Category Archives: Uncategorized

My second world trip

3 months in Latin America, and other travel

by Robert John Simpson

First…….the history lesson

Right after school, I spent a year on the road – my backpack and guitar and the world… I first hitched a ride out to California and back to New York. That was easy. I then went through Europe and across Asia to India. This was the big thing I did as a young man. When I got back home from my trip I worked as a laborer, helping build the Capital District Psychiatric Center.. (A building which would play some role in my life at a later date). I had my money saved up to travel to South America, had the maps up on the wall and I was just about set to take off before winter hit upstate New York.

to see more about my trip to India see here

Something happened which delayed my trip for awhile… I got a call for a State job interview, this is just what I wanted/my parents wanted for me… I stayed in the same place for 30 years, I raised my three sons, dealt with my wife’s ever serious illnesses etc…. So in October 2009 I was ready to get back on the road again. This time I was 60 years old, and not 21, but after all my experiences, a much stronger and I think a better man.

The first place I wanted to see was Ierapetra, Crete. I spent several months there in 1971 before going across, Turkey, Iran, Afganistan and Pakistan to India. The City of Ierapetra is the southern most city in Europe. I remember singing, drinking, trying to score there… About 30 young people were staying there from Europe, Canada and the USA. We sang Beatle songs and danced to Greek music. I made friends with Antonio, a blind Greek who played the mandolin. I can still remember hugging him for the last time and promising to come back to Crete.

After 40 years, I got to see a much larger version of Ierapetra. They built massive concrete structures and I could not even find the street where “our” tavern was where we sang, drank and danced. I got out of there in 2 miserable days. When I was waiting for my bus out of town I went to a tavern for a quick coffee. I told the people there, in my primitive Greek, that I had been in their town 40 years ago and played my guitar with Antonio. Their faces lit up and told me they remember him. One guy went out and came back with a large picture of Antonio with his mandolin. I was too late to see my old friend, but I felt I made good on my promise to return….

I had one month on the Greek Islands – October… the weather was perfect, the students were back in school and plenty of fish, wine and salads for me. Next I went up to a very cold Serbia, on a train to Belgrade to visit my friend Marco and his family, then to Romania to visit my friends in Timisoura and Iasc. I then hitched a ride down to Bucherest and flew to Istanbul. That city has really grown over the years. I enjoyed going back to the places I had been to before. This time I bought a 7 day bus tour of inner Turkey. I got to visit Capadoicia, Pulmukuli, Kudusa and Gillipoli. I had a great time and being part of a tour was much better than just wondering around by myself.

So the point is, I had 2 great months on the road in Europe and Turkey and I really liked it. Back to the original point of all of this.

My trip to Latin America was postponed by 40 years. In December, 2009 I bought a round trip ticket down to Rio. I just picked a date to leave in the middle of February. A 3 month trip should be long enough to see what was going on down there. My plan was to go up the coast of Brazil and get to the mouth of the Amazon. I think the idea of a boat ride across Brazil might have been the major objective of this trip.

so back to the story.

…..flying into Rio

International flying is starting to get to be a normal thing for me. I flew down to Rio and found myself on a bus to the Ipanema beach. Constantly looking for that statue of Jesus with his arms spread out… I did find my hostel and was amazed that it was right next to the place where the Girl from Ipanema was written. It seems like all the tourists who go to Rio have seen the movie “City of God”. This film is about all the violence and poverty associated with the favelas, the slums on the hills where the poor people live.

So I tried to not look like a tourist..but it was difficult, i had my winter white skin look. I was surprised to see a sign at the hostel that mentioned the last Carnival parade to be held the next day. I really thought that I was getting to Rio too late to see any of the festivities. So on Saturday nite I got on the subway and found the sombredromo, the stadium where the parade is held. Parade is really not the right word for what this is. It starts at

9pm and goes onto the next morning at 7am. I was lucky enough to sit next to a family who had a daughter who spoke great English. After awhile I was drinking beer and starting to move my body to the music… The parade groups all had a fantastic drum corps who made the place rock…. after all these months i am still dancing to that beat (just move our shoulders, the body will follow). I hung out until about 6 am and I was just to sleepy to make it through the whole deal. I got a subway back to the hostel and slept for a few hours.

