2009.03.25 Tom has the travel bug

Written by David Green.

My brother, Tom, must have made the mistake of asking if I needed any help while he visited last week. Of course I suggested that he write a column. He accomplished the task while riding the train between Jackson and Chicago.


By TOM GREEN

This year’s flu shot did a good job at keeping away illness but it didn’t prevent the travel bug from seeping back into the blood of my wife and me. We couldn’t resist the opportunity to return to Southeast Asia to teach for two years at Jakarta International School in Indonesia.

From 1999-2002, Ginny and I taught at an international school in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, allowing our family the chance to explore and experience living in another culture as well as traveling extensively throughout Southeast Asia.

Now that our two daughters are established in college, this seemed like an excellent time to make another foray to further experience and travel in this area of the world we came to love.

Indonesia is a country made up of approximately 17,500 islands. We will be living on the second largest of them, Java, amidst 13 million other people in the capital city of Jakarta. Most of the islands are heavily populated, as Indonesia is the fourth most populated country in the world.

The country is predominately Muslim, making it the answer to a trivia question: What is the Muslim country with the largest population? Ginny and I look forward to exploring the islands and the surrounding waters. Indonesia offers some of the world’s finest coral reefs, a natural resource that is rapidly shrinking.

Knowing I would be out of the country for a while, I took advantage of my current school’s spring break and traveled back home to Morenci to visit family. I found cheap flights from my home in Minnesota to Chicago and booked Amtrak from Chicago’s Union Station to Jackson’s train depot, which I found out to be the second oldest train depot still in use in the country!

If you aren’t worried about arrival time, Amtrak is a great way to travel. The tracks between Chicago and Jackson pass by the steel plants of Gary, hug the Lake Michigan coast, often follow rivers, and wind their way through woods and farms of southern Michigan.

I took along a GPS unit and discovered Amtrak occasionally reaches over 80 miles per hour, but more often it’s not going quite that fast. Apparently the freights rule the rails, as we had to stop once in a while to let other trains through.

Here are a few suggestions to make your Amtrak trip more comfortable: be flexible on your arrival time, the temperature varies so dress in layers, and pack a lunch for the best food.

It was good to be back in my hometown. Some things always remain the same and others are shocking to the occasional visitor. I can’t get used to Parker Rust Proof disappearing from sight. I remember as a child PRP being such a massive structure and now there is no evidence that it actually existed. I remember one school year when students were bussed there during a tornado warning. It was the only time I was ever inside the complex. I did spend a lot of time biking on Mill Street, occasionally stopping to release some pressure on the brake valves on the train cars.

I got in some hikes along the Bean last week, admiring the annual spring-cleaning by the floodwaters. David and I discovered some areas of fossil laden pebbles newly exposed by the flood. Returning from Riverside Park, I stopped for a visit to the Old Cemetery, once with my brother and once with my sister. Each time we left with many questions. Was there an influenza epidemic in 1847 that accounts for the many deaths that year? How can there be a grave as old as 1810? Is there a record of the burials? How many of the trees were planted after it became a graveyard? History is quickly eroding away on those old gravestones.

Once I satiate my travel bug in Asia, I will be back to Morenci’s Old Cemetery to feed my history bug. It seems no matter where I travel—to Java, the historic Jackson depot, Bean Creek, or the old cemetery—there are discoveries waiting to be made.

  • Front.splash
    Water Fun—Carter Seitz and Colson Walter take a fast trip along a plastic sliding strip while water from a sprinkler provides the lubrication. The boys took a break from tie-dyeing last week at Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program to cool off in the water.
  • Front.starting
    BIKE-A-THON—Children in Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program brought their bikes last Tuesday to participate in a bike-a-thon. Riders await the start of the event at the elementary school before being led on a course through town by organizer Leonie Leahy.
  • Front.drum
    on your mark, get set, drum!—Drew Joughin (black shirt), Maddox Joughin and Kaleea Braun took the front row last week when Angela Rettle and assistants led the Stair District Library Summer Reading Program kids in a session of cardio drumming. The sports and healthy living theme continued yesterday with a Mini Jamboree at Lake Hudson State Park arranged by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Next week’s program features the Flying Aces Frisbee show.
  • Front.art.park
    ART PARK—A design created by Poggemeyer Design Group shows a “pocket art park” in the green space south of the State Line Observer building. The proposal includes a 12-foot sculpture based on a design created by Morenci sixth grade student Klara Wesley through a school and library collaboration. A wooden band shell is located at the back of the lot. The Observer wall would be covered with a synthetic stucco material. City council members are considering ways to fund the estimated $125,000 project and perhaps tackling construction one step at a time.
  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks

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