The Long Range and Its Bounty

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June 24, 2022, St. Lunaire-Griquet, NL- After privately observing Baha’i Feast last night, in what may have been the first time that’s happened in Doyles, I noted a more gregarious Mr. Devine offering me his thanks for the visit and a suggestion of going over to Cape Anguille, the westernmost part of Newfoundland. This, I did, even waiting for later to have a brunch of sorts.

There are two points of interest, in particular, at the juncture of the Grand Codroy with the Atlantic. Cape Anguille (pronounced An-GWILL) Lighthouse is an active station, and thus off-limits to entry by visitors. It may be freely photographed from the exterior, though.

I followed Mr. Devine’s recommended route, going around clockwise, to Searston Beach, where the Grand Codroy actually meets the Atlantic. It has a one-lane bridge, with a wooden base and steel siding/underpinning.

Once back on the Trans-Canada Highway, I noted that the quality of the road varied, as it does in many places where the climate can be harsh. Newfoundland, like much of the Northeast, is said to have two seasons, “July and Winter”. This day, however, the area of the Long Range Mountains is quite pleasant, and the rest of the island promises to be so, for the next few days.

Reaching western Newfoundland’s commercial hub of Corner Brook, I found a bustling, surprisingly frenetic traffic scene-and had to be as “on guard” as in any good-sized community, these days. I stopped for lunch at a Jungle Jim’s, which is Newfoundland’s chain of gourmet burger places. There, I learned of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Roe vs. Wade, about which I will keep my own counsel-though the issue of how to approach pregnancy, and any complications therefrom, should be strictly a matter between a woman, her mate (if one is involved) and a competent medical professional. The meal itself was of modest portion and quite good, as one would expect of a successful sit-down chain.

I continued on, towards L’Anse aux Meadows, the site of a Viking settlement of the 13th Century, A.D.-about which more in the next post. Photos of astonishing Gros Morne National Park will also wait until then. It took all I had, in terms of time, to get to my motel, St. Brendan’s, in this little village just shy of the monument. I took in the village’s lovely harbour, after enjoying a nice dinner at The Daily Catch, where I made fast friends of the owner and one of the docents at L’Anse.

With that, I get ready to lay down and sleep, at the colourful and welcoming St. Brendan’s Motel. As there were too many other guests out and about, when I was there, I leave you with their stock photo.

St. Brendan’s Motel, St. Lunaire-Griquet, Newfoundland. (Courtesy of St. Brendan’s Motel.)

Two Sides, Same Team

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June 17, 2022, London, ON- The DEA squad carried out a seamless check on our line of traffic, at a contraband check on the U.S. side of Ambassador Bridge (between Detroit and Windsor). The agent who was checking my vehicle asked to pop the “trunk” and was given the go-ahead to open the hatch on Saturn Vue. His dog-partner found no contraband, and I was on my way to the Canadian side, where a thirty second query as to my travel plans sent me en route to this Ontario namesake of the Titan on the Thames. (There is a Thames River here, as well.)

I left my friends, the Schroeders, around Noon, having tended to laundry and a couple of errands at establishments near their home. Saturn Vue got an oil & lube, a new air filter and scrubbed headlights, at a Jiffy Lube nearby, then I was off in search of I-94, which for some reason was unknown to Google Maps. A kind librarian in Buchanan, MI, directed me to the only entrance she knew to the Interstate-which was in Benton Harbor, on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. Out of the way, yes, it was, but I sensed that a full drive across that beleaguered state would at least unleash some healing energy. At least, that is my hope, having said a bunch of prayers at a Rest Area, outside Battle Creek.

It took four hours to cross the Wolverine State, and another forty minutes to go through the border crossing, most of which was the security check mentioned above. The process made me glad that I had done laundry before crossing-if only to not disgust our canine friend.

Once on the 401, I looked for a place to pull off for the night. I did drove from Tilbury to Chatham, on a back road, taking in the small town Friday night scene of a small group of teens, making the best of a weekend evening in Tilbury. They looked happy, at least. In Chatham, I spotted a small motel, with one car in the lot (a red flag of sorts, this being Friday night and all. The proprietor apologized, in advance, for the room he was letting me check, prior to lettting it out (another red flag). I found it was flea-infested, though the lights, TV and shower were all working. The final red flag was that he had no credit card reader, but he would gladly do an “e-transaction”, if I would just tell him my bank account information. Hmm, where have I heard this before? I bid him good night, and drove clear to London, where the Super 7 Motel had a fine room available, and there was a jacuzzi. I enjoy a bit of luxury, every so often, and this spa was made of marble, working perfectly.

