Sunday, May 12, 2019

Visiting Ann of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables has made Prince Edward Island, Canada, famous. I wanted
to go there for that reason alone.
I also heard that there were great bike trails, so that was my other draw. After an amazing ride along the shores of the beautiful St. Lawrence Sea and through the
deep green forests, I traveled to the North Shore to see where this famous redhead came from.
I found Cavendish, the home of author Lucy Maud Montgomery, to be a charming place that was more fascinating than I ever dreamed. I came together with travelers from all over the world.
The first person that I met was a Chinese surgeon from Taiwan. He told me
that he had not read the books but knows of Anne and wanted to come and
 experience the place Lucy came from before reading the books. He told me
 he loved to travel to a place, experience the feelings he gets and then go 
home and learn more about the author and their works.
Many of the places that Lucy put into the book were places where she grew up,
 making it extra special to visit those sights.
Sit back and enjoy these photos of the significant places that Lucy Maud
Montgomery wrote about.
AnneHome
This is the home where Lucy Maud Montgomery was born. She was the first
 child.  When she was 23 months old her mother died, leaving her to be raised
 by her maternal grandparents. At 16 she went to live with her father who had
moved west to Ontario, Canada. Her father had remarried and they had four
children. She was not happy there and returned to her beloved Prince 
Edward Island.
AnneRoom
This was the room where she was born, November 30, 1874.
AnnePortrait
This is a photo of Lucy Maud when she was 16. Her passion all her life was
writing.In her career she wrote 20 novels and more than 1,000 articles and
 poems.
AnneGables
This is Green Gables, the house of the story. Even though Anne of Green Gables
 is fiction, it still lives true in the hearts of all who read and love it. Even to Lucy
it seemed real. To me, many of the experiences and events in the book seemed
as if they were Lucy’s real life stories.
AnneBarn
This is the barn that is right next to Green Gables. I am sure that it was not there
when Anne would visit some of her relatives that lived in Green Gables, but it is
 something that is true to the area and that could have been part of Anne’s
landscape and life.
Seaside
Lucy Maud wrote about the beautiful beaches that she so enjoyed. The rolling
 hills on the island and the red soil that is everywhere, mixed with the many
varieties of green trees, makes this island a place to visit and fall in love with.
It is the place that Lucy loved and that place that gave her the backdrop to 
write one of the most beloved books of all time. Anne has been translated int
more than 69 languagesand distributed throughout the world.
Dian Thomas is the author of several great idea books that are filled
 with creative ideas to do with you friends and family. For more 
information about Dian and her books go to 
https://www.dianthomas.com.

Celebrating Lunar New Year

For anyone who has traveled through Asia during the lunar New Year, they will be aware of this huge holiday. My first experience of it was when I was in Hawaii years ago. I was staying with some friends who ask me if I wanted to go to China Town in Honolulu to celebrate the New Year. I could hardly wait for the big event. When we got there the fireworks began to go off and before it was over I was holding my ears for dear life and wishing that I could get out of the noise as it was so loud.
puppets
Last year I was in China for this holiday. Millions and millions of people traveled by plane and train to be with their families. I went to the Western part of China to Chengdu. While I was there I went to the Tibetan area and stayed at the Sheraton. I was at the computer area and met a man who was working in China for his company out of Chicago. He told me that the factory that he worked at totally closed for two weeks. He said, the people in America just don’t understand how a country can close for two weeks. But once you have been there and experienced it you will get a sense of how important families are and why they all go home for this special holiday.
diningfamily
I just talked to an American Chinese friend that told me even here in America she
 will celebrate the new year by having four parties at her home. 
I met with a family in Chengdu for part of my New Year last year. One day we went
 to my friend’s mother’s family and had a big dinner. Another day it was to her 
father’s family and yet another day we stayed at her home and her father cooked
the most incredible meal for everyone. 
Gifts to the children are part of the experience. If you have a job and are making 
money you are expected to put some money in a small red envelope and give it
 to the children. My friends’ daughter who is three took all the money that was 
given to her and her parents put it away for her schooling. 
Toward the end of the two weeks they have a festival call the Lantern Festival. 
They turn parks into amusement parks with food, lanterns, and fun events for 
families to go to. Then on Feb 15 will be the last day and that night the fireworks
 begin toward evening and go until Midnight and then it is over. If you live near
a China Town and want a fun experience check out the activities and join them 
for the biggest holiday of the year.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Fear Bound in Amsterdam

AmsterdamWe landed in Amsterdam that morning (Feb. 26, 2014) on our way to South Africa. This was a return to the city that I traveled to when I took my first flight in an airplane. I had just finished teaching my first year at Orem Jr. High in Orem, Utah where I was a Home Economics and Art teacher. 

