Monday, September 26, 2011

The Wallace Challenge Cup Remains in Monmouth

This past pleasantly cool and sunny weekend (9\24\11)  the Columbia Golf Club,  just outside of St. Louis, hosted the world famous Wallace Cup Challenge.  

And once again the squad from Monmouth, IL managed to give the St. Louis contingent a good case of   the blues.

Monmouth Captain Bill Wallace and the St. Louis team of Mike Flood and John Holtschlag  look ready to go on Saturday morning just before the opening round tee time. (photo by Jim De Young)

If you are among the uninitiated in regard to this stellar event,  a capsule history might help. Three years ago Bill Wallace and Mike Flood, two old St. Louis high school buddies, started a friendly inter-city golf match. Each man chose a friend with Wallace picking Jim De Young for the Monmouth side and Flood choosing John Holtschlag for the St. Louis contingent. The matches are then played alternately in the Monmouth or St. Louis area.

It's a spirited but also fun-filled rivalry. Each new meeting is preceded by extensive re-working of the plethora of special rules. There are always intense discussions about strokes, putts, mulligans, and relief from nasty trees or the ferocious wild bears that might be lurking in them.

Currently the competition is played out in two 18 hole matches on succeeding days. Day One features a best ball competition between the two squads and Day Two is match play with each participant going against someone from the opposing team. The winner receives custody of the famed WC cup (no poddy jokes please; this is serious business), which was designed and built by Mike Flood.

This year, fighting hard to keep the honor of Illinois intact in spite of the dismal record of the Bears and the Cubs, the Monmouth crew took a best ball victory on day one and followed it with a split in the match play on day two to retain the cup for another winter.   Below you see Columbia Club Pro, Jon Charpentier, presenting the trophy to the Monmouth team of Bill Wallace and Jim De Young.

The first two competitions in 2009 were won by the St. Louis team, but since then the Monmouth team has dominated.  They took the cup for the first time in 2010 and now have defended it successfully through four meetings.  

Here are all four of the competitors at this year's Victor's Lunch.

And here the valiant warriors are meeting a screaming mob of adoring fans in De Young's driveway upon returning home to Monmouth.  

The cup will be defended again in the spring of 2012 at Gibson Woods in Monmouth.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Vancouver Arrival

Bright and early on sunny Sunday, July 24th we entered Vancouver Harbor.

and passed to and  then under the Lions Gate Bridge. 

Once inside the harbor,

we could see more of the city. Surprizingly we ended up docking right in the center of  town. The photo below shows the Zaandam at its berth later in the day.  I presume it departed for Alaska that evening with a new group of travelers aboard.

Because we were not to leave for Chicago until Monday,  we booked a Holland-America tour of Vancouver. They put our baggage on the tour coach and at the end took us right to the airport where some of our folks caught a late flight out and where we caught a free shuttle to our motel for the night.

The Vancouver tour took us first through several downtown streets.

Then it was on to Chinatown.

Stanley Park has a gorgeous seaside path for cycling, jogging, and just plain walking with family and friends.

It was there, for a moment,  we thought we had been mistakenly teleported to Copenhagen.

Finally we were deposited at the gates of the Capilano Suspension Bridge park.

The bridge, first built in 1889,  was crowded, wobbly,  and frankly  pretty scary. 

It was a long way down to the Capilano River.

More intriguing to us and a lot steadier, even though still way up there in the trees, was the so called Treetops Adventure. 

The park also had quite a collection of Totem Poles.

And a large collection of silly people to stand in front of them

On the way to the airport we drove back over the Lion's Gate Bridge and I was able to snap one final shot of Vancouver.

The following morning we shuttled back to the airport and were shortly on our back to Chicago where our car was waiting at the Four Points Sheraton. We were back in Monmouth by early evening.

It's always great when a plan comes together and this one did.  We were happy to be home, but also exhilerated by two weeks in the presence of arguably some of the most spectacular scenery in the world.  Thanks to our Road Scholar companions and programs, we also learned a great deal about the fauna, flora, and cultures of the north.   

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Alaska: A Final Day on the Zaandam as We Journey Toward Vancouver

Our two weeks of lovely weather in Alaska finally deserted us on Saturday, July 23rd.  We were in more open water in the Hecate Strait on the way down to Vancouver and it was windier and spitting rain most of the day.  Whitecaps were visible and we saw seasick patches sprouting on several arms in the dining room at lunch. I know I dropped a dramamine just to be on the safe side.  On the other hand It was a good day to get the disembarkation talk, pack, and start the farewell rounds. 

Thank goodness we had reached calmer waters by dinner time, so all hands could enjoy the special treats both on and around the tables.

Our waiters did a smart parade while spinning plates.

They followed that with some nimble pepper juggling.

And of course the food continued to be excellent as well.

We had ample time for a final turn around the deck after dinner and once again the sunset did not disappoint.

The highlight list from our Alaskan Road Scholar Journey is getting crowded, but I think we will have to add the Inside Passage on the way to Vancouver.

We will pick this up in Canada tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Alaska: An All Too Short Visit to Ketchikan

Alaska's slim little arm is like everything else in the state--a whole lot bigger and longer than you think.  It is almost 300 miles from Juneau to Ketchikan.  Even though we cruised all night, we still didn't make dock in our final Alaskan port of call until just before noon noon on Fri. July 22nd. 
Steaming down the Clarence Strait into Ketchikan

We could tell we were not alone when we got there.

Good thing we didn't have to parallel park
 Ketchikan, like many fjord towns seems to grow out of the water.  The waterfront street and the first row of buildings sits literally on stilts over the ocean.

The succeeding rows of dwellings climb so steeply

that there is a funicular on Creek Street to access the upper reaches more easily.

 We took a quick lunch on the ship and then joined our Road Scholar group at the Southeast Discovery Center for a program given by a native Haida woman.

Here Jan examines a shawl made from Cedar strips and fringed with fur

Woven hats, carved utensils, and some colorful buttonwork on a jacket

Her presentation covered the Haida's matriarchal society and clan system

and then ended with a rousing traditional song.

Our group then traveled to the Totem Heritage Center

where we saw a collection of  modern and period totem poles.  Totem poles, we learned,  are generally made of red cedar and seldom last more than 100 years because of the damp climate.  Another interesting piece of information was that the natives do not worship totem poles. The carvings usually tell a story or legend or celebrate an auspicious occasion such as a fifieth wedding anniversary or the successful culmination of a hunt. You can tell the more modern or restored poles because they use  brighter, more intense colors. 

The painters of older poles had only available natural vegetable dyes, which tended to be duller and more restricted in color.  Below is an older and un-restored example

Some of the very oldest examples are weathered back down to the natural wood. 

The flat piece below is actually a halibut and it was fitted to the top of a pole by inserting the square hole visible in the center onto a peg carved on the top.

We had only a small amount of free time left after we visited the Totem Center and we used that to walk around a bit on Creek Street.

This was an intriguing group of nicely restored small houses, shops, restaurants, etc. built on stilts and grouped around a small lake and stream.

Miss Dolly's house was a former bordello

This narrow little souvenir and craft store was filled with delightful gifts
All the spaces were connected by boardwalks and it made for a delightful stroll before our 6:00 PM  departure.  Our only quibble was that we definitely could have used more time in Ketchikan.
Lush foliage along Creek Street

Next and final stop, Vancouver,Canada!