Sunday, July 5, 2015

Two Tales of One City


ROGER'S TALE...  I am from Indiana.  I must admit that my only experiences with the City of Fort Wayne have been driving past on interstate 69 on the way to Michigan from Indianapolis.  I honestly don't believe that before this week I have ever been to the downtown area.

We are here for a week because Dianne wanted to do some genealogy research in the Allen County Library (downtown Fort Wayne).  The Fort Wayne library is considered to be the second-best in the country for doing this kind of research.  The Mormon library in Salt Lake City is considered the best.  She is determined to disprove my theory that the Norris clan (specifically my third great grandfather) was dropped in Dayton, Ohio sometime in the early 1800s from a space ship.  If my theory is correct (and my alleged alien ancestor and his descendants married Earthlings), then my brother and first cousins on the Norris side would be 1/64th alien.  Dianne wants to disprove this.  I would just like to know what planet or star system they came from.

We are staying at the city campground in Johnny Appleseed Park.  We have found it to really be a pretty nice place; that is, after negotiating the city streets and traffic to get here.

My experiences with TRAFFIC.....  My morning routine this week has been: walk the dogs, have breakfast with Dianne,  do breathing exercises to calm my nerves prior to the frenetic trip to the library, drop Dianne off for the day,  fight the traffic again while trying not to get lost on the way back to the campground, then enjoy a longer walk with the dogs.  When the library closes at 9:00 p.m., I do the same thing all over again when I pick Dianne up.

From my perspective, this is one of the worst places for driving that I have encountered.  About half the streets are one-way (good for locals, bad for visitors who don't have a clue where they are going).  The three rivers that flow through the city result in many streets that do not meet at right angles.  I have missed turns several times because I could not move over to get into the correct lanes.  (And that's not even in the motor home, but in our tiny Toyota -- D.)   The local drivers do not seem to understand the concept of turn signals and, quite honestly, are not all that friendly.  I have been honked at three times, 

almost hit twice, and one time I almost hit a guy that I did not see on a motor cycle.  Adding to all the confusion, there are a LOT of people on the roads, all driving over the speed limit.  Right turns are difficult.  Left turns are virtually impossible.  Driving in Los Angeles and Chicago (where you expect people to be rude) is a breeze compared to what my experiences have been in Fort Wayne.  Maybe there was a reason I had never been in downtown Fort Wayne before...

My experiences with Siri and WAZE....  I have been using WAZE (an app on my phone) for my navigation system while in the car.  WAZE does some strange things with routing from time to time, and I do not always trust her.    

Have you ever had a day when everything seemed to go wrong?   During our first day here I experienced that  involving a sequence of WAZE/Siri miscues.  Here is the story:
(Groan -- not more traffic whining!   However, this is a pretty good story.  -- D.)

I used WAZE to direct me to the library in the morning.  It was not a good drive (see the verbiage above regarding driving in Fort Wayne).  Dianne and I were not having particularly pleasant exchanges during the drive (see verbiage regarding driving in Fort Wayne).  After dropping Dianne off, I intended to buy some food for the week at a grocery store.  I did not know where one was located, and I was parked in a spot that for some unknown reason was supposed to be closed  (see verbiage above regarding driving in Fort Wayne).  I felt pressured to move out of the forbidden parking space in a timely manner, so instead of using WAZE (which would involve some programming)  I decided to use the audio feature on my phone to ask Siri for the location of the nearest grocery.  Siri responded that there was no grocery in the area.  Sigh!  I then asked her to find the nearest Kroger.  She found one two miles away.  I asked her to take me there.  She responded, "OK, Let's go!"  I blindly followed her directions.  After two miles, she told me to continue for two more miles.  Sigh!  After two more miles she told me to proceed on this road for 21 miles.  21 MILES!  Ugh.  I immediately turned right into a strip mall.  Guess what?  There was a Kroger right there in the strip mall.  :-)
(Don't stop reading now, it gets better... -- D.)

In the store I attempted to use the grocery list app on my phone that Dianne and I had previously compiled.   BUT, I could not get Siri off the phone.  She was blocking my access for pulling up the grocery list.  I guess she was mad at me.  I finally did access our list, bought the groceries, and returned to the car for the highly anticipated drive back to the campground.  I decided to definitely not use Siri for the return trip.  I programmed the destination into WAZE.  

Things seeming to be going well until I realized that two different female voices were telling me what to do.  (Neither one of them were Dianne.)

