Category Archives: Geography

Scenes on Sunday ~ Durham, England

Durham; half church of God, half castle against the Scot.

The City of Durham was founded in 995 AD, although I guess there were people living there for centuries before the monks arrived to ‘officially’ found Durham City.  Building work on the spectacularly imposing Norman cathedral was begun in 1093 AD, but there was an earlier Anglo-Saxon cathedral on the site for about 100 years before that.

History is always written by the winners.

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jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

get a book about Durham

 

 

 

The first picture of the cathedral is a stock photo, the tower was covered in scaffold when I was there.

In medieval times touching the door knocker gave criminals sanctuary.

I used to drink in that pub when I was a younger man. 

Food on Friday~ Mediterranean

Good food begins and ends with good talk.

Some say that a Mediterranean diet is good for you.  And, that if you eat a mostly Mediterranean diet you’ll be healthier and live longer.  All I know is that you should always have a really good extra virgin olive oil.

From Greece, tzatziki is basically a mixture of yogurt, cucumber, olive oil, garlic, and mint, and you can buy it from your local store, or you can even make your own.  The Bojon Gourmet has this nice little farro and cucumber salad with feta, dill, and mint that not only would be nice with some tzatziki, but also combines its flavours.  Both would go nicely with some grilled goat.

Farro and Cucumber Salad with Feta, Dill, and Mint

And now, from Heidi at foodiecrush we have this outrageous herbacious Mediterranean chickpea salad.  (I had to include this just for the name of the dish.)

Outrageous Herbacious Mediterranean Chickpea Salad

From Heather Christo this week we have Mediterranean pasta with grilled swordfish, lemons and gremolata.  Gremolata is also dead easy to make for yourself. (I love grilled swordfish, but some say we shouldn’t buy swordfish ~ I will go on eating it, because whatever I do won’t affect how much fish the Japanese rape from the sea.)  This 25 minute dish is perfect for a barbecue with the kind of friend who doesn’t expect a burned burger in a cheap bun.

Mediterranean Pasta with Grilled Swordfish, Lemons, and Gremolata

Sardines are a quintessentially Mediterranean dish, and Petra from Food Eat Love has some super taste combinations in this dish of fresh sardines, roast baby beets with whipped avocado and feta.  As you’d expect it’s the beetroot that going to take the longest to cook here.

Fresh Sardines, Roast baby Beets with Whipped Avocado and Feta

This is another Mediterranean dish I love, grilled lamb kebabs, this time from Tieghan Gerard at Half Baked Harvest.  (Do you want to know my own secret ingredient for grilling Mediterranean style?  7Up ~ when the charcoal gets too hot and the meat looks like it might burn, I sprinkle 7Up over the grill.)  Tieghan’s is a half-hour dish, but one should really marinade the lamb overnight.

Mediterranean Grilled Lamb Kebabs

Dana at The Minimalist Baker has the ultimate Mediterranean bowl, looks fabulous, and it’s easy, healthy, and gluten-free.  However, I would definitely add a little more extra virgin olive oil.

The Ultimate Mediterranean Bowl

For hose of us who like recipe collections, Olive magazine has 19 of the best Mediterranean recipes, including this cod, cherry tomato, and green olive tray roast.  Looks smashing doesn’t it.

Cod Cherry Tomato and Green Olive Tray Roast

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jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

get yourself a cookery book

A Mediterranean Diet is Good for You

Is there anything a Mediterranean Diet can’t cure?

Specifically, I wonder if a Mediterranean diet can help to cure this terrible head-cold I’ve suddenly contracted?  Or more likely stop me from catching a cold in the first place? Well yes it could ~ but only if I really upped the amount of raw garlic I eat.

A diet rich in oily fish, fresh vegetables, olive oil, garlic, and nuts protects our bodies and our brains, especially as we get older.  However, to get the most benefit from a Mediterranean diet we also need to cut down on alcohol ~ one drink a day for women, (try not to spill it, and drink red wine, not white), and one or two drinks a day for men.  Lucky for me I don’t drink at all these days.  But, a glass of red wine every day is actually very good for you.

