Breakfast of Champions and A Long Ride

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June 27, 2022, Channel- Port aux Basques, NL- I was warmly welcomed this morning, into the main house of Abbie’s Garden, and directed to sit in a place by myself at a well-set table. The arrangement, of each party being seated separately, apparently is a Newfoundland tradition, derived from the British Isles. Having not been anywhere in that archipelago, other than London, this is new to me. It was very pleasant, though, as the host took egg orders, poured beverages and proudly presented a superbly-plated hot breakfast of eggs, crisp bacon, pancakes and fresh biscuits. Condiments were in serving vessels, not in their store containers. Juice (orange, in my case) was the last item presented. My maternal grandmother would be very pleased.

Prior to breakfast, I went around the garden and over to the chicken coop, where the flock, still inside the predator-proof coop, came to the netting and greeted me. All the little beaks were at the wire netting, clucking or peeping away.

Here are some scenes of Abbie’s Garden. First, here is The Loft, where I spent the night.

Upon bidding a fond farewell to the family at Abbie’s, I resolved to check out some spots along the road in the Burin Peninsula. Here are a few of these.

About an hour after leaving the Burin, I came upon Joey’s Lookout, named after Joseph R. Smallwood, the first Provincial Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador. The place overlooks his home town of Gambo.

As dinner hour approached, I was at a park overlooking the Humber River, just outside Deer Lake. A few other picnickers were at the lone table, so I took a bench and watched a lone fly fisherman, in the river, with his hip waders on.

As I got closer to this port city, the grandeur of the Long Range Mountains made itself known again.

Once settled in my room, at Hotel Port aux Basques, the chatter and antics of a group of teens caught my attention. They were likely enjoying the first days of summer, as school just let out in Newfoundland, last Friday. This is part of the park where they were hanging out. No, I did not photograph the group!

The long drive was not so bad. Tomorrow, I bid farewell to this consummately civilized people and their salubrious island.

Abbie’s, and Pippy’s, Gardens

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June 26, 2022, Grand Bank, NL-

The scenes went from jaw-dropping to heart-warming, as the day was spent traversing a more sublimely lovely part of this island. After a packaged breakfast, indicative of the ongoing seriousness with which the Canadian government still takes the pandemic-with considerable merit, I bid farewell to Memorial University, and went-across the street, to Pippy Park. This large and ecologically rich urban park was established by the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, in 1966, and named for one of its prime boosters: Chesley A. Pippy, a St. John’s businessman and philanthropist. I focused on the area of the park around Long Pond. Here are some scenes.

Seeing a family go to this area and examine the plants, with the children playing some of these instruments, I naturally went there, after they had left and was delighted to see what is being done, in the name of autism research. The autistic children with whom I have worked love tending gardens and are comforted by soft vibrational sounds, as am I.

Returning to the parking lot, via the South Shore of Long Pond Loop, I picked up a snack of potato wedges, from an Irish gentleman, who proudly told me of his progress in curbing his smoking habit. Congratulating him and commiserating, just a bit. with his plaint that the day was too hot (I told him I was from Arizona, which gave him pause in bemoaning the 70-degree heat), I said his taters were mighty tasty.

I next made a brief drive over to the Fort Amherst area, near the south bank of St. John’s Harbour. From here, are views of Cabot Tower, on Signal Hill and of the confluence of the Harbour with the Atlantic Ocean.

Of course, more time is warranted in St. John’s. I sense there will be an Avalon and Burin-centric visit back to the island, in two or three years, along with everything else. For today, though, it was time to head over to the Burin Peninsula, three hours away and settle in for the night at Abbie’s Garden Bed and Breakfast.

I arrived here around 5:45, was warmly greeted by Abbie’s widower, his second wife and his daughter, who is the proprietress of her mother’s Garden. My room, in a lovely house called The Loft, has all the comforts of home, including a thick Newfoundland comforter. The gardens, which I will photograph tomorrow morning, are indeed Abbie’s legacy. The houses and the trails are the work of her husband, Bruce. Their daughter has maintained and built on this legacy.

I enjoyed a fine meal in town, at Copper Kettle. A finer lobster and bacon wrap has never been had by man. This, after being followed by a utility worker, who the waitress at Copper Kettle says is a self-appointed pair of eyes for the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, until I pulled into the restaurant’s parking lot. I guess they don’t see too many vehicles with Arizona plates around here. For my part, I saw a vehicle with St. Pierre and Miquelon plates, which makes sense, as the French territory is a short set of nautical miles off the Burin. Marystown, the Burin’s commercial hub, is “town” for the St. Pierrois, and their “mainland” neighbours.

