah’s 24 squares and served as its commercial hub. In the center stands a monument of General Nathanael Greene, a Revolutionary War hero and Savannah patriot. It is only a 3-minute walk to the Old Pink House Restaurant, a Savannah icon. Alas, we couldn’t get reservations for our group.  

Chippewa Square, Savannah, photo Denise Ames

We next stumbled upon the striking Chippewa Square, located at Bull and McDonough Streets. It was designed in 1815 and named to commemorate the Battle of Chippewa in the War of 1812. In the center stands a bronze statue of the colony’s founder, General James Edward Oglethorpe, who faces south protecting Savannah from the Spanish in Florida. It is also known as Forrest Gump Square since the bus stop scenes from the Oscar winning motion picture were filmed on the north end of the square.

Chocolates

While strolling along Bull Street an artisan chocolate shop caught our eye. This was no ordinary chocolate shop but one for the wealthy and try connoisseurs. Chocolate was concocted into whimsical shapes. My daughter couldn’t resist and bought four different chocolate pieces, totaling around $10. I said it was for the elites. I savored every bite.

Our next square was the Madison Square, at Bull and Macon Streets, It was designed in 1837 and named to honor James Madison, the fourth president of the United States. In the center stands a monument of Sergeant William Jasper who fell during the Siege of Savannah in 1779. A granite marker denotes the southern line of the British defense during the 1779 battle.

Our final square before we called it quits and called an Uber back to our Airbnb was the Monterey Square located at Bull and Wayne Streets. It was designed in 1847 and named to commemorate the 1846 Battle of Monterey during the Mexican American War. It was the battle of the Mexican War in which a Savannah unit of the Irish Jasper Greens fought. The square’s monument honors Casimir Pulaski, a Polish nobleman who was mortally wounded during the Siege of Savannah while fighting for Americans.

Carriage tour in old Savannah, photo Denise Ames

My serene feeling visiting the squares lasted with me a long time. I felt tension leave my body as I looked up at the towering Live Oaks laced with Spanish moss. I marveled at the foresight the people of Savannah had when they preserved these jewels scattered across the urban landscape. I was beginning to appreciate Savannah more and more as I shut the door on my Uber ride.

About the Author: Dr. Denise R. Ames

Dr. Denise R. Ames’ varied life experiences—teaching, extensive travels, scholarly research, personal experiences, and thoughtful reflections—have contributed to her global perspectives, balanced views, and cultural insights about the world. Earning a doctorate in world history education, she has taught secondary schools, universities, a community college, professional development, and lifelong learners. In 2003, Dr. Ames founded Center for Global Awareness, an educational non-profit. She has written nine books, plus numerous blogs, lesson plans, articles, newsletters, and teaching units.

The Center for Global Awareness offers three programs: Global Awareness for Educators, globally-focused books and educational resources for educators and students grade 9-university; Gather, Global Awareness Through Engaged Reflection, a study and conversation program for self-organizing groups of lifelong learners; and their newest program Gatt, Global Awareness Through Travel. Gatt is Dr. Ames’ travel advisory service that supports travelers to see the world with new eyes, learn from the past, understand others, and reflect upon one’s own personal journey and place in the world. She incorporates five pathways—a holistic world history, cross-cultural awareness, multiple worldviews, significant global issues, and personal well-being—into her unique approach to gleaning all the wonders travel has to offer us.

Dr. Ames lives in sunny Albuquerque, New Mexico with her partner, Jim. Her family includes two adult children and their spouses, and three adorable grandchildren.

Dr. Denise R. Ames has written 9 books for the Center for Global Awareness, check out their titles! Global Awareness Books  Email Dr. Ames at drames@global-awareness.org for more information.

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Savannah, Georgia: The “Hostess City of the South” Hosts My Family Reunion

by Dr. Denise R. Ames

A scene from one of the many park squares in old Savannah, photo Denise Ames

When I think of Savannah, Georgia I pull up images of the Old South. Maybe it is because I am a historian, Savannah was a central part of the Old South’s culture, economy, and politics. After the end of the Civil War, it fell into near oblivion but with determination and foresight, it staged a remarkable comeback in the 1990s. I visited the venerable city in September 1991 and another time in the 1970s. I visited Savannah again in September 2021.

This time I would travel to the city with a group of female relatives and assorted extended family, a total of 8 of us ranging in age from 25 to 75. Oddly enough it is a reunion with my ex-husband’s family. But it must work, this was our 12th reunion. We had planned a 2020 trip to Savannah, but COVID-19 thwarted our visit. In fact, it was March 13, 2020 when COVID morphed into global pandemic status and the whole world shut down. It was at the last minute that we cancelled our plans, fearing that if we did travel to Savannah we may end up stranded with no way to return home.

A family reunion, playing a dominoes game, lots of laughs in a Savannah Airbnb

A few words about our “girls’ weekend” as we have been calling it before sharing with you details of my Savannah trip. The group consists of my daughter, daughter-in-law and her mother, my niece and her mother, my niece’s step daughter and her mother, and me. An odd assemblage of women who loved to get together. Some of us met others for the first time. But we immediately formed a bound, like a tribe. Eight of us in a lovely, refurbished 3-bedroom house, with a queen-sized pull-out couch. It was a lot of fun.

I was the first to arrive at the small-sized airport in the “Hostess City of the South,” a rather cumbersome nickname for a city. I waited about 30 minutes for the next group to arrive so we could Uber our way to the house. It was refreshing to see so much green and the wonderful white pines lining the highway to the city. I was expecting the worst as far as humidity and heat were concerned but it looked like we lucked out with a “cool” spell and I found the weather very tolerable, especially in the shade.

Not our neighborhood, but near historic Savannah, photo Denise Ames

Our Airbnb house was located on East Anderson Street about a mile from the historic old part of the city. The neighborhood looked a little rough, but our Uber driver assured us that the area was undergoing gentrification. We found our house and indeed it had been nicely renovated. We noticed that many houses along the busy street had been refurbished to their former splendor, as ours had been. We finally made our way in and found the place very clean and comfortable. The back screened-in-porch was a delightful addition.

After exploring the house, we all agreed that we were hungry. Where to eat? Barbeque was the go-to-compromise. BBQ is popular in Savannah and numerous places popped up in our search. We finally settled on one near the old part of Savannah, appropriately called Savannah Smokehouse BBQ and Brew. Can’t go wrong with pulled pork garnished with assorted BBQ sauces and to celebrate the fact I was in Georgia, I ordered fried okra and tried the peace barbeque sauce. We next meandered along the streets making our way to the Savannah River. 

Along the Savannah River water front, photo Denise Ames

Numerous restaurants and bars lined the shores of the historic section next to the Savannah River. We settled into one of the outdoor establishments and sipped on wine as container ships, old-time steam ships, and other craft floated by.

