Sixty-Six, for Sixty Six, Part XCVI: Twisters and Turns

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July 11, 2017, Van Wert, OH-   My drive from Elkhart and Goshen was uneventful, until I reached the Ohio state line.  I had an idea, that I might stay in Lima, a northwest Ohio town, with a Baha’i connection (one of the early American Baha’i teachers was from there.)  That went out the window, as soon as I reached the first Ohio highway rest area.  Rain began falling, copiously, to say the least.  Thunder and lightning were, of course, a huge part of the mix.

I then and there decided to make my way to the closest town, Van Wert.  It was the right move.  No sooner had I checked into downtown Van Wert’s only motel, than a tornado alert came on the cellphone, and the motel manager began the process of evacuating her family, and all of us tenants, to the YMCA tornado shelter, across the street.

We spent about forty minutes in the Y’s basement, before the all-clear was sounded.  The twister had struck a town just north of Van Wert, but left us alone.  The night, after that, was peaceful.

Here is the undisturbed scene, the next morning, at Fountain Inn and at the Y.

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By now, Van Wert had grown on me, so a little exploration was in order.  There are two fine breakfast places in town.  I chose Truly Divine Bakery, figuring a little hubris is merited by people who have to live under the threat of tornadoes.  The other place, Balyeat’s, lists itself as “nationally known”, so I also thought Divine needed a boost.  The place has exemplary pastries, and marvelous breakfast sandwiches, so it was the right choice.  A group of A.M. Lions was having their meeting at Divine, so that was another good sign.

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Midwest towns are, on the whole, homey, clean and standard.  There are often one or two surprises, though.  Van Wert has an impressive Courthouse.

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It also boasts Brumback Library, the first county public library in the U.S.

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Finally, there is the Marsh Foundation for Children and Families, serving the needs of high-risk children, since 1922, when George and Herlinda Marsh, a prominent Van Wert couple, saw the need for such a center in northwest Ohio.  The spacious campus  now tends to the needs of young people, from all over the country.

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So, Van Wert is a solid community, and well worth the time taken.  I stayed on U.S. 30, driving through Lima, but continuing on, in the interests of time, and of not knowing when another storm would present itself.  The highway did take me to two other appealing cities:  Mansfield and Canton, subjects of the next two posts.

Sixty-Six, for Sixty Six, Part XCV: A Hoosier Menagerie

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July 10, 2017, Goshen, IN-

After leaving, Notre Dame, I realized I needed some sustenance.  Finding a pizzeria, in Elkhart , closed on Monday, I went into Martin’s Supermarket, on the east end of town, and had a small snack.  Good thing, it wasn’t linner, as I was able to contact another friend, Mcbery, and arrange to meet her, hubby and grandchildren, for a tour of their substantial farm, in nearby Goshen. While en route to our meeting point, I met a harbinger of the visit to come:  A Canadian goose crossing zone!

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I went into Elkhart’s public library, and no sooner had I sat down at a computer desk, than Miriam and Lee showed up. Off we went, me trailing carefully behind, through Goshen’s narrow lanes.  The menagerie was not long in greeting us, at this estimable farm.  There are the usual animals resident on farms:  Cattle, horses, sheep, goats, donkeys and dogs. Then, there are chickens and Guinea pigs, enjoying one another’s company.

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The fauna now took a decidedly more exotic turn, with two types of flightless birds greeting us, with squawks.  The emus, and at least one rhea, manage also to share a large pen.  I was glad to see no cassowary in the mix- those birds are especially vicious.

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The most challenging resident, for now, is a three-month-old camel.  Lee seems to be the only person who can keep a lid on her behaviour.  She came up to me, regarded me with interest, then quickly jumped away, on her little excursion of mischief.

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Further down the path, a full-grown camel led a parade of animals towards their evening feeding.  I was glad to take part in this, and the camel seen here accepted a fistful, or two, of clover and grass, from me.

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After meeting all the animals, it was time for the grandkids to go to their home, down the path, and for the three of us to go for our dinner.  So I close, with a photo of this wonderful farm family.SAM_8505.JPG

 

Indiana has been, once again, a delight, and in three diverse ways, last night and today.

NEXT UP:  Three posts about Ohio, starting with Van Wert, and the most interesting things that happened there.