I was lucky enough to pick the right time when the Rio finals were being held. With 100,000 other football fans, I got to see the Rio final the next day. That was the second live soccer game I have been to and it was so amazing. I had to stand on my chair throughout the whole game just to see the field. I was always thinking…”what did I do to deserve the luck of getting to Carnival and the football finals”… but there I was in Rio.

Of course I had to go see Christ up on the hill and look down at Rio…. I visited the famous tile steps in St. Theresa Favela and got a real good sunburn on the Ipanema Beach, listening to live Bossa Nova music.

After a week of Rio I took the bus to the Rotaviara (pronounced Ho dough V aria). I took a 3 hour bus trip up to Buzios on the coast. I had reservations at the Buzios Beach Hostel for 3 nites. It turned into 2 weeks and I really did not want to leave. This hostel is run by Stephen from Ireland/Australia and his assistant, Adrian from Ireland. What a great team. There were people from Chile, Argentina, the UK and Austria there, and me the only USA person. The place was right down the street from the Geriba Beach… Now I never go in the ocean, but this place was so nice, and the water was so warm I went in every day.

The next place I went to was Ouro Preto (Black Gold). I enjoyed this small college town. The hills were too much for me.

After a week of buses I did make it to Brasilia, the Capital of Brazil. I wanted to see the buildings there designed by the same guy who designed the capitol buildings in Albany. I then flew up to Belem and took a 6 day trip on the Amazon to Manaus. Then a boat trip to the Peru, Columbia and Brazil Border. Peru buses were something to forget. Just one terrible close call after another. eventually I got to Lima and then a 24 hour bus ride to Cuzios.

to be continued….


Griff at 96

I have been fortunate to have visited Thailand 4 times. I never went to the south of Bangkok where all the tourists were going to party. Full moon was not for me as I was over 60. I went up to Chiang Mai way up in the north. This was the old capital of Siam and I always felt comfortable up there. The old city was square and is surrounded by a moat and there are still some of the walls standing. I stayed at a cheap hotel called the White House. It is near the Thai Pai gate. The rooms were $15/night. Not a great hotel, but clean and in a good location.

In 2014 during my last visit I met an incredible woman. Her name was Griff.

She has spent 3 months here in Chiang Mai and after staying at 3 other hotels/hostels was now staying at my hotel. Griff is from northern Prestatyn, Wales and an amazing life force at 96 years old. She was there on her own and is a well seasoned traveler. We started to have our breakfasts together at the UN Irish Pub and Crusty Loaf Pub. The pub is a couple blocks away from our hotel but worth the extra distance. They make their own bread there.

My role was to make sure no motorbike or taxi ran over Griff on our way to and from the Pub. She can really move when she has room. I told her to slow down a couple of times. The pub is on a busy street so I hold her hand as we cross the road.


Let me describe the way she orders her breakfast…(spoken in a crisp Welsh miltary-precise manner) I do not need the menu… I want tea with ‘boiling’ water…2 hard boiled eggs…peeled and do not cook them as long as yesterday….1 piece of whole wheat bread lightly toasted, some butter and some honey and no jelly…it really is not jelly nor jam.
The waitress is use to the breakfast orders and they all love her. We usually arrived at the pub’s courtyard at 8:50 am. Our talks go on and on, most of the time past noon and a couple of times past 1 pm. We eventually had German and UK people showing up just to be in her presence.

Our talks were amazing…she has been everywhere. She told me about the military. She worked at a radar base in Belgium when the country was still occupied. She was stationed in Ghana and she went out looking for snakes and birds. She was an excellent horse women. She later was stationed in the UK Sector of post war Germany.

At first she told me the internet was stupid but I think I changed her mind. She asked me to find a 1944 BBC production of Under Milkwood as narrated by Richard Burton. This was written by a famous Welsh man. Dylan Thomas. I found the program on Youtube and we listened to most of it at the Wat Chiang Man Temple. She did not like that Youtube only gave you 10 minute bits at a time. I have a couple hours of audio recording of her and eventually will post it.

She told me about an Australian poem she memorized when she was 6. And now 90 years later she still knows the whole thing. Bannerman of the Dandennong is a long poem and she can still recite it. I found it on the web and read it as she recited it.


