On a Reflective Return

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Greetings! I hope this find you in good health and spirits – and thanks for returning after my late-spring/early summer blog break. Yes – I missed my interactions here! After taking some time away from my little corner of the world, I eased back to the blogs by visiting.

Vacationing was the reason for my time away – but I did draft and edit some future posts. After all, some readers anxiously await more beach walks. Also almost ready are a short story, several dance posts, a true story about food lines, and a challenging series about religion in the United States. I hope to unveil a new header with the next Opinions in the Shorts.

Amidst a combination of excitement, unknown, and low expectations, my wife and I embarked on a never-done-before journey – a bus-trip tour vacation.

We flew to Las Vegas a day early, then became part of 33 vacationers from eight different US states and 3 foreign countries for a 15-night tour of US National Parks and Monuments. Yes – Americans from Alabama, Georgia, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Texas joined vacationers from Australia (6), New Zealand (4), and South Africa (2) to be led by a guide from Colorado and a bus driver from Arizona.

After a short, evening orientation and social gathering, the group boarded a bus that would log over 2800 miles (4500 km) over 2 weeks at about 7 miles per gallon. Except for one two-night stop, that meant a different hotel every night – yes – essentially living out of a suitcase for 2 weeks.

Given my wife and I had only previously visited Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, and Denver on this itinerary, we were excited to see the national treasures and the land connecting them. We were also apprehensive about a group tour on a bus – let alone the ambitious undertaking of the time and miles involved in our initiation into bus touring.

Four conceptual thoughts are prominent in my mind as I reflect about this trip.

(-) The US National Parks are special places. I combined two quotes by John Muir and Stephen Mather that express my feelings. Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike – and this can happen through the US National Parks – not only our best idea, but our best ideal.

(-) Whether the vast grassy plains of eastern Wyoming or the desert areas of Arizona, Nevada, and Utah, the USA has a lot of land that remains wide open, Seeing miles and miles of land without a house in sight stimulates a variety of thoughts.

(-) The early history and struggles of the national parks still rings today. Same arguments – different players about federally protected land and land use for business development.

(-) But this point hit my the hardest: How little I know about the American Indians native to the land. Right here, right now I admit it – and I’m ashamed of it and unfortunately believe the same is true for the vast majority of Americans.

Meanwhile, it’s good to be back. Do you have one particular post I need to visit? Here’s a song to start northern hemisphere summer.

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108 thoughts on “On a Reflective Return

  1. Nice to see you back Frank. You and Right are brave to undertake this type of vacation and I look forward to hearing your further adventures. (The thought of being locked up with a pile of strangers for a fortnight does rather scare me – I’m more introvert than extrovert!) I shall look forward to hearing your thoughts on it. I’m also interested in your comment about your lack of knowledge of the indigenous peoples. More to come on that? You haven’t missed much from me at all. It’s well into winter here and I am enjoying the opportunity to be a hermit, listen to lots of audio books (on spirituality this winter apparently), play music, read and potter around creating stuff interspersed by daily outings to take the air……

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pauline,
      Thank you … and good to see my favorite Kiwi here. As I mentioned, 4 Kiwis were on the trip! Meanwhile, sounds like your venture into hermitting is keeping you busy. 😉

      Regarding a future post about my lack of knowledge about indigenous Americans. I’m not sure I know enough to do a post on it, but it is worth the though – and something may come from that process! Thanks for the idea … and Shimon thought the same as you!

      Like

  2. Welcome home, Frank. It is definitely healing to go out to nature, and how good it sounds to spend some time with your dear wife, enjoying nature and learning about places and people that you haven’t seen before. Your comment about the native Americans is worth a lot of thought. We come into this world and receive it ‘as is’. There’s been a lot of cruelty and injustice before we arrived. Can we try to repair some of the damage of the past? Can we influence the world we find around us today? How much of our time and possessions are we willing to sacrifice or the sake of these ideals? I look forward to reading your thoughts on the subject.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Shimon,
      Thanks for the warm greeting. What we Americans did to the American Indians during westward expansion is a sad tale – well, I know that much – but not enough to write back. However, I will give the idea some thought. Who knows – maybe I post can come from that thinking process!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Merril,
      Vacationing is a good thing … and we had a good time. As far as my statement about the lack of knowledge about American Indians, I know you are a history person – so I know you realize (more than most) what I meant.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You and your wife did well to take this tour while you are still young enough to not mind getting up early every morning. Mollie and I took a number of such tours a decade or so ago with the Tauck Company and found them very enjoyable. Our favorite was an eight-day tour of “New Orleans and Cajun country”. It started in a mule-drawn carriage ride to a top restaurant and included a visit to the Vicksburg area in MS and an ante-bellum southern dinner in an historic mansion. The tour guide’s excellent knowledge of history and his reservoir of anecdotes were a major plus.

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  4. Cincy,

    Welcome back world traveler via US of A!

    You had quite a journey and I am perty certain we will ALL be the better for it in future episodes. As for your new header? Hmmm. I was tossing with doing the same, since ours is so vanilla. Not sure though, I’m not an artist.

    As for my knowledge of the Native Americans, same. Sadly.

    Hey! Whatever happened to that Cuban sammy post?

