TRAVELS WITH SISTER CLARICE


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The latest adventures of our good friend, a Dominican nun

Dear Ones,

The time does flit, flitter, flittest. Here it is 5/21/2001. Arrived here from Houston on 5/12. If I have the dates correct left Houston on 5/7. It was quite a trip!! Drove through Turkey AND spent the night in Cuba. Oh, well!

1st day: Bye to my gracious Sisters at Rose Lynch Convent, Mass at St. Dominic's VILLAGE chapel, then head West into the sunset - - well, first North - around Fort Worth with skyscrapers in the distance. Since I did not want to reach Amarillo, stopped rather early in Childres, large enough to have a Catholic Church, did, Church of the Angels. Parked under shade of two trees for the night and through the front upper windows could look up into the leaves.

2nd day: Next morning's Mass was a private one - just me answering. I make it a practice not to take my reading glasses (Macfrugal's best, $3) so that my answer to reading is - No glasses. (Just waiting for a priest to say, 'Here, use mine.') Afterward passing the prison and zinging along and there is the sign ' Turkey City (?) Limits'. The buildings were unrestored Western with overhang from stores to raised sidewalk and square wooden pillars each with a life-size cowboy either standing, lounging, or slumped. Two blocks -- out of town. U-ey and back to only store with sign -- OPEN. It was a dry goods store (meaning to the less old folks - department store). The owner? came from across the street to sell me 3 postal cards $.75 each. Turkey was the home of Western singer and composer, Bob Wills, King of Western music, who wrote 'Deep in the Heart of Texas', etc. There is a large granite memorial at least 24 feet high topped with a guitar (?) having a bow across the strings in his memory plus an annual day in his honor. Yawl come.

Off of the next town, Quitaque, was the state park - Caprock Canyons. (By the way unlike California, Texas State Parks are free to seniors - good to be old.) The road descends about 2,200 feet into the canyon for viewing some colored rock formations, etc. There are campsites, trails. The park is the official home of a buffalo herd, unseen by me.

Then on to the much larger and quite beautiful Palo Duro Canyon State Park which has six river crossings (with posts showing the heights of the water) on the road in the canyon so there is much vegetation. From the overlook at the entrance one views such formations as Lighthouse, Spanish Skirts. There are many campsites and a large natural amphitheatre in which the play Texas is featured from the month of June. This amphitheatre will also be used for the 75th anniversary celebration of the diocese of Amarillo.

Then drove and drove west into New Mexico, through Albuquerque's road construction in four o'clock traffic turning North looking for night's stop. Nothing at San Yisdero, finally CUBA. Neat white picket fence in front of parking area for Church AND school (which is desperately looking for teachers in an ideal layout). Trucks rumbling by all night but good sleep.

3rd day.(Frustrating day) Surprised at number of men at Mass. School children also there. Reason turned north: looking for Chaco Canyon road -- for those not in the know, Chaco has fantastic buildings, not dwellings, used for ???. Here is the rub, as was told by locals -- twenty miles of washboard entrance road in and the same coming out after rambling from ruin to ruin. Serious thoughts. So started out on road-construction-in-progress highway and missed sign for Chaco canyon. Well, you knew that my angel was always busy!! Arrived in Farmington and back tracked on different highway 371 to I40. Tried Bista Wilderness --pictures out-of-the-ordinary -- nuttin with reasonable walking distance. Day wasted. Crossed continental divide couple of times. (By the way off I10 one can pass and repass the continental divide. Great geography lessons. I went over it ? times.) Had visited so much of NM before so on through Gallup into Arizona, waved at Petrified Forest, Grand Canyon, etc., to Seligman for night, confused about time because AZ does not use daylight and such. The priest was from Poland which as you know I had visited. He had planted a number of trees on the grounds and was tending them in this desert climate. There was a railroad switching station in the town - no sweat, slept.

