San Antonio

Alamo and our hotel

On our visit to San Antonio, we decided to stay downtown and walk to the attractions we wanted to see. We booked our hotel not really knowing where exactly it was except that it was downtown. We lucked out since the Emily Morgan Hotel was right beside the Alamo and only steps away from access to the Riverwalk.

We first visited the Alamo to learn more about the tragic events that transpired there in 1836. As a kid, I saw the 1960 movie, The Alamo, with John Wayne as Davey Crocket, so it was very interesting to visit the real site.

After our Alamo visit, we walked along the Riverwalk, a public park that runs along the San Antonio river. Originally conceived as a way to control disastrous river floods, it has morphed into an attraction and important business district. But you can’t just walk along the river, you have to do the touristy thing and take the RioSanAntonio Cruise. The cruise was a lot of fun because of our tour guide, who was informative, humorous, and a great ambassador for the city of San Antonio.

Liberty or Loyalty?

Pre Revolutionary Flag

When we visited Colonial Williamsburg recently, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I wondered if an historical site that pertains to the American Revolution would have any meaning to me. It did.

After our arrival, we signed up for an orientation walk. The guide introduced us to Colonial Williamsburg and gave us the latest news – from spring 1775. At the end, she asked us: “Liberty or loyalty?”

I thought this was a very interesting question, because as a Canadian (and yes, Canada did exist as another British colony at that time), I leaned towards loyalty. But as someone in the the midst of a revolutionary city, I could see the case for liberty as well. So this was a decision that could not be made lightly.

We continued to visit the sights and talk with the people of Colonial Williamsburg (in the guise of costumed interpreters), hearing their stories and concerns, but this did not make my decision any easier. There were parades, notably a fife and drum corps, that although young, was very good. They had all the visitors marching right alongside as they wound their way up Duke of Gloucester Street to the Palace Green.

Our visit concluded with a talk given by George Washington (another actor interpreter), who made a logical, reasoned and passionate speech as to why the Colonies were taking the position they were. This gave me a feel for what drove the patriots to take the course they did. After the talk, he answered questions from visitors. His answers were true to the time and often not what we, with our modern sensibilities, would expect.

Now, for the answer to liberty or loyalty. Ultimately, Canada never joined the American colonies in their revolution against Britain. So, by birth, I am a loyalist; but who knows, if I had lived at the time, I might have made a different decision.

Savannah, Georgia

On our visit to Savannah’s historic district, I found a city that I could call home. With its myriad of park squares and tree lined streets Savannah invites you in and welcomes you. Steeped in history, it has been witness to many of the historical events that has made America what it is today.

Hearst Castle

When Dorothy and I visited Hearst Castle in San Simeon we were not sure what to expect. We had seen pictures of the castle and especially the swimming pools in advertisements for the tour but nothing prepared us for the over-the-top building and grounds we visited.

The castle is decorated with art treasures from all over the world, arranged in a manner pleasing to W.R. Hearst, not necessarily one that would please a collector or museum operator. The art and sculpture is not kept in uniform groupings but placed for ambience and feel. The pools, the Neptune exterior pool and the Roman Bath interior pool, are amazing works of art that happen to be usable for swimming.

Hearst Castle, is over-the-top opulence but well worth the visit.

A Visit to Banting House

Dr. Bantings house in London, ON

Years ago, before I was diagnosed with diabetes, I watched a TV movie called Glory Enough for All, and it introduced me to Dr. Frederick Banting and Dr. Charles Best. They are more commonly referred to as Banting & Best, the discoverers of Insulin.

This spring I had the opportunity to visit Banting House National Historic Site in London, Ontario. The house is where Dr Banting began his medical practice and had his first thoughts of inventing Insulin. The house is located on what would have been a quiet street in the city of London, in southwestern Ontario. So quiet was the street that he had to give up his medical practice after only 10 months due to a lack of patients. It is lucky for diabetics the world over that his practice never took off, or he might not have discovered insulin during the summer of 1921.

HIs house is now a museum managed by the Canadian Diabetes Association with exhibits about the discovery of insulin, what a young doctor’s medical practice would have been like in the 1920s, and the Nobel prize awarded to Dr. Banting for the discovery of Insulin.

I learned a lot about Dr Banting during my visit such as the fact that he was in many ways a contradiction. He pioneered the research into how to extract and use Insulin, a drug that would save millions of people, but he also was in favour of using chemical weapons for war. Truly an inspiring and thought provoking visit.

I highly recommend it to diabetics and non-diabetics alike.