 

 

 

 

Sixty-Six, for Sixty Six, Part XLIV: One Lady’s Flame of Learning

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July 10, 2017, South Bend-

The University of Notre Dame has long been the stuff of legends, particularly when it comes to college football. There is, of course, far more to this fine institution, so it was ironic that the stadium was off-limits to the public today, with intense construction work being done, in and around it.  My tour of Notre Dame, courtesy of a long-time correspondent, focused on everything else that makes this campus such a great institution.

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Our tour began near the Joyce Center,  a performance center, named for one of the University’s prime movers, Reverend Edmund P. Joyce.

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I am always drawn to student art.  This metal dinosaur was produced by a team of Notre Dame students, and is one of a wide variety of projects, visible around campus.  While I was there, several pieces were being transported to storage, saving them during the summer construction.

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Horticulture is as vital here, for aesthetics and soil enrichment, as it is at any great public place.

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I give you two views of Touchdown Jesus, the lovely, famed, and rather presumptuous, mural which faces Ara Parseghian Stadium.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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Rev. Drs. Joyce and Hesburgh are seen, discussing their vision for Notre Dame.

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There are several panels, along the wall of the University Library, depicting symbols from the Old Testament.

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There are four concrete pavilions, in the center of campus, honouring those who fought in World Wars I & II, Korea, Vietnam and the ongoing conflicts in western Asia.

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In the central fountain of these pavilions, is a steel ball, representing our shared planet.

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The Washington Center, Notre Dame’s administrative center, is topped by this golden dome.

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Along the central corridor of the Washington Center are several portraits, depicting the life of Christopher Columbus.  An ornate crown may also be viewed, at the north end of the corridor.

My guide and I next proceeded to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.  The modernesque features of the interior stand somewhat in contrast to the interiors of several much older cathedrals of, say, western Europe. Nonetheless, the artistry does a fine job of telling the Eternal Story.

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The High Altar, the Altar of St. Peter and the Altar of the Blessed Mother appear, lined up.

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The Basilica’s ceiling calls attention to the Divine Sacrifice.

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This tree shows its resilience, after a sacrifice of a different sort.

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It was now time for my guide to head back to her other duties, so from here, I spent several minutes on my own.

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That time was spent in the Jordan Center for Science.

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The Center’s biological and medical research is wide in field, most notably its research into blindness.  The Museum, closed when I was there, has an extensive collection of skeletons and taxidermy.

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The Sundial hearkens back to a time when naturalistic observation meant the difference between life and death.

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This has been one of the more fascinating campus tours, along with that, four years ago, of Princeton University, courtesy of another longtime correspondent. So, farewell, Notre Dame and Ara Parseghian Stadium.

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Sixty-Six, for Sixty Six, Part XLIII: Beyond Measure

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July 9-10, 2017, Portage, IN-

My life has not been seemingly on a higher plane, since being invited to the spiritual forum that flows, quite nicely, with the tenets and expressions of faith that emanate from the Writings of Baha’u’llah.  A lovely service honoured His Herald, al-Bab (The Gate), who was so brutally executed on July 9, 1850- as part of a religious pogrom, that continues, to this day, in Iran.

The Baha’i House of Worship, in Wilmette, north of Chicago, blesses the entire area and brings solace to people of all spiritual traditions and inclinations.  The serenity extends to the surrounding shoreline of Lake Michigan.

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Despite the solemn nature of the service, there is still much joy that the Baha’i friends take, from being together at this beloved Temple.

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I was pleased to have met a new friend and mentor, at this gathering, as well as long-time fellows in Faith.  The energy propelled me, rather easily, through the freeway drive that could be otherwise rather draining.

I reached Indiana, in plenty of time for a Stromboli repast, in the town of Lake Station.  I did not hear back from a friend here in Portage, who has seemed a bit beleaguered, of late.  My plan to camp at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, however, did come to fruition.  There was a hint of a storm, which fortunately, did not strike the area until a bit after dawn, allowing me to break camp and head for the Dunkin Donuts.  My sad looking little tent is actually quite comfortable.

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I like that Mother Nature waited, until I had everything down, folded and in the trunk, before the downpour began.  I felt badly for my neighbour,though.  She was a Hispanic woman, with four kids in tow.  I think the boys were in a tent, and she was in the camper, so it was probably only a temporary inconvenience.

After eating a breakfast sandwich and warming up with coffee, I headed to the Dunes.  The early morning was dark, and could have been gloomy, if I’d let it be.  There is a majesty, in the stark horizon and in the interplay between shore and lake.