4th day. After 9 o'clock Mass the ladies gathered in the adjoining hall for coffee and the like. It was friendly and gave a feeling for the life of the town. Off again, hotter and hotter, then stupidly I let my gas run low and arrived in Needles without air-conditioning. (Sr J and I roasted at 129 degrees near there) HOT. So through Boron (yes, twenty teams),Mojave, headed for I5 and home, but turned on I99 headed for where? Yosemite. Night at Mariposa (butterfly) where the service man cleaned my windshield of bugs, hard seeing out. Night in Mariposa churchyard next to cemetery.

5th day. Mostly couples at rosary and Mass. Friendly. (S. A we had breakfast at the Burger King where we ate Thanksgiving morn. It's your story!) So on to gorgeous, delightful Yosemite. This entrance is the best since one travels along the river. Long years ago Sisters Antoinette, Geraldine, and I saw snow on the boulders in the river - and snow in the valley, more stories.
At the ranger station was informed how to put my name on list for possible cancellations. Did, to report at 3. Caught bus, saw the valley. WOW. Falls at fullest. Dogwood everywhere. No wonder foreigners travel to such an out of the way place. So many languages of bus and trails.
Back to report AND was given a camping spot. Big family gathering, about 30, next to me. Went to reassure them that after railroad clanging the past night in Seligman would welcome hearing their happiness. They pulled me into their circle, made me welcome, insisted that I join their games. Fun and laughter.

6th day. Saturday Back to San Jose. BIG welcome from Tommy and Alicia Sanchez. Thankful Mass at 5.

PS I'm closing this on Memorial Day. At 9 am gave in, too cool, donned a jacket. Flag is waving. Apricots are ripening, figs are beginning, persimmons promise a big crop. Roses bloomed out while gone, now clipped back, Bird of Paradise on altar in chapel.

 


San Jose Camp in the Sierras

On July 11, 1999, a neighbor who had asked me to go with her, Amelia T, and I set off for the Sierras to spend 3 plus days at the San Jose Family Camp. The camp is off the northern entrance to Yosemite, about 15 miles. Amelia brought coffee and pastry to eat on the way. The camp is about 150-160 miles from San Jose, not all freeway. We made a slight detour to find the Saint Patrick's Church in Sonora which is on the 49er gold rush trail now highway. There must have been many Irishmen among the miners signaled by the number of St. Patrick's churches.

On the way there we swung back and forth and up in second on the New Priest's grade - the original Old Priest's Road is much steeper and seeing the natives who were using it on our last day I tried it, too, no big trucks carrying asphalt, buses or large motor homes. I'm going to try to find how it received its name,

About noon we arrived at the camp straddling the Middle Fork of the Tuolumne River which formed the swimming pool, small beaches under trees, and a highway for the rubber rafts of the children. SJFC is an ideal vacation spot for families - the children can safely scamper around, swim, raft, craft, archer, etc., AND fish. Yes, adults and children were catching trout so the river must be well stocked for this to go on day after day. While the children went their ways the adults could relax on chairs and lounges on a sandy beach. A grassy area or on a tree covered large patio. The best part for the mothers is that 3 varied meals are provided each day. Hey, no cooking or dishwashing.

We had not returned from Mass in Sonora for breakfast but found various eatables on a table outside the dining room even fresh muffins of various sorts. There is a baker and she makes the muffins, bread, cakes, and pies. We took a substantial bag lunch with us on sightseeing excursions. Evidently the lunch at the camp was cafeteria style but the dinner was served. The first night was American - tender slices of ham, mashed potatoes, salad, vegetables with cake for dessert. The second night was Mexican - salad, delicious enchiladas with rice and beans and a great custard for dessert. The third was Italian - salad, vegetables, huge platters of spaghetti with sauce and meatballs, also pasta with cheese sauce (I think the dessert was ice-cream). We left before the barbecue on Wednesday.