After a lovely time relaxing around Bruce’s firepit, and enjoying some of his homemade rhubarb pie, it is time to go up and crawl under that comforter. Thanks, Abbie, for all you did.

The Towering Guardians

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June 25, 2022, St. John’s- Some days, like today, present themselves with two themes. At L’Anse aux Meadows, to which I was directed to go, way back nine years ago-and again in January of this year, the focus was on connecting with the spirits of the past-both First Nations and Scandinavian. As I headed towards this oldest European city in North America, predating St. Augustine, FL by four decades, my focus was knowingly on its modern aspects-especially Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador, where I am spending the night.

In between the northwestern and southeastern areas of this vast island, there is much of both natural and human accomplishment. The most striking example of the former are Newfoundland’s two National Parks: Gros Morne and Terra Nova. The first was easy to stop and appreciate. There are several areas visible from the TransCanada Highway. Terra Nova, on the other hand, has no safe turn-offs from which to photograph, along the highway. It was also very foggy and rainy as I passed the lovely park. I’m getting ahead of the story though.

Here are a few scenes from Gros Morne and two other places along the Viking Trail, between L’Anse aux Meadows and Deer Lake. First is River of Ponds, a mecca for fly fishermen.

Next, came the ocean, at Parsons Pond.

The beauty of the north is indeed rather stark, with lots of rainy days, foggy nights and as someone commented, low light-even in summer. I am fortunate to have been raised far enough north that these things are not so much a factor in my appreciation of this sort of beauty. Then again, I also enjoy lower latitudes.

What I did not enjoy so much was the rain, fog and wind while driving between Gander and St. John’s. I saved time and money by getting a handheld sandwich from a convenience store in Springdale, a bit west of Gander. That was a good thing, because the inclement weather started right around the aviation center. Some may remember that Gander was important to connecting with the rest of the world, during 9/11/2001. It is still a bustling-and growing community.

St. John’s has welcomed me, even at this late hour (midnight), and I am settling in to a university dorm room, single occupancy. Thank you, Memorial University, for this Summer Accommodations Program.

Saeyu

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May 20, 2022- Saeyu is the Romanized spelling of the Korean word for shrimp or prawn. A shrimp, in the wild, has the appearance of looking down, its head almost permanently flopped below its neck.

Many times in life, people may resemble the shrimp, looking down either physically or figuratively. The most common instance, in this day and age, is looking down at a laptop, tablet or phone screen. Then, too, many of us have spent decades looking down at a book or at the paper on which we are writing. It takes constant practice to keep the head straight, or looking up.

There are plenty of ways people figuratively look down. One reason is out of sadness or depression, thus adopting a world view that sees only gloom and doom. Another is the notion that one is insignificant, so why bother looking at what is good about life? Yet another is the mindset that it is one’s bounden duty to obey others, whether or not they are legitimate holders of authority.

I am getting better at not being saeyu, in the physical sense. Again, it takes constant reminders. The same is largely true of the figurative state. My game plan is to keep forging ahead with what the spirit guides tell me, whether at Home Base or on the road; in my work or in avocational activities. My chiropractor, and others around me, appreciate this.

Division Street, and The Bonsai That Unite

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May 16, 2022, San Clemente- The drunken man, professing White Supremacy, yelled at me to “Get lost”, as I walked along El Camino Real, in this Orange County beach town. I guess the t-shirt I’m wearing, with its Baha’i logo, set him off. I kept walking and he drove off.
Baha’u’llah does state that “Man is the supreme Talisman. Lack of a proper education, however, hath deprived him of that which he doth inherently possess.”- Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 259. Nowhere, of course, does He limit this bounty to any particular group of people.

Last night, at FOUND Hotel, in San Diego’s Little Italy, there were a few folks who were acting mighty lost, while saying they wished others-particularly the homeless who wanted to be let in, would get lost. No hostel, or residential hotel, is equipped to handle random homeless people wandering in off the streets. There has been progress made in sheltering, in many cities, but the task is looking Sisyphean. The number of units and condominia, catering to the uberwealthy are increasing at a rate outpacing those that provide for people in lower income brackets. Those who are experiencing homelessness, particularly in communities where housing costs are exorbitant-almost to an unconscionable level, are also finding their numbers increasing. Division Street, the nominal and actual social divider, of which Studs Terkel wrote in 1967, has become a metaphor for the country as a whole. Some hard decisions, regarding the accumulation of wealth, at the expense of a great many people, will need to be made in the not-too-distant future. Everyone will need to be at the table for this one.