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There are all manner of trails, around the Dunelands- and one goes from the Illinois state line to the Michigan line.  I was content, today, just to enjoy the shoreline and life in the sand dunes.

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There are several estuaries, a testimony to the sheer size of the lakes.

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Here is a look at Portage’s harbour house and marina.

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Vegetation and flowers are always very thick, among the dunes.

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The allure of reflection is ever present.

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Michigan is not quite visible, through the haze, but it’s there, way beyond the steel mill.

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There is a fine interplay, at long last, between conservation and metallurgy, in this often buffeted area.

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The “closeness” of Chicago?  At least, the haze is not strong, to the north and west.

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The steel barons, long ago, had a lighthouse placed at the north end of the mill site. It is almost a stone’s throw, from the public walkway, west of the mill.

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Here is the beach area, of the Portage shoreline.  A few hardy souls were here, in search of at least a morning’s catch.

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Finally, this wetland area has been reclaimed, fully, from having been a Superfund waste site.  Indiana’s Congressional representatives and the steel industry managed to get this one right, and wildlife thrives, in the restored hills.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESJuly 10 was a most momentous day, with two great visits, each of which will be the subject of a post.  Part XLIV (44) will feature the University of Notre Dame and Part XLV (45) looks at Elkhart, and a most unusual family farm.

 

 

 

Sixty-Six, for Sixty Six, Part XLVII: A SunFlour Doppelganger and A Room On A Bluff

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July 8, 2017, Lake Bluff, IL-  Today was sunny and the Ozarks gleamed brightly, after last night’s paltry drizzle.  I drove out of Joplin early, as there was no Internet at Tara Motel, and I wanted to get to the Chicago area by nightfall- with an urge to find a campground, somewhere in the northwest suburbs.  I also didn’t know, at that point, whether any northern Illinois friends would have time to visit a bit, on such short notice.

Rolla is one of my favourite towns in Missouri, and became more so, when I found Cupcakes and Cravings.  Here is a coffee house and lunch counter that is a dead ringer for SunFlour Market, which two friends run, in Superior, AZ.  Since one of SunFlour’s owners is from the St. Louis area, maybe there is a connection with this lovely spot.  I had coffee and a sandwich, then bought a cupcake, for later on.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

It’s another fun place to browse and pick up a gift, for the lady who has everything.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI can think of a few, for whom this would be the right special occasion cake.

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Once lunch was done, it was time to get back outside, so that Amanda could clean up and go home.  Rolla has a large community park, just off I-44.

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There is much to recommend this beautiful town, whether passing through, or settling down- but enough of the doggerel.

The rest of my drive was peaceful, even in Chicago, where the multitudes practice what my brother calls “the zipper method”- drivers take turns, when consolidating traffic lanes.  This keeps a slow crawl from turning into gridlock, especially at the choke point, on the southwest segment of the Dan Ryan.  One hour after entering the DR, I was looking for a campground in Lake County- but to no avail.  I was just too beat, and By The Way Motel presented itself, at a reasonable rate.  So it is, that I am here, and getting ready for a special event at the Baha’i House of Worship, tomorrow, without having to go further- to Waukegan, or North Chicago.

NEXT: Further reflections on a Holy Day, and camping at Indiana Dunes

 

Sixty-Six, for Sixty Six, Part XLVI: Tulsa Won My Trust

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July 7, 2017, Joplin, MO- 

My son turned 29 today, and ended one banner year, with the promise of yet another. I rose early, in Santa Rosa, NM, and made it my goal to get to Amarillo, and the Blue Front Cafe, by lunch time.  The Time Zone differential always figures in, here, so when I call Wes, and tell him I’ll meet him for lunch, we both end up remembering, sooner or later, that 12 Noon means 1 PM.  So, once again, I miss Santa Rosa’s Blue Hole, for Amarillo’s Blue Front.

Wes had the place figured to be an oyster bar, and maybe that’s the new owner’s specialty, but the young lady who served us basically presented a lot of fare to which I’m accustomed. It is still good food, just not in as folksy an ambiance as under the previous ownership.  To a Texan, and to lesser an extent, an Arizonan, such tradition is everything.

After spinning a few yarns, and hearing some of Wes’s, I kept on, across the Llano Estacado.  Mailing my car payment, at the Post Office in Groom, TX, involved cruising around that handsome little town, just a bit.  Oklahoma, though, was not long in appearing in the foreground.