It isn’t only the Mediterranean peoples who ate that type of diet, the Vikings did too, and nobody ever accused a viking of being a sickly wuss.

Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.  ~  Hippocrates

People from the Mediterranean region have longer life expectancies and are generally healthier than people from Northern Europe and the United States of America.  The United Kingdom ranks 19th and the USA 31st in terms of average life expectancy, (out of 183 counties listed).

People from around the sunny Mediterranean have lower risks of suffering; Alzheimer’s disease,  type 2 diabetes, cancers, colitis, depression, heart diseases, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, pancreatitis, and strokes.  Trust me, you do not want to get type 2 diabetes, and you really, really, don’t want to have a stroke.

A proper Mediterranean diet isn’t all baguettes, pizza, pasta, and roasted lamb with lots of herbs.  A healthy Mediterranean diet consists of the region’s fruits, vegetables, (especially leafy greens like spinach), seafood, olive oil, cheese, and a couple of glasses of a robust red wine.  These are all anti-inflammatory foods.

But you also need to add a lot of fresh air, sunshine, and lots of physical activity to the mixture to obtain the most benefits.  If you are not already doing so, then you should walk 10,000 steps a day, both to improve your health and help prevent an early death.

Modern scientific evidence suggests that many, (some), of the health benefits of a Mediterranean diet accrue directly from all the good olive oil included in just about every recipe, dish, meal eaten around the Mare Nostrum.

Olive oil is full of monounsaturated fatty acids, (MUFAs), which are supposed to be good for you ~ at least the Mayo Clinic says that MUFAs are good for you.  In fact the well-respected Mayo Clinic says that olive oil is good for you ~ in moderation.

So; your Mediterranean diet should include;

  • The very best extra virgin olive oil you can get.  Extra virgin olive oil is the healthiest fat on Earth.  Only ever buy extra virgin olive oil.
  • Fresh fish.  The oily fish such as salmon, trout, mackerel, pilchards, and sardines are full of vitamins D, B, omega 3 fatty acids, and selenium.  Eating oily fish a couple of times a week is said to help prevent; arthritis, cardiovascular diseases, dementia, prostate cancer, schizophrenia, and blindness / impaired vision.
  • Green fruits and vegetables.  It seems that eating green plant stuff can reduce the risk of cancer, helps maintain strong bones and good teeth, and promotes the health of your eyesight in your senior years.  Popeye was right all along, spinach is good for you ~ and so are kale and dandelion leaves.
  • Garlic.  Everyone knows that Mediterranean people eat a lot of garlic.  The Ancient Egyptians used garlic as a medicine.  Hippocrates, the father of medicine, prescribed a hell of a lot of garlic.  The health benefits of garlic include; fighting off allergies, keeping bacterial and viral infections at bay, improving your skin, prevents colds and sore throats, reduces the risk of thrombosis, lowers blood pressure, reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases, helps prevent type 2 diabetes, reduces cancer risks, helps beat anaemia, and improves your sex life, (if she can stand the smell).  If you can manage it, eat raw garlic, especially if you have dental problems.
  • Nuts and seeds.  Walnuts, almonds and other nuts are good for your heart.  It seems nuts and seeds contain lots of unsaturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids, plant sterols, fibre, vitamin E, and something called L-arginine.  Allegedly L-arginine does wonders for your sex life.
  • A glass of a robust red wine, (when I was drinking I would always choose an Italian red).  The health benefits of red wine were known as far back as the ancient Egyptians.  It seems a regular glass of red wine boosts heart health, lowers bad cholesterol, reduces the risk of degenerative diseases, helps reduce he risks of type 2 diabetes, stops you being so obese, and may prevent Alzheimer’s

However, some things about the Mediterranean lifestyle are very, very bad for you. Men from the Mediterranean coasts of; Spain, France, Corsica, Italy, Greece, (and less desirable places like Slovenia, Bosnia, Croatia and Albania), smoke far too much, drive like maniacs in unroadworthy heaps, drive when they’re drunk, and sleep in the afternoons when they’re drunk.  In medieval Hell-Holes like Turkey, Syria, Morocco, Algeria, Libya, and Egypt you will just get ripped off and / or assaulted / shot / blown up.

