I am sharing this post, from a friend who goes by Simple Dimple. It expresses how I feel, very well.
People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. When you know which one it is, you will know what to do with that person. When someone is in your life for a REASON it is usually to meet a need you have expressed.
September 3, 2018, Prescott-
In any stretch of time and effort, be it work or leisure, there are learnings. Some come to us because they derive from novel experiences. Others arise, because we become complacent, set in our ways.
I didn’t read the details closely enough, that morning in Elkhart, IN. My eyes told me the dinner was that very night. It would have been convenient-for me. The words actually read “tomorrow evening”. That was convenient for the main party. Read carefully, completely and in a wakeful state.
I crossed the bridge, from Warren, MI to Windsor, ON, without hesitation, this time. I stayed in the proper lane, unlike on my previous run to Vancouver, three years ago. The Canadian highways are no mystery-they’re essentially the same as on this side of the imaginary line. Most of the problems we create in our minds are pointless.
For many years, since losing an electric cookpot to a raging maniac, who threatened to hurt my disabled wife (long story), I had been relieved of nothing. My car’s interior had been left alone, for many years now. On a Saturday evening, in Montreal, my lengthy walk to the Baha’i Centre gave someone, or two, a window of opportunity, which they smashed. Gone were my seven-year-old laptop and my passport. The computer has been replaced. The document waits for me to retake photos, which happens tomorrow. Use the money belt, even here in North America, and put the laptop in the trunk, if it is even necessary to leave it in the car at all.
When one is on the road, there are several options for accommodation. Many people can’t abide the idea of not staying in an expensive hotel room or rented house/apartment. Be aware of surroundings, but don’t rule out hostels, guest rooms, (clean) couches, campgrounds or even highway 24-hour, or 12-hour, rest areas. The only things that matter are safety and hygiene.
Even in a rundown, construction-heavy community, there are ways to mail a letter. I don’t even remember the town, but somewhere in Missouri or Illinois, I mailed a letter back to Prescott.
People don’t seem to tailgate as much, or pass on the inside as often, the further east one drives. At least, that’s been my experience.
Warm-hearted people may be found anywhere. The same is true of the icy people. Most often, they work side by side.
Pay attention to body language, even when tired. Some men of a certain age only communicate with head nods and grunts. Then again, so do some teenagers.
Research different ways, ahead of time, to stay connected, when in the car.
Know that, in a pinch, it’s okay to cross back into the U.S., by car, from Canada, with a valid U.S. driver’s license and VA photo id. The reverse is not true.
Terra Shield, by do Terra, works very well, in keeping bugs away.
Lake Champlain, Chesapeake Bay’s Western Shore and Richard Russell Lake are enchanting places, even when it is stormy. Lake Oconee is the stuff of dreams, and crazy expensive. (No, I didn’t stay there.)
There is nothing better, when tired of the road, than just sitting for two days, in a family home, watching TCM and dipping in the pool.
Teen girls can cook, and cook well- the little breakfast place, off I-95, in Timmonsville, SC, offers proof.
Single African men also can cook well. The little apartment which I visited, in Salisbury, NC, offers proof.
Eastern Tennessee has its share of “Heavens on Earth”. I spent two days in just such a place.
Next time, whenever that is, I will set aside more time for Denver, for Chicagoland, for Elkhart and for Amarillo.
September 2, 2018, Prescott-
The forty-day journey, whose chronicle I have just completed, is now well-past the reflection stage. The longest trip I have undertaken, since 2015, has passed without controversy, among those of my family and friends who have viewed my travels in the past, with some consternation.
There were mostly good things that happened, this summer that is nearly passed. I want to first note those who have honoured me with their presence, in the deepest of ways. Then, I shall note the learnings I picked up from the trek. Finally, some observations are in order.
The first of these always goes to my family: Being in Christ Church, Philadelphia, for the wedding of my beloved youngest niece; having my son, Aram, and his girlfriend next to me during the service, throughout the reception and for much of Father’s Day. I’m grateful to her, for having given him much happiness; being with all of my siblings, nieces and nephews and nearly all of my extended family.
My northern Nevada family has always been there for me, as well. This year, over Memorial Day weekend, was no different.
My sister in spirit, Corina, drove an hour each way to visit with me a bit-once I got to Wilmette, but to no avail. My arrival was way too late, so back she went, to spend Sunday afternoon with her beloved. I feel honoured, nevertheless. Just being in the embrace of the Baha’i House of Worship is a singular honour, in itself.
Having dinner with friends in Mishawaka, IN, was a sublime blessing. Thanks, Val and Sparky.