    Peace and welcome back!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Welcome back, aFrank.
    It’s sounds like this was a very different vacation. We took a cross country vacation for 6 weeks. Camping with 2 kids, visiting state parks, Indian reservations and majestic sites of interest. It was and is a wonderful way to see many, many states.
    I’m sure is was relaxing to leave the driving to someone else.
    Isn’t it astonishing how little we know when we’re confronted with something we know little about? Smacks ya right in the eye.
    My kids have never forgotten the trip especially our running out of gas with no exit in sight. Strangers took pity on us and invited us to stay with them on their farm. Fed us and everything …. try doing that now-a-days. LOL
    Thank you for popping by my blog and commenting. I look forward to you stories and posts.
    Isadora 😎
    ps: do you mind that I call you aFrank instead of Frank? It sounds much more special. : )

    Liked by 1 person

    • Carrie,
      It was a good tour … after all, we had only visited 3 of the locations in the past. Some of the things like Mt. Rushmore, Devil’s Tower, etc are things we’ve now seen once – and that’s enough for me.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Your trip included many wondrous places, some of which I’ve been to, but would enjoy seeing again. Thanks for including the map showing where you went and the tour’s counter clockwise route. Your point about the wide-openess of much of America especially caught my attention. It brought back vivid memories of the magnificent panoramas my wife and I saw in 1976 during our first car trip through the west on our way to Yellowstone National Park.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Welcome back, traveler! It sounds like a great trip from the glitz of Las Vegas to the wonders of nature. I agree that Americans know far too little about the Native Americans that were here before us. We could start by learning about those even in just our own states. It seems you enjoyed the bus trip. Husband and I are going to try a six-day bus trip next month which will be a first for us. Having someone else drive appeals to us right now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jo,
      Greetings. Wow … no kidding about the difference between the Vegas glitz and the natural wonders. Because this was our first bus trip, I have a future post in the works about the positive and negatives of this endeavor … so hopefully I will post it before your trip! Thanks for motivating me to do it!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hey there Frank.

    Always glad to see you back after your little breaks and getaways…
    I dunno… the only bus trip I’d be interested in, is the one that Diane Lane takes in “Under the Tuscan Sun” – and that’s coz it involved the buying of a place in Tuscany!

    That said, looking forward to hearing more about said trip. There will be more, right?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Welcome back, Frank! And what a great trip. I don’t have my statistics handy, but I think California has more (or comes a close second) with something like 40 indigenous people groups still seeking status and recognition. When I was a child and well into my college years we were beginning to recognize how the Native Americans had been treated abysmally, but we didn’t speak of the different cultures, and everyone was “lumped” somewhat together as though one family. So there’s a lot of re-learning that has to take place, and I think one of the best ways to learn is through a study based on geography, which is what you’re doing. I know that in our state the National Parks, state parks and beaches have signage that attempts to educated visitors about who lived here first! I frequently feel very inadequately educated and I’ll take all the prompts I can find! Glad you’re back to posting again!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. welcome back! Ok, so two things jumped from this post into my crazy brain…
    one, your shorts, lol, I look forward to seeing the diverse posts while you dress weather appropriately, and secondly, your excursions appear to be boot shaped! Did you pre-plan that? Yeah, it’s a half-baked mind I walk with, but it’s mine, lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Welcome back, Frank. America is a gorgeous country. I have visited many times. However, I won’t be visiting in the near future. As a Canadian, I am made to feel unwelcome by a certain demographic. I’ve never felt this before.
    We are trying to make things equal for our First Nations. Some progress has been made, but there is still much to raise eyebrows about.
    We had an election in Ontario, and 3 seats are now filled by First Nations representatives.

    Like

    • Resa,
      I like the term “First Nations” …. well stated and glad to see that the Canadians are leading the way.

      BTW – I understand your feeling – but keep in mind that there is another demographic that is larger and better!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Welcome back, Frank! Haven’t done this tour. Sounds interesting and worth contemplating. Look forward to your pics and stories. Couldn’t imbibe the song by Kid Rock. Definitely not a fan. Too many hateful, racist things have come out of his mouth for my taste, which means they emanated from his heart.

    Take care and blog on…

    Liked by 1 person

    • E-Tom,
      Oh yes … a good tour. I’ll post more in the future, as well as a post about the positive and negatives of a bus tour. In terms of Kid Rock, I don’t care for him and seldom get excited about his music – but I like this song!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. WOW what a fabulous itinerary. I remember as a kid that Bryce and Zion as magical – like enchanted fairies made them. Hope you got to see some sunrises/sunsets there.
    I can see the benefits of a bus tours, – especially with people from all over – would be interesting talking with them about the trip’s places as well as other stuff. But so many places so fast – whew!
    As kids we were often told “Just about every west of the Mississippi has Indian blood in them – but it doesn’t count if you’re not getting oil money or not registered with a tribe.” I think knowledge of the First People depends on where you were raised and the attitude of adults/parents/government of the region. View points vary a lot. Good not to make broad generalizations.
    Many full blooded Indians lived in the ordinary community where I grew up – and many of us had/have cousins on reservations. We were taught to be respectful. (And Tonto was considered the smart one – and he spoke 2 languages. Obviously the smart one). Kids were taught about the state’s and local tribes even in elementary schools – might be different in other states.
    History is good – facts from both sides/view points as the truth is usually in the middle. But the honoring of US-tribal treaties is abysmal. Also true is that various tribes hated each other and fought for territory long before settlers arrived on the shores. Some lived in harmony with new settlers, and some tribes were feared by all. And there was slavery here before the Pilgrims. It’s only been fairly recently that anyone would admit/talk about how brutal the Buffalo Soldiers were to tribes after the Civil War. Humans are humans.
    Human migration is complex. Then, as now, there are clashes of cultures, traditions, religion/philosophies of life and battles over territory.
    I know more than you ever wanted to know HAHA
    Glad you’re back! Always thought provoking posts here

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Pingback: On Touring by Bus – A Frank Angle

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