Griff with her German admirers

We both left from Bangkok on the same day for Europe.

I recorded several hours of our talks and will try to post them here.

Winter 2017-2018

A long easy winter… We had our driveway plowed once and our wood supply held up pretty good. Looking forward to the Spring and moving around outside. Rik came back and is living in the very cold porch. Jordan is taking care of the transportation needs of the family. We need a bigger car to move the girls around. The little ECHO Toyota is going on 200,000 miles and only has 2 doors.

Yesterday we had a sad day remembering my wife Donna. She had her 60th birthday but missed it. Going on 4 years since she took off to GOD KNOWS WHERE. Zachary and Rik visited Donna’s grave and left some flowers. I know Donna would be very proud of her sons and grandkids. They are all enjoying life and doing positive things.

Abby continues to take horseback lessons at the Van Etten Farm. She Uncle Zachary bought her some riding pants, riding boats and a nice helmut. She is getting to be a very good horse woman. Alissa turns 8 this summer and she wants to learn how to ride horses too. Abby is getting to be a little techno wiz. She is using her art talent to make some nice youtube videos. Here are some of her latest sketches..

And here is Ronan. He somes over on Sundays and plays with his cousins.

Ronan is the same age as Alissa, his eyes are not that red

Jeff Ingleston, one of Jordan’s childhood friends has been doing some work around my house. He put blinds up in each window, and we have plenty of windows. He has painted and fixed things. Abby just did a sketch of Jeff and here it is..

Alissa is attached to her Apple Tablet. She has done well in 2nd grade. I think the tablet really helped her learn to read. I wanted to get someting captured to keep my blog going. My travel blog is here and sometime I need to keep it separated from the family stuff.

Just got a Samsung chrome book which is also a tablet. I think I am losing it to the girls. We all use it. Now I have to figure out how to publish this.

Most of my computer time is spent on TWITTER. I am mad at FACEBOOK and drastically curtailed its use.


Knox, NY

Feb 20, 2018

Mary Mulligan Simpson

Simpson, Mary M. ALBANY Mary (Mulligan) Simpson, 84, of Albany and Boynton Beach, Fla., died Saturday, May 10, 2008 at St. Peter’s Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. Born in Staten Island, N.Y., she was the daughter of the late John W. and Mary (Emmott) Mulligan. She attended the College of St. Rose and was a graduate of Empire State College. She retired from the NYS Department of Labor. Mrs. Simpson was a communicant and one of the founding members of St. Catherine of Siena Church. She devoted her life to her family and friends and was a lifelong Yankees fan.

Wife of the late Robert J. Simpson Sr. and Wallace Culver; mother of Joanne S. (Ed) Cedilotte of Glenmont, Robert J. (Donna) Simpson Jr. of Knox, N.Y., Mary R. (Thomas) Smith of Albany, Jack (Joanne) Simpson of Burnt Hills, N.Y. and William (Jennifer) Simpson of Rensselaer, N.Y.; grandmother of Christine Cedilotte, Rik, Jordan, and Zachary Simpson, Thomas A. Smith, Brian and Katie Simpson; great-grandmother of Abigail Simpson; sister of Irene O’Toole Jamieson of New Hartford, N.Y. and Madonna Rowland of Latham, N.Y.; also survived by special friends Pam Carrier and Chris Converse, and many nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by great-granddaughter, Nova Simpson.

Funeral services will be held Wednesday at 10:45 a.m. from the Daniel Keenan Funeral Home, 490 Delaware Ave. then at 11:30 a.m. at St. Catherine of Siena Church, where a Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated. Relatives and friends are invited and may also call at the funeral home Tuesday from 5-8 p.m.
Entombment will follow the Mass in the mausoleum of St. Agnes Cemetery, Menands. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to a charity of your choice.