Surprisingly to me, the Port of Savannah/Brunswick is the 4th largest in the United States as of September 2021. Only Los Angeles, Long Beach, and New York/Newark rank higher. The port was created in 1744 to export cotton and tobacco from the area’s plantations and to sadly import slaves from Africa, until the slave trade was abolished in 1808.

Port of Savannah, photo Denise Ames

Operated by the Georgia Ports Authority, the Port of Savannah is now home to the largest single-terminal container facility of its kind in North America and is the 3rd fastest growing port in the nation. Click this fun link to see a container ship make its way to the port on the surprisingly narrow Savannah River.

Now the exports flowing from Savannah’s ports include wood pulp, paper and paperboard, food, and clay, while imports include furniture, retail consumer goods, machinery, appliances, and electronics.

Savannah River, photo Denise Ames

As I sat and watched the constant stream of ships chugging their way upriver to the port, I reflected on the importance of trade to the city. Goods from the interior were transported to the port city for export, while goods from the port city were transported to the interior. It really is a remarkable feat of coordination, efficiency, and knowledge all residing on layers of wealth and investment that has built an interconnected economic infrastructure.

It gave me pause as I marveled at the intricacy of the whole trading operations and its capacity for change and adaptation. Even though cotton is no longer “king” as in the antebellum era, and the trade in human beings has been thankfully disbanded, trade in commodities continues unabated. Our tiny group of visitors wouldn’t be sitting in a river-side restaurant enjoying a variety of consumer goods without the coming and goings of those ships. I did a little toast to the container vessel as it passed by.  

About the Author: Dr. Denise R. Ames

Dr. Denise R. Ames’ varied life experiences—teaching, extensive travels, scholarly research, personal experiences, and thoughtful reflections—have contributed to her global perspectives, balanced views, and cultural insights about the world. Earning a doctorate in world history education, she has taught secondary schools, universities, a community college, professional development, and lifelong learners. In 2003, Dr. Ames founded Center for Global Awareness, an educational non-profit. She has written nine books, plus numerous blogs, lesson plans, articles, newsletters, and teaching units.

The Center for Global Awareness offers three programs: Global Awareness for Educators, globally-focused books and educational resources for educators and students grade 9-university; Gather, Global Awareness Through Engaged Reflection, a study and conversation program for self-organizing groups of lifelong learners; and their newest program Gatt, Global Awareness Through Travel. Gatt is Dr. Ames’ travel advisory service that supports travelers to see the world with new eyes, learn from the past, understand others, and reflect upon one’s own personal journey and place in the world. She incorporates five pathways—a holistic world history, cross-cultural awareness, multiple worldviews, significant global issues, and personal well-being—into her unique approach to gleaning all the wonders travel has to offer us.

Dr. Ames lives in sunny Albuquerque, New Mexico with her partner, Jim. Her family includes two adult children and their spouses, and three adorable grandchildren.

Dr. Denise R. Ames has written 9 books for the Center for Global Awareness, check out their titles! Global Awareness Books  Email Dr. Ames at drames@global-awareness.org for more information.

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Joy and Disaster at Smascott Orchards: Upstate New York

by Dr. Denise R. Ames

Goodbyes photo Denise Ames

My family reunion in upstate New York came to and end. All departed except me. I was staying on a few more days with my daughter and her family before catching a Jet Blue flight direct from JFK to Albuquerque. Now I would be able to spend more fun time with my grandchildren!

One of the things we love to do when I visit my family in upstate New York is to go to Smascott Orchards, a U-Pick farm located in Kinderhook. Blueberries, strawberries raspberries, blackberries, bing cherries, tomatoes, and assorted greens were now in season and awaiting our eager and nimble hands to pick them.

“Princess” at Smascott Orchards, photo Denise Ames

We decided to take “Princess,” a green 1995 Range Rover Discovery. Built like a tank, and showing signs of wear and age, the kids love to ride on top when they go to the orchard for short, slow rides in-between fields of produce. We loaded up containers for our pickings, a picnic lunch, the dog, and off we went.

My grandchildren picking blueberries, photo Denise Ames

After days of rain and mud, it was nice to have only partly cloudy skies. It didn’t look like we would get drenched again until afternoon. We pulled into the busy orchard and an army of people were on hand to check us in and give us some containers. Our first stop was the blueberry patch. The bushes were loaded with luscious-looking and sweet-tasting fruit. We all set to work.

The twins, now 4 ½, were able berry pickers. They each had their own container and plucked away with concentration and gusto. My 9-year old granddaughter was a seasoned berry picker, and tasted as many as she put in her pail. Of course, I had to tell my grandchildren the story once again about my dad and his blueberry-picking days. As a youth he lived in the swamp lands of Tomah, Wisconsin, where blueberries were plentiful but hard to find. For the best picking, he told me that he followed “the Indians” (Ojibway were in the region during the 1930s), who knew the best patches of blueberries in the dense thickets. I love that story, and they did as well.

Blueberry bush, Smascott Orchards, photo Denise Ames

After picking cartons of blueberries, we turned to raspberries. They were a bit picked-over and we did not net as many as we did the blueberries. Strawberries were also a bit picked over, but we made a substantial haul, same with the blackberries.

Now, on to the bing cherries. The low hanging fruit had already been pillaged, so my grandchildren eagerly scampered up into the trees to snare a respectable stash of the sweet fruit.  

Twins picking bing cherries from a tree, photo Denise Ames

My daughter dashed over to pick a supply of assorted greens, while my grandchildren scampered up the ladder to the top of the camouflage-green Discovery. I walked along the rows of produce to gather some tomatoes. I glanced over to the hulking SUV and the grandchildren were chatting away gripping the roof rails as Princess inched its way toward the tomato open greenhouse.

Usually, all three kids clamor down from the roof top but this time, only my oldest granddaughter climbed down, the twins stayed on top, unsupervised. Our attention had turned to selecting the most beautiful ripe tomatoes amongst rows of beautiful tomatoes. Just as we had finished our picking we heard a blood-curdling scream coming from the vicinity of the Discovery. Stunned, the four of us raced to the SUV.

My grandson, who uttered the screams, was extremely distraught. His sister had stood up on the roof and walked along the top and inadvertently stepped on the fragile sunroof glass. The sunroof shattered into thousands of tiny pieces of glass scattered about the interior. Luckily, she was not hurt and seemed shocked by all that had transpired because of her somewhat innocent explorations. My grandson quickly assured us that he was blameless.

Although my youngest granddaughter was initially targeted as the perpetrator of the disaster, my son-in-law next turned the blame for the incident upon himself, since he usually doesn’t leave them unaccompanied on the SUV roof. We all took our stab at blaming ourselves, while my youngest granddaughter seemed relieved that everyone had turned their accusations inward instead of towards her.