I needed to change the channel in my head, after seeing so many people encamped in downtown San Diego, along Pacific Coast Highway and near Mission Beach. Revisiting Balboa Park’s Japanese Friendship Garden set the right tone. My focus was on the collection of bonsai, now at 18 and looking in on the koi, who were small when I was last there, in 2015.

Here are a few scenes from the Garden. The koi in the pond nearest the entrance have tripled in size, these past seven years.

Three types of bonsai: Pine, flowering and unflowered leafy are on display, in the Garden’s Bonsai Center.

My rejuvenation complete, it was an easy trip northward to Orange County, stopping briefly to complete some business at San Diego Baha’i Center, taking a detour to La Jolla’s sandy beach and another to La Cristianita Historic Site, in Camp Pendleton, which commemorates the first baptism in Alta California.

Tonight, I am comfortably at House of Trestles Hostel, amongst surfers and other lovers of the ocean. Here, everyone feels at home, even the dachshund-chihuahua mix.

The Whole Point of Love

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April 30, 2022- Browsing through a children’s book, entitled “The Huffy, Puffy Cloud” (by Max Kramer), in a few quiet moments this evening, I noted that the anthropomorphic characters , a rain cloud and the Sun, managed to establish their essential unity of purpose: Sustaining life, after the cloud bemoaned feeling friendless, as “everyone runs away when I come out and start raining.” The Sun wisely pointed out that animals and plants actually appreciate the work of the cloud, and besides, it, the Sun, was always right behind or alongside, so the cloud was never alone.

This is true, actually, of all of us. Even when we don’t see anyone around, in a moment of dismal funk or of self-doubt, there are people somewhere who are thinking of us and energy, both material and spiritual, being directed our way. We are creatures of the tangible, as well as of the spirit, so this is not always evident; but it is nonetheless a reality. Sometimes, it just takes a bit more effort at perception- the way one might have to look left, right, and left again, when proceeding from an intersection or to re-read something, in order to get a deeper understanding.

I was asked, this evening, by a trusted friend, whether I felt the need to “get out of Dodge” (the Prescott area), every so often. My feeling, at that moment, was how much I love this area that I call Home Base. I feel no inherent need to escape my surroundings. Travel, in which I do engage a lot, is more a means of connecting the dots, of physically networking, and has always been in my nature, from the time I learned to walk. I am as glad to see people visiting our salubrious area as I am to visit other places, and have encouraged friends and contacts from all walks of life to spend some time here. Even crowds being in a place, most of the time, seems to me a blessing. When I do need solitude, I know where to find it. It is love that underlies my travels, activities here, and everything else, for that matter.

The whole point of love is to foster and support life.

Everyone’s Earth

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April 22, 2022- It’s been fifty-two years since environmental activists gathered, en masse, to protest the policies that contributed to the Santa Barbara oil spill, which happened less than a year earlier.

We have, as a species, gone back and forth on the environment vs. economics issue, over these past many years, and a relative handful of entrepreneurs have engaged in “greenwashing” practices, which look like they are contributing to the improvement of the environment, but do little or nothing to actually help things along. There is also the microplastics aspect, to say nothing of their larger refuse, which has considerable long-term validity, in that the residue of plastics does settle in the stomachs of people and animals, finding its way into the bloodstreams and tissue, of those who ingest it. We can be more discerning, in dealing with the former. The latter, by contrast, will take much more research, as to how to safely capture microscopic plastic residue, store it, reverse engineer it into a usable fuel, and so on.

In the meantime, we have many tasks ahead, in saving both the Earth and ourselves. Alternative sources of energy are in their relative childhood, as electric cars are still prohibitively expensive for a good many people, disposal of spent batteries for such vehicles needs to be addressed-as does the safe disposal of the rare metals that go into such batteries. Every innovation that helps relieve one problem has its drawbacks that need to be addressed, preferably before the innovation becomes a mass-produced item.

That said, there is no place for throwing up our hands and just continuing down the road that we’ve been bumping along, for the next century or more. Every energy-wasting practice needs to be evaluated, and either reformed or discarded, based on the availability of viable alternative practices. Thankfully, there are solutions, some yet not articulated or made practicable, which will go along way towards alleviating the distress of the planet once the bugs are worked out.

Tonight and tomorrow night, I will man a shelter for those fleeing a sizable wildfire, southeast of town. During the day tomorrow, it’ll be time to help man a couple of booths at the community’s Earth Day event. I will cat-nap my way around these and have time to rest afterward.