Our Mom
Mary Regina Simpson Smith

The most important thing I can say about our Mother is that the five of us really lucked out because we got the best mother ever. She was an amazing mother. Throughout our lives she taught us a lot of lessons along the way.
She taught us to love our God. When our parents were buying their first home one of the major requirements was, that it be close to a Catholic school and church – we grew up two blocks from St. Catherine’s. She taught us that family was important and that the friendship between our siblings was essential. She loved her two sisters, Irene and Donna, her nieces and nephews and grand children.
She taught us that education was one of the keys to success. In fact, one of our nick names for our Mother was Mrs. Education. Our parents put us through Catholic grade schools, Catholic high schools and paid for all of our college tuition. Our parents always put our needs ahead of their own.
She taught us how to have celebrate life. Every year we spent 2 weeks on Cape Cod or at Misquamicut, Rhode Island. Our home was a happy home. We are not a perfect family but we are a loving family.
She taught us to respect our elders and to help others.She taught us right from wrong.
She was a very giving mother. She helped us whenever we were in need and many times without our ever asking. She was a forgiving mother. Needless to say we all gave her several gray hairs.
She was a mother who knew what was going on every minute. She had to be in the know. She didn’t want to be left out of anything. Who was on the phone and what did they want. She used to tell us she had eyes in the back of her head.
She kept very current. And had a great mind till the very end. I had no idea what 420 meant but our mother did.

She taught us how to be strong and survive. Our mother lost two husbands, and had about 10 operations over the years. She was a true survivor.
She gave invaluable advice. When things went wrong one of her famous lines was “You didn’t listen”.
And she was very stylish, had a passion for fine clothing and always dressed so nicely. She loved to shop. And she loved her sweets. Her two favorite things to eat and drink were Nestles chocolate bars and coca cola. In her later years she loved bananas, Pam’s banana bread, blueberry muffins and 3 Musketeers bars. They were all easy for her to eat. In addition, to being our Mother she was our best friend.

She taught us that the Yankees were the best team ever and that Derek Jetter was the best shortstop. It is no coincidence that Jetter hit his first home run of the season the day our mother passed away. Somehow I think Mom had something to do with that.

We all learned a lot from our mother. We tried to implement the lessons she had taught us over the years. Each of us in our own way did what we could to help her when she was in need in her last few years. At times it wasn’t easy. It is very difficult to watch your beloved mother go through such difficult times. She knew what she wanted and she wanted it now. In fact, Chris hung signs at 6 Hopewell Street that read “It’s all about Mary”. And in the end it was all about Mary. We couldn’t do enough for her and we couldn’t do it fast enough.

You learn a lot about your family when a loved one is very ill. My siblings and I tried to take good care of our mother. Toward the end, Joanne was her rock. She depended on Joanne for everything. Joanne was the director. For the last few years, Joanne and Ed took care of her medical needs, her finances, and her everyday needs. It was Joanne she looked to for direction. And it was Joanne who did everything humanly possible to help our mother. One night last week at the Villa, I told Joanne to go home since she had been there all day; my Mom said “No, Joey stay.” Even though there were 2 of us that would be staying, she wanted Joey to stay. Joanne’s presence was a great comfort to her. She felt much more secure when Joanne was near. You couldn’t ask for a better daughter.

Since Bob retired, he spent endless hours with our Mom. He drove down from Knox daily to be with her. She told me how fortunate she was to have him. She spent her last time in Florida with Bobby and he took excellent care of her. She told me that Bobby really knew how to take care of a sick person. He did things without her ever even asking – so many things to make her comfortable. And no one could make tea better than Bobby. It was Bobby who finished her last cup of tea Saturday morning after she passed.

She enjoyed Jack’s humor. He always made her laugh. He did crazy things like throwing sticky animals on the ceiling of her hospital room. At the end I saw his serious side. I watched him guide her with her breathing. Breath through your nose and out through your mouth. Take it real slow Mom. It was so very difficult for her because she was a mouth breather. There were several nights Jack stayed late after working a full day and then he had a long drive home to Burnt Hills.

And Bill, he was her baby and her favorite. She never admitted it but we all knew. It was Billy who got her a blanket and tucked her in when she laid on the couch and didn’t feel well years ago. He was there for her after our Dad passed away. He and Bobby brought her muffins from Dunkin Donuts daily. No one could make milkshakes quite like Billy. There was a very special bond between our Mom and her youngest child. And she loved Bailey. He always brightened up her day. My mother has three very dedicated sons and she was very proud of each one of them.