I cannot say enough, for the staff and fellow hostelers at Auberge Bishop, Montreal, for confirming my worth as a human being, in the aftermath of a serious loss. I am also grateful to the agents at USAA, for mitigating that loss. It was a joy to take lunch at one of the restaurants of a friend’s establishment: La Panthere Verte. I would feel similarly honoured, again, at hostels in Baltimore and in Memphis.
One of the greatest honours is to connect with the spiritual energy of one’s ancestors. My maternal grandmother’s hometown, Plattsburgh, NY first welcomed me, and a few weeks later, my sister and a maternal cousin connected with some of Grama’s grandnieces and great grandnephews.
Penny’s family will always be my own, as well. They helped me greatly, in the wake of Montreal. A few days’ respite, in the family home, in Spring Hill, FL helped me rest before the home stretch, and reaffirmed our bond. Paying my respects to her departed cousin, a few days before, in Maryland, was essential.
There are many, across the nation and world, who I regard as spiritual family. They are of all Faiths and of no Faith. Connecting with a woman who is like a daughter to me, in Virginia Beach; an immigrant friend who is like a brother, in Salisbury, NC; and my Tennessee brother and sister of the heart, in Crossville, have made all the difference in healing a part of me that still grieves, somehow.
Being in Memphis, and feeling the pain that all of us who are of good heart experienced, the day Martin Luther King, Jr. died, was cathartic. I had not cried in a good long while, and this overwhelming sadness brought out a lot. Later in the day, walking along the banks of the Mississippi and along Beale Street, felt like a dirge was playing. Dr. King honoured us all.
July 1, 2018, Memphis-
With apologies to the campy 1970’s band, Mott The Hoople, the above title just jumped at me. Driving clear across Tennessee in one day would ordinarily be wasteful-no Nashville stops, blowing past Jackson and no diversion to Shiloh or to the Land Between the Lakes. Time is getting short, though, for my stated intention is to get back to Prescott, sometime on July 4, rest up and then do a few days of service at a Baha’i camp, west of Flagstaff.
In the meantime, though, a day or so in Grind City has been long overdue. I had contacted a friend in the Nashville area, and she turned out to be busy, so after saying farewell to Laureen and Chuck, and making a snap decision to take lunch at Country Kitchen (cute waitress wanted to go to Memphis with me, but that’s another story), I headed out of Crossville, bypassed Nashville and bore on to Jackson, making a brief refueling stop.
Hostel Memphis is a faith-based center, properly called Pilgrim House, in the midst of Memphis’ hip Cooper-Young neighbourhood, in Midtown. In addition to the hostel, the organization offers separate programs to assist the homeless and needy families. No Memphis residents, save the staff, are allowed to stay in the hostel. Shelters are dispersed, elsewhere throughout the city.
I entered here.
and was permitted to exit here.
This evening was well-spent, on a Cooper-Young walkabout.
In the immediate vicinity of the hostel, there is a food bank, with a cafe for low income people. It would not open until 11, on Monday morning, so I had no chance to visit, with the Museum of Civil Rights being on my itinerary, by then.
The storage unit of Pilgrim House is right next to a playground, so it is dressed up for the occasion.
Walking further, to the corner of Cooper and Young, I found a number of inviting restaurants and chose Young Avenue Deli.
The atmosphere was one of modest young partyers, still all having a great time. I took a table by a window, watching both the antics of a little girl “feeding” her stuffed animal, on the outside patio, and those inside, teasing one another and posturing for people they found attractive. I find it life-affirming, to be among the younger generations, making the world over, as they see fit.
After a satisfying Reuben plate, served by a steel and velvet, tattooed waitress, I strolled further down Cooper Street, finding unique little shops. This little shelter is devoted entirely to the needs of cats.
It is neither safe, nor legal, to climb up the berm to this railroad overpass, but it surely is a joy to see from below.
This mural, across the street from an ice cream parlour that’s attached to Railgarten Diner, is one of several that celebrate Memphis’ diversity. I felt very much at home here, whilst walking and licking away at a double scoop mint chip cone.
That, in a nutshell, is, to me, the whole purpose of traveling as I do: Expanding my feelings of being at home, and of who my family is.
NEXT: The National Civil Rights Museum
June 30, 2018, Crossville-
I relaxed last night away, binge watching some True Crime series with my host, Chuck. Being of a similar age and temperament, we get along very well. His wife, Laureen, who invited me in the first place, was not far away, but was busy with some prep for today’s pool party and barbecue.