Tomorrow, I will hopefully connect with a group of friends online, and look about London further, before heading towards Ottawa. Friends in Toronto have already said they are unavailable, so I will stay away from the metropolis this time. On both sides of the border, though, we are one team.

The Flow, and Going With It

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June 16, 2022, Mishawaka, IN- Someone just asked me, “Where the heck is Mishawaka?” It’s one of the “Tri-Cities” of north central Indiana, of which South Bend is the best known and Elkhart is the third member. Michigan City is not that far to the west, and the farming town of Goshen, a bit southeast of the Tri-Cities, could be a fifth member.

I’m here because a couple has graciously had me as an overnight guest, for four of the past five years, when the time for a journey to my home area, or somewhere else back east, has come. V and S, as I will call them, have been online friends and correspondents for many years. My visit here follows a general flow of getting settled, dinner, an evening walk and conversation in the living room. The topics range from the clothes shopping we endured, as children and teens, to the idiosyncrasies of HOA Boards.

Earlier in the day, I spent about ninety minutes at the Baha’i House of Worship, in Wilmette, IL., north of Chicago. The flow of spiritual thought and energy took the form of prayer and supplication for a variety of people and processes, from world peace, and the progress of our local communities, to the progress of the souls of a fellow Baha’i and of a childhood friend, both of whom passed on this week.

Then came lunch time, and the short drive to Wilmette’s village center was tempered by the understanding that the community’s children were everywhere, on bikes. I drive cautiously, especially in residential areas, so this feature was delightful, not a nuisance-as some would have it. The energy and presence of mind brought by large groups of kids, gathered at the movie theater, and various other parts of the center, is something I have missed, over the past two decades, with so much concern over safety-as valid as that is.

The flow of traffic, along trusty old I-94, has its reliable bottlenecks: The Madison Squeeze, as I call it, from the Madison Street offramps to the I-290 intersections near the Chicago Loop; and the area from Chicago Heights and Harvey to the I-80/90 intersection, near Gary. There is not much that can be done about the former, but the latter does have “an out”: U.S. 6 to IN 19 and back onto I-94, past the aforementioned bottleneck. It saved me twenty minutes, even with the stoplights on U.S. 6 and the mildly annoying young man who zipped in front of me, intending to make a left turn, where there was none, and zipped back out into the inside lane, where, thankfully, there was no other vehicle going about normal business.

The rest of the drive to Mishawaka flowed quite nicely, thank you.

The Joyful Missionary

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June 15, 2022, Chicago- The tiny, well-attired lady called out to me, as I was getting ready to write down my fuel information, after filling up this morning, in Rolla, MO. She had a few hand-drawn hearts and a yellow cross, along with three free-verse prayers she had written down. I gave her a small amount of money for the yellow cross, which will be part of a gift to a friend. She explained she was going to Indianapolis. Dressed in Mennonite garb, and with a spirit that could light up any room, she definitely made my day even more pleasant than it had already been.

I enjoyed breakfast with my southwest Missouri paternal cousin, going over past and present happenings in our large brood. There are five aunts, about 42 cousins and all of our offspring (probably numbering 100+), on my father’s side. Mom’s family likely is close to that number as well. After a delightful hour or so of catch-up, at a small cafe called Granny Lee’s, I had a smooth drive through the Ozarks, around St. Louis and on up through Illinois.

A few accidents, especially a roll-over in the opposite direction, led to a most disturbing traffic jam across the highway, from just west of Rolla to a point ten miles east of town. I have been in a few of those tie-ups, so my heart definitely went out to those who were stuck. I am also concerned for the people affected by the floods in Yellowstone and the surrounding towns and those in Flagstaff, dealing with yet another fire. Given the capricious nature of disaster, this year, I have my Red Cross attire and credentials with me, just in case.

I am now in Chicago, at an underrated, but comfortable and clean motel called the Edgebrook, on West Touhy. This makes two nights in a row, of fine accommodations (Carthage Inn, in Carthage, MO is also worth the modest charge.) I am always glad to cap a long drive and encounters with nice people by getting a good night’s rest.

The Sooner State’s Northern Tier

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June 14, 2022, Carthage, MO- “Hugs” helped me get up this morning, and we both got friend John out the door, a bit earlier than might otherwise have been the case. No worries, as I used all the time given me, going across Oklahoma’s northern tier and J had time to do what he needed to do for his own health and well-being.