Strawberry picking, Smascott Orchards, photo Denise Ames

Dark clouds were starting to form in the sky and a few errant raindrops started to fall. We turned our focus to extracting the last bits of glass from the sunroof, cleaning up the glass strewn across the interior, and fashioning a makeshift cover for the sunroof. My fold-up hair brush served as a clean-up tool for the remaining sunroof glass, while we painstakingly collected the glass in an old blanket that we transported to the trash receptacle. We took one of the thick rubber floor mats and placed it over the hole in the sunroof, wedging it snugly into place. At least, it would get us back home.

The Smascott Orchards escapade taught me several lessons. First, the joy of spending time with my grandchildren in nature is something I always treasure. Watching them scuttle up a tree or pick berries with attention are memories grandparents hold dear. Also, when disaster strikes, blaming is useless, while working together to arrive at a solution is paramount.

Blueberries from Smascott Orchards, photo Denise Ames

We exited the orchard and they tallied up our sizable bill. They did a thorough check of the Discovery to make sure that we did not embezzle any produce in any cavities of the vehicle. Sadly, they said they have lots of theft of produce so they have to instill draconian checkout measures. I felt like I was at a border crossing with agents checking my vehicle for any contraband. Luckily, they didn’t check our stomachs, since we probably pilfered an untold number of pints of fruit in our bodily cavities.

As we sped home, trying to avoid torrents of rain that seemed to be following us, I felt a wave of satisfaction come over me. It was a fun family day, complete with moments of joy and happiness, along with the inevitable period of confusion, disaster, and anger. All in a day at the orchards with my grandchildren.   

About the Author: Dr. Denise R. Ames

Dr. Denise R. Ames’ varied life experiences—teaching, extensive travels, scholarly research, personal experiences, and thoughtful reflections—have contributed to her global perspectives, balanced views, and cultural insights about the world. Earning a doctorate in world history education, she has taught secondary schools, universities, a community college, professional development, and lifelong learners. In 2003, Dr. Ames founded Center for Global Awareness, an educational non-profit. She has written nine books, plus numerous blogs, lesson plans, articles, newsletters, and teaching units.

The Center for Global Awareness offers three programs: Global Awareness for Educators, globally-focused books and educational resources for educators and students grade 9-university; Gather, Global Awareness Through Engaged Reflection, a study and conversation program for self-organizing groups of lifelong learners; and their newest program Gatt, Global Awareness Through Travel. Gatt is Dr. Ames’ travel advisory service that supports travelers to see the world with new eyes, learn from the past, understand others, and reflect upon one’s own personal journey and place in the world. She incorporates five pathways—a holistic world history, cross-cultural awareness, multiple worldviews, significant global issues, and personal well-being—into her unique approach to gleaning all the wonders travel has to offer us.

Dr. Ames lives in sunny Albuquerque, New Mexico with her partner, Jim. Her family includes two adult children and their spouses, and three adorable grandchildren.

Dr. Denise R. Ames has written 9 books for the Center for Global Awareness, check out their titles! Global Awareness Books  Email Dr. Ames at drames@global-awareness.org for more information.

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A Family Reunion: Observations on Passivity and Letting It Be

Dr. Denise R. Ames

After a fun New England road trip with my cousin Paula, we congregated in Craryville, New York for a 4-day family reunion.

Green River, near Great Barrington, NY, photo Denise Ames

The first few days of the family reunion were fun. Even though the water was frigid, we had a wonderful time swimming in the nearby Green River and picnicking along its pebbly beach; we also had rousing games of water volleyball and chicken foot, a domino game. But our time together was drawing to a close and after a day of watching the rain wash away our good cheer, we were anxious to do something besides sit in the barn.

We decided to make reservations for a farewell dinner at an upscale Italian restaurant in Hudson, NY. It would be a nice contrast to the barn and no indoor plumbing lifestyle we had become accustomed to during the reunion.

Family reunion, restaurant in Hudson, NY

Everyone dressed up as much as barn living would allow, and we all looked very swank as we made our way inside the upscale restaurant. No one would have guessed that we had lived in a barn the last several days. My grandchildren were on their best behavior, only one brief outburst and that quickly dissipated. It was late and they were real troopers. I guess living in a barn builds resilience. It was a memorable evening and I made a toast that I was grateful to have my family all together.

I live in New Mexico, which has about a 40% Hispanic population. (In NM we use the terms Hispanic, Anglo (white), and Indian or Native to describe the tri-culture state.) So often when I take a hike or go for a road trip in my home state I often encounter Hispanic families (sometimes Native as well) out enjoying themselves in nature. It is usually an extended family, with all the generations represented from young to old. They pile into a big van or truck and seem content to be together doing what many would consider mundane things. They have elaborate picnics, take a hike, wade in streams, and often blare music. I greatly admire the close connections they have with each other. When I am by myself and see the Hispanic families, I long for the close connectivity I have when my family is together.

My family reunion was a time for me to trade in the individualistic tilt of my Anglo (white) culture and enter into the world of a Hispanic family. We do mundane things—a river swim, a game of chicken foot, a picnic, or a hike through the woods—but the main point is that we just enjoy each other’s company. We do not try to accomplish a particular goal or learn something new, it is just being.

In fact, a certain passivity takes over me (not always though). I wonder why? I have read that traditional cultures are often more passive than modern/progressive cultures. I see this passivity unfold as I observe Native people in NM patiently waiting at a doctor’s office for their appointment with their children sitting quietly near them. My grandchildren, in contrast, can barely sit still for very long, they are always on the move, always active.

Strolling through the Green River, photo Denise Ames

Since I can be an impatient, restless, assertive person at times, I marvel at how a passive nature takes hold of my being when I am in the bond-with-the-family mode. I don’t feel the need to draw attention to what I consider my individual accomplishments. In fact, I relish feeling ordinary, like how many people have probably felt over the centuries when they are in the family cocoon. When I am in the cocoon, my individuality falls away while the family develops a collective mind. We are all in sync, all of one mind, even though we pick different flavors of ice cream, we are a family enjoying eating an ice cream treat.

Reading a book, Hidden Hill, photo Denise Ames

So now when I see people that belong to traditional cultures acting in their passive mode, I will appreciate it more, since I have had that experience as well. Even though going against the cultural norms of one’s group is difficult, at least for a temporary moment I can relax, enjoy, and participate in the collective family.

Family travel is a good vehicle for entering the passive mode. We are away from our normal activities, which are often frantic. We don’t have to replicate our home life, but deviate from it as we wish We don’t have to schedule events to within the half-hour. Recognizing the difference between passivity and activity is a good first step. 

As the family reunion came to end, I reflected on the enjoyment and appreciation I have when we are all together. I feel relaxed, content, and don’t daydream about being anywhere else more glamorous or prestigious. My ego lays placid as I am just happy on being just where I am.  