And yet, parts of the Mediterranean are among the most beautiful, most magical, most spiritual places on this Mother Earth.  Guys, take your girl there, soon and often.

I’m glad I am a woman who once danced naked in the Mediterranean Sea at Midnight.  ~  Mercedes McCambridge

A Mediterranean Diet is not only good for you, it has some utterly fabulous, great tasting recipes.  Mix Mediterranean with Paleo and you may well have the perfect diet for your health, fitness, well-being, and gustatory satisfaction.

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jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

get robust red wine delivered

Scenes on Sunday ~ the Getty Villa

Overlooking the Pacific, north of Sunset, on the PCH…

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jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

 

 

get the book at Amazon

Old Wives’ Tales are True ~ Mostly

Folklore connects us with the wisdom of centuries past.

Modern science has ‘proved’ that old-fashioned weather lore is pretty accurate ~ for England anyhow, and what Gentleman really cares about any place but England?  We shouldn’t call them old wives’ tales because much true ancient lore comes from sailors, soldiers, and farmers.  Weather lore is often very accurate.  And while older people often give good advice, the wisdom of ages past, seniors don’t much like taking advice from the young.

Advice in old age is foolish; for what can be more absurd than to increase our provisions for the road the nearer we approach to our journey’s end.  ~  Marcus Tullius Cicero.

Going back beyond Roman Times, our oral history is full of rhymes, anecdotes, adages, warnings, and axioms.  They wouldn’t have lasted this long if there wasn’t a lot of truth in them.

  • Red sky at night, sailors delight.  This appears in the Bible, where it relates to shepherds.  It means that if the sky is red at sunset, then tomorrow will be a fine day ~ and this is mostly accurate.  In fact this saying is utterly reliable when the weather comes in mostly from the west, as happens in Great Britain.
  • Mackerel sky and mares tails make tall ships carry low sails.  If there are high clouds that look like the scales of a fish, (altocumulus), and / or streaky clouds like a horse’s tail, (cirrus), then we are due for a storm with high winds within the day ~ allegedly.  As it goes, this is always true.  A prudent skipper will be ready to shorten sail if he sees a mackerel sky.
  • St. Swithun’s Day.  If it rains on St. Swithun’s day then it will rain for the next 40 days and nights.  This lore, and the poem that goes with it can be traced back to the 14th Century, but probably goes as far back as the 9th Century in Southern England.  It’s mostly not true ~ we never get 40 days and nights of consistent weather in England.  However, St Swithun’s Day, (or St. Swithin’s Day), is on July 15th, and you can guarantee that if it does rain on that day England will have a wash-out of a summer.  As a matter of fact, it rained all day here on St. Swithun’s day this year, and the weather has been very wet ever since then.
  • It’s too cold for snow.  In England this saying is true.  It can be too cold for it to snow.  Actually the whole saying is a misconception, it should really be ‘it’s too dry to snow’.  Very cold air is always dry air, because only warmer air will carry water vapour, and you need water vapour in the air to have snow.  It almost never snows in bitterly cold Antarctica.
  • A ring around the moon means rain or snow is coming soon.  This is very true, and also applies to predicting the arrival of a hurricane.  The ring around the moon, (less frequently a ring around the sun), is due to ice crystals forming in cirrus clouds in the high atmosphere.  If you remember cirrus clouds are also the mare’s tails that predict storms.
  • A stitch in time saves nine.  This saying goes at least as far back as the 18th century in England, and it’s completely true, relevant today, and utterly applicable to our lives.  What is means is that if you sort out a small problem now, it will save you from it growing into a much bigger problem in the future.  It is exactly analogous to that other saying One year’s seeds is seven years weeds, which appears in Shakespeare’s Richard II.  Ignore a small problem and it will soon grow into a great big problem.  Ignore acorns and before you know where you are you will be up to your armpits in oak trees.
  • There will be the devil to pay.  Meaning that if we do something very bad there will be terrible consequences later.  This is always true.  This saying has nothing whatsoever to do with Satan ~ like many English epigrams it has maritime origins.  ‘The Devil’ was the longest seam on a planked wooden ship, and ‘Paying’ means caulking.  If you’ve ever done it you’ll know that caulking a seam on a boat is a heartless task, involving thick string-like stuff, tar, a special caulking chisel, a hammer, and a lot of time.