We started as we usually do, on such visits, with a breakfast sandwich from a gas station deli and coffee at Da Vinci, Enid’s premier coffee house chain. After conversation with John and one of his friends, it was time to head east again. This time, I stayed on Route 60, eastbound, as far as the turnoff to Neosho, MO, which was a bit further south than I wanted to go today.

Passing through towns like Pond Creek, Lamont, Tonkawa, Ponca City, Pawhuska, Bartlesville, Nowato and Vinita, I was struck by the increasing greenery-even though I have been through this area dozens of times. The difference today was that there was no Turnpike involved. I was able to enjoy the back side of the northern tier.

Ponca City has preserved the properties associated with Oklahoma’s tenth governor, Ernest Whitworth Marland, who was also a philanthropist, having made a fortune in the oil industry, but seeing no point in hoarding the money. His view of wealth was to spend it “like water on my people and my town (Ponca City).” The mansion and estate he shared with his gracious and socially passionate wife, Lydie, are now managed by Ponca City.

Here are some scenes of the mansion and grounds. The Marlands’ adopted son, George, is depicted here, greeting guests as they walk in from the parking lot.

‘Abdu’l-Baha identified philanthropy as the fourth means to spiritual progress. Mr. Marland’s record of contributing, both to the welfare of his employees and to the well-being of Oklahoma’s people, is a worthy counterweight to the seeming largesse he expended on his family and himself. He seemed to have transcended the distrust for the common man that was vocalized by his mentor, Andrew Carnegie, and he actively called for “bringing the New Deal to Oklahoma. In the wake of the Dust Bowl calamity, the state needed those programs, perhaps even more than many places in the coastal regions.

Wealth is not a negative attribute, when it is shared responsibly.

The Harder the Resistance…

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June 13, 2022, Enid- I woke up nicely, in Gallup, though a bit groggy at first, after an interesting dream. In it, I was in a cabin, near what appears to be Badger Peak, just east of Prescott. There a Maine Coon cat which was my companion. I went outside to the outdoor shower, and when I came back, the kitty had been joined by a mountain lion, which paid me scant attention, as he was just sitting and looking out the window, much as a house cat might. I went out again and was hiking towards Prescott, on the Turley Trail. A rather large serval cat was following me, which was odd, as these cats are native to North Africa. Odder still, the serval was joined by others, who were led by a wolf, and they encircled me, closing in slowly but surely. Of a sudden, a growl and a crash through the brush produced the mountain lion, which first took out the wolf, biting him in the neck, then decimated several of the servals, causing the others to flee in panic. The dream ended with the lion, the Maine Coon and me, back in the cabin.

I had a nice, if long, drive to Enid today. It started with a delectable red chili burrito, one of the best I’ve ever had, in over thirty five years in the Southwest, at Glenn’s Bakery, on Gallup’s Near West Side. From there, after I bumbled along Santa Fe Avenue for a bit, I was headed east on I-40. A few construction projects (part of the New Mexico Governor’s highway improvement initiative) met me here and there, through Tucumcari. There was also a small dust storm near Milan, in the Black Rock country around Grants. Otherwise, it was clear sailing, from Gallup through Tucumcari, and on up through the Texas Panhandle to Dalhart and over to Woodward, just west of here. I took lunch at a rest stop near Wagon Wheel, watching a little girl who appeared confused and a rather scruffy individual who was watching her as well. The girl made her way safely to her mother’s side and the other individual went back to his truck. My monitoring role remained just that.

Late in the evening, I arrived at the home of John Glaze, a longtime friend here in Enid. His new dog, a rescue blue healer named “Hugs”, let me know, really fast, that my welcome would have to be earned. After being discouraged from snarling, by John, a few treats from me and John’s cat jumping up on my lap for some petting, “Hugs” changed his tune.

This brings me to the title of this post. Whenever one tries to do something big, or novel, there is resistance-usually from the powers that be. Note that, after the resignation of Richard Nixon from the Presidency, in 1974, the lords of finance and industry struck back with a vengeance, leading to the price increases and stock market declines that were dubbed “stagflation” by Nixon’s successor, Gerald R. Ford, and which bedeviled the tenure of Ford’s successor, Jimmy Carter. The Big Dogs got their wish, in 1980, with the election of Ronald Reagan.

I see the same thing happening now. Price increases, coupled with stock market declines-both seeming to be irreversible-except they aren’t. Even the Great Depression came to an end, because no one, no matter how self-important or greedy they are, individually or as a group, can destroy a society. The Big Dogs are doing nothing so much as shooting themselves in the feet, sowing the seeds of their own downfall, more than causing the permanent impoverishing of the common people.

