Sign Language – I Love NY

This sign was found outside a posh shop in Manhattan. Not exactly something you would see in say, Sheboygan.

The best part?… CONTINUE READING >>

Oh my.

This sign was found outside a posh shop in Manhattan. Not exactly something you would see in say, Sheboygan.

The best part? He sat down at his computer, chose a font, laid it out nicely and nestled it into a protective sleeve to save it from the elements.

BRA-VO pissed off New York City bike dude!

More on our New York antics! http://www.gypsynester.com/?tag=new-york

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

The Second Annual Combine Demolition Derby

 “Oh, we have got to see this!” It was an ad for the Hillsdale, Michigan County Fair. The entertainment for the opening night was the Second Annual Combine Demolition Derby. We could hardly stand it.

Long a fantasy of mine to demolish a ’73 Chrysler in a derby, the next best thing had to be seeing giant farm implements annihilating each other in the mud and dust of a county fair track. Veronica, who grew up outside the farming belt was a bit confused, “Aren’t combines those machines that do something or other with crops?” Oh yeah, they harvest crops, are extremely huge and this is gonna be great! Immediate Googling was needed for more information on Hillsdale and this wacky… CONTINUE READING >>


Oh, we have got to see this!” It was an ad for the Hillsdale, Michigan County Fair. The entertainment for the opening night was the Second Annual Combine Demolition Derby. We could hardly stand it.

Long a fantasy of mine to demolish a ’73 Chrysler in a derby, the next best thing had to be seeing giant farm implements annihilating each other in the mud and dust of a county fair track.

Veronica, who grew up outside the farming belt was a bit confused, “Aren’t combines those machines that do something or other with crops?” Oh yeah, they harvest crops, are extremely huge and this is gonna be great! Immediate Googling was needed for more information on Hillsdale and this wacky, must-see event.

To make the pot even sweeter, we found out that Hillsdale is the town in Michigan that elected the 18 year old highschooler, Michael Sessions, for mayor and proudly proclaims themselves as home of “The Most Popular Fair on Earth.” Sweet.

Not the biggest, not the best, not the oldest or even most famous, but the most popular. Intriguing.

A bit more research, a few phone calls and we were on our way. We arrived in Hillsdale, a charming little village with a Wal-Mart
on the outskirts and more than half of their main street storefronts closed.

The décor of the town seemed to be flag-draped with intense lawn ornamentation. Hillsdale could possibly be the yard ball capital of the world. And hey, who doesn’t love a good Victorian garden gazing globe?

We checked in to our room at the Hillsdale Motel, a piece of Americana if there ever was one, complete with the marquee letter board that read “Anything Almost Right Is Wrong” and complimentary lawn chairs for watching the traffic go by on route 99. Excited to get a bit of flavor before seeing the main event, we immediately headed off in the direction of the fairgrounds.

Homemade signs directed us toward the parking area, run by a local church, in the cemetery. Wait, what? Yup, graveside parking, right in the middle of the burial grounds, just 3 bucks.

Inside the fairgrounds, folks were already lining up at the grandstand gate over an hour before the big event. This was gonna be huge!

We got our tickets and joined the line so we could stake out the best possible vantage point. With some fresh roasted peanuts and the obligatory county fair sausage, we were ready.

The machines entered the arena for the judging, by applause, of the “Best Decorated” and the $100 prize. Competition was stiff with numerous great slogans lovingly spray painted across the sheet metal. “

We Eat Deere”, “Git ‘er Done” and “She Thinks My Combine’s Sexy” were among our favorites. Tributes to sweethearts and sponsoring farms adorned them all, as well as some interesting color schemes.

This also gave us some time to size up the drivers. They were young, determined and very appreciative of their pit crews, standing on the sidelines with welding torches, extra parts and great ideas.

The competition was over when The General Lee sounded his horn that blasted Dixie. Nothing fires up a crowd way up north in Michigan like a confederate flag festooned combine that plays Dixie.