We slept in tent cabins with a deck and on cots that swayed in the middle. The so-called beds were the only uncomfortable part of the facilities. We put down our sleeping bags to take part of the sway. The restrooms were close and clean. At night we could hear the river it was so refreshing.

Northern California was having a heat wave and we were uncomfortable. In the late afternoon we sat on our private little beach by the river to use its coolness. (When we returned to San Jose the weather broke so the days have been cool and I regretted taking off my electric blanket.)

Each day Amelia and I went on an excursion. On Monday we crossed Tioga Pass seeing a few snow patches where we were and more on the mountains. We had our lunches by a small lake looking at the beautiful scenery, then continued to Mono Lake to see the unique calcium pillars and fairy formations which must have risen 30 or so feet in the air. At the visitors center where Sister Joanna and I went through the interesting museum and saw a movie about the lake for free. Wonderful for children, spellbinding and educational. Now there was a fee for each and the park fees have increased; those are our parks and the people should be able to enjoy and use them. It seems the Congress in its stupidity decided on fees to gauge the reaction. There were some protest cards which I took.

On Tuesday we went to find Cherry Lake. What a disappointment! There is only a boat ramp and no tables. We sat on a big log and had our lunch peering at the blue lake through trees. The road there was steep, steep up, down and down, up. Many times in first otherwise in second. I chose another way back which was longer and not so steep. End. Scenery was mostly green trees.

On Wednesday we made our way home by going into gorgeous Yosemite Valley. We rode the free valley bus around taking in all the sights and enjoying all the accents. Afterwards we had a late lunch on a table by the river, lovely spot. It was entertaining watching the large rafts go by and the youngsters jumping off the bridge into the river - just people watching except for feeding the crusts to the birds and a squirrel. Our last stop was at the foot of Yosemite Falls. Breathtaking view of the water as it waved in the breeze.

So home at about 8 pm. Tired but refreshed and glad to have had the outing. Remember some of you asked for an account.


 Pilgrimages in New Mexico, Arizona and California 1999

My first outing was a 10 day pilgrimage to places in New Mexico, Arizona and California. Someone said that a pilgrimage is a journey to holy places where heaven has touched earth. My journeys have been thought of as educational but some have been taken in the spirit of Chaucer and therein lies the difference in spirit. The latter though preferred just enhances the joy of travel.

On the first morning in Santa Fe I had a crash course: how to become unpopular with 34 strangers--During the night there was a magnificent snowfall--the grounds, the bushes, the trees clothed in soft, fluffy, white. My ohs and ahs were met by stony silence from my companions who had fled an untimely blizzard at the conclusion of a long hard winter. My exclamations were quickly changed to soft grunts which only my delightful and understanding roommate (from South Dakota) heard.

Two of my favorites were the Sanctuary of Chimayo and the Mission San Jose de Laguna, NM. The first because it was so simple and so far off the beaten to attract so many people. The Mission was part of the Laguna reservation but again though off the highway 'in the middle of nowhere'. Indians were working on the grounds getting ready for 300th anniversary while inside women were repairing the earthen and tile floor. The Indian art was particularly attractive. Some of the high spots are Conquistadora in Santa Fe with beautiful robes much loved, and St. Joseph's staircase built with no nails.

In California each mission such as El Camino Real, had a different message. Also were interesting churches, meals in picturesque spots, Temecula winery, Hotel Coronado dinner (wow), and closing in Capistrano for their big celebration for St. Joseph's feast. Quite festive. (We searched for the swallows!!.) The California weather was terrible.

Now for the second trip. The beginning was a mess. At the airport in Providence, Rhode Island, the reservation desk report: NO rooms in the whold city- oh, for the van with bed and every convenience. Even after a young lady made about 12 calls there was no hope. Further there was NO record of my auto reservation. The only car available was a red pick-up for which a ladder was needed. Another car was made available. So off I went looking for a room along the interstate. Still no rooms. After midnight I stopped in the parking lot of a full motel, climbed in the back seat, pulled up my black raincoat and snoozed.