WAZE was taking me back to the campground.  Siri was still trying to send me 21 miles up the road to the phantom Kroger in the other direction!  Fortunately, their voices did not have the same tone.  I listened to WAZE.  I ignored Siri.  This worked well except during those times that they were both talking at the same time.  OK!  I am a guy.  I can follow directions well.  But I cannot process two voices talking over one another at the same time. I just cannot do it.   (Oh, so true... -- D.)

My experiences with falling trees and floods....   Every day while Dianne was at the library, Bandido and Tequila took me for at least two lengthy walks.  We intended to walk along the Fort Wayne Greenway along the St. Joseph's River, and would have except that it was underneath a couple of feet of water.  Late in the week I found a portion of the greenway that was not closed.  I will talk about that later.

Campground playground still under water

It has been raining excessively in Fort Wayne for weeks.  The ground is saturated.  The river, which flows by the campground, is above flood stage.  It seems to have stabilized and is now receding.  There is no future rain in the forecast for a while, so it is not a threat to us.

Flooding Along the St. Joseph's River

There are still plenty of places to walk in Johnny Appleseed Park behind the Fort Wayne Coliseum --- acres and acres of green and manicured grass.  

Fort Wayne Coliseum

It is interesting to see the raging river, knowing that it will not be flooding the campground.

It is a little disconcerting to see all the large trees that have been blown over --- several of them in the campground.  We arrived just after a major storm with extremely high winds.  (Glad we missed it.)  Due to the fact that the ground was already saturated, the wind was able to topple large trees at ground level --- literally pulling them out of the ground by the roots.

This scene was repeated all over town

  I was informed by the campground host upon check-in that one tree had fallen on a tent.  Another tree had knocked down the awning of one RV, while a branch plunged through the ceiling of a third RV.  Thankfully, no one was hurt.  The trees are still laying around the campground like dead bodies at a crime scene. 

The camp site directly across from ours

My experiences with Johnny Appleseed....  I realize that many of my tales of Fort Wayne have been somewhat negative.  I try not to be negative, but sometimes irritating events occur.  However, my next experience is a good one.

My grandfather Norris (possibly 1/16th alien) was a hard-working, cigar smoking, lovable and kind man who lived his life outside of Markleville, Indiana.  He worked in a General Motors factory and ran a small farm with sheep and hogs.  He also maintained a successful orchard.  I have memories of the entire family helping at harvest time along with a few paid workers.  He sold his apples from the "apple house" adjacent to his home (just on the other side of the chicken lot).  When someone honked the horn of their car, he wandered over to his apple house to sell a bushel or two of home-grown apples.  He showed his apples every year at the Indiana State Fair and always brought home ribbons.  One year his apples received the grand champion award.  These were wonderful memories from my youth, but I digress.

The grave of Johnny Appleseed (John Chapman) is on a knoll that is adjacent to our campground.  The dogs and I found it on one of our daily walks.  

In school, we were taught about Johnny Appleseed (part of our heritage).  He was an early pioneer in Indiana.  He was responsible for the propagation of apple orchards in Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.  As new settlers arrived, he sold apple tree saplings for 3 cents (6 1/2 cents if he planted them).  Orchards were a sign of permanence in this unsettled area.  He was a good man who felt the need to serve others.  He was respected by the settlers as well as the Native Americans --- my kind of guy.

Appropriately, the landscaped grave of John Chapman is surrounded by apple trees.  I wonder if any of grandpa's apple trees came (in one way or another) from Johnny Appleseed.  I suspect so.

My experiences with the Fort Wayne Greenway...  OK, as I have been here for a while, and somewhat know my way around town, things seem to be getting better.  

During one of Dianne's "days off" from the library, we discovered a section of the River Greenway (a multi-use trail) that was not closed, AND it was walking distance from our campsite.

We were able to walk the dogs underneath Coliseum Blvd. (very busy) to the IPFW Campus.  IPFW is an acronym for Indiana University,  Purdue University, at Fort Wayne.  Seeing IPFW was interesting to me.  The university now has a Division One men's basketball team that has played my alma mater, Purdue, for the past two years.  I was amazed to learn that it has 40 buildings over almost 300 acres, 13,000+ students, and is now the fifth largest public university in the state of Indiana.

The trail continued through campus to a very nice looking footbridge across the St. Joseph's River.

Crossing the river and hiking to the right, we came upon the university soccer fields.  The university mascot is the mastodon.

Much to Dianne's chagrin, I had to chuckle at the slogan on the scoreboard, feel the RUMBLE.  Really pretty clever.