As a one-time psychedelic band advised in the late ’60s: “Wake up, it’s tomorrow.”

Back To Trailside

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April 18, 2022, Sedona- The focus today was to be on Bell Rock, and it was, just not in the way my hiking buddy and I had thought. It was a harbinger earlier, when I turned right, on a green arrow, only to face the loud blaring by someone who had run a yellow and thought she had the right of way. Small potatoes, at the time, as I don’t pay any mind to people who make feeble attempts at pushing me around.

There is, though, the reality that there are few spaces in the trailhead lots closest to the actual landmark trails. This is a matter of both design and land allotment. The idea is to let fewer people use the trails, to minimize congestion. That’s a noble sentiment, but it doesn’t really work. We ended up going to a large parking area, across Hwy. 179 from Bell Rock, called Yavapai Vista Point. There are several short trails, each with amazing views of the great landmarks. Here are five such scenes.

The hordes did not obstruct the day, at least for us. We later had a marvelous lunch at Pago’s, a fine Italian eatery in Oak Creek Village. There was one waitress serving over 50 people, of whom we were among the last ones, for this point in the lunch rush. A second wave was coming in, as we left. Hats off, and a hearty tip, to the lady who was obviously tired, but keeping a brave face!

One last reminder: To brighten the photos, just click on them.

Two City Walks and a Tapas-try

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April 4, 2022, Atlanta- I set out in mid-afternoon, to pay respects to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on the 54th anniversary of his assassination. I was not able to reach the actual memorial site, but that is just part of the overall wholeness of this day.

I started out by returning the vehicle that had taken me so many places, in three states, over the past fifteen days. Driving a nearly state-of-the-art automobile was a fine new experience-even with the shrill noise, when another car was in the lane to which I wanted to turn(very useful) or when the car in front stopped short(even more useful). All that was missing was EV status-but someday….

Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) has a very full system of stations, from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, in the south to Doraville in the northeast and Sandy Springs in the northwest. There is also an east-west line, branching in each direction, from downtown Atlanta. This system took me from the airport to North Avenue, from which I walked up Peachtree, to this gem of a coffee house.

From there, it was a clean walk, across midtown, to Georgia Institute of Technology. One of my nephews is an alumnus of this vibrant, expanding school. It’s grown a lot since Nick was here, as have a good many colleges and universities. One place that has stayed the same is The Biltmore. Once one of a chain of deluxe hotels, it is now a luxury apartment complex.

Technology Square is the heart of GIT. It extends for three or four city blocks.

It wouldn’t be spring in Georgia, without the dogwood flowers.

My afternoon walk, in the Peachtree area, yielded a few gems. Walter Downing built this masterpiece, Wimbish House,in 1922. Women from across Atlanta meet here, to launch projects aimed at civic improvement, in several areas of community life. Not far down the street is the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

It struck me that this is exactly the sort of scene that Dr. King would have loved to have seen, had he lived into his seniority. It is fairly easy to pronounce Amanda’s family name, if one takes the time to look at it and absorb the power of her work.

I found the GPS on my phone was not enamoured of giving directions to someone willing to walk 1.5 miles from Peachtree to the King Memorial. It is definitely a vehicle-oriented system, even in this day and age. I headed back to my hotel, in plenty of time to join my brother for an evening at a Basque-style tapas restaurant, Cooks and Soldiers. San Sebastian, in Spain’s Basque region, is widely-known as a gastronomic paradise. The presentation of exquisite pintxos (Basque for “tapas”), was one item at a time, allowing us to savour each dish. We ended with a hot beverage and a shared piece of Orange Pie. As our conversation dealt with spiritual matters, this heavenly meal was apropos.

https://www.cooksandsoldiers.com/about

It has been a truly rewarding, and hopefully productive journey, in terms of small acts of service and kind energy put forth, for the most part. Tomorrow, the train leaves for a brief stop in New Orleans, then back to the Southwest.

A Treasury of Fragrance and Colour

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March 27, 2022, Naples. FL– Not long ago, I made contact with a man who has the same first and last name as me. This Gary Boivin is Assistant Director of Naples Botanical Garden. The emphasis in this exquisite facility is on the sights and smells of tropical plants from all corners of the globe.

For this post, I am going to let the pictures tell their own stories. Here are a dozen of the best.

Though I did not actually meet my eponym, I have to say this body of work, the efforts of nearly a hundred people, is well worth an extended visit by anyone who finds self in Southwest Florida.