I had no pressing business, in the Sooner State, so essentially it was just  a series of pleasant memories that passed by, along with the towns:  Erick, Sayre, Elk City, Clinton, Weatherford, El Reno, Yukon and OKC.  There was no time to stop at the Memorial- maybe on the flip flop.  The Turnpike was what it always is, a quicker way to southwest Missouri and points further on.  As many of you know, it is divided into two segments, in northeast Oklahoma:  Before Tulsa and After Tulsa.  The erstwhile Oil Capital has not been high on my list, for several years, and all owing to my having witnessed a nasty tirade by a Greyhound Bus employee towards a fellow passenger, at the company’s terminal, in 1979.  That’s a lame excuse for a bad attitude, but it’s stayed in the back of my mind, ever since.  It was time to shed that perception.  I pulled off the highway, gassed up, admired a lovely woman-in a respectful manner and from a distance, and kept on with my drive to Joplin.   It was a ridiculous remedy, for a ridiculous grudge, but that’s all it took for Tulsa to win my trust.  One of these days, I will spend a day or two there, and better get to know the city of the Golden Hurricane.

I had planned on camping, in or near Joplin.  Cousin Lisa was tied up with 4-H, so I will try and catch her on the flip-flop, and besides, there was lightning flashing nearby, so I passed up the idea of setting up camp.  Tara Motel appeared, east of Joplin, as I was running out of energy, and options.  The place is a minimalist paradise, for the common man, who is just trying to catch about 120 winks.  That I was sure to do.  With no WiFi here, and Rerun Heaven in full swing, I read a bit and headed for dreamland.

NEXT UP:  Across Missouri and Illinois

Sixty-Six, for Sixty Six, Part XLV: The Enduring and The Fleeting

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July 6, 2017, Santa Rosa, NM-

My day began, fresh and rested, with a stop at Wilson Arch, on the south end of a tourist attraction called “Hole In The Rock”, a collection of trinket shops and oddities.  It was easy to avoid, being closed.  The Arch, though, called out for some meditation time, so I walked to a sandstone bench, where I was able to sit undisturbed, while watching a group of other visitors, clambering up to the Arch, 300 yards away.

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It was getting to be breakfast time, so I headed to the Monticello branch of Moab’s famed Peace Tree Cafe.  The small eatery features a wealth of inventive breakfast items, such as Coconut French Toast, which sustained me for nearly the whole day.

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Continuing to Bluff, a small settlement, off the hipster trail that encircles Moab, I found a functioning laundromat, which was sorely needed, and Bluff Fort- a restored Mormon settlement, and testimony to the hard work and suffering that pioneers experienced, in the late Nineteenth Century.  This story did not, thankfully, involve conflict with Native peoples.  It was all about the harsh terrain that the Mormons found, in the course of settling southeastern Utah.

Here are some scenes of the Co-op store, water wheel and  a few of the sixteen cabins that greet the visitor. The first stop, in a self-guided tour, is the Old Schoolhouse.  Note the beamed roof.

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The brick and mortar building, below, is the Co-op, a restoration of the original, which was burned to the ground by an outlaw, in 1909, after a botched robbery attempt.

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Then, it was on to the water wheel and cabins, which highlight the differences in status among the settlers.

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Despite the seeming differences, it is remarkable that the group braves the harshness of the Kaiparowits Plateau, with its nearly-impenetrable maze of sandstone formations.

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Once laundry was finished, I drove straight on down to Native American Baha’i Institute, where I left a set of crafts supplies, and headed eastward, in short order.  This was punctuated by my scrunching a desperate, nearly heat-prostrated couple into my front seat, and taking them to their utility’s office.  After the errands,  a dinner of  chicken and salad, at Gallup’s Sizzler, and a long haul, across New Mexico, brought me to the lovely Route 66 Inn, in this high desert town.  The motel is run by a wonderful family- grandparents, Mom & Dad and three happy children.

It is amazing, that the pioneers accomplished so much, by working together, in enduring camaraderie, while others seem to be just spinning their wheels, by indulging in caprice and in fleeting acquaintances.

NEXT UP:  Texas to Illinois

Sixty-Six, for Sixty Six, Part XLIV: The Great Basin Road

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July 5, 2017, Moab-  

(This is the first of several backdated posts from Road Trip 2017.  I will be in a place with spotty WiFi, over the next few days, and family time comes first, so this series will be slow in posting.)