Events did a turnaround. New Hampshire was at the peak of the glorious autumn foliage. I was asked to stay in the country enjoying quiet evenings looking at sun setting rays bringing out colors, and taken to sightsee, to dine, given lobster, oh, just showered with warm hospitality.

One morning driving to Mass on a rural road I exulted in the glorious, glorious leaves on both sides of the road. I wanted to turn around and drive it again.

Love and prayers
Sister Clarice


Some of you have heard the following but I still am in awe so will include it. The account was written by the friend I took to Santa Cruz on Jan 2, 1998: On the way from San Jose, we had a most unusual experience; a rainbow covered the sky in complete half-circle. Usually we see it in shorter segments, but this was earth-to-earth span. It seemed to touch down in the tree next to the highway but when we rounded the curve, the rainbow's end rested directly on the road! Well there it was, and we had no choice but to drive thought it. Can you imagine the startled feeling? The colors swiftly rode up over the hood, then on the windshield coming through right onto our faces. I quickly looked back but the atmosphere was blank - the colors show only one side. What tremendously eerie feeling!!! And it was.


Off to Europe 1998

On July 26 off to Europe to travel mostly in Italy, Austria, and southern Germany. Marie and I met (first time) at the Oakland airport. She arranged for our tickets on Martin Air, a new German firm who strive to please (reasonable , too). In Amsterdam we picked up a car and since the day was young started out. Probably the most outstanding part of the trip wee our boa rides. So here goes -

In Italy, on Lake Maggiore we took a small boat, about 20 people,to two Islands. "A large area of the lake was given to the princely Borromeo family which then purchased all the islands in the tiny archipelago." The first island was the fishermen's island on which we walked the streets enjoying the quaint atmosphere. The second was the Isola Borromeo with Lombard Baroque palace, unusual gardens, fountains, and statues on a balustrade which is the first sight of the island. Because of the eminence and holiness of St. Charles Borromeo who guided popes and took care of the poor, it was interesting to see his background.

Again in Italy, we took a steamer which transported autos to the Island of Elba of Napoleon's fame. To really appreciate this beautiful island which is a popular vacation place for Europeans, we need a stay; however we took a bus ride along one part up into the hills. At this time during the World's Cup almost all the villagers were watching television at an outside cafe. Excitement was rife.

When driving to Assisi we saw the results of the terrible earthquake. There is considerable rebuilding but the destruction is visible in many places.

In Germany our first boat trip was outside Berchtesgaden (for those not old enough to recall - this was the locale of Hitler's notorious 'Eagles' Nest'). The two hour ride was on the King's Lake or Konigsee with dark waters and steep banks. At the end of the trip, not the end of the lake, is a pretty scene of old houses and an typical onion-domed Eastern Church.

Our last boating, also in Germany, and one of my favorite stays was in the town of Chiemsee close to Munich. When mentioned to a friend, she replied - oh we spent our vacations there. Our hostel patio windows on Lake Chiemsee (pronounced Keem-say, you probably knew this) gave a view of the lake and of the Bavarian Alps which would have been snow-covered in winter. Our walk-to-boat dock took us to two islands. It seems that every monarch in Europe wanted to build a palace to rival Versailles (nobody can match the gold of Peter the Great). This castle was on one island but the other island captured my heart. There were paths, flowers and flowers, small eateries, benches overlooking the lake, green grassy areas for children. There was a Benedictine monastery where the nuns had a gift shop with pricey merchandise. On our return to the town of Chiemsee we went to an October-fest in July, my first. It was a village festival and quite folksy, most satisfying. There was an outdoor state with a German band quite uumphy, later men with the long, long horns. Then something no one seems to have witnessed - men (about four) standing with long whips cracking them in time to the music, spectacular. I could not believe the size of the beer steins. After one I retired to our hostel and left a window open for Marie who was gathered into the warmness of the village. So hard to leave.

