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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On Beach Walk: 23

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I like walking the beach as it is good for the body, mind, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

The sand is smooth from the earlier winds, yet the water is a gentle ripple. The cold night developed an eerie sight of fog-like strands wisping across the water and out to sea.

 

The large cloud bank in the distance appears as a catch basin for the wisps, yet the horizon is a mere midst of fog.

I see myself as walking on the water. The wisps representing my past touch me as I travel to the unknown. Yes, I see my future in this image – no matter if a minute, an hour, a day, week, month, or years – the future whatever and whenever if may be.

I don’t know my future – none of us do. The future as it centers around a bountiful collection of questions beginning with who, what, when, where, why, and how. A mixture of good and bad – fun and serious – happy and sad. Yes, I also see the wisps leading me to all the unknowns as I travel to all the tomorrows of time.

As the beach walk ends, the air was warmer – the wisps were few – yet the future just as much of an unknown as ever. Time will tell all.

My future is what I ponder on this day. Even though unknown walking the beach is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

On Beach Walk No. 16

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I like walking the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

We started 2017 with 4 weeks on the Alabama coast where I started this series. After returning home last year, friends asked if we would do it again next year – to which I always said “No” in a serious, disappointing tone. After they grabbed the hook, I added, “Nope, not 4 weeks – next year will be 6 weeks.”

Instead of all of January, snowbirding 2018 went from mid-January through February. Yes – I was blogging from there – and started my recent blog break from there before returning home. This walk combines thoughts on my first and last walk – plus several after thoughts.

The fine, whitish sand squeaks as I find my way to the water’s edge. As I walk the beach I noticed similarities from a year ago.

Shells still collect on the sand. The heron still patiently stares across the water waiting for the next meal. Pelicans still glide near the water’s surface and dive from many feet above.

The seagulls still squawk. Lanky sandpipers still carefully stroll the water’s edge while the sanderlings continue to amuse me with their frantic ways. Multiple dolphins still occasionally pass by. Sand crabs still appear to move sideways as the scurry down their hole on the beach when hearing approaching footsteps.

I note differences as I walk. Although an ongoing process, the sand has noticeably shifted in some areas. On the other hand, that’s what sand does.

Our daily patterns are still the same as we are relaxed being away from any sense of normalcy. Sort of an alter ego from daily life at home – an alter ego worthy of its own walk.

Last year we collected shells displaying a variety of variations on a theme – but this year it was about uniqueness.

 

Last year we arrived knowing nobody here. This year we quickly connected with a couple from then. Last year we didn’t have any visitors, but this year we hosted my sister-in-law for a week. Friends from Ohio rented a short distance away for a week. We had lunch with friends from our street at home. We even saw the best man in our wedding (now in Oklahoma) who happened to be passing through on a week-long mountain biking journey.

I walked a lot while on this coast during the six weeks. The goal of many people is 10,000 (10K) steps per day. I typically got that by noon and easily exceeded 20K on most days. As my time ends, the soles of my feet are smooth – but a persistent warm glow of tenderness serves as a reminder of the many steps during my 45 days. Life as an alter ego is grand.

A year ago my mind was extraordinarily free to think – but this year, personal thoughts preoccupy my mind. Good news is that more beach walks are on the way – more walks than last year.

I took a blog break because blog breaks are good. I’ve resurfaced with a beach walk because walking the beach is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

On Time Before Me

Click the video for background music for this post.

The day before I was born, baseball great Ted Williams safely landed his damaged jet – for which he earned an Air Medal

One month before I was born, Tito became the first president of Yugoslavia – a position he held for 27 years

One year before I was born, a nor’easter blanketed New England

4 years before I was born, Chaim Weitzman elected first president of Israel

6 years before I was born, Voice of America began broadcasting to the Soviet Union

10 years before I was born, Sergei Rachmaninoff performed his last concert

15 years before I was born, first public experimental demonstration of Baird color TV occurred in London

20 years before I was born, the US Senate passes the Blaine Act to end Prohibition and first issue of Newsweek magazine appeared on newsstands

30 years before I was born, British Egyptologist Howard Carter found the sarcophagus of Tutankhamun (King Tut)

40 years before I was born, New York Armory Show introduced Picasso to American public

42 years before I was born, General Motors installed the first electric starter for a car into a Cadillac

49 years before I was born, opera Madame Butterfly debuted in Milan

52 years before I was born composer Gustav Mahler conducted the premiere of his Second Symphony

70 years before I was born, A. Ashwell patented the free-toilet in London

75 years before I was born, first telephone exchange in San Francisco opened with 18 phones

77 years before I was born sardines were first canned in Eastport, Maine

86 years before I was born, chocolate manufacturer William Cadbury was born and the first ship passed through Suez Canal

88 years before I was born, Union forces regained Fort Sumter (US Civil War)

117 years before I was born, the HMS Beagle and Charles Darwin left Tasmania

277 years before I was born, Kings Charles II (England) and Louis XIV (France) signed a secret treaty

355 years before I was born, Boris Godunov chosen tsar of Russia

1,589 years before I was born, Roman Emperor Jovian died

The day I was born was 17 February 1953

65 years after I was born, I celebrate another birthday with a historical look at February 17th – so the number salute to 65 will be soon.

