The 2018 Road, Day 34: The Door Never Closes

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June 28, 2018, Salisbury, NC-

I first encountered W, in 2002, when he arrived in Phoenix, from his native Liberia.  At that time, he was recovering from a severe injury and was one of thousands of refugees from his then-war torn homeland.  He had been a journalist, writing for Monrovia’s daily newspaper, when his injuries occurred.

Like more than a few Africans living in Phoenix, he became a trusted friend and we have maintained a correspondence, ever since.  He has left Arizona and is now comfortably settled in a simple home, in this pleasant city of the Piedmont.  Salisbury is about an hour northeast of Charlotte, and seems to not have, as yet, become saddled with major urban sprawl.

I woke to a calm morning, in Timmonsville, about two hours further southeast of here.  As I suspected, there is an unnamed breakfast and lunch counter, inside the Mobil Station.  I walked across the street and discovered The Hot Plate- more than the microwave stand I had suspected would be there.  Instead, an effusive man of about 35 and a shy girl, who seemed to be about 15, were behind a full-service breakfast & lunch counter.  The man took my order and both set to work, he on the sausage and the girl on the eggs and pancakes.  She brought a fabulous breakfast plate to my small table, in eight minutes’ time.  Several other people- mostly customers, plus two women who seemed to have some role in running the show, came in and out during my leisurely breakfast.   After paying my bill, and giving the bemused girl a healthy tip, I reflected that places like The Hot Plate are what keep small-town America connected with the open road.  I would go in there again, were I to find myself in Timmonsville-or, as this sign would have it, in

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I headed, in earnest, towards Salisbury, and arrived at W’s place in a couple of hours.  There, a comfortable bed for the night, and a steaming pot of Liberian pork stew, with heaping portions of rice, awaited.  African hospitality is second to none-even in the simplest of homes.

On the way there, I picked up a few more gift items, as a few families in the small town of Mc Bee, SC were holding a fund-raiser and the bake sale was too good to pass up.  Mc Bee is also notable for this:

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Salisbury has several solid Federal period and Beaux  Arts era architectural gems.  I stopped to note  a few of these, whilst driving towards W’s apartment.

Perhaps most prominent, from the east, is the Bell Tower of First Presbyterian Church.

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Driving westward, St. John’s Lutheran Church becomes equally impressive.

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In Salisbury’s Veteran’s Cemetery, this memorial to World War II dead is at the western gate to the grounds.

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This is the old Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, west of the cemetery.

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I found a most happy W, waiting outside his apartment complex.  It’s been a while since he had any visitors from out of town.

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Here is a view of the park, down the street from his complex.

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After my hearty lunch of stew and rice, W and I walked to a Walgreen’s where I could get a spare dental care kit, as mine was possibly lost. I also got a spare razor and blades, while W talked of his joyful walks along Salisbury’s main commercial street.  He keeps away from the Confederate Memorial that greets the traveler coming in from the East.  Otherwise, he has walked all over the town, making friends as he goes.

I found, however, that there was little evidence of racial tension here, as W’s  White cross street neighbours were quite cordial, and there was plenty of friendly interaction during my own downtown visit.

Rowan County Courthouse is an impressive Federal Era structure.  This block celebrates George Washington’s visit here, following the American Revolution.

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The same detail has kept the County Administration Building in good repair, for over 150 years.

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Away from downtown, the west and south sides feature several older gems.  Below, is Chambers House, from the Revolutionary Period.

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Here is another view of the Bell Tower, as it is near Chambers House.

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This tiny salt box house was the Henderson Law Office, built in 1796.

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I spent a few moments checking out a south side block, from whence there is another fine view of the Bell Tower.

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Here is a three-part look at the south side’s finest mural, entitled “Crossroads-Past Into Present”.  It shows Salisbury life, circa 1900 and was completed in 2001.  The artists are Cynvia Rankin, Earle Kluttz and Raines Thompson.  Ms. Rankin was the primary artist on this project, commissioned by  Rowan Art Guild.

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W and I spent a great deal of time just talking of life in Arizona, as compared to North Carolina.  The latter is certainly a less frenetic and cheaper place to live, by and large.  He also told me much about Liberia, and his journalistic experience during the country’s Civil War.  We watched a lengthy Baha’i video, as well.  Our conversation tended to be more far ranging than those we’ve had over the phone. W speaks at a fast clip, so line of sight works better for me, in understanding him.

It has been another relaxing day, though, knowing I am in a place of friendship.

NEXT:  Across the Great Smokies, to Crossville

 

The 2018 Road, Day 27:The Flow of Kindred Souls

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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,

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES 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.