The rodeo-style announcer had the crowd count down to the green flag and they were off.

The sight and sound of multi-ton, twelve foot high, thirty foot long heavy equipment monsters bashing head-on at full throttle brought us and the entire crowd to its feet cheering and laughing.

Yes, laughing. The crowd was caught up in a combination of awe and maniacal glee. Holy crap!

It was great. Even better than expected. Combines are big, powerful, heavy machines that are made for harvesting grain in peaceful open fields, not for combat.

They have no natural enemies so their shells are thin and defenses weak. The damage was immediate and extensive. Tires shredded, parts flew off, entire axles were removed, all in a matter of seconds.

After the initial carnage, it began to settle into a war of attrition. According to the rules–yes, there are rules–there are two ways to be eliminated.

Either your machine is completely disabled or you are pushed out of the ring. Clouds of diesel smoke filled the air as the survivors played out their strategies.

Once the smaller and weaker were thinned from the herd, it began to resemble sumo wrestling as the big boys settled into imposing their massive wills upon each other.

Sometimes a twosome would gang up to shove another out of the ring, then turn on each other with metal crunching ferocity. As this stand-off phase proceeded, radiators burst and engines died smoky deaths.

A real treat for the senses, the grins never left our faces. Amazing sights, sounds and especially smells–while standing a mere few dozen feet away from this pure mayhem. By the end it took forklifts to drag off the carcasses.

The winning combine, initially purchased at a price upward of a hundred thousand dollars, was awarded $600.00 and bragging rights for the year. Certainly not doing it for the money, the winner was asked to give the crowd his thoughts on his experience in the derby.

He pronounced it “A great alternative motorsport.”

We have to agree.

David &
Veronica, GypsyNester.com

From the Minors to October

 Ah, autumn. A nip in the air, the trees are changing, football is back, but mostly… October baseball.

I’m a sports fan. I grew up on minor league baseball. The Wichita Aeros were a big part of my youth and the first professional sporting event I ever attended. That sticks with a guy, I was hooked. Back then the minors were a bit different than today. Of course you had the young prospects fighting to make the bigs but there were also some old vets playing out their string. You don’t see that anymore. The parent club won’t pay the freight and wants the roster spot for a possible future “player to be named later”. I saw some good ones coming up and going down. Vida Blue as a teenager throwing… CONTINUE READING

Ah, autumn. A nip in the air, the trees are changing, football is back, but mostly… October baseball. I’m a sports fan. I grew up on minor league baseball.

The Wichita Aeros were a big part of my youth and the first professional sporting event I ever attended. That sticks with a guy, I was hooked. Back then the minors were a bit different than today.

Of course you had the young prospects fighting to make the bigs but there were also some old vets playing out their string. You don’t see that anymore. The parent club won’t pay the freight and wants the roster spot for a possible future “player to be named later”. I saw some good ones coming up and going down.

Vida Blue as a teenager throwing hundred plus smoke, Buddy Bell and Chris Chambliss on their way to stardom, veteran Cookie Rojas playing out the part of coach as much as player, and on and on.

As a young adult in Nashville, we had The Sounds. The minors were changing by then but it was still a great way to spend a cheap night out. Nothing says family night like free tickets from Kroger and a six pack hidden in the bottom of a diaper bag. Funny how that one beer I bought lasted the whole game.

Great moments can happen in the minors with superstars doing rehab assignments or trying a new sport. Michael Jordan came through Nashville as a Birmingham Barron during his brief baseball career. As the Yankees farm, some good ones came through Nashville. Don Mattingly, Buck Showalter, Otis Nixon and Willie McGee all wore a Sounds jersey. I got to see Reggie Jackson, Bucky Dent, Lou Piniella, Goose Gossage and Tommy John in an exhibition game. Even George Steinbrenner was there to harass Yogi Berra as he managed the Yanks.