And me I made the cookies and tweezed the dark hairs from her face. She loved us all and we will always love her.

She led a simple, honest and clean life. She was a beautiful person who had the softest skin. She was a wonderful role model for us all and it comes as no surprise that the last word she uttered was Jesus. We know our Mom is in a better place where there is no pain, no oxygen issues, no need for ambesol, lip medex, cold water or Kleenex. We are going to miss you Mom and we all love you very much. Thank you for being our Mother and taking such wonderful care of us all. Today, we celebrate you.

Mary Mulligan Simpson
Robert John Simpson

First:   thanks to all of you who are here to honor our mom….. we appreciate you being here to help us celebrate our mother’s life.

She was born March 30, 1924 on Staten Island at St. Vincents Hospital. Her mom was Mary Emmott Mulligan (our Nana) and her father was John William Mulligan (our grumpa).  She had a happy childhood on Staten Island; she talked about the summers next to the ocean….

She had two sisters, Irene O’toole Jamieson of Utica and Florida and Madonna Rowland of Latham.  The 3 Mulligan girls all did very well for themselves, they raised beautiful families….. And my mom was very proud of her sisters.

She attended school in NYC, Delmar, and Albany.  In 1941 she graduated from Vincentian Institute High School.  She still has friends from VI after over 60 years. She then  went to the College of St. Rose for 2 years.  The war stopped that for awhile. She then raised the Simpson kids, had a career and went back to Empire College and got her degree.

First of all she was smart.  Up to the end she could beat me when we watched Jeopardy.  She was a reader who liked good furniture, and good clothes.  She also had very good taste and STYLE.  She had excellent hearing ………………..and she was always listening.

Some of her loves in life included:

My father, Robert John Simpson Sr of Portadown, Northern Ireland, Manchester, Connecticut and the US Coast Guard.  They had a war-time romance and they were a great team.  We were lucky to have them as our parents.  Our family at 6 Hopewell Street rocked… thanks Mom.

The New York Yankees.  She loved Derek Jetter.  If she was not watching her team on her very big HDTV, she was listening to them on her radio.  Every time I talked to her she had to remind me of the number of games they were ahead of Boston.  She loved to needle me and Tom Smith about her team.

Shopping…………. Central Ave…., the malls…. the outlet centers…. and lets not forget the Christmas Tree Shops.  She made me take her to everyone on Cape Cod..

Food…..she loved her veal Parmesan at Lombardos, her shrimp, her fish, her chocolate bars.

Public Service…… she was very proud that she worked for New York State.  For many years she ran the Unemployment Office in Albany.  Her work let her help people. She was willing to teach her workers how to do their jobs.  She really cared.

She loved her grandkids….Christine, Rik, Jordan, Zachary, Tom, Brian, and Kate.  She even got to hold a great grandchild, Abigail Simpson who was born on mom’s 83rd birthday.

I know she loved the 5 Simpson kids, Joanne, Robert, Jeannie, Jack and Bill.  She was a great mom, although Jeannie is right……she loved Billy the most!!!!!!!! She was so proud of Jack,  and his family. She told me to always protect my little sister Jeannie, and I will.

Lets not forget the animals in her life… Lady the collie way back in the 1940s. Fletcher the boxer, Tobias the Siamese Cat, Deacon the dalmatian and Bailey, Billy and Jen’s yellow lab…..Mom really loved Bailey………

About 30 years ago my mom and dad found something new.  The state of Florida.  They always told us that we should not move away from them.  Not one of us did, however they moved away from us to the warmth of Florida.

Warm winters were good for Mary Simpson.  She stayed healthy down there and kept busy and made many new friends.  She always kept track of Albany’s weather and had to call us to let us know how high the temperature was down there… I loved taking care of mom in Florida over the past 4 years…..

After my dad was gone, mom found Wally Culver and had a very happy 10 years with him. We liked mom going on with her life…..    They were able to take great cruises and trips. Most of us went to Nova Scotia on the Triumph in 1999, paid for by our Mom. We will not forget that gift.

Some random thoughts about Mary Mulligan Simpson:

•    for many years mom and dad put together a booth for the St. Catherines bazar with bamboo fishing pools, painted file transfer boxes and coke  bottles that you were supposed to stand up to win stuffed animals.  She spent a lot of money on our Catholic educations, always writing those checks….

