Dennis and Dionne Newton

Dennis and Dionne Newton
Dennis & Dionne Newton

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Road Tripping with the Newtons

Driving, Driving, and More Driving

Dionne and I have 18 open humanitarian projects in 31 cities across two countries. Our only mode of travel is automobile. This means that we spend a lot of time in the car. We have been driving about 5,000 kilometers per month. Almost all Bosnian roads are single-lane highways which snake up, down and around mountains and rivers. The average speed on these roads is 60-70 kilometers per hour (assuming that you are not stuck behind a logging truck). By my estimate, Dionne and I spend about 75 hours in the car each month!

I know I can be a little boring but this is ridiculous. At least all my driving did was put these two sisters to sleep. I have made Sister Martineau and Elder Perry car sick driving over the mountain to Banja Luka.
My mother, Patricia Newton, used to organize activities with her kids whenever we would take road trips. There was the alphabet game, I Spy games, bribes ("I'll pay you a penny per antelope that you spot" or "a quarter for the first one to spot Lagoon"), and singing. With all of this time in the car, Dionne and I have had to come up with a few mental diversions (besides Dionne surfing on her tablet so that she does not watch me pass cars on these small mountain roads).

A mountain pass near Konjic. The beauty of Bosnia is epic.
In this blog post I invite you to join us on a car ride with a few of our mental diversions. There are a couple of games for you to play (with prizes), a religious debate about the "greatest era" of pop music, and a video showing some of the roads that we have traveled.

Spring brought baby animals on the farms.
Hope you enjoy this unique blog post. Good luck winning one of the two games.

Game  #1: Name That Tune

Before we left for Bosnia, I downloaded all of our iTunes playlists onto my iPod. (A new definition of torture would be to be forced to drive so much without music.) All of my songs were not downloaded but I was pleased that I have over 20,000 songs from which to choose. This includes all of our my "Name That Tune" playlists which I have created over the past 10 years. When the kids visited in May, we played "Name That Tune" from a list which I had created for Briel and Mitch's wedding that we had never had the chance to play. This was taken from Briel's and Mitch's 20 favorite songs. We learned a lot about Mitch from his list...apparently he likes to go crazy and Cat Daddy and Whip Nae Nae!

Apparently you have to have a pair of sunglasses to be in this picture. 

So here is Game #1. Below is a list of artists from Briel and Mitch's top 20 wedding list. Below are a random list of song titles (with a letter in front of them). Match the song with the artist...and put the letter in the appropriate place. If you do this correctly, you should get a Bosnian phrase. Be the first to reply in the comments (Facebook or on the blog) with the phrase and you WIN!

If you write the song "letter" by the artist, you should come up with a 4-word Bosnian phrase (reading down the 1st column and then the 2nd). I know how tempting it is to use Google nowadays. But I ask that you try and do this puzzle without stooping to Google. In fact, I might even consider that cheating. SRETNO (aka GOOD LUCK)!!!

What do you win? Dionne and I have been doing puzzles lately. The first correct answer will receive a 1,000 piece puzzle of a Adriatic North Mission landmark. Just one winner on this one, so hurry.

If the winner lives in the Balkans, they will likely get a slightly "used" puzzle. Dionne and I are doing our 5th 1,000 piece puzzle right now. This is the island at Lake Bled. Coincidentally it was also our destination in the boat photo above.

The Joy of Driving on Bosnia Roads

Once when we were in Zavidovići, Dionne and I drove behind Adisa and her son, Faris. When we arrived at our destination, Faris remarked that I do not drive like a Bosnian. His reasoning was that I do not swerve enough to avoid that ever present Bosnian landmark, the pothole.

This hole is on the street just outside of our house. Fortunately it was recently repaired.

The manhole covers are particularly troublesome. 
Another characteristic is all of the tire ruts on the highways. Bosnia should be motorcycle heaven but the ruts make biking dangerous.

Love the views during the winter. But the roads are quite sloppy.
While driving Dionne has recorded some video from the passenger seat. I have compiled some of these videos to give you a little flavor of what driving in Bosnia is like. A WORD OF CAUTION: If you are prone to motion sickness, you may want to not watch the entire video. There are many twisty roads and sharp turns.

Hopefully you were able to link to YouTube and watch the video.