About the Author: Dr. Denise R. Ames

Dr. Denise R. Ames’ varied life experiences—teaching, extensive travels, scholarly research, personal experiences, and thoughtful reflections—have contributed to her global perspectives, balanced views, and cultural insights about the world. Earning a doctorate in world history education, she has taught secondary schools, universities, a community college, professional development, and lifelong learners. In 2003, Dr. Ames founded Center for Global Awareness, an educational non-profit. She has written nine books, plus numerous blogs, lesson plans, articles, newsletters, and teaching units.

The Center for Global Awareness offers three programs: Global Awareness for Educators, globally-focused books and educational resources for educators and students grade 9-university; GATHER, Global Awareness Through Engaged Reflection, a study and conversation program for self-organizing groups of lifelong learners; and their newest program GATT, Global Awareness Through Travel. GATT is Dr. Ames’ travel advisory service that supports travelers to see the world with new eyes, learn from the past, understand others, and reflect upon one’s own personal journey and place in the world. She incorporates five pathways—a holistic world history, cross-cultural awareness, multiple worldviews, significant global issues, and personal well-being—into her unique approach to gleaning all the wonders travel has to offer us.

Dr. Ames lives in sunny Albuquerque, New Mexico with her partner, Jim. Her family includes two adult children and their spouses, and three adorable grandchildren.

Dr. Denise R. Ames has written 9 books for the Center for Global Awareness, check out their titles! Global Awareness Books  Email Dr. Ames at drames@global-awareness.org for more information.

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Rain, Rain, and More Rain: A Family Reunion in the Mud

by Dr. Denise R. Ames

After a fun New England road trip with my cousin Paula, we congregated in Craryville, New York for a 4-day family reunion.

Green River, near Great Barrington, MA, photo Denise Ames

The first few days of the family reunion were fun. Even though the water was frigid, we had a wonderful time swimming in the nearby Green River and picnicking along its pebbly beach.

My son and daughter-in-law had managed their stay in the tent for two nights. Even though they had the advantage of a close outhouse, the rain had seeped into the tent making everything damp and miserable. Mosquitos were taking their toll on my daughter-in-law, her extremities were covered in pink, raised blotches. The muddy trail from the tent to the barn, the central gathering place, was becoming impassable for the Gator utility vehicle, and it was difficult to hike because of the torrential rains. They decided to cut their losses and reserved a hotel room in nearby Hudson. Turned out to be a smart move.

Pool at Hidden Hill, NY, photo Denise Ames

Oddly enough, Hidden Hill has a swimming pool. Although the house was in shambles, the previous owners decided to build a gorgeous pool before tackling the house. It is set on a level part of the hill side, replete with a flagstone patio surrounding the pool. My daughter even installed a hand-held nozzle and shower head discreetly located behind some trees to act as a shower. She even has a propane tank to heat the water. The pine needled shower floor kept us from wallowing in mud. Such luxury.

We all loved the pool and everyone thrashed about in the cold waters. My son had sent a volleyball net and balls via Amazon for water volleyball games in the pool. We had several rousing matches, occasionally broken up by thunder storm warnings and ominous darkened skies. Once again, I showed my adventurous side, braving the cold pool waters and diving for errant balls in pitched volley ball games.

A game of Chicken Foot in the barn, photo Denise Ames

One evening we had a birthday party for Paula’s son, replete with grilled salmon, vegetables, big salad, bread, and crowned by a fruit-filled, layered birthday cake. We topped off the evening with presents for everyone who has a birthday before and after July. The hose to the sink had sprung a leak, so dishwashing not only entailed the person washing and a person drying, but a person holding a finger over the leak. My handy daughter later fixed it.

Our family reunions always involve a stimulating game of chicken foot, a fun game with dominoes that somehow always involves good-natured humor and wise cracks. My oldest granddaughter gloated about her win, and I was humbled by my loss. We retired to our respective accommodations eager for another fun day.

Muddy paths at Hidden Hill, NY, photo Denise Ames

But that fun day did not happen. It was a long night of ear-splitting thunder, bolts of lightning, and torrents of rain. It didn’t stop. I was awake half the night wondering if our camper would survive. The next morning, I awoke to sheets of rain pelting the landscape. I waited, as long as I could for a break in the rain, then darted out to relieve my bladder. I noticed a huge tree limb was down blocking one of the trails to the outhouse while the other trail was a sheet of mud sliding down the incline. The outhouse was inaccessible.  

In fact, the rainfall in July in upstate New York turned out to be a record, according to an old-timer passing by the barn and stopping to chat and rainfall records. Heavy rains hampered our day, restricting outside activities and preventing us from pool volleyball. At least we got in some games of chicken foot during the day. Out of boredom we drove to Hudson to do some shopping, darting in and out of shops as the rain kept pelting us with its fury.

Blocked access to the outhouse, Family reunion at Hidden Hill, NY, photo Denise Ames

Mother nature doesn’t care if we scheduled a family reunion or not. It dictates the terms of how we interact in the world, and for several days in upstate New York, the terms she imposed were I am dumping lots of rain on all of you.

Living close to the elements, whether in the barn, camper, or tent gives me a renewed appreciation and respect for nature. Even though modern conveniences are a fingertip away, many of them cannot dictate to nature how it should behave. That is one thing we will never be able to conquer.

About the Author: Dr. Denise R. Ames

Dr. Denise R. Ames’ varied life experiences—teaching, extensive travels, scholarly research, personal experiences, and thoughtful reflections—have contributed to her global perspectives, balanced views, and cultural insights about the world. Earning a doctorate in world history education, she has taught secondary schools, universities, a community college, professional development, and lifelong learners. In 2003, Dr. Ames founded Center for Global Awareness, an educational non-profit. She has written nine books, plus numerous blogs, lesson plans, articles, newsletters, and teaching units.

The Center for Global Awareness offers three programs: Global Awareness for Educators, globally-focused books and educational resources for educators and students grade 9-university; GATHER, Global Awareness Through Engaged Reflection, a study and conversation program for self-organizing groups of lifelong learners; and their newest program GATT, Global Awareness Through Travel. GATT is Dr. Ames’ travel advisory service that supports travelers to see the world with new eyes, learn from the past, understand others, and reflect upon one’s own personal journey and place in the world. She incorporates five pathways—a holistic world history, cross-cultural awareness, multiple worldviews, significant global issues, and personal well-being—into her unique approach to gleaning all the wonders travel has to offer us.

Dr. Ames lives in sunny Albuquerque, New Mexico with her partner, Jim. Her family includes two adult children and their spouses, and three adorable grandchildren.

Dr. Denise R. Ames has written 9 books for the Center for Global Awareness, check out their titles! Global Awareness Books  Email Dr. Ames at drames@global-awareness.org for more information.

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A River Runs Through It: A Family Reunion Swim

by Dr. Denise R. Ames

After a fun New England road trip with my cousin Paula, we congregated in Craryville, New York for a 4-day family reunion.