Every summer for the previous seven summers, I had worked at the Brighton Girls Camp, which I dearly loved. I knew that I would have to find something very exciting to replace my experience there and my choice was a trip to Europe. 

While I was teaching, I shared my desire to go to Europe with my friends and fellow 
teachers.  One day Mr. Zimmerman my assistant principal came down to my room
 and put a piece of paper on my desk and said go apply for this scholarship to study 
abroad. Corning Glass had a sister plant in Orem and was giving the Scholarship
 away to a teacher. I soon learned that there were two of us that applied for it.  
 I suggested that they give half to each one of us but they said they could not do that. 
At the flip of a coin I got the Scholarship to go abroad and study.  I found a program
 in Europe, which started about 3 weeks after school let out for the summer. 

A friend of mine suggested that I go early to Amsterdam where the study abroad 
would start.  She had been there on a mission and thought that perhaps I could 
pay a member family to stay with them for a few days. She wrote a letter to the 
Branch President and I ordered my ticket to go early. 

Weeks went by and no word from the branch president. About 3 days before I 
was ready to leave I got word from my friend that he said that they did not do that
 kind of thing in their country.

I was very nervous to go without a place to stay but the ticket was already ordered.
 I was so excited to go on such and adventure but scared to death to not have a hotel
 room lined up (this was before computers). When I arrived in Amsterdam I found
 a desk in the airport that could book a hotel room for me. I walked up to the desk
 and ask them to give a top rated hotel but there was a run on hotels room and
 they did not have one.   Pretty soon the clerk found a place for me to go to that
 was on the third floor of a typical building in Amsterdam. 

Now my job was to get a cab. It was my first time getting a cab and I was so
 scared that the cab driver would kidnap me rather than delivering me to my hotel. 

I sat in the back seat filled with FEAR. I was so pleased when he took me straight to
 my hotel and helped me get my luggage to the third floor. I checked in and found 
out that my room did not have a bathroom that that I would have to go to the end
of the hall for one. Now my fear began to build that something bad would happen
 to me on the way to the bathroom. 

I arrived to my room exhausted and scared about going down the hall to the 
bathroom. When I was ready to go to bed, I pushed the big dresser up against
 the door so no one could come in the room while I was asleep. I laid on the bed
 with my clothes still on and cried until I was sound to sleep. 

The next morning I was still so afraid that I wanted to stay in my room for the 
next three days until my friends came but I pushed myself to have breakfast
 and then go to the famous Rakes Museum which houses the Night Watch by
 Rembrandt.  

I found my way to the museum and waited in line for it to open. Then I noticed
 two young men with white shirts and dark pants with a small black badge on 
their left pocket. I was so excited as I knew they were missionaries. I went up
 and introduced myself and asked them where they were from. One of the
 missionaries lived in my stake. It made me feel much more at easy to have met
 someone from home. 

I later learned that 92% of the things that we worry about never happen. 
Experience, time, and education help to take away our fears. I am so glad I 
continued to travel and experience the wonderful world that we live in.
ved in Amsterdam I found a desk in the airport that could book a hotel room for me. I walked up to the desk and ask them to give a top rated hotel but there was a run on hotels room and they did not have one.   Pretty soon the 
clerk found a place for me to go to that was on the third floor of a typical building in Amsterdam. 

Now my job was to get a cab. It was my first time getting a cab and I was so
 scared that the cab driver would kidnap me rather than delivering me to my hotel. 

I sat in the back seat filled with FEAR. I was so pleased when he took me straight 
to my hotel and helped me get my luggage to the third floor. I checked in and 
found out that my room did not have a bathroom that that I would have to go
would happen to me on the way to the bathroom. 

I arrived to my room exhausted and scared about going down the hall to the 
bathroom. When I was ready to go to bed, I pushed the big dresser up against 
the door so no one could come in the room while I was asleep. I laid on the bed
 with my clothes still on and cried until I was sound to sleep. 

The next morning I was still so afraid that I wanted to stay in my room for the
 next three days until my friends came but I pushed myself to have breakfast
 and then go to the famous Rakes Museum which houses the Night Watch by
 Rembrandt.  

I found my way to the museum and waited in line for it to open. Then I noticed 
two young men with white shirts and dark pants with a small black badge on
 their left pocket. I was so excited as I knew they were missionaries. I went
 up and introduced myself and asked them where they were from. One of the
 missionaries lived in my stake. It made me feel much more at easy to have met
 someone from home. 