Just like Bosnians, we love the water here. Appealing green lakes, waterfalls, and plentiful canyon rivers all make us want to stop and snap a few photos. 

Game #2: European License Plates

Looking for license plates from faraway places is another fun diversion here in Bosnia. John Pruess does this with his kids and so Dionne and I have started to as well.  The standard European license plate has a country identifier along with a license number.

So here is the game. Without using Google, see if you can guess which country each of these 12 license plates is from. Send me a message, comments, or make a Facebook note with your guess. If you are correct, I will send you a postcard sometime during our Balkan travels. Not a big reward but this game has multiple winners.

Which countries are these 12 license plates from? No google!
There is one odd ball country here. See if you can guess which country this car is from?

Philosophical Debate: Which Era was the Best for Pop Music?

One series of playlists on my iPod has the consecutive #1 hits from 1940 to the present era. This means a #1 hit followed by the song that replaced it as #1. As we listened to this playlist, a methodology for determining the best era of pop music came to mind. If I could find the era with the 10 greatest consecutive #1 hits which have stood the test of time, then I might conclude that this was the best era ever of pop music.

So Dionne and I have done the hard work. We have listened to all of the #1 hits since 1940. And I have listed, by decade, our candidates for the greatest 10 consecutive #1 hits. The question for you, dear reader, is which decades' string of #1 hits is THE BEST? I invite you to comment with your opinion. (I give my own at the end of this post).

I have to admit that as I sat pondering this list, I realized just how difficult it is to definitively pick an era. There are so many big name artists on this list...and so many era-defining songs. 

A Farewell Montage of Driving Photos

Hopefully you have enjoyed this different post. Good luck with the two games. I hope I have not made them too hard.

We absolutely love the green rivers and lakes in Hercegovina.
I want to finish this post by sharing some of our favorite pictures snapped while driving in our countries. We continue to be amazed by the majesty of the terrain as we explore new roads.

Bosnia fondly reminds us of the Appalachians. Everything is East Coast green.
Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, and Montenegro each have a different beauty. Croatia's coast is more rugged, harsh, and barren, fitting because it also boasts the sea. Slovenia means the Alps with all of their beauty. Serbia is flat and green with some pockets of wonder. And the little we have seen of Montenegro suggests that it has the best of Croatia and Bosnia all-in-one.

This picture is from an island near Zadar, Croatia. It seems like the inhabitants have built rock walls to contain their fields of rocks.

The Adriatic Sea is quite warm and inviting during the summer. A little more chilly in May, however.
Once the snows of winter thaws, wild flowers bloom throughout the Balkans. We love to offset the grandeur of the mountain faces with the gentleness of the foliage.

We just love these flowers.
If you ever get to visit Sarajevo, please do your self a favor and rent a car. Grab a map, pick a mountain or a small rural city, and then go driving. You will find yourself in awe at the topography of Bosnia. The last pictures are from the four seasons of driving Bosnia.

Captured the sun fighting through the clouds on this October evening.

The wonder of the winter trees is hard to explain.

Spring is the time to visit the waterfalls while they are raging from snow melt.
Bosnia's version of Pride Rock.

Last Word

When was the best music era? I have to say the 1970s. The Beatles were ending, Michael Jackson was beginning, Simon and Garfunkel were at the top of their game, and the Carpenters had their biggest hit with the iconic "Close to You." My second choice is the 1990s followed by the 1980s.

We spent this past week "at the sea."
Unreported by this methodology, however, is the string of hits produced in the mid-1980s immediately after the 10 I listed. Because the list stops at 10, this time period is at a disadvantage. By my count, there were 25 consecutive powerhouse hits in the mid-80s including songs by Kenny Rogers, Paul McCartney, Lionel Richie, Phil Collins, Van Halen, Kenny Loggins, Prince, Cyndi Lauper, Madonna, Foreigner, Dolly Parton, George Michaels, Culture Club, Duran Duran, Hall & Oates, YES, Stevie Wonder, and Tina Turner.

So my cheating answer is the mid 1980s was the absolute best era for music.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the tour...I would guess that you are showing us the good roads. If the roads there are like the ones in Africa, once you get off the main roads it becomes very interesting...rather like going 4 wheeling in the US. I was surprised to notice that you have been on your mission for almost a year! How time flies when you are serving the Lord!