A hell of a lot of English folklore goes back at least as far as the Roman occupation of Britain; for example ‘If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need’.  This saying is supposedly from Marcus Tullius Cicero, who died in 43 BC.

The snag with using folklore for your weather forecasts is that you don’t get to see the cute weather girls on TV.  Seems a guy can’t have everything.

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jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

 

 

check out this book

an unexpected purchase

In August I will be taking a long vacation in the USA to witness the forthcoming total eclipse of the sun, which happens on August 21st.

For various reasons I will be flying out to John Wayne Airport, in Orange County, California ~ and then taking a long, long road trip from Orange County to Jackson Wyoming.  It’s about 1,000 miles through California, Nevada, and Utah to get to Jackson Wyoming.  I’ll be driving a Mustang convertible.

Ergo, I’ve just bought myself a Sat-Nav, or Satellite Navigation device, or GPS ~ depending on which version of English you use.  And you know what?  I swore I would never use an in-car sat-nav / GPS.

But, America is a big place and I have no desire to get lost in the wilds of Utah.

So there you go, amazingly you can buy a USA maps sat-nav / GPS from Amazon in the UK for less than $100.

Just to be safe, I’ll also be buying a paper map ~ and a new camera.

jack collier

jackcollier7.com

click the link

Islamic Terrorism Escalates

Terrorism is a significant threat to peace and security.

In some places I could be prosecuted for a hate crime, or at least be accused of racism, for even using the term Islamic Terrorism.  The simple fact is, the number of unspeakable acts of violence perpetrated by Muslims purporting to support Radical Islamic organisations such as ISIS / Daesh, has increased exponentially in recent months.  It’s terrorism, done by Muslims, and just lately a lot of innocent men, women, and children have died because of it.  The Muslim Terrorists are proud of what they do, and have no sympathy for the people they kill and maim.

Whether most Muslims are peaceable is irrelevant.  The fact is that fanatics rule Islam now and act-out what the Qur’an truly says… maul, march, murder every infidel if they won’t convert.  ~  Gary Patton

Since the horrific events in Paris on Friday November 13th 2015, when 130 people were killed, there have been terror attacks right across Europe, America, and the Middle East.  These terribly memorable events go on, and on, and on.

On 19th December 2016 a truck was driven into crowds of innocent shoppers at the Christmas Market in Berlin.

On Wednesday March 22nd 2017, an SUV raced through pedestrians walking across Westminster Bridge in London, before crashing into the gates of the Houses of Parliament.

On Saturday April 8th 2017, a hijacked heavy truck was deliberately driven through a crowd of pedestrians, including young children in Stockholm, before crashing into a department store.

The left-leaning, and ever so tolerant, Metropolitan Liberal Elite keep to their mantra that Muslims are not terrorists.  Tell that to the families of those killed in the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and aboard the four hijacked airliners on September 11th 2001.

Or come to London and tell that to the families of those killed and maimed on Public Transport on July 7th 2005.

It’s not just in Europe and North America that Muslims kill the Kafir.  Yesterday, Sunday April 9th 2017, Palm Sunday, two bombs exploded in Chuches in Egypt.  Many Muslims in Egypt and all across the Middle East hate their own Coptic Christian minority populations just as much as they hate other Christians.  Egypt is a popular tourist destination, but the whole country is quite dangerous, up to and including your flight out of it.

The list of terror attacks committed by Muslim extremists goes on, and on, and on.  Civilised Peoples cannot ever appease extremist religious terrorists, we cannot negotiate with extremist religious terrorists, and we can never win their hearts and minds.

Right now, there are some places in the world I would not like to visit, unless my trip was essential.  Among these countries are; Turkey, Syria, Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and the soft tourist target of Morocco.  If I was unfortunate enough to have a non-essential trip booked to any part of the Middle East, I would seriously reconsider my options.  Going on a vacation isn’t worth risking my health and life on a bad bet.  Neither would I be keen on travel to Berlin, Brussels, or Stockholm for a while.  At the moment I would only go into parts of Central London if I had to.