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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.

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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.

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Across the street from LGBI is a Baha’i- affiliated radio station, named-what else: WLGI!

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I find my accommodations for the night quite refreshing, and another unfinished goal from 2007 is realized.

NEXT:  Return to Greenville

 

The wave of nationwide strikes, protests and uprisings in the cities of Iran — Freedom Star

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This article is based on reports and videos sent by PMOI/MEK activists inside Iran Iran, July 31, 2018 – Tuesday has been the scene of numerous protests and demonstrations in cities across Iran. Strike, Protest in Isfahan: Beginning this morning, Tuesday, July 31, truck drivers and owners as well as large group of people and youth in […]

via The wave of nationwide strikes, protests and uprisings in the cities of Iran — Freedom Star

Janus in July

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July 30, 2018, Prescott-

I will return to the chronicles of my summer road trip, in a few hours. First, though, I want to note this month’s activities, closer to Home Base.  The three weeks following Independence Day were mostly relaxing, yet had their share of joyful activity.  We celebrated the birthday of  a generous and humble friend, in what was supposed to be a surprise.  Our efforts came as no surprise to her, but she was nonetheless delighted.

I learned that my left knee does not take kindly to being idle for long stretches on the road, at least while my carcass is undergoing chiropractic adjustment, between now and March.  There is some connection between the two, so with Fall coming, I will need to get in at least one vigourous walk per day.  That will give my knees the workout they seem to crave.  Planet Fitness and Deep Blue ointment are also helping.

I have, at long last, taken the time to pay a few visits to Firehouse Coffee and Black Dog Coffee Shop, virtually completing “discovery” of our town’s java joints.  Both are fine purveyors of brew, but Firehouse wins the cinnamon roll contest.  Black Dog focuses on scones.  The Saturday after I got back was my son’s 30th birthday.  After wishing him a great day, long-distance, I went to Game Night at Wild Iris-enjoying Uno and a dice game, with the regulars at this event.

This past weekend, though, was a special cap on this bountiful summer.  I did three days’ Thursday, Saturday and Sunday) service at Bellemont Baha’i School, west of Flagstaff.  All three days featured “gully washers”. Saturday had the added excitement of a heavy hail shower.

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Even with a borrowed tent, and large tarpaulin, there was much to be done later, as I had to use a wet/dry vacuum cleaner to siphon the small pond that had threatened to ensure no sleep that night.  As it was, I had a dry tent, by nightfall, and slept very well.

The service in question was on behalf of over 50 middle school-age children, from the Phoenix area. Many of them had not been out of the metro area, so being in the woods was a fabulous experience,  to say the least.

The camp was open for a half day, today, but I came back to Prescott, last night.  Three days of preparation and “welcome back” gatherings at Prescott High School will get another year of concerted effort at learning underway.  So, it’s ten months of joyfully getting up at 4:30, knowing that we will provide at least some stability and learning opportunities for eight young people who, rather like me at their age, cannot count on their own bodies to remain calm and focused, without assistance.

2018-19 will be a monumental academic year.

The 2018 Road, Day 15: Montreal, Light and Dark

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June 9, 2018, Montreal-

The gargoyles came to life, this afternoon.  My Lenovo, my warhorse, which has been with me across the country, five times, to Alaska, Hawai’i, British Columbia, western Europe, now has a new “owner”.  Whilst I was walking to and from the polyglot neighbourhood where Montreal’s Baha’i Centre is located, one or two interlopers broke into my car and rummaged through the backseat, finding the laptop case, underneath two backpacks. Nothing else was taken, but the drivers’ side windows were shattered.

A police officer came, after about 45 minutes, and took down the relevant information, as well as a sample of the shattered glass.  She dusted a bit for prints, and filed a report, giving me the number, by which I can send the laptop’s serial number, from my files, once I get back to Prescott.  This has all been explained earlier, in “Dear Thug”.

Now to the draw of Montreal- its majesty, as a city.  I came here in the first place, because of my memories of the city, when I visited in 1972-73, as part of a college tour group.  I had also told my seat mate, on the way back from Europe, in 2014, that I would visit this year.  She may well have forgotten, and was not even here, this weekend, but I did visit a branch of the restaurant in which she works:  La Panthere Verte.

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I was pleased that it was just a short block from Auberge Bishop.

Also in the vicinity of the hostel are the facilities of  La Musee des Beaux Arts, along Sherbrooke Avenue.  The Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul is in the midst of these properties.

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The church even has a “guardian”!

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Below, is one of the museum’s  main buildings.

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Mount Royal Park’s eastern flank is not far from this complex.