I later learned that 92% of the things that we worry about never happen. 
Experience, time, and education help to take away our fears. I am so glad I 
continued to travel and experience the wonderful world that we live in.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Peru: The Capital of an Amazing Ancient Culture

High in the valleys of the Andes visitors from around the world are able to explore the remains of the Inca civilization created in only 150 years. These amazing people worked between 1400 and 1535 when they were conquered by a few hundred Spanish conquistadors and their allies. Their extensive economic network became a civilization of over 9 million people in 150 communities stretching from Columbia to Chile.   
Visitors fly into the capital of the Inca at Cusco, which sits in a high mountain valley, at an ear-popping 11,000 feet above sea level. If you have been to the top of the tram in Snow Bird in the mountains just east of Salt Lake you will have been that high.

 monumental structures that they did. Today over a million people a year from all over the globe visit Peru to see the ruins of this ancient civilization. The Inca nation, “the Children of the Sun,” started as a small culture based in the central highlands. In the early 1400’s under the reign of Pachacutec, the Incas began one of the  
most explosive expansions of culture ever recorded. The genius of the Inca was their ability to annex regions that could add knowledge or agricultural products that could expand their understanding of how to best use the resources and people they controlled. As a result, they quickly accumulated massive amounts of information more advanced than their own. They became outstanding teachers, astronomers, weavers, builders, architects, farmers, and gold artisans. The magnificent buildings erected during Pachacutec’s 95 year reign were the high point of Inca construction. Less than a hundred years after his death, the Inca civilization collapsed due to an on-going civil war and the arrival of the Spanish conquerors. 
High on the plateau above Cusco lies the complex ruins of Saqsaywaman, one of the most famous Inca sites visitors see. The most amazing aspect of the ruins are the massive stones used to build the walls fitted so perfectly together that even a piece of paper won’t slip between them. The large stone in the photo weighs over three hundred tons and has eleven angles where adjacent stones have been smoothed to fit into the angles. Saqsaywaman was a complex of structures that served as protection for the main trail from the south to the Inca capital. Even today each solstice is marked with celebrations on the great plaza there. Our Qechua guide explained that it was also a place where knowledge such as astronomy could be taught.


Most people have heard of Machu Picchu, but without a written language at the time, its Inca name was lost. Machu Picchu is actually the name of the mountain that can bee seen above the ruins. If you look closely, there are buildings at the top of the mountain as well. According to our guide, it was one of Pachacutec’s unfinished projects set high above the jungles along the Urubamba River. When Hiram Bingham found it in 1911, the ruins were so overgrown that it could hardly be seen. Visitors now can wander along the agricultural terraces and the roofless buildings that housed the four hundred people who lived there. Sadly, the nobles and the Inca royal family for whom it was built never resided there; it was never completed due to the civil war after Pachacutec’s death. Machu Picchu’s most important function appears to have been as an astronomy complex for observing the motions of the sun, moon, and stars. Sitting more than a thousand feet above the valley floor, visitors arrive by minibus, which climb the hair-raising switchbacks and single-lane track to the visitor center. This astonishing view awaits visitors from all over the world each year.

For and amazing video on Peru go to:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zk9J5xnTVMA  

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Exploring South Africa 2014

It was eighteen years ago that I first ventured to Africa. I went on several safaris and fell in love with seeing the wild animals in their own environment. When you’re in Africa, it is the people who are in the cages of their vehicles, and the animals are running wild. 
As I write this it is March 11, and I am on my way home from another incredible trip to Africa.
A great place to start is in Cape Town, one of the three capital cities of South Africa. (For you trivia buffs, the capitals are Cape Town, Bloemfontein, and Pretoria.) 
Cape Town is near the tip of Africa. A quick trip to the top of Table Mountain will 
give you a wonderful lookout over the city. 


The view from Table Mountain a flat mountain that overlooks Cape
 Town.  In the far distance Robben Island is visible.
Just a few miles from Cape Town is Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela spent
 27 years in prison before being released in the early 1990s. In 1994, he became 
the President of South Africa. Under his great leadership he led this struggling 
country to a democratic government. With the death of Mandela this year, the
 world lost a great leader. 


Boulders Beach in Cape Town affords plenty of opportunities to interact with and 
photograph penguins in the wild.
After spending a day visiting the highlights of Cape Town we flew to Johannesburg, 
which is the largest city in South Africa. Johannesburg claims to be the lightning s
capital of the world, but we only saw blue skies while we were there. 