Homer Stryker Field in Kalamazoo, Michigan

The stadiums are a huge part of the charm of the minors. From the old concrete and steel classics like Lawrence in Wichita or Greer in Nashville with their splintery wooden bleachers (unfortunately, not any more) to typical aluminum and bright colored plastic seat fields like Homer Stryker in Kalamazoo (could there BE a better name for a baseball field?) or beautiful new parks like AutoZone Park in Memphis and Louisville Slugger Field.

Perhaps the best park in minor league baseball, Richmond County Bank Ballpark at St. George on Staten Island, overlooks the Statue of Liberty and New York skyline. What a fantastic way to spend a summer evening… free ride on the ferry and a bit of America’s pastime.

Labatt Park in London, Canada

At any park, one of the beauties of minor league baseball is the ability to be heard by players and umpires due to the lack of crowd noise and close proximity to the field.

They can hear your words of encouragement and constructive criticisms. This was put to good use recently by my daughters, 23 and 21, yelling “Happy Birthday” to one of the hunky young players. They were greeted with a smile and a wave. Try that at a big league park.

As a former volunteer middle and high school baseball coach at a tiny Caribbean school, I feel fully qualified to shout out valuable coaching instructions to the players, as well as much needed direction to the coaches and men in blue (aka umpires). Gems like, “Throw strikes”, “Wait for your pitch”, “Have you lost your mind?” or “Yo Blue, the strike zone is like an imaginary box, try to picture it in your mind next time!”

You know, really helpful stuff like that. It’s also a good idea to know the name of the city that has the next lower club in the system so you can yell that at some unsuspecting player who has just done something really boneheaded. That really gets their attention, they love it. This works well in the majors too.

Watching the fans can be as much of a show as the action on the field. It’s Veronica’s favorite part of the game, other than the nachos with extra peppers. Along with the purists and scouts who just want to watch a game or see some prospects, you’ll find some true die-hards for the local club.

In our new lives as Gypsynesters, going to a game is a great way to get in touch with the city, whether you’re just visiting or it’s your hometown. Each game, the park, the fans and the feel are a wonderful reflection of the home town.

Of course the goal of every single player in the minors is to make the majors and play in a World Series, so enjoy the post season, root for your team, and remember, every one of those guys on the field was once banging away in the minors with big dreams.

David, GypsyNester.com

Digging Up History in Porto Torres, Sardinia

Can you imagine? You are building a new train station, and every time you put a shovel to the ground you dig up an ancient statue, vase or Roman coin. This is the case in Porto Torres–a working dock city on the island of Sardinia.

Like a great many cities in Italy, Porto Torres was built and rebuilt, each civilization one on top of the next. Geography played a huge part in the development of this colony, as ships came to the harbor directly from Rome. Prior to the Romans, the Phoenicians and Carthaginians used the harbor as a seaport. The harbor now is serviced by ferry boats shuttling people and goods back and forth from Genoa, Italy and Marseille, France, as well as the island of Corsica.

Invading hoards and malaria have both plagued the… CONTINUE READING >>

Roman Ruins in Porto Torres, Sardinia

Can
you imagine? You are building a new train station, and every
time you put a shovel to the ground you dig up an ancient
statue, vase or Roman coin. This is the case in Porto Torres–a
working dock city on the island of Sardinia.

Like a great
many cities in Italy, Porto Torres was built and rebuilt, each civilization
one on top of the next.

Geography played a huge part in the development
of this colony, as ships came to the harbor directly from Rome.
Prior to the Romans, the Phoenicians and Carthaginians used the
harbor as a seaport. The harbor now is serviced by ferry boats shuttling
people and goods back and forth from Genoa, Italy and Marseille,
France, as well as the island of Corsica.

Invading hoards
and malaria have both plagued the history of Porto Torres, making
the further inland city of Sassari the more significant, but in
our entire stay there we saw neither hoard nor mosquito. It had
come to our attention that, in fact, malaria had been wiped from
Sardinia in the 1950s. We hope the hoards stay away as well.