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Walking back towards the hostel, I spotted Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, mounted on a mighty steed.

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Here is the bright side of my ill-fated walk of this afternoon, which took place after I had checked out of the hostel, with every intention of beginning my drive south, to New England, this afternoon.  May I present Mc Gill University, Victoria Hospital and the Montreal Baha’i Centre:

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Victoria Hospital now has a different campus.  This is one of the main buildings on the original campus.

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Montreal Baha’i Centre is a small, but graceful building,  I spent only twenty minutes here, as, ironically, I wanted to still find the Baha’i Shrine,  a house where ‘Abdu’l-Baha stayed, during His 1912 visit to Montreal.  That did not happen, on THIS visit. Here, though, is the modern centre of our Faith’s life in this great city.

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On the way back to my car, I had this view of Montreal’s downtown.  In the foreground is McGill’s soccer field.

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In the end, one gets up, dusts self off and moves forward with gusto. No one knew this better than Montreal’s bard.

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So, in honour of Leonard, I made the most of my unexpected Montreal Sunday, returning to Auberge Bishop and taking in one of the city’s historic districts, in the afternoon.

 

 

The 2018 Road, Day 14: All Along ON Route

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June 8, 2018, Montreal- 

Late this evening, I have arrived at Auberge Bishop, arguably one of the most welcoming places I’ve been in quite a while.  The people are relaxed, indoors and out. Even the House Psycho is not going to be much of a problem- I just need to remember that she hates men.

But, let’s get back to the day’s start.  I enjoyed a full breakfast, in Neill-Wycik’s cafeteria, then went up to the penthouse to get a view of downtown, as only the top of  a high rise can offer.

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I got carried away with writing, whilst sitting at a desk, in said penthouse, so I ended up checking out at  11:15.  The uber-officious Day Manager had a field day with this, and $ 25 worth of surcharges later, I left Neill-Wycik, with a promise to myself to not return.  Toronto has smaller hostels, and one of them will be my base camp, on the next visit here.

Downtown I drove, stopping briefly at Toronto’s lovely Baha’i Centre.  I was let inside by a lovely and gracious lady, who had to then leave.  I was allowed, by the office manager, to look about for a few minutes and so I share these scenes.  Anyone in the Toronto area who has a desire to investigate spiritual truth for oneself will certainly do well to attend one of the Centre’s public events.  Toronto’s Baha’i community is certainly a vibrant one:  https://www.bahaitoronto.org/

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Whilst on a trip around North America, in 1912, Abdu’l-Baha briefly visited Toronto, en route from Montreal to Buffalo.

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I was given the address for Canada’s Baha’i National Centre, in Thornhill, north of Toronto, but gauging my arrival time in Montreal, I opted to leave that visit for next time.

Ontario’s segment of Route 401 features several ON Route Service Centres.  These allowed this Yank to get my fill of Tim Horton’s fare, and keep the Elantra happy with gasoline.  There is much to see, off-highway, along this route: It is, after all, the Canadian side of the Thousand Islands sector of the St. Lawrence Valley. Again, stuff for next time.  After leaving sleepy Morrisburg’s ON Route Esso, with its wary station attendant and taciturn cashier, I was soon in Quebec. Montreal, in its majesty, appeared an hour after that.

A ten-minute Blue Tooth-based conversation later, I had deposited Elantra in a parking garage and found my way to Auberge Bishop.  Here, at least, I feel entirely welcome. At Chicha Donburi, a curry house next door, I received an equally robust welcome. The cheerful Japanese-Canadian proprietress, and her chef, never stopped moving, the entire hour I was there.  I love Katsu (Japanese-style cutlet), and this did not disappoint.

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NEXT:  Montreal’s Light and Darkness

 

 

Grama in Time

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June 12, 2018, Plattsburgh-

My maternal grandmother, Estella Myers Kusch, was born here, in 1892 and passed on in 1960, in Stoneham, MA. It’s been a long-standing desire of my siblings and me, to spend time in this area. Last night, and this morning, I got the chance.

Sunday brought me back to Auberge Bishop, which now takes its place among the places where I feel a special measure of love. These places exist in every part of the world I’ve visited and are sure to grow in number. As another friend pointed out, the opposite is also true. Yes, every place has its shadows, as well as its light. I was, however, enormously comforted by my young friends at Bishop, forming a cordon of love around me on Sunday.

Monday came and went, nicely. I had no problem getting cleared by theU.S. Consulate to leave Canada. The auto glass replacement took mu h of the day, but it, too, got done. I fetched my bags from Auberge Bishop, then navigated my way to TC-15 and the border. By 8 p.m., I arrived here, my Grama’s hometown.