As it happened, the event was attended by two of L’s siblings, her sister’s cute friend and the friend’s elderly father. We splashed around, ate our fill of Chuck’s grilled treats, and various salads and casseroles served up by the ladies. It was low key, but just the sort of thing that my peripatetic soul needed, after resuming a headlong itinerary, between Spring Hill and here.
The setting was divine. The ladies, including the comely friend, preferred to either not be photographed or that the photos remain off social media. As always, I comply with this request. The property, though, is salubrious, and I am grateful to Laureen and Chuck for greeting me so warmly. Crossville thus becomes yet another link in my cross-country chain of homes.
Here are some views of the Tennessee Nirvana (my term).
A party does not have to be huge, to be joyful or memorable.
NEXT UP: Memphis, for Lovers and Fighters
June 24-26, 2018, Spring Hill, FL-
This is a photo-less, nearly driving-free post. I spent Sunday night in Ocala, a good stopping place en-route to/from the Nature Coast and points further down Florida’s mid-Gulf region. Other than being tailgated around a church parking lot, by an older man who demanded to know what I was doing therpoe, Ocala was a friendly enough place.
I got to my in-laws’ house, in Spring Hill, around 10:30. Fortunately, W was home and Mother was up and dressed. These three days were largely spent watching old movies (TCM) and coddling the two dogs.
I did get a couple of dips in the salubrious pool, with Bella (younger dog) happily joining in the splashing and laps. Her more cautious “older brother” was content to lay around and watch us.
The most momentous thing that happened was that I bought this laptop, its mouse and case. The device is lighter weight than the War Horse was, and thus easier to tote around. Nevertheless, I found myself missing the Lenovo and hoping it is at least being used for peaceful purposes, if it is even still running.
The weather was a bit on the tortuous side, so none of us spent much time outdoors. W went to visit her horses, but unlike in December, I did not join her. AC becomes addicting. We took all of our meals at home. Mother appreciated that part.
It’s been a peaceful break from the road. I will head out tomorrow again, with my goal being the middle of South Carolina, by evening.
June 21, 2018, Hemingway, SC-
I did accomplish a goal of three years’ running: A simple dinner with a young woman who is like a daughter to me. C and I met up at Jenna’s Cafe, Virginia Beach, after I negotiated a busy, but peaceful causeway from Williamsburg to V.B., via Norfolk.
After a couple hours of encouragement from me, it was time for her to head back home and prepare for another day’s work. She has the wherewithal to go far in her field, and to continue doing a fine job with her children.
I found a reasonable motel in Newport News and rested well, preparing for a southward journey. My next goal would be Louis Gregory Baha’i Institute, Hemingway. The center is used for spiritual education and gatherings. It is named for an early African-American Baha’i, who was a prominent attorney. He chose to move to the South, in the midst of the Jim Crow era, and whilst abiding by the laws of the time, he worked behind the scenes to gradually ease the discrimination, which hobbled oppressed and oppressor, alike.
On this summer solstice, I chose to bypass Richmond, and drove a straight shot through North Carolina, to which I will return, next week. A leisurely drive into South Carolina’s pine woods brought me to LGBI,
just in time to meet the caretaker, before he closed up for the night.G generously gave me accommodations for the night, for which I offered a nominal contribution, this being a place that operates on a shoestring budget. LGBI was established in 1972, to assist the large number of people in northeastern South Carolina, who had shown interest in the Baha’i Faith.
Here are some scenes from around the small campus. The first three are from the Main Hall. The patchwork quilt was made by junior youth, ages 11-14.
Mr. Gregory is shown below, with his English-born wife, Louisa. Theirs was one of the first interracial marriages performed legally in the United States.
After settling into my night’s lodging, I made a visit to downtown Hemingway, for dinner, finding the lovely and welcoming Fish Net Seafood Market.
Across the street from LGBI is a Baha’i- affiliated radio station, named-what else: WLGI!
I find my accommodations for the night quite refreshing, and another unfinished goal from 2007 is realized.
NEXT: Return to Greenville
June 17, 2018, Philadelphia-
We began the day with what was billed as “A Farewell Brunch”-and it was enough to last me, at least, until late afternoon.
Here are a couple of scenes from the morning.
Son is explaining to his second cousin about his work on a ship in the Navy, whilst YH and the little guy’s parents look on.
My younger brother, Mom and the lovely bride are enjoying the morning.
Once we had indeed made our farewells to the family, Aram, YH and I headed over to the Korean War Memorial, just inside Penn’s Landing.
We headed back towards the Independence Historic District. A few late model buildings caught our attention. The Ritz-Carlton is mostly high rise, but uses this domed structure for its lobby, convention center and main dining room.
Here, you get a view of Philadelphia City Hall.