That was the last of our boat trips; then we went into Austria, the land of the most gorgeous, prolific geraniums, color everywhere. Oh the joy of riding through the beauty of this country, but let's finish with Europe by a return to Amsterdam airport.

Back home: Some of you know that I taught in Whittier, California eons ago- like 1950. (Old Quaker town, home of Nixon). Our Sister Therese Marie persuaded me to go for an important reunion. It was fun. Met two students I taught there (and heard from another). Never felt so coddled in my life - convent destroyed after earthquake, but I was caringly guided to be under lights so spent the night in the van.

Now to San Diego for a most happy visit with my kid brother - well, can't say my old brother since he is two years younger - and my much admired sister-in-law. On the return to San Jose decided to see what occurred during the tremendous earth slide and the flood in Yosemite. So with no campground reservations had to stay in Camp Curry, $40 a night for a bed, army blanket and a light that did not work- one night only. The rock slide of 80,000 tons came into the canyon on Happy Isles. The WIND blew the tops off trees at 35 feet. Uprooted other trees whose massive roots were strewn hither and thither. The Rangers have done a massive job of partial restoration. The most talked of object of conversation was the damage the bears were doing to cars. There were metal lockers for food, even to deodorant. Rangers were riding around and inspecting broken car windows, etc., which happened each night. (SSh, where were they during the night, the rangers, that is?) The flood damages are no so visible, less people accomodations, etc..

So ends the year of '98 There is a true-story paperback by Flynn titled 'Mr. God, this is Anna' in which Anna says -we look at each other outside but God looks at us inside. May He find our inside good in 1999.

Love and prayers for all of yours,
Sister Clarice


Denver, Colorado and more 1995

Four main travels in 1995 and I had better stop or be supporting the US Mail system.

1. A private school asked if I would take an in-progress physics class which was using the text written by SFCC teacher whose purpose is to teach the concepts of physics (not the mathematics). Well!! Since my high school course in 1933-34, there have been new ideas -- ha, ha -how about a new vocabulary, the space age additions, inclusion of engorged table of elements. I had to STUDY!! (It was fun.)

2. Then in late July to Colorado for a visit with Lillian, a childhood friend with whom I played dolls and was a co-member of our exclusive high school club, and with her husband in their summer home 18 miles out of Pagosa Springs. The journey was through Tuolumne Meadows of Yosemite. The road through Tioga Pass was sparkling with blue, blue lakes and with green trees and some snow on the wayside and more on the mountains. This was followed by the desert of Nevada and Utah to I 70 along the tumbling Colorado River - what must one of the most beautiful of drives. This was a detour to Denver (outside of which there was a shrine of Mother Cabrini, the first citizen of the US to be canonized) for a whirlwind visit with friends who had a lovely new home. Then across half of Colorado to highway 550. Oh, what a road - no guard rails, just straight down on one side or the other; the crookedest and steepest up and down that I have ever driven; gorgeous scenery, none more beautiful. The part from Ouray to Silverton was called the million dollar highway for the material used was from the tailings of a gold mine. I stopped at Silverton (9,700 feet) for the night. The church is now a mission with Mass on Sunday out of Ouray - the crookedest part of 550, poor Father. I really have a great admiration for the priests with 3,4, or 5 missions churches in their care. This is the first time that heights affected me, dizzy and bloody nose. The town as the name indicates was a mining town in a beautiful valley with waterfalls coming down the sides of the mountains. There is a perfect view coming out of the valley - if one dares to look. (Forgot to say that Red Mountain pass between and Silverton was at 11,118 feet.) Leaving Silverton there were at least two more passes over 10,000 feet. The morning was chilly but the sun and air were sparkling; lakes shimmered blue, blue; evergreens and mostly aspen were green; and wild flowers spotted the roadside and meadows. A perfect day! On the way there was a ski area named Purgatory - the Spanish name is interesting something about lost souls, can't find it. Saw the Silverton-Durango narrow rail train puffing through the canyons. Someday wish to return and see all the interesting sights, by-passes, and beauty of the region about 550. Finally arrived at Pagosa (healing water) Springs. My plans were to phone Lillian and find directions to their ranch 19 miles out; however Father told me how to go so out on the unpaved, in places rocky, in others washboardy. Mistake number 14,278,633. In Houston Lillian had showed me pictures of their summer home but there were no horses. I drove out about 22 miles, turned back trying to find a phone. Lillian and harry at lunch were seated where they could see the road and Lillian told Harry that she saw the back of my car. Harry said that the car was going in the wrong direction - Yep, it was. In the meantime I found a house with gates and asked the youngster there if he would phone the number for me. He invited me in to phone. To his parents I explained that in San Jose one did not invite a stranger in ones home. Such a life they lead though they said that the times were changing. How sad. When I traveled the road for the third time, the horses were still grazing and Lillian was under the trees waving and Harry had the gate open in welcome to Ripple Valley Ranch which truly deserved its name. The San Juan River ran through the ranch so that especially at night one could hear the water rippling over the rocks in the stream bed. That was the beginning of a wonderful visit. There is much to relate about my time at Ripple Valley Ranch so just a little because this is growing and I am still not home. This was the first time for this city person to be in the country - so peaceful, quiet, and such clean air at more than 7,000 feet with no ambulances and fire trucks screaming pain day and night. The road from Pagosa Springs followed the river so it was a beautiful drive. At one point at the top of a rise in the road the San Juan Mountains were outlined in the near distance. It was such a contented time with each day flying. My suite was on the second floor with views of the river and trees. Get the idea? toooo much to tell.