Grama was an anchoring presence in my first decade of life. She watched my sister and me, when our parents went shopping on Saturday morning, always warning us to behave, lest Mom get “terry”-her term for being angry. I loved going up to her house, about a mile from our duplex, from which we moved when I was four. In fact, the first time I caught a hair brush to my backside, was when I walked up there alone. I was three. I can only imagine my Mom, crying and trembling, even as she tended to my punishment.

I saw several people around Plattsburgh, who resemble my Grama, my maternal Uncle Jim and few others in the Myers-Kusch family.

The town itself is a most picturesque place, with a compelling story, especially relative to the War of 1812.

I will have photos of Plattsburgh, nearby Ausable Chasm, and all the places before and after, when I get my new laptop and The 2018 Road series resumes.

She became seriously ill, when I was eight years old and I didn’t see her anymore after that.

The 2018 Road, Day 8: A Day of Being Blocked

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June 3, 2018, Lowell, IN-

I set out, in earnest, for the Baha’i House of Worship, Wilmette at 9 a.m., fully intending to meet a mentor- friend who lives north of there, in a timely manner.  The problem was, I left at 9 a.m. from Carthage, on the west side of Illinois.  I stayed within the good graces of the law, clear to a point about 20 miles south of Rockford, getting there about 1 p.m.

Inching eastward, using a variety of state highways, I got to Wilmette way too late to visit with said mentor-friend.   So, takeaway # 1:  Never stay more than 2 hours from Chicagoland, if the goal is to meet someone in Chicagoland, the next day-even from Saturday to Sunday.  In fairness, the same holds true for New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco and even Philadelphia, where I will stay in the center of the city, in two weeks’ time.

Other things got done, spiritually. It is my eleventh visit here, and this is the first-and last-time that I have tried to make a same day visit to the Temple, from outside the 50-mile radius.  I also had a lovely full meal at Ridgeview Grill, a wonderful place on the west side of Wilmette, served by engaging and attentive Lisa D.  I think that will be my dining place of choice, in future visits to the House of Worship.

Needless to say, there are no photos from this Day of Being Blocked. I made it to a campsite here, in Lowell, IN, around 9 p.m.  Amen!

The 2018 Road, Day 1: Prescott to Carson City

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May 27, 2018, Carson City-

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One of my consistent stops, on this particular drive, is to check on the condition of Lake Mead,  a major reservoir of the Colorado River system.

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As you can see, the lake’s level is rather low.  In a good year, the lake’s water level would be above the first shoreline ridge.  It’s been quite a while since the last good year.

I began my journey around 9:20 this morning, then drove to West Side Lilo’s, in Seligman, a town about 1  1/2 hours northwest of Prescott.  A Lilo’s breakfast is sufficient for the entire day, so I would need nothing but a bowl of salad, once I got to Carson City, 11 hours later.

I topped off with gas in Kingman, and after the brief welfare check of Lake Mead, zipped through Las Vegas, stopped at Amargosa Valley to pick up gifts at the Area 51 Alien Center, for a little girl up here, and stretched a bit.  The rest of the journey, through territory I have detailed in years passed, was very smooth, with little traffic.  Coffee at Beans & Brews, on the south edge of Tonopah, was my only reason to stop the rest of the way.  B & B is also a staple of my northwest-bound jaunts.

Four hours later, I found my way to this apartment that will be home for the next two days or so.  There are a growing number of places that afford me this kind of feeling, and to me, this is the true wealth, to have what feels like family, in each part of the country.

Ahead of me are a one-day intensive training session for a Baha’i course and quality time with the aforementioned child.

Light Time

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May 24, 2018, Prescott-

Corruption is a terrible thing,

alluring and insidious.

It breathes noxious fumes

into our psyches,

and holds them in place,

through a constant appeal

to our sense of “What If?”

The root of this allure

is disquiet,

the feeling that

just maybe,

THIS will be something better;

just maybe,

THIS will relieve insecurity,

once and for all.

The only thing,

however,

that will relieve

insecurity,

pain,

the ongoing lack,

is faith in action.

This is the message

of the life of

a divine Herald,

Siyyid Ali Muhammad,

known to posterity

as al-Bab (The Gate),

Whose Declaration of Mission

we Baha’is celebrate today,

on Its 164th Anniversary.

Like every Messenger/Prophet

before Him,

al-Bab lived His days

in service and in courage,

giving His earthly life,

for our sake,

killed by the agents

of corruption and ignorance,

some six years after

the Declaration we honour today.