Southern ground hornbill
It was then a day’s journey to Kruger Park to go on three days of safaris. On our way
 we visited a beautiful waterfall and enjoyed some of the beautiful flowers that
 bloom in the wild. 


Lisbon Falls, the highest waterfall in Mpumalanga, South Africa.


These lilies grow wild in Africa.
One of the sights we saw on safari was a lioness that had been severely wounded in 
an encounter with a warthog. A warthog’s tusks can maim or even kill a predator
 that we would consider much more dangerous. These wounds may yet prove fatal
 to this lioness. Worse, she has three cubs who are not yet self-sufficient and who 
will die if she does. 


                                                                Here I am, taking a picture of a lioness.


A severely wounded lioness.


Two of three lion cubs who are in jeopardy if their mother dies of 
warthog tusk wounds.


This beauty afforded us plenty of opportunity for photographs.
Our encounter with a large elephant was an interesting one. The elephant got on the
 road and would not leave the road and would not let us pass. We finally backed
 up for more than an hour. It was an adventure I will never forget. 


This peaceful giraffe was so unafraid of us that he seemed to 
pose forour cameras as he peeked at us over the tops of the trees.


The sun sets on one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I can’t wait to go again
 and see what new adventures await me.





Into the Mystical Highlands of Peru Oct, 2015

For many years, I have been amazed to travel and learn more about the cultures of the world. Peru is one of the most fascinating places that I have ever traveled. It is a mix of the original people that lived here and the European people who came after Francisco Pizarro conquered the Inca nation in 1532. As one of my friends here said, “we are mostly a mixed race now, but my heart will always be Inca.”
The Inca people now still live in the high Andes where the original capital of the Inca civilization was in the 1450 to the 1532. Cusco was the capital of the Inca civilization and it is where you must go if you are going to visit these beautiful people.
Cusco is a city of about 500,000 people and is 11,000 feet above sea level. It still has many of the narrow original streets and some of the original roads that were built by the Inca people. I would like to share with you some photos that were taken by one of my fellow travelers, Beth Garn this week on my trip to see and visit Machu Picchu a sacred city in the high Andes.

Here is a photo of Cusco. It is very much like Salt Lake City in that it is in a valley surrounded by high mountains.

The Inca people are not very tall. In this photo they are dressed in their native costumes wearing hats that are really a part of everyday life for the Inca people.

The Inca ladies are the ones that care for the flocks. We saw this little lady who was out one morning with her sheep.

Just like the American Indians, the Inca ladies boil plants to make the dyes they use to color the llama, alpaca, and sheep wool they use to weave the beautiful clothing they wear. 

We visited the salt mine, where very salty water comes out of the mountain and then is put into pools to evaporate and then the salt is extracted and exported. A different family owns each pool and they come and process the salt from the pond.

The main attraction that people come from all over the world to see is Machu Picchu, the city that the Inca’s built in the Andes. It was never found or touched by the conquering Spaniards. It is believed that this was a sanctuary built in 1450 for the Inca Emperor Pachacuti who was their great leader. Centuries later, it is still loved and admired by the Inca descendants and the 3 million visitors who come here every year. 
If you would like to see an incredible video of our trip go to:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zk9J5xnTVMA    

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Behind the Scenes in Television Nov. 19, 2014

I was blessed to have the opportunity to work on TV in the golden age of Television when there were three main stations, NBC, ABC, and CBS. I wrote a book called Roughing it Easy that was released in 1974. It was March 28 when I went to pick up the first book and held it in my hands and said, “ I wonder if this will change my life.”
Roughing it Easy took me to places I never dreamed that I could go and the opportunities just kept coming. I have had a career of 30 plus years where I could share the love I have of nature, camping in the outdoors, and family fun ideas with millions and I have loved every minute of it.
This weekend I was invited to go to Hollywood to celebrate the 80th birthday of Woody Fraser the executive producer who changed my life. I first met Woody when I was invited to appear on the Mike Douglas Show, which was produced in Philadelphia.
After years of working on the Mike Douglas Show, Woody went on to be the first Executive Producer of Good Morning America. He invited me to do the show many times. I remember how excited I was to ride in a limousine with David Hartman, the host of the show. The whole time we were in the car he asked me questions about Utah and the Mormon Church.