It’s always tough to leave loved ones behind, but life must go on, and nowhere does it go on better than in America’s Outback.  The Great Basin is largely the bowl left by Lake Lahontan, and other large bodies of water, remnants of one huge sea, that once occupied our continent’s mid-section.  The present Lake Lahontan is quite impressive, actually, with the seasonal rains having been copious here, as elsewhere in the West, this past winter and spring.  I took about a half hour to visit the lovely giant.

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Much more was above water, this time last year.

I drove past the salt flats and noted they looked a bit browner than usually- another consequence of extra moisture.  At the foot of the Toiyabe Mountains, I came upon a forlorn looking man, whose jeep had just discharged a fair amount of water.  My jerry can took care of that aspect of the matter, in short order.  After, I followed him a short distance towards Austin, the nearest town, he told me to go on ahead, as the issue may have been the fuel pump, and he wanted to give it some rest.

It is a fair uphill, from the salt flats to Austin, so I informed the dispatcher, at Lander County’s office, of his issue.  After lunch, in Toiyabe Cafe, on Austin’s main drag, I noticed the town’s only flatbed tow truck was headed out, in his direction.  The ladies at the Cafe said the sheriff is most diligent about NOT letting stranded motorists wait too long.  That’s one of the fine things about people in remote areas:  Most everyone is a Good Samaritan.  T\

Toiyabe Cafe has some great eats, also.  Since my only beer is “near”, I guess I could wait.

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There’s no bush meat available, though, but who wants to eat a carnivore, anyway?

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I drove on and on, determined to make Utah’s sandstone country, by bedtime.  So, on past the Great Basin National Park, various other salt flats, the lovely towns of Eureka, Ely, Delta(UT), Salina and Green River, the Hyundai blazed.  Rooms in this bustling town were, of course GONE, by the time I pulled in, so a few miles down the road, in La Sal, I found a rest area/makeshift campground, guarded by this great sandstone:

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Since the people parked in the foreground made themselves at home, camp-style, I did likewise.  Things are relaxed (24-hour limit), in the Beehive State.

NEXT UP:  Wilson Arch, Bluff Fort and an errand accomplished.

Tremors

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July 9, 2017, Wilmette-

To reiterate, as I am drastically revamping the earlier version of this post:  I will recap the past several, enjoyable days, July 5-8, in my next several posts.

For now:

I was somewhat relieved, and gratified, to actually meet a person who had been rather skittish, with regard to such a handshake.  Turns out, she does seem overbooked.  It is either sink or swim, for most of us, so she is swimming, furiously.

I am still frightened by people who pretend to be friends, and exhort the rest of us, with intense, challenging inspirational rhetoric.  Someone posted online, about Mother Teresa.  I remember her as a rather somber, sad woman, not so comfortable with the adulation of an unskeptical public.  I mention this, because we do tend to move in on people who look shiny, on the surface.  Europeans look at Americans, and are stunned by the glad-handing and false promises that occupy many of us, who are out to get a leg up.  So, motivational speakers and preachers get caught with their pants down, some of them literally so.  That’s the thing that frightens me most:  Not traffic, not thugs, but the duplicitous.

I feel much better, this afternoon, having had an extended conversation with my online friend- far from duplicitous, and the epitome of real.  It could not have ended, any other way.  I look forward to continually learning from her, and other correspondents.  This is about purification, and strengthening- a process that lasts a lifetime.

Some tremors are necessary in life.

 

Interdependence Day

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July 4, 2017, Carson City- 

We went, together, to a robust carnival

with Funnel Cake and kettle corn.

Little girl got her face painted,

lost and found her favourite stuffed bear,

and got to dance to a song by a local cover band.

She is guarded, carefully,

by all, whose hearts she has captured.

Group got a prime seat,

to view the fireworks,

on the high school field.

We, an eclectic family,

hang together.

Teams fought fires,

across northwest Nevada,

around Arizona,

and probably

in California, too.

Tight were those teams,

which made progress on their fights.

Families, nationwide,

had picnics and barbecues.

Some were simple;

some, elaborate.

Not much gets done,

anymore,

without prior consultation.

A friend in the Midwest

concurred with me,

that our species is evolving,

rapidly,

towards a tighter interdependence.

It is that,

which I celebrated today.

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