Roman Ruins in Porto Torres, Sardinia There
is a important excavation happening at this moment of the
ancient Roman colony of Turris Lybisonis. Having to fulfill
the needs of the Roman people, the Turris Lybisonis was equipped
with thermal baths and temples, the most significant of these
dedicated to Fortuna, goddess of luck,
chance and, you guessed it, fortune. The Antiquarium Turritano houses
many of the artifacts found by citizens of the city, many times
during

their work and everyday lives. We were most impressed by
the many mosiacs painstakingly reassembled by the patient historians
assigned to this important project. Those guys are crazy patient.

Roman Ruins in Porto Torres, Sardinia Because
the excavation is an ongoing venture, the city does not allow
bumbling tourists to crawl about on the ruins, so we had to
be satisfied to keep our big, clumsy feet on the outskirts,
sneaking over the tracks of the
nearby train station to get the best views. We were helped greatly
by a sly old man who knew the best trail for our covert actions.

One of the
most fascinating attractions of Porto Torres is the 1st century
Roman bridge, spanning the Mannu River, that has stayed in use
through the centuries to this day. The bridge was the key reason
we decided to venture to Porto Torres and although we were unable
to walk across due to renovation, we were able to hike down and
see its seven arches from the river below. The length of these
arches are asymmetrical and the blocks of stone used were enormous,
giving the structure an impossible, unwieldy air. Fantastic.

Porto Torres
is also home to the most amazing cookies we’ve ever seen.
They are literally works of art. Upon entering the bakery of Trincas
M Chiara, a charming Sardinian man laden with freebies, we were
surrounded by the scent of fresh baked deliciousness and the lacy
artistry of cookies for all occasions.

Wedding Cookies in Porto Torres, Sardinia

The most beautiful of these were the traditional wedding cookies
of the region called dolce della sposa or sweets of the bride.
The proprietor explained to us that each of the cookies were handmade,
that there was no factory involved. The time and attention put
into each one of these little masterpieces was astounding, we
felt as though we were in a gallery. How could we leave without
some newly purchased goodies to take with us to the beach?

Balai Beach in Porto Torres, Sardinia Ahhh…we
were the beautiful people. Seriously, don’t they all
hang out on Mediterranean beaches? Our white-sanded beach,
Balai, was shared by our fellow beautiful people basking in
the sun, sailing little boats and fishing off of the interesting
rock jetties (venturing out on the rocks was a bit painful on the
feet–the little children running on them had convinced us to

come
out barefoot, but shoes would have been a better choice). Blue water,
a fabulous view, sun kissed red noses and warm sand between our
toes–life would have to work pretty hard to improve on this.

Fortuna had clearly smiled upon us.

David &
Veronica, GypsyNester.com

Headed to The Grand Canyon!

Whooo-hoooo! We WON the Motel 6 Ultimate Bucket List Contest!

Click in to see our winning entry – we’re just as goofy as ever!

And we’ll be going NEXT WEEK! Lots of fear conquering will be going on – a helicopter ride (gulp), putting our trust in mules as we ride on the edge down the canyon (gasp) and a bike ride along the Rim Trail (yikes)!

See our Grand Canyon Adventure here! >>

 Be sure to follow us everywhere to keep up with our Grand Canyon adventure LIVE!  FacebookTwitterYouTubeGoogle+  –  PinterestInstagram

Whooo-hoooo! We WON the Motel 6 Ultimate Bucket List Contest!

Click in to see our winning entry – we’re just as goofy as ever!

And we’ll be going NEXT WEEK! Lots of fear conquering will be going on – a helicopter ride (gulp), putting our trust in mules as we ride on the edge down the canyon (gasp) and a bike ride along the Rim Trail (yikes)!

See our Grand Canyon Adventure here! >>

 Be sure to follow us everywhere to keep up with our Grand Canyon adventure LIVE!  FacebookTwitterYouTubeGoogle+  –  PinterestInstagram