We took in the Alexander Hamilton exhibit at The Constitution Center.
Then came a visit to the Liberty Bell.
I managed a selfie with the former Pennsylvania State House bell, now a national symbol.
Leaving the happy couple to enjoy the Philadelphia evening, I headed south, to Baltimore.
June 16, 2018, Philadelphia-
It doesn’t surprise me, in the least, that this family of mine has given my mother’s youngest grandchild a spectacular launch into her own little family unit. She is much loved, across the board and has maintained a solid, unifying presence among us, and well before the advent of social media. B helped me with her aunt, when I had to get Beloved to a restroom, down a freight elevator, and through an obscure section of an old hotel, years ago. She maintained contact with those of my nephews who were off, alone, at colleges that were some distance from the rest of the family. She kept in touch with my son, when it would have been easy to leave him to his own devices, in the days of his naval basic training and early regular duty.
So, we all came to Christ Church, expanding our family by one new grandson-in-law and one future granddaughter-in-law for our blessed matriarch to cherish.
The above should give readers a frame of reference. We were asked, by the rector, to not photograph the ceremony or the inside. The newlyweds have plenty of photos to share, in that respect, and I leave it at that.
The ceremony did not start, however, until 4 P.M., so there was time for me to look further around the Independence Historic District, before Aram and YH were ready to meet for lunch. Here is Congress Hall, where the Federal legislative branch met from December, 1790- May, 1800. .
The Main Gallery of Independence Hall is below.
Next along my walk was the Liberty Bell Pavilion, of which more tomorrow.
Here is Old City Hall, which also served as the first U.S. Supreme Court Chamber.
Below is the Second Bank of the United States Portrait Gallery.
Here is a view into the Independence Hall courtyard.
Having to meet Aram and YH, I hurried on over to the Center for Art in Wood. They were suitably impressed by the gallery and by its shop.
The three of us enjoyed a nice lunch at Cafe Ole, across the street from CAIW. We then strolled around Betsy Ross House and briefly considered purchasing a 13-star flag.
For now, though, this shadowy replica of the original Stars and Stripes will suffice.
We will keep the wedding photos within the family, but I do want to share a few of the reception venue: Knowlton Mansion. Once again, the staff did their parts admirably, as did the band and vocalist. As for me, I cut loose and danced more this evening than I have in about eighteen years.
I do wish to share the intact wedding cake- always an affirmation of good fortune and fertility. The first, I wish for the new branch of the family. The second is their business, alone.
In any event, this day will long live as among the most beautiful with which I have had the pleasure of being involved- in at least seven years.
NEXT: Father’s Day, Full Tilt
June 15, 2018, Philadelphia-
Once upon a time, a teenaged girl looked at her uncle, and wondered aloud whether anyone would care to attend her wedding, when the time came. Uncle said, unequivocally, that he would be there and that anyone who called themselves his family would be there, too.
In reality, there was never any question. Everyone from her youngest cousin (my son) to the family matriarch (Mother) made the wedding, that will take place tomorrow, a top priority. It’s been a few years since B was a teenager, but there has been no break, whatsoever, in the love I feel for that compassionate and powerful young lady. She has made a solid life for herself, following her father’s example of being largely self-reliant and choosing the field of education-which probably had little or nothing to do with her uncle and aunt, on the other side of the country, being educators. I’m glad she chose teaching, anyway. She’s darn good at it.
I arrived in Philadelphia, around 2, by way of Camden. This was a simple matter of not getting good directions from Google Maps, finding myself on the bridge to New Jersey and turning around to get cash from a bodega, near the Camden side of the bridge. Once that was done, I picked up my pre-ordered wedding gift and headed to the Alexander Inn, my residence for the next 2 days.
With time to spend, until the Rehearsal Dinner, at 6 p.m., I ventured to check out Philly’s street art.
Here are a few of those scenes, from the west side of the Independence Historic District.
Here, a father is showing his little girl the power that comes with community working together. I found this appropriate to the present situation. My brother has been a guiding light to all three of his children.
The above long mural has a caption that speaks of the eternal juxtaposition of right and wrong. The young man in the foreground is giving this matter a lot of thought. From the look in his eyes, I would say he will choose right, more often.
Well, the dinner was second to none. The Panorama Restaurant, right on Front Street, did it up fabulous. I am admittedly an hors d’oeuvres hound, anyway, and the grilled ahi tuna did not fail to satisfy, either.
Tomorrow, greeting Aram and meeting his sweetheart, then attending the wedding of the year (sorry, Harry and Meghan), will be a most assuredly full day. Good night, all.