Green River, near Great Barrington, MA, photo Denise Ames

The day broke sunny after scattered showers that night. I knew there were rain showers since my cousin and I were sleeping in the camper. Although the camper was very comfortable, it is not water tight. Drips oozed from the ceiling, cascading into bowls and buckets scattered about the quarters to catch the errant water. Also, the pitter patter of rain on the ceiling is magnified because of non-existent ceiling insulation. But things could be worse, as I would find out later that night.

There was a break in the rainy weather so we were all anxious to get outside. My daughter suggested a picnic and swim in a river for the mid-morning to early afternoon activity for the day. We all applauded. I was in charge of making sandwiches in the make-shift barn kitchen. Soon bathing suits were donned, towels packed, cooler loaded, kids rounded up, and 9 people and a puppy piled into two cars for the trip to the Green River.

Green River, photo Denise Ames

Located about 10 minutes from Great Barrington, MA, the Green River is a tributary of the Deerfield River in southern Vermont and northwestern Massachusetts with its source in the Berkshire Mountains that loomed in the distance. The path to the river skirted a cornfield then wound its way through woods to the river. We had to trek through the river to get to the gravelly beach on the other side. The water was cold. The experience reminded me of similar river experiences, especially when I was young.

Family reunion at Green River, photo Denise Ames

Swimming in a river is not a very glamorous activity. I can’t imagine a photo shoot at the river’s edge. T-shirts, swim suits, and funky water shoes were the attire, tinged with briar scratches on the legs and bodies adorned with streaks of mud mingled with sun screen and bug spray.

While wading across the river, I thought this water is so cold I will never be able to swim in it. My daughter and daughter-in-law were garbed in wet suits, both having little tolerance for cold water. But my cousin and I, the seniors, had none. We were left to the elements.

Green River, photo Denise Ames

My grandchildren—at least the two girls—jumped right in, shaking off the initial shock with chattering teeth and blue lips. My grandson is on the cautious side, and was content to play with his trucks on the river’s edge. Next, my son and son-in-law took the plunge, screaming in agony at the frigid temperature. I waded in to my knees thinking this would be my limit. But I wanted to frolic with my granddaughters in the water, and getting submerged was the only way to do it.

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to be more adventuresome. In my 70s I had turned more passive in light of adventure, and COVID had acerbated my risk intolerance. Now was a moment when I could reclaim my adventurous spirit and show that grandmothers don’t have to be blobs with a mouth on a lawn chair watching everyone else romp about. I dove in. It was cold but I gradually grew accustomed to the water and it was beyond invigorating.

As I thought, my granddaughters were delighted to have a swimming companion and we explored all the nooks and crannies of our river spot. My oldest granddaughter had scaled a rock to take a swimming breather and called me to join her. I bobbed over to the spot and found that I could not get a foot-hold on the slippery rock to haul myself up. She offered her hand in assistance and I tentatively took it. She pulled me to a place where I could heave myself up by sheer arm strength to a sitting position. It was not a graceful act (I vowed to build more arm strength) but I made it. We sat together on the rock outpost admiring the view, and feeling a bond between us as we (especially me) reveled in our physical accomplishment.

My cousin soon joined us in the swimming gaiety, while the wet-suited women seemed content to wade and hunt for rocks. My grandson never did venture into the water.

Stream off of the Green River, photo Denise Ames

I retrieved my camera and found a small tributary off the main river lined with grasses and woods. I slowly walked against the swift current for several hundred feet on the rocky stream bed. I put my new Tevas with great tread to work steadying myself as I ventured upstream. A delightful experience. I then rounded up my oldest granddaughter for an adventure on the watery trail, she loved it. Soon she was the trail guide leading a group of us on the upstream adventure.

After all this activity, we were starved and dove into the lunch with gusto. Every scrap of food was devoured.

Stream off of Green River, photo Denise Ames

We next turned to making rock art, and my son, an ace rock-skipper, strutted his stuff. Soon after, we decided a trip into Great Barrington was in order; I suggested I would treat to ice cream, all shouted in glee.

We packed up the gear and headed to our cars for a quick trip to the ice cream store. We arrived in-between waves of ice cream enthusiasts. My theory that people were craving sweets was evident in the packed store. As I sat savoring my chocolate dish of ice cream, I reflected on the enchanting day we spent at the water hole. It was a great family bonding experience, and I was grateful that I was able to participate in the adventure. I also secretly felt empowered by my act of adventure and pleasure in swimming in the river. This simple act did wonders for my mental and physical well-being. I toasted myself as I raised a spoonful of the cold, sweet delight.

About the Author: Dr. Denise R. Ames

Dr. Denise R. Ames’ varied life experiences—teaching, extensive travels, scholarly research, personal experiences, and thoughtful reflections—have contributed to her global perspectives, balanced views, and cultural insights about the world. Earning a doctorate in world history education, she has taught secondary schools, universities, a community college, professional development, and lifelong learners. In 2003, Dr. Ames founded Center for Global Awareness, an educational non-profit. She has written nine books, plus numerous blogs, lesson plans, articles, newsletters, and teaching units.

The Center for Global Awareness offers three programs: Global Awareness for Educators, globally-focused books and educational resources for educators and students grade 9-university; GATHER, Global Awareness Through Engaged Reflection, a study and conversation program for self-organizing groups of lifelong learners; and their newest program GATT, Global Awareness Through Travel. GATT is Dr. Ames’ travel advisory service that supports travelers to see the world with new eyes, learn from the past, understand others, and reflect upon one’s own personal journey and place in the world. She incorporates five pathways—a holistic world history, cross-cultural awareness, multiple worldviews, significant global issues, and personal well-being—into her unique approach to gleaning all the wonders travel has to offer us.

Dr. Ames lives in sunny Albuquerque, New Mexico with her partner, Jim. Her family includes two adult children and their spouses, and three adorable grandchildren.

Dr. Denise R. Ames has written 9 books for the Center for Global Awareness, check out their titles! Global Awareness Books  Email Dr. Ames at drames@global-awareness.org for more information.

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A Family Reunion in Craryville, New York: A Tent, A Barn, and A Camper Trailer

by Dr. Denise R. Ames

My road trip visit to Acadia National Park in Maine, photo Denise Ames

My cousin, Paula, and I had just wrapped up a six-day road trip through New England, with most of our time spent in the splendid state of Maine (see earlier blogs). Next, we headed to Craryville, New York where we would meet up with our families for a 4-day family reunion. It was our 5th annual reunion in mid-summer.

My son and daughter-in-law flew in from Phoenix, Arizona for the reunion. Paula’s son and his partner drove in from New Haven, CT and we all converged in Craryville at the home of my daughter, son-law, and 3 adorable grandchildren.

The accommodations for the reunion were a bit unusual and worthy of a blog topic. Usually reunions are held at a resort with plenty of amenities to please every possible taste. In fact, our previous four reunions were at rural Airbnb’s around the Albany area of upstate New York. They were luxurious enough to make sure we all had a bed, or at least a couch. This was different.