We re-crossed the bridge on the way back to our campsite.

Whew, unlike Letchworth State Park, we are still on the very-well-marked trail.  

I took a picture of the debris on one of the riverside overlooks --- a reminder that it was under water just a few days ago.


Fort Wayne Greenway, cont'd...

Dianne here...  We managed to pick a week in Fort Wayne when the library would be closed for three days for the July 4th Holiday, which gave me the chance to walk with Roger and the dogs around portions of the Greenway trail system.   We walked three days in a row, and saw different sites each time.

While walking the trails the second day, we saw a larger portion of the college campus.   The trail way along the river showcases native Indiana trees, all marked with signage.  Most of these trees are not found in South Texas, so we enjoyed that trip down memory lane.  

Roger enjoyed the large statue of the mastodon (school mascot) beside the Student Union...

And in front of the building was a unique bike rack for the students...

Along the way we passed several gardens:  a children's garden, a community garden, and one showcasing native Indiana plantings.   

We enjoyed the second day's hike so much that we walked the same direction on day three, only seeing more of the impressive college campus buildings along the way.

The following photo gives a glimpse of how well maintained and lovely the trail system really is:
It goes on for miles and miles and miles, connecting to other city parks

Dianne's Adventures in Genealogy:

As Roger indicated, the whole reason for our visit to Fort Wayne was to allow me to access the Allen County Public Library.   It really is an awesome resource!  I won't bore you with my research, but will show you the facilities:

Modern, well-planned facility
Entrance to the Genealogy Wonderland on the second floor
Just one of many large study areas; all tables have outlets for your electronics.

The reason the room above looks so empty is that I was the last patron to leave at around 8:45 pm.   With the library closed for three days for the holiday during our visit, I had to really make the most use of my days!  I went home brain-dead every evening -- it's a good thing Roger drove me (see the verbiage above regarding driving in Fort Wayne).
Showing just a fraction of the bookshelves and microfilm cabinets.

I didn't even photograph the banks of computers for use by visitors, giving access to web sites that are normally pay-for-view, like and Fold3.  I also didn't photograph the room filled with microfilm and microfiche readers.  I spent one full afternoon in that room and nearly made myself nauseous scrolling through Ohio tax records from the 1820-1830 time frame.  (Those of you who have done this know what I mean.)  

I packed myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich each day, which I'd eat in the lobby during a quick break around 5:00 p.m.  Lunch was spent at the Dunkin' Donuts located on the first floor of the library:

My far-from-nutritous lunch each day

I l-o-v-e donuts, and I normally don't eat them at all (for obvious reasons).  I felt like I was playing hooky each day at the library, having my forbidden donut for lunch.

These are the books I found just on the Norris family.  There is one whole room of the genealogy section filled with bookshelves containing nothing but books on specific family histories.  It took a full morning for me to search through all of these books (to no avail). 

I even found my own name listed in the Perley and Phoebe Mitchell books!  (To my cousins, you're in there, too).   William Mitchell (the top book) is my great-great grandfather, who fought in the Civil War.  This book contained copies of dozens of hand-written letters he wrote to family members in the 1800s.   I photographed all of them and plan to enjoy reading them when I get a chance.

I have one final day at the library tomorrow before we leave Fort Wayne on Tuesday morning.   I'm beginning to actually believe Roger's ancestors were dropped out of the sky in Dayton, Ohio in the 1820s, 'cause I sure can't find them!   I feel a side trip to Dayton, Ohio in our RV future before we head back to Texas....  (Roger's turn to groan....)

We took several pet pictures during our stay here.  Our guys really liked our large and grassy campsite.  Lots of squirrels, chipmunks and birds, and a nice picnic table for relaxing, so here are several "pet pictures of the day."

My head is SO heavy...

OK, I guess my outdoor bed is comfy...

This picnic table is pretty comfy, too...

...But not as comfy as my bed (especially with my
 favorite ball and blankie).

Dozing off on a lazy day


klbexplores said...

Having just left Elkhart, I believe you....I was honked at for doing the speed limit in a construction zone. Loved the doggie pics which deserve their own blog edition....10 ways to enjoy a nap!

heyduke50 said...

hmmmm I think I will avoid Ft. Wayne...

Nancy and Bill said...

This post of toooo funny;o)) Bill has had issues with hearing female voices also!!! I believe you and Bill must be related. You most likely are from the same alien ancestors group who arrived by spaceship. That crooked little finger is a definite sign;o))