This world has always been a dangerous place.  I am afraid that it’s becoming more and more dangerous by the hour.

Let’s all be careful out there.

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jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

America and England

two nations divided by a common language

A couple of days ago in travel broadens the mind I listed some strange things about the average American’s of idea leaving America and visiting England.  Mostly it doesn’t happen, most Americans never leave the Americas, mostly American’s think Mexico is ‘foreign’ enough.  Just to be fair, here are some complementary and contradictory facts about the unbalanced social interactions between the uneducated American and the ignorant Englishman.

For a start there are some things that Americans just do not understand about the English;

  • Apologising needlessly.  The English will say ‘sorry’ even if they’re not in the wrong and it’s an American who’s trodden on their foot.  This is confusing to Americans, but don’t worry it just means that Englishmen can be unbearably polite.  Nobody is going to sue anyone.  In contrast, underneath their superficial politeness most Americans would just as soon shoot you.
  • English Accents.  When I was a kid I could tell to within a few miles where someone came from by the way they spoke.  Even towns as close together as Sunderland and Newcastle upon Tyne, (10 miles), still have totally different accents.  Honestly, to English ears there are only three American accents, so don’t expect an Englishman to know you’re from Nebraska, or Canada.  Anyhow, most Americans think the language is called ‘American’.
  • Strange and strong-tasting ‘Foods’ are to be found in England, and not eaten elsewhere.   I cite Marmite, Brown Sauce, and Bovril.  On the other hand, in the USA I’ve eaten stuff that would make a goat sick; I cite grits, and American bacon which you have to grill until it snaps to make it edible.  English people do not willingly eat real Mexican / Latin American food, which looks like dog puke.  Most English people think most American food is only fit for the trash.  An Englishman shouldn’t try to explain black pudding to an American.
  • Pubs.  The traditional English pub is nothing like an American Bar.  A real English pub is more like the landlord’s front room, and some things are just not allowed ~ for example sitting at the bar, talking to people you don’t know, and running a tab.  Not a chance.  Some acceptable behaviour in American Bars would have you thrown out of an English pub ~ and maybe arrested for sexual harassment.
  • English Reserve.  The English will not strike up a conversation, or even speak with, someone they haven’t been introduced to.  The English will not speak to people they don’t know in lifts, (elevators), on public transport, in the street, in bars and restaurants, or during any other chance encounter.  In fact the English do not speak at all in elevators and on public transport at all.  The English never, ever hug, and a handshake is to be used only sparingly and with care.  Americans don’t seem to care who they talk to.
  • English Understatement.  The English are in no way effusive.  The way the average American ‘goes overboard‘ all the time is childishly offensive to the average Englishman.  In contrast, if an Englishman says ‘nice’ that’s high praise indeed.  English people will poke fun at themselves, Americans don’t.
  • Sports.  By and large the English do not play, and have no interest whatsoever in; baseball, basketball, ice hockey, and what the Americans call football.  The English play cricket, football, (soccer), and Rugby.  In England your social class can be determined by which sport you like; only chavs like soccer.  Wearing your team colours is beneath contempt among polite Englishmen.
  • Religion.  Unlike in the United States of America, there is an official state religion in England ~ The Church of England.  English people do not go to church, and never, ever talk about religion.
  • The Royal Family.  An Englishman will be contemptuous of and roundly criticise every member of the Royal Family, with the exception of the Queen.  Normally a well-mannered Englishman will discuss the Monarch only with the utmost loyalty and courtesy.

If you are American want to impress an Englishman, then just don’t be overtly American, unless you are actually in America.  For an Englishman, the one and only impressive thing about America is that it’s big.

On the other hand, if you are a real Englishman you will not want or need to try to impress anyone.