At last it was time to leave - over the road with the high passes, magnificent scenery, which I appreciated more this time. I was determined to keep out of the hot desert as much as possible so along one side of the Flaming Gorge National Recreational Area which is huge in length and depth. Then to a town of 30 (true) mineral hot salt springs, Soda Springs, Idaho. This was a special stop with friendly people. The captive geyser which is released every hour to spout 150 feet. My thought was, "Suppose it doesn't want to stop." After viewing this, I was stopped by three boys of about 9 years who were riding their bikes. One said, "Have you seen our spirngs?" another asked, "Are you a nun?" They gave directions to the nearest springs about a mile out of town where a family gave me information and the father insisted on my sampling the water. He swished my cup around in the water and all watched me sampling. Must report it was not bad. Soda springs is on the Oregon Trail and there are wagon wheel ruts in rock made by the pioneers going to Oregon and California. The next part was along the famous Snake river. Time sightseeing then into Oregon along the Columbia River gorge where again the scenery was striking. Finally to the Oregon Coast, the beautiful blue, blue pacific with white breakers, where I visited some of my favorite spots clambering about the rocks at Yachats, walking about seastacks at Bandon, and strolling the beach above Brookings. Finally home to San Jose.

3. In October went South. In Santa Maria a friend from Philco days gave party for her husband, and me. About 17 members of their church including the minister and his wife. After a most delicious meal, we had uproarious games of Zilch. In Ventura had the warmest of welcomes for a first time visit with a coupled from the Turkey "In the Footsteps of St. Paul Pilgrimage', and was shown that Ventura is a very pleasant town. On to Whittier for a visit with a friend of over 50 years; followed by a day or so walking the Pacific shores, and ending in San Diego for a great visit. Took off one afternoon to visit an ex-student I taught in the first grade in Whittier whose son was married last Fall. Time does fly. Home again after another stop in Ventura.

4. In November vanned Corvallis, Or, for the wedding of the granddaughter of my Santa maria friends. On the way stopped for a retreat at the Trappist Monastery in Vina, CA. Such peace. Returning from Corvallis went by the way of the Oregon coast. Do you have the idea that I like the beauty of this coast?

Home again to Christmas cards.