•    she had a thing for KLEENEX

•    she liked to spread her money around, she was way too generous with her checks and she had excellent handwriting.

•    she got better cooking Italian Food over the years

•    the cupcake incident on the mass turnpike Springfield Exit…

•    remember when all 7 of us went out for an Easter drive on Carmen Road and Dad got the station wagon stuck in the sand.  It was okay until I took out a camera to take a picture of the situation and dad lost it and chased me around, thank God mom was there to calm dad down……

Mary Mulligan Simpson was a good mother.  She made sure that we all had good educations, good meals, great vacations and were shown the warmth of family.  She made sure that our Christmas’s were excellent.  Presents filled up our living room and we always got way too much.

Over the past few years we all pitched in to help mom stay in her house.  It was hard but we all became closer to mom during this time. All of the 5 Simpsons helped out and we had some help from Pam who became the 6th Simpson.  Pam, thanks for painting mom’s toe nails bright red last week.  That was the first time she had that done and she showed her toes to everybody…..

Mom loved her visits from Chris, they always played cards together and they both played to win.  Jeannie tells me that when she won at cards mom would call her and gloat on it.

As Jeannie said, Joanne was amazing these past few years.  She was always in charge and she let you know it. She and Ed were mom’s protectors. Joanne is made of steel.

All difficult things have some good in them; we found out that our family was a good strong family that did the right thing for our mom.  

We have no regrets.

Mary Simpson showed us what is important in life. She taught us how to pray, work hard and respect other people.  We all were able to hand that down to our children.

Thanks mom, we will always remember you as we get on with our lives.  We will see you again down the road….

With love 


Family Pictures

Simpson Girls going weird

Robert J. Simpson retires

Rik, Zachary, Jordan and Deacon

Donna and Donald RowlandDad and his sister Mildred



Burma Pictures


Here is a video Google did for me with some pics and video from my travels of 2013

Mom’s picture collection

This is a photo collection put together by Mary Simpson in the early 1990s…
working on the pixs

Robert Simpson, USCG, Donna Mulligan and Mary Mulligan
August 1944
Cardinal Ave Albany, NY
Nana MulliganMom’s mom, our Nana
Mary Emmott Mulligan       mom donna pop                                                                               Mary Mulligan, Donna Mulligan and Robert Simpson
simpson children
Jack Robert Joanne Jeannie and Billy in front
July 1961
simpson kids
Jeannie, Joanne, Bill
Robert and Jack Simpson
otooles and simpsons cape cod
The O’Tools and Simpsons at JFK Memorial on Cape Cod
george and edith Simpson
George and Edith Simpson Dad’s parents

Manchester Conn.
August 1972

first group of grandkids
Richard, Jordan and Zachary Simpson
Christine Cedilotte
November 24, 1984
Albany, New York
John W. Mulligan
Irene, Mary and Donna with Big John
John W. Mulligan
April 13, 1985
Mary and Robert Simpson
married 40 years
June 1985
Gene and Dad
War buddies
humpty and dumpty
Robert John Simpson Sr.
and friends

created by Robert John Simpson Jr.
April 2004

Back to Basics

I have too many things. Really trying to get unnecessary stuff out of my life. Too much furniture, too many clothes, too much food, too much trash just sitting waiting to go to the dump, and too many TV sets, cables and computers.

Here are some pics I took off the walls and just wanted to save these memories.

Donna and her Tweety shirt which she loved to wear.

Alissa and a duckling

Alissa pic taken by Larry in Cape Cod

Another Larry picture…he is a great photo artist

9 year old Abby

Abby knows she is beautiful.

Still here

Taking care of my beautiful 20161009_135206grandkids, Allisa and Abby. I am not traveling anymore but enjoying my life in my home.

Zachary, my youngest son got married in October. Here is a video of his wedding to John.


I realize how lucky I am. Many grandparents do not have their grandkids in their lives. 

Alissa is now 6 and very different than 9 year old Princess Abby. She fears nothing, will try anything. 

Abby is learning to ride horses. She seems a natural. Here is a short video of her riding her horse Buck.