Happy 65th Birthday from Mini-Me

 

On 2000

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Because I like milestones, celebrating my 2000th post was a given, but I’m going with a low-key approach – a post with a little reflection – a post where I can appreciate the presence of those who stop by to comment – and surprisingly, not a post featuring many factoids about the number.

The journey since 28 August 2008 has been interesting. I have no doubt about the many good people I’ve encountered in my little corner of the world. Good people simply have a way of finding each other.

That first post was a short one, but below is the one paragraph that has served as a guiding light for me … and I’ve done that!

To readers I promise insight, yet will respect comments from others. I will be respectful to all as bashing is not my style, thus hope others are the same. Disagreement and criticism are fine, but it should be done with class. Other times I will simply provide information for readers to use.

Blogs involve an interaction between the writer and readers. I greatly appreciate the readers here – and a special tip of the hat to the hardy that have been around for much of my journey. The visitor with the longest tenure has been Tim – a personal friend here that I’ve known for many years. He actually encouraged me to start the blog after I told him of the possibility. Thanks to all the readers, especially those who have taken time to comment. A toast to all who have stopped by here – especially those who took the time to comment.

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What’s ahead? Well, more of the same. I can say that I have over 10 posts in the ready queue (including a short story) – and more typical-me posts about eclectic topics in draft mode. Onward toward the next milestone – 10 years.

Videos have played a vital role on many of the 2000 posts, so I end this occasion with a song you may not know – but the title fits for my view of my readers – and it was the opening song at the first Moody Blues concert I attended. Thanks for stopping by and for supporting my little corner of the world – Be well, do good work, and stay in touch. (Garrison Keillor)

On a Return

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Greetings fellow bloggers. I’ve missed your presence both here and on your blogs. Isn’t my personal greeter adorable?

Some have noticed that me snooping around with some visits, and (of course) my posted dedicated to #9 honoring the 9th anniversary of my little corner of the world.

The family is making progress with helping an elderly aunt. The task at hand seems monumental, but that’s not unexpected. We know there are several months of work ahead, so we don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel – but that will come. Hopefully the light won’t be another train.

There’s never a good time when it comes to dealing with elderly relatives. Good news is that we see progress on important milestones, plus our aunt is generally receptive to what we suggest. Unfortunately for us, our tasks were put on hold for a bit because of a long-planned vacation during August.

The Vacation

  1. A 5-hour drive to Chicago to eliminate a flight leg (each way) and for considerable financial savings
  2. Flew Chicago to Reykjavik to London Heathrow
  3. Spent 4 days in London (our first trip to the UK)
  4. Bused to Southampton to make the Caribbean Princess our home for 12 days cruising the British Isles (including a stop in France)
  5. Bused from Southampton to Heathrow for our flight to Reykjavik – instead of transferring to another flight, we stayed for 3 days
  6. Flew to Chicago, then made it to Cincinnati a few hours before the eclipse (about 90% coverage)

Our vacation was a good one, and I look forward to sharing various aspects about the trip with you. My apologies to my UK readers because I came to your wonderful region without stopping by to say hello. Our time in the ports are short, and we try to see as much as possible … and we stayed busy in London (which is easy to do).

Even though my plate remains full, I will return to posting on an irregular schedule. After all, I do have posts in the queue ready to go.

Hope all is well with everyone! … and here’s a fitting song for you.

On a Good Reason

I’ve often stated, “Sometimes life gets in the way of blogging.”

This is one of those times. Besides working around personal plans, we have a high-priority family situation requiring time and effort: helping an elderly aunt with some important facets of her life. The tough part is being separated by 3+ hours of driving. Timing is not good from our end – but hey – one must do what one has to do.

Time away from here should be 4-8 weeks. I want the bloggers here to know about my absence from posting, so this is my way of saying thanks for caring and all is well with us.

To send you into an unexpected break, here’s a new one from The Piano Guys … and its title is fitting for this post. See you upon my return. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.