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 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 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

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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Sixty-Six, for Sixty Six, Part XLIII: Ever in Wonder

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July 3, 2017, Carson City-

Along the path to Grama’s, I walked.

That path crossed a road,

and for crossing alone,

I felt a sting on my backside.

There are limits to what a three-year-old

can do, alone.

Along the path to the shopping center, I walked.

That path crossed several roads,

and for being alone,

I was briefly accosted,

by a couple of ruffians,

and almost struck by a wayward car,

that had jumped the curb.

There are challenges,

for a nine-year-old,

when walking, alone.

I sat in the airplane,

gazing out at the clouds,

and their patterns.

I was seeing for the first time, at their level.

The path through the skies,

held promise

and peril.

Many are the possibilities,

for an eighteen-year-old,

striking out, on his own.

Turning around,

in that crowded,

light-filled, noisy room,

I returned the gaze of one,

who had seen something in me,

that others overlooked.

My path was no longer

for me to walk in single file.

Life brings affirmations,

to a thirty-year-old,

who need not be alone.

Holding the little being

to the light,

I spoke words of welcome.

My line now continued,

for at least one more generation.

The Universe sang songs

of certitude,

to a new father,

listening, alone.

Father and son walked

from the car,

towards the hospice door,

and witnessed the wispy spiral

carrying dust and leaves skyward.

I touched her still-warm body,

and kissed her face,

with her eyes still open,

in seeming astonishment.

The path is ever-shaky,

for a sixty-year-old,

once again, alone.

Time and again, since then,

I have followed things through,

to completion,

having been roundly chastised,

by a well-meaning watchman,

for all those things,

I did not finish,

in times gone by.

The paths have been many,

and the rewards even greater:

Filbert Steps, Portlandia,

Space Needle, Stanley Park,

Wrangell, Mendenhall,

Mount Verstovia, Beuk-ai Temple,

Tuileries, Jeanne d’Arc’s Tower,

Mont St. Michel, Carnac,

Daily Gourmand, Old Bruges,

World Cup rally at the Bourse,

McAuliffe Square,

Luxembourg’s National Day,

the Dom of Frankfurt,

the Temple at Langenhain,

Waikiki, Iolani Palace.

The paths have seen me through,

to their ends:

Prescott Circle,

Black Canyon,

Granite Mountain,

and the Memorial to

its 19 Hotshots,

Bright Angel,

Spirit Tower.

The trails continue,

and the wonder,

at the limitless,

open to a sixty-six-year-old,

who  feels far from alone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sixty Six, for Sixty-Six, Part XLII: More Flow than Ebb

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July 2, 2017, Sparks- 

The drive through northwestern Arizona and western Nevada, yesterday, was quite pleasant, thanks to a well-maintained vehicle and the unusual amount of energy I felt.  This last was despite having had to tend, however briefly, with a neighbourhood emergency, in the wee small hours of the morning. Long story short, when it comes to the welfare of children, or vulnerable adults, I am not going to just look at the clock and roll over, back to sleep.  Police were called, matter was resolved, and I did get back to dreamland.

One of my concerns, along the way, was the water levels of the major lakes, en route.  I stopped, briefly, for a look at Lake Mead, before doing the customary straight shot through Las Vegas.  The reservoir, which has suffered, mightily, in the drought of the past several years, has made a modest recovery, this Spring.

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The shimmering haze reflected the heat, 112 in mid-afternoon.  Needless to say, this is why I don’t tarry in LV, in July.   A brief stop at Snow Mountain, north of the valley, for a turkey wrap, was sufficient.

Another of my interests, in western Nevada and across the Mountain West, is the architecture of various mining towns.  This runs the gamut from Victorian elegance to honky-tonk kitsch.  It’s all good.  I stopped in the eclectic little town of Goldfield, between Beatty and Tonopah,  On the west side of town, there are a few examples of the latter.

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There is also plenty of faded elegance, begging for restoration. In the background, stands the vacant Goldfield Hotel.

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This is not exactly the Arc du Triomphe, but it serves as a reminder of the frontier spirit.

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My mining town fix having been satiated, I headed on, to Tonopah, stopping at one of that fine town’s newest offerings:  Beans and Brews Coffee Shop, for a much-needed boost.  Tonopah, also, has much to offer, in the way of late 19th Century memorabilia, as I’ve documented on prior trips.  I had four more hours of travel, though, so my cup of Joe was to go.

Hawthorne, just above Walker Lake, has seen my smiling face a few times.  This town, you may remember, is where my Nissan began to falter, two years ago, and my angels took over, to get it to Reno. The guys at Pizza Factory,  prepared a delicious baked spaghetti with meat sauce, which I took to an overlook, four miles north of town. Walker Lake also looks in much better shape.