The original house at Hidden Hill, a bit the worst for wear! photo Denise Ames

My daughter and son-in-law were in their third summer of remodeling an old cottage that had suffered the worst of wear over the years. Built in the early 1800s, they deemed it worthy of remodeling, while keeping some of its old wooden beams and flooring, and basic outside structure. An extended family drama and COVID-19 set them back well over a year from moving in to their soon-to-be charming cottage. Their 75-year-old contractor had skirted death when he contracted COVID in early winter. Although thankfully he recovered, his illness set them back for months.

But they were not deterred. They loved the house and the 90-acres of conservation land that had been named Hidden Hill, and they kept that distinctive title. Heavily forested with patches of meadows and streams, it is an idyllic setting on a country gravel road near the burgh of Craryville.

Camper trailer to the right, photo Denise Ames

Even though they owned a delightful brownstone in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, they longed to spend time as much time as possible in nature with their young children. Since a functioning house with all the amenities (toilet and shower a big one) was off in the future, they first decided to erect a large tent surrounded by a wooden deck. They entered the world of glamping, complete with makeshift sink, a big king-size bed with mattress and rugs scattered across the floor. The outhouse was built a suitable distance away.

But the tent proved too cold for winter habitation so they closed in down and turned to living in a camper trailer. Their affable contractor took pity on them (probably a tinge of guilt for taking so long) and bought a 19’ camper (no license) for $200 and towed it to a spot near the house. It was a bit the worse for wear and the toilet/shower or plumbing did not work. But my handy daughter rigged up a hose to the sink for water, hooked up the electricity, installed a refrigerator and oven, and thoroughly cleaned the mouse droppings and other grim. It wasn’t bad, actually quite cozy. I stayed with them in the camper on one of my visits. My only challenge was at night when I had to climb over 3 sprawled children on the floor to go to the bathroom in the pitch-black outside. I learned to curb my evening liquid consumption.

Barn ceiling, photo Denise Ames

Summer 2021 came around and the camper was too hot to sleep in so another idea sprouted. An old barn sets on their property close to the road. They mused, “Why not live in the barn?” The barn has some wooden and some concrete floors, a large hay mow, and soaring ceilings. It is somehow mostly waterproof. And it is big and airy, as the barn birds can attest to. They put in new electrical wiring, added ample lighting, purchased a refrigerator, installed an old wood-burning stove, and my handy daughter rigged up another hose to a metal sink contraption.

Dining in style in the barn at my family reunion, NY
photo Denise Ames

Decorated with an old couch, rugs, a table and chairs, my daughter even made (even planed the wood) a queen-sized bed for the hay mow. An extensive workshop with every known power tool known to humankind takes up a big corner of the barn but the rest was for living. Alas, no toilet but everything else was first class. The kids loved it.

I wanted to set the stage for the reunion because it is a little unusual. My daughter had set up the sleeping arrangements as such: myself and Paula in the camper, my son and his wife in the tent, and the rest in the barn. Paula’s son and partner wisely opted for a close by Airbnb since they had to work some of the time.

All seemed great until the weather changed. To be continued …

About the Author: Dr. Denise R. Ames

Dr. Denise R. Ames’ varied life experiences—teaching, extensive travels, scholarly research, personal experiences, and thoughtful reflections—have contributed to her global perspectives, balanced views, and cultural insights about the world. Earning a doctorate in world history education, she has taught secondary schools, universities, a community college, professional development, and lifelong learners. In 2003, Dr. Ames founded Center for Global Awareness, an educational non-profit. She has written nine books, plus numerous blogs, lesson plans, articles, newsletters, and teaching units.

The Center for Global Awareness offers three programs: Global Awareness for Educators, globally-focused books and educational resources for educators and students grade 9-university; GATHER, Global Awareness Through Engaged Reflection, a study and conversation program for self-organizing groups of lifelong learners; and their newest program GATT, Global Awareness Through Travel. GATT is Dr. Ames’ travel advisory service that supports travelers to see the world with new eyes, learn from the past, understand others, and reflect upon one’s own personal journey and place in the world. She incorporates five pathways—a holistic world history, cross-cultural awareness, multiple worldviews, significant global issues, and personal well-being—into her unique approach to gleaning all the wonders travel has to offer us.

Dr. Ames lives in sunny Albuquerque, New Mexico with her partner, Jim. Her family includes two adult children and their spouses, and three adorable grandchildren.

Dr. Denise R. Ames has written 9 books for the Center for Global Awareness, check out their titles! Global Awareness Books  Email Dr. Ames at drames@global-awareness.org for more information.

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Kennebunkport to Rhode Island on the 4th of July: A New England Road Trip

By Dr. Denise R. Ames

After our delicious lobster bisque and blueberry pie lunch in Kennebunkport, Maine we were ready to see a bit of Kennebunkport, the small town made famous as the summer home to the Bush presidents. It was day 6 of my road trip with my cousin, Paula, from Albany, NY to Maine and then to Craryville, NY for a family reunion.

photo Denise Ames

It was a rainy 4th of July and the crowds who would have been enjoying the beach crowded into the tiny tourist enclave. It was a sea of people, seeking shelter in packed shops and under roof eaves as the rain came pouring down. For a person who has a low tolerance for shopping, it was torture for me. My cousin was quickly dissuaded as well, so we high-tailed it back to our car.

Summer “cottage” in Kennebunkport, photo Denise Ames

We slowly drove out of Kennebunkport and shortly after we sadly left the state of Maine. We loved touring Maine, and I vowed to explore the more northern environs of the state at some point in my life. We skirted Providence, Rhode Island on Interstate I-95 and then gave a sigh of relief as we turned off on Route 1 to continue our road trip along the scenic Rhode Island coast. To make sure we didn’t have any late evening stress, we made reservations at a hotel in Niantic, CT for the evening.

photo Denise Ames

The Rhode Island coast proved to be an enchanting road trip choice. It had many miles of beach and coast line to stop and ponder. I particularly liked one stop we made in South Kingston (I think) where a lighthouse and defense establishment clung to the rocky coast. It was refreshing to catch the sea breeze and look up at the molted, gray skies that put a damper on 4th of July festivities.

It was about time for us to finish up our leisurely Route 1 and sideroads portion of the trip and make our way onto the interstate for our trek to Niantic. But we wanted one last memory of dining in one of the wonderful restaurants noted for their seafood along the coast. We did some research and found one with fantastic reviews. We back tracked a bit but it was worth it. We soon approach a sandy beach harbor and it was packed with people and cars. We had arrived at MatuNuck Oyster Bar!

photo Denise Ames

We were on the early side of the dinner crowd and luckily so since we didn’t have reservations. It was so busy that attendants had to park the cars to make sure order prevailed. In fact, before they parked our car they made sure that we could be seated for dinner. As we learned, the 4th of July was a busy time for them, in fact the whole summer was busy.