Many of the segments that I did showed how to cook outdoors and create fun activities for parents to do with their families such as turning your wagon into a backyard barbecue.
Later Woody went on to create a daytime show for ABC called the Home Show. It became the flagship show for all the home and family shows that followed. I became a regular family member of that show and appeared weekly doing every creative idea that I could imagine.
One day while Woody was riding in his limousine he was reading the Los Angeles Times. There was an article which featured the Word of Wisdom and how it helps Mormons to live a longer life. I got a call from Woody’s assistant asking me if I would find a Mormon who was over 100 years old and be at the ABC Studio the next morning where they would do an interview on the Home show talking about the Word of Wisdom and share with the audience someone that was over 100 years old and had been blessed by their healthy life style.
I called the Church PR department and they found Franklin Richards who was over 100 and still went swimming everyday. The next day we were on ABC’s network sharing the Word of Wisdom with millions.

This last Saturday night 200 of us gathered to celebrate a man who changed our lives and influenced millions with his creative ideas and unusual imagination. I often think of that special day I stood at BYU as my book came off the press and think how grateful I am for a man who gave me the opportunity to share my ideas with the world.
To me Woody was the father of my career. What amazing opportunities have come into my life from the door Woody opened so wide for me. Woody at 80 still produces Home and Family, a show on the Hallmark channel on the west coast as well the Huckabee Show, on the east coast which is on Fox News. Happy Birthday Woody!
Go to Dian’s website https://www.DianThomas.com where you will find her creative ideas. You will have so much fun and build memories that will last forever doing these imaginative ideas with you children and grandchildren.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

New Zealand - An Amazing Journey Feb/Mar 2019

Biking the Netherland July 15, 2015


I just returned from a seven-day bike ride through the Netherlands. My desire to visit there came 10 years ago when I met with Daryl and Hank Hoole. Hank and Daryl both have Dutch ancestry, and they shared with me their love of the Netherlands.
When Hank was just 17 he left Amsterdam and came to the USA in search of a new life. He married Daryl and they were soon on their way to creating an incredible life in Utah. The two of them were able to return to their native land when Hank served as a mission president, so they were able to spend three years of their adulthood there and remembered it well.
They shared with me their amazing experience of trips through the tulip fields in the spring. I learned that this small country is one of the flower capitals of the world. I fantasized about going to see the tulips and the windmills, but life intervened as it often does.
I forgot about my dream of going to see the tulips until I traveled through the Amsterdam Airport a year ago on the way to Africa and saw all of the tulips for sale.
Those tulips jogged my memory. I remembered my dream and decided to
create a trip to see the tulip fields. Hank and Daryl had told me that most 
of the people who live in the Netherlands travel around on bicycles, and  
I thought that would be a marvelous way to see the country. I put together
 a bicycle trip, and that was exactly what we did.
Nine of us hardy souls gathered on May 1 to take the first direct flight from
Salt Lake City to Amsterdam. With my eight special friends on our bikes we
 descended into the magic world of tulips, cheese, windmills and wooden shoes.
The following photos were taken for our tulip adventure in the Netherlands in
 May. Those tulips jogged my memory. I remembered my dream and decided
 to create a trip to see the tulip fields. Hank and Daryl had told me that most
 of the people who live in the Netherlands travel around on bicycles, and I
 thought that would be a marvelous way to see the country. I put together a 
bicycle trip, and that was exactly what we did.
Nine of us hardy souls gathered on May 1 to take the first direct flight from
 Salt Lake City to Amsterdam. With my eight special friends on our bikes we
 descended into the magic world of tulips, cheese, windmills and wooden shoes.
The following photos were taken for our tulip adventure in the Netherlands
 in May.

                                            The colors in the tulips were so varied and beautiful.

Keukenhof is the name to the place I call the Disneyland of Tulips. It is a park as big as Central Park with garden after garden of tulips.



Each spring the farmers raise tulips for the bulbs that will be sold all over the world.


The Netherlands are known for the windmills that pump the water out of the lowlands and into the rivers to free up more land. Windmills are also used to grind wheat.


The Dutch are known for their delicious cheese.


These wooden shoes were worn by a plumber. His wife said he wears them everywhere.


One amazing thing about the Dutch is that almost everyone speaks English. This sweet man came up and wanted to talk to us. He said that he was only five when the Germans occupied the Netherlands. He told us that he was so hungry they would go to the German soldiers and beg for bread to eat.


There are canals in almost every village we went to. In the evening the reflection from the water is magical.


We rode 200 miles in seven days. When you travel near the ground you see much more of a country and its people. I enjoyed learning and experiencing more about this amazing people and country. I am home and wanting to go back.
Dian Thomas is an author of many idea books including Roughing It Easy, which was a New York Times bestseller. Go to www.DianThomas.com to learn more about Dian’s books.