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My Reno/Carson family were glad for my arrival, at 10:15 PM, and we caught up on life, for about an hour.  Today was more of the same, in the modest family home, here in Reno’s neighbour.  The kids made slime, the adults watched family-friendly movies and the menagerie kept guard.

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Sixty Six, for Sixty-Six, Part XLI: Bubbles

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June 30, 2017, Prescott- 

This was a day,

four years ago,

when the world fell in on us.

Nineteen men,

most of them young,

fell before Mother Nature.

The shelters,

to which they had fallen back,

served as their sepulchres.

Four years later,

I sit in another shelter,

dealing with the winding down,

of the fire this time.

It will not be anyone’s tomb.

I think, however,

of the bubbles,

in which many of us

take mental refuge.

They become suffocating,

limiting,

and enervating.

I fell into such a bubble,

over the past few days.

Seeing demon mirages,

letting my mind lead

to a few dark corners.

It’s nice to have a pin,

and pop the bubble.

 

Trust

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June 29, 2017, Prescott-

Today went much better for me.  A smaller shelter, and a more closely-knit crew, made a lot of difference.  Still, when a member of the “inner circle” showed up, at the end of my shift, I just wanted to get out of the building, as soon as possible.

I realize this is rather irrational, but emotions generally are.  There are relatively few people I fully trust- my son,  mother, siblings,  six or seven cousins, about a dozen friends here in the Prescott area and about fifteen other friends in various parts of the country.  I’m sure those numbers would be higher, were I to have more contact with family and friends, than I do at present.

It has nothing to do with my love for people, but rather, my perception of how they really feel about me.   This goes back to childhood, to my wandering nature and to not having really stuck with one core group of friends, growing up.    It also has to do with the somewhat anonymous culture of bigger towns and cities in the West, and of apartment living in general.  My neighbours, on either side, are rather suspicious of me, and say little, beyond a curt “hello”.  I carry on, with a friendly countenance, anyway.

In the end, we leave the world, alone; yet in the meantime, as people in small towns remind the rest of us, time and again, it is a far better idea to work up some trust.  There have been times when I have let others down, and I’ve tried to make amends.  Lord knows, I am working on my own trust issues, but it’s just not easy.

Those are my thoughts, at the end of a long day.

Longest, Hottest

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June 21, 2017, Prescott-

I tend to disregard the temperature, to an extent..

When we lived in Phoenix, I did what I needed to do,

indoors or out, even in summer.

It just was done in smaller increments.

Today, the solstice, was the longest day,

north of the Equator,

and the shortest day, to its south.

What was necessary, here, got done.

Stepping Stones has more cards,

stationery, an egg beater

and a couple of old, professional-type books.

Days for Girls has several more covers

for the washable products they offer

to disadvantaged girls and women.

I have more space,

in the dining area closet,

in the tall kitchen cupboards

and atop the refrigerator.

Solstice is also a time of accounting.

We friends talked, first of what is pure

and later, of what is really sweet,

in terms of deeds,

as opposed to silver-tongued promises.

Solstice is a time for gathering.

So, the neighbours are outside,

enjoying the coolness.

Solstice is a time for reflecting,

so, after a hearty day,

I am thinking,

how fortunate I am,

to have friends in

just about every community

I’ve ever visited.

“Not Afraid of the Rain”

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June 17, 2017, Chino Valley- 

The youth pastor, at a memorial service for a slain child, this evening, used these words, in reference to Christ facing His trials.  He chose this example, in encouraging the friends and family members of the little boy  to not be dissuaded, by the dark forces assailing us, from looking to the Higher Power for signs as to how to react to such adversity.

I have now either helped lay to rest, or to memorialize, 9 children, over the past 37 years.  Most died of disease, or were killed in accidents.  This is the first time I’ve dealt with the murder of a defenseless person, on such a personal level.  The boy was one of several, with whom I worked, while a substitute teacher, in his elementary school.  This particular school does a fine job of imparting a sense of community, and at the service, his former teachers and a recently-retired principal, each had a positive remembrance of the boy.

Earlier today, whilst driving to another service activity, I listened as the pop singer, Lorde, commented on one of her songs, her point being that she has sometimes thought her place in the lives of her loved ones might be too intense, that maybe she takes up too much space.

That resonated with me.  I limit my time with others, for the very sake of NOT taking up too much of their space and time.  Conversely, though, I don’t think anything of giving others as much of either, as they need.  I haven’t quite gotten to the origin of that dichotomy.

The memorialized child seemed to have had the same dilemma, and the youngest of the children who spoke,  remembered him as comfortable with giving, but not receiving.  I hope he has a better understanding of it all now, in the Realm of Light.