Luckily there was room for us and we made our way into the restaurant that had been expanded for the summer season by erecting a temporary, overarching dining tent for guests. We were seated in a room with expansive views of the harbor and Atlantic Ocean as the backdrop. Ahh, our second great restaurant of the day.

Although they had an extensive seafood menu, both my cousin and I decided that we had reached our seafood/lobster limit and ordered an ordinary hamburger (split) along with side salads. I sipped on my gin and tonic and enjoyed watching the people mill about, while the hazy ocean watched us from a distance.

scene along Route 1 in Rhode Island, photo Denise Ames

Actually, this was our last official day of our road trip, we would be heading to Craryville, New York the next day and join our families for a 4-day reunion. It was our last dinner together. We toasted to a fascinating road trip and our memorable time together.

We had inherited the gift of adventure and excitement of travel from our grandmother, Clara Ames. She was always ready to pile into someone’s car or truck for a trip to wherever they were going. Her “gadding,” as she called it, was even more remarkable since her legs were mostly paralyzed from an automobile accident and she could only walk with crutches. Our grandmother was probably smiling down at us at that moment as we were celebrating the end of our road trip and an unforgettable experience.

Since it was the 4th of July, my reflections on the road trip took a patriotic turn. I thought about the many different forms of freedom that we enjoy as Americans and that I don’t often appreciate. Although I think it is now in vogue to criticize the US, I think it has gone to the extreme. As an historian, I recognize America’s flaws and shortcomings, but there are also many freedoms that we take for granted. On this trip I enjoyed the freedom to move about freely with no government office monitoring my whereabouts. We also enjoyed safety and security that we took for granted. I felt lucky to have the freedom to enjoy all the beauty this land has to offer, the means to appreciate them, and friendship of my cousin to share them with. These thoughts were worthy of a toast.  

About the Author: Dr. Denise R. Ames

Dr. Denise R. Ames’ varied life experiences—teaching, extensive travels, scholarly research, personal experiences, and thoughtful reflections—have contributed to her global perspectives, balanced views, and cultural insights about the world. Earning a doctorate in world history education, she has taught secondary schools, universities, a community college, professional development, and lifelong learners. In 2003, Dr. Ames founded Center for Global Awareness, an educational non-profit. She has written nine books, plus numerous blogs, lesson plans, articles, newsletters, and teaching units.

The Center for Global Awareness offers three programs: Global Awareness for Educators, globally-focused books and educational resources for educators and students grade 9-university; GATHER, Global Awareness Through Engaged Reflection, a study and conversation program for self-organizing groups of lifelong learners; and their newest program GATT, Global Awareness Through Travel. GATT is Dr. Ames’ travel advisory service that supports travelers to see the world with new eyes, learn from the past, understand others, and reflect upon one’s own personal journey and place in the world. She incorporates five pathways—a holistic world history, cross-cultural awareness, multiple worldviews, significant global issues, and personal well-being—into her unique approach to gleaning all the wonders travel has to offer us.

Dr. Ames lives in sunny Albuquerque, New Mexico with her partner, Jim. Her family includes two adult children and their spouses, and three adorable grandchildren.

Dr. Denise R. Ames has written 9 books for the Center for Global Awareness, check out their titles! Global Awareness Books  Email Dr. Ames at drames@global-awareness.org for more information.

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Traveling to Kennebunkport, Maine: A Walk Back in Time

 

After our brisk morning walk along the Atlantic coast beach, we moseyed back to our illegally parked car. Luckily, it was safe. It was the 4th of July and day 6 of my road trip, along with my cousin Paula, from Albany, NY to Maine and then to Craryville, NY for a family reunion.

Bush Compound on Walker Point, Kennebunkport, ME

We got into the car and set our sights on lunching in Kennebunkport, Maine, located at the southerly tip of the state along the coast. I knew Kennebunkport as the setting for the summer compound of former presidents George H.W. and George W. Bush at the tip of a cragged rock splicing into the ocean. I had no idea where their summer home was located, so a drive by was out of the question.

We arrived in Kennebunkport in time for lunch, in fact we were a bit on the early side. After our invigorating walk along the beach we were both hungry and ready for more lobster. The town was packed to the gills on this rainy afternoon and wading into the throngs of teeming tourists clogging the main street arteries in search of a restaurant didn’t seem very appealing to us.

Kennebunkport, ME, photo Denise Ames

We turned to drive out of town and I spotted a restaurant perched on a dock overlooking the harbor. This time Paula enthusiastically turned around and we headed to the practically empty parking. It was similar to other lobster eateries we had visited on our road trip—in need of paint and upkeep—but the bright flowers welcomed us into the charming, 1950s style dining room clad in knotty-pine paneling.

Ahhh, lobster bisque was on the menu. I didn’t need to look any further. I just had to decide on the size: large, of course. No splitting this delectable delight. A plump, middle-aged woman with dyed blonde hair piled high on her head served us. She was amiable and after exchanging Happy 4th greetings we chatted about the miserable weather on this national holiday in which Americans love to be outdoors.

Lobster bisque, photo Denise Ames

Our bowl of lobster bisque arrived promptly and we were surprised to find ample and delicious chunks of lobster in the creamy soup. Heaven! Since we hadn’t yet indulged in one of the other tasty Maine treats, blueberries, we decided to top off our lunch with blueberry pie, ala mode of course. Luckily, this time we split the sizable piece of pie. We didn’t know it at the time, but this was our last lobster meal on our trip. Looking back, the restaurant was a fitting farewell diner.

Blueberry pie ala mode, photo Denise Ames

As I slowly savored my taste sensation, I perused the dining room and the staff. The woman with gray, crinkled hair who seated us, must have been in her 80s, but was still spry and looking fit. It looked like she was a fixture at the restaurant. The early American captain chairs throughout the restaurant reminded me of the early American craze in furniture that swept the country in the early 1960s. I remember my family had a solid-maple breakfast room set with sturdy table and chairs just like the ones at the restaurant. The maple set replaced our worn-out linoleum clad table and chairs that took up almost all the space in our thumb-sized kitchen.

photo Denise Ames

It was nice to see something, such as the table and chairs, that had lasted for over 60 years and were still being used. A new generation of restaurateurs would have ripped up the dingy, orangish-brown carpet to expose concrete floors and jettison the beat-up maple furniture for gray steel modern. Luckily, the owners didn’t do that.

The restaurant, in fact, seemed to represent the character of the people of Maine, maybe a little beat-up and worn but still resilient and ready to tackle any of life challenges. As I dipped another spoonful of the sumptuous pie delight into my mouth, I was grateful for my trip to Maine and interacting with the people I encountered. They form the bedrock of the unique and diverse character of America. It seemed a fitting and patriotic thought for the 4th of July.  I raised my spoon, laden with blueberry pie, as a toast.