Most American women are cute, smart, well-groomed, intelligent, and well-educated.  Until they get into a bar, when they sometimes transform into loud skanks who like karaoke.  Most American men are jerks.  Most English women try too hard, and a real English Gentleman doesn’t feel he needs to try at all.

trump_my_other_plane_is_airforceoneDespite the fact that the English and Americans almost share a common language and a common culture, we are as different as chalk and cheese.  If you are in an across the pond relationship, then expect constant misunderstandings, friction, and disagreement.  For example, it will surprise most English people that Americans actually care about politics.  In contrast most English people don’t give a damn about Trump, Clinton, global warming, pipelines, transgender identities…

Personally, I’d have to say that nothing has really changed since 1776.

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flagjack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

travel broadens the mind

To travel is to take a journey into yourself.

Doing a little research on something else, I was bored enough to read a narrow-minded American’s opinion of visit to England, which pissed me off somewhat.  Here are some real facts about Americans;

64% of Americans do not own a passport.

In states such as; Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, and South Carolina only about 25% of US citizens own a valid passport.

When most Americans visit another country it’s to either Mexico or Canada.

Annually, less than 5% of Americans travel overseas.

More than half of all Americans have never been outside of America.

Most Americans have not been to more than 5 US states.

Many Americans have never been more than 100 miles from where they were born.

The commonest complaints of Americans visiting England are;

  • ‘the bacon is terrible…’
  • ‘few ethnicities are represented in London cuisine…’
  • ‘there is no Mexican or Latin American food in Britain…’
  • ‘British people are cold and hard to befriend…’
  • ‘the London subway is unreliable…’
  • ‘the British are obsessed with the Queen and Royal Family…’
  • ‘it always rains in England…’
  • ‘the English drive on the wrong side of the road…’
  • ‘British cars are undrivable…’
  • ‘free healthcare is such a stupid idea…’
  • ‘British TV sucks…’
  • ‘refrigerators and washing machines are very small…’
  • ‘there’s no dress code…’
  • ‘black people are just people…’
  • ‘they eat with their forks upside down…’

SFairportI’ve travelled all over the world, I’ve worked, lived, and had many vacations in the United States, I have some close friends in America, and none of the above surprises me one little bit.  American culture is so in-your-face and all-pervasive, (you only had to watch the recent Oscars ceremony to realise that), that all Americans think the rest of the world is just like America ~ trust me, it isn’t.

In addition, working Americans are allowed and take so few vacation days, (average 10 days a year), that the idea of visiting some of the great cultural sites in Europe just never crosses their minds.

The whole world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a single page.  ~  Saint Augustine

Which is why it does not surprise me that;

  • Middle America elected Donald Trump as their President.
  • Americans are obsessed with social media like Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook.
  • More than 80% of Americans believe in conspiracy theories, and that the Government has kept secrets about UFOs.
  • More than 85% of Americans believe in one or more of; aliens, flying saucers, angels, astrology, extra-sensory-perception, Big Foot, ghosts, reincarnation, the healing power of crystals, witchcraft, that they can win money in Las Vegas casinos, and that winning the lottery is a viable financial plan.
  • Over 75% of Californians believe that more than 25% of Americans are Gay or Lesbian, (the true figure is 3.5% of Americans are LGBT).
  • 25% of Americans believe in creation theory and that the Earth is the centre of the universe.
  • 25% of Americans believe they won their Independence from a country other than Great Britain.
  • All Americans feel they need a planned and fixed itinerary before setting off on their travels.

A good traveller has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.  ~  Lao Tzu

To a well-travelled, well-read, and well-educated Englishman like me, it’s very sad that most Americans are like a Monday morning quarterback ~ they think they can talk a good game, but mostly they talk bullshit.  Actually, it’s worse than that, most Americans think their opinions matter to others.  They need to get out into the world a bit more.

And in England, ‘Trump’ is still another word for ‘Fart’.

Have a nice day.

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flagjack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

Scenes on Sunday ~ Mt. San Jacinto

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway & Mt. San Jacinto

just a time being you and me

cool at the top of the mountain

that’s where we both want to be

long way to the top of the mountain

at the top the air is crystal clear to see

a far piece from the top of the mountain

the majestic view of land and town still free

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better if a cool guy isn’t afraid of heights

words and pictures by jack collier and the girl riding shotgun

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

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