About the Author: Dr. Denise R. Ames

Dr. Denise R. Ames’ varied life experiences—teaching, extensive travels, scholarly research, personal experiences, and thoughtful reflections—have contributed to her global perspectives, balanced views, and cultural insights about the world. Earning a doctorate in world history education, she has taught secondary schools, universities, a community college, professional development, and lifelong learners. In 2003, Dr. Ames founded Center for Global Awareness, an educational non-profit. She has written nine books, plus numerous blogs, lesson plans, articles, newsletters, and teaching units.

The Center for Global Awareness offers three programs: Global Awareness for Educators, globally-focused books and educational resources for educators and students grade 9-university; GATHER, Global Awareness Through Engaged Reflection, a study and conversation program for self-organizing groups of lifelong learners; and their newest program GATT, Global Awareness Through Travel. GATT is Dr. Ames’ travel advisory service that supports travelers to see the world with new eyes, learn from the past, understand others, and reflect upon one’s own personal journey and place in the world. She incorporates five pathways—a holistic world history, cross-cultural awareness, multiple worldviews, significant global issues, and personal well-being—into her unique approach to gleaning all the wonders travel has to offer us.

Dr. Ames lives in sunny Albuquerque, New Mexico with her partner, Jim. Her family includes two adult children and their spouses, and three adorable grandchildren.

Dr. Denise R. Ames has written 9 books for the Center for Global Awareness, check out their titles! Global Awareness Books  Email Dr. Ames at drames@global-awareness.org for more information.

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Traveling the Maine Coast and A Walk along the Ocean: A Road Trip

by Dr. Denise R. Ames

I woke up to a steady drizzle of rain and overcast skies in a dumpy motel in Brunswick, Maine. It was day 6 of my road trip with my cousin, Paula, from Albany, NY to Maine and then to Craryville, NY for a family reunion.

I retrieved my umbrella from the suitcase and sprinted to the motel lobby where “breakfast” was being served. I said hello to the desk clerk, a woman from India dressed in the traditional way. She replied “Happy 4th of July.” I had completely forgotten about our national holiday, and found it ironic that a person from another country so quickly and joyfully wished me a Happy 4th of July.

She obviously took pride in the holiday with little flags and streamers decorating the drab motel lobby giving it a festive tone. I repeated my wishes for a Happy 4th. I snagged a bagel and peanut butter for my morning nourishment and darted back to the room to finishing packing.

We quickly loaded our suitcases into the car in the pouring rain and set off for unknown destinations along Route 1 and side roads along the Maine coast.

Donut Shop in downtown Yarmouth, ME,
photo Denise Ames

After an hour or so on the road, a sign for Donuts blazed across the storefront of a brick building in the quirky downtown of Yarmouth, Maine caught our attention. We both had a sudden desire for a donut. We had passed by many Dunkin Donut places along the way (amazing how they have proliferated in the last several years) but did not succumb to that temptation. Now this specialty donut store caught our attention.

photo Denise Ames

We parked the car and scurried over to the weathered-looking establishment. To our surprise, and dismay, it was locked. We peered into the window and observed that not one donut graced the metal trays, the showcase was empty. The business owner came to the door, since we just stood there in disbelief, as if to console us a bit. He said it was his busiest day ever, not one crumb was left.

It seemed to confirm my theory that I postulated in Bar Harbor. Now that people have been “released,” at least somewhat, from the confines of Covid restrictions they are craving all kinds of things, one of the primary ones: sweets. In Bar Harbor, the lines for ice cream snaked around a long block, and I read somewhere that there was a shortage of fudge, yes fudge. And, as we just experienced, donuts were flying off the shelves. Sweets can bring temporary pleasure to a drab existence, such as the Covid restrictions, and now people are hungry for this delight.

Ocean Park, ME, photo Denise Ames

After our donut disappointment, we continued on a side road along the coast. We stumbled upon a New-Englandish beach town appropriately called Ocean Park. Rows of beach houses lined the beach and we decided to pull into one of the side driveways that led to the ocean for a walk. We found a parking place, I am sure illegal, and headed to the ocean. It was still a blustery day but the rain had eased and it was a great day for a brisk walk along the sandy shore. The ocean was mostly empty, except for a few brave kids who are the kind that can withstand extremes of heat and cold with barely a whimper. I pulled my sweatshirt tighter around me as I watched them frolic through the frigid surf shouting with delight.

Beach along Atlantic Ocean, Ocean Park, ME, photo Denise Ames

We walked briskly along the stretch of sand, with our sights set on reaching a small amusement ensemble perched on a deck replete with Ferris wheel and merry-go-round. We worried about our parking situation, so we turned around for the mile trek back to car. It was delightful walking along the coast, and the vast horizon of ocean gave me a feeling that I am just a small speck in this vast world. It also reminded me of my several visits to Galveston, Texas and my walks along the level, sandy beach of the Gulf Coast. Beach walking is one of my favorite activities.

Atlantic Ocean on a blustery day, photo Denise Ames

Our car was safe and we set our sights on Kennebunkport, Maine, at the southerly tip of Maine along the coast. As we pulled out of the beach town, I turned to look one more time at the angry ocean, swirling with purple tones and lashing at the coast. Mother nature was not happy today, and I can see why our ancient ancestors tried many ways to try and placate its terror and destruction. If their methods didn’t work, at least they were comforted with the thought that they were trying something. I reminded myself to give the ocean something, a token of my appreciation the next time I am within its reaches. Can’t hurt.

About the Author: Dr. Denise R. Ames

Dr. Denise R. Ames’ varied life experiences—teaching, extensive travels, scholarly research, personal experiences, and thoughtful reflections—have contributed to her global perspectives, balanced views, and cultural insights about the world. Earning a doctorate in world history education, she has taught secondary schools, universities, a community college, professional development, and lifelong learners. In 2003, Dr. Ames founded Center for Global Awareness, an educational non-profit. She has written nine books, plus numerous blogs, lesson plans, articles, newsletters, and teaching units.

The Center for Global Awareness offers three programs: Global Awareness for Educators, globally-focused books and educational resources for educators and students grade 9-university;GATHER, Global Awareness Through Engaged Reflection, a study and conversation program for self-organizing groups of lifelong learners; and their newest program GATT, Global Awareness Thru Travel. GATT is Dr. Ames’ travel advisory service that supports travelers to see the world with new eyes, learn from the past, understand others, and reflect upon one’s own personal journey and place in the world. She incorporates five pathways—a holistic world history, cross-cultural awareness, multiple worldviews, significant global issues, and personal well-being—into her unique approach to gleaning all the wonders travel has to offer us.

Dr. Ames lives in sunny Albuquerque, New Mexico with her partner, Jim. Her family includes two adult children and their spouses, and three adorable grandchildren.

Dr. Denise R. Ames has written 9 books for the Center for Global Awareness, check out their titles! Global Awareness Books  Email Dr. Ames at drames@global-awareness.org for more information.

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