I, and people like me, will continue to follow our hearts and do what we need to do. If most, or all, of our financial resources are stolen from us, we will generate new resources and keep on with what we are doing. I get this resolve from my maternal grandfather, who was told by the bankers, in the thick of the Great Depression, that they would soon own his house and his car. He never gave them either. My grandmother, and her fourth son, after she died, kept the house in the family name-until he died in 1994. His widow sold the house, of her own volition. It is still in private hands. The car was sold after Papa died, but only because Grandma never learned to drive. He taught his children: “Never give the puppet masters what they demand. God, alone, deserves our fealty.” That lesson was passed on to all of us grandkids.

Tomorrow, my journey will be relatively short- Enid to Sarcoxie, MO, where a paternal cousin and her family await.

Setting The Tone

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June 12, 2022, Gallup- There are, in every conversation, in every gathering of souls, a host of meanings that can be gleaned. Two online meetings today set the tone for my latest venture forth. In the morning, five of us focused on the progression of man, through stages of development and the notion, advanced by ‘Abdu’l-Baha, that there are seven means to reaching one’s true station, which is to carry over into the next life:  “First, through the knowledge of God. Second, through the love of God. Third, through faith. Fourth, through philanthropic deeds. Fifth, through self-sacrifice. Sixth, through severance from this world. Seventh, through sanctity and holiness.”-‘Abdu’l-Baha, “The Divine Art of Living”,Section 3, #10.

For simplicity’s sake, one can substitute whatever term you wish to use in reference to the Supreme Being, for God. The quest is essentially the same process. Knowing and loving that which you determine to be Supreme is essential for any sort of meaningful personal growth. Faith, the third element, should not be blind, but based on that knowledge and love, coupled with the understanding that one has a measure of responsibility for one’s own advancement. Thus the dictum: “God helps those who help themselves.”. The other four means will be discussed in the next several posts.

In the afternoon, seven spiritual leaders, representing three Christian denominations, Judaism, Buddhism, Sufi Islam and Baha’i, offered essentially congruent views on Race Amity. It is obvious to all people of good will and peaceful intent that Mankind is One. There are differences of opinion, thankfully not part of that meeting, with regard to the events of the past and current responsibility for further progress in Race Amity. While we move away from strict adherence to the “Melting Pot” concept, it is useful to recognize that we do have many things in common-not just as Americans, but as Humans. It is also wise, we all concluded, to celebrate each person’s, and each culture’s, uniqueness.

With that, it was back to the mundane world of packing and loading the car. I was off, from Prescott, around 4:30. At 6:15, a brief stop at Homolovi State Park, north of Winslow, let me discharge a cultural obligation, returning a small object that Penny had been given, years ago, to the ground from whence it came.

With the tone thus set for a spiritual and socially-connected journey, I headed for this old mining town, and settled in at Colonial Motel for the evening. Looking in the mirror, of my room, I saw why the clerk was a bit unnerved by my presence- sunscreen had not been properly rubbed in and was smeared in spots along my ears and face. Then, too, what’s left of my hair was all over the place. I could have auditioned for the role of a goblin in “Labyrinth”! Oh, well. The room is clean and comfortable, and it’s time for a rest.

Power, and Its Exercise

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June 6, 2022- Seventy-eight years ago, a huge force of Allied troops made landfall on Utah Beach, in Normandy and would go on to defeat those who used brute force, lies and deceit to hold onto power. Fifty-four years ago, Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated, possibly at the behest of those who treasured power above all else. Forty years ago, Penny and I took vows of marriage, with the promise of sharing the power that comes from mutual respect and love for one another, above all earthly considerations.

Of course, I still feel her presence, all day, every day. The spiritual connection, once made, never dissipates. She was behind me, from the moment I woke up, through my chores, and into an evening exercise session on Zoom, where I shared the significance of this day in my life. There was a time when I sensed we would have forty years together. We had twenty-nine, as husband and wife. We will have an eternity as helpmates, long after this life of mine has ended.

The power that we had came form transcending our two significant egos, and the egos of those around us, who sought to drive a wedge between us-largely because their own interpersonal experiences had been such a mess. We overcame a lot, the two of us, and I stayed her best friend, all through her decline and my facing down my own demons. We raised a fine son, who was my wingman, even in the midst of fighting battles of his own. In the end, it was he who made the right call, and let her transition in dignity.

Those who seek to take power by unsavory means may prevail for a time, but they will always fail, after a fashion. There is no power that lasts, without being shared.

Spirits Ever-Present

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June 5, 2022, Paulden- The four small children set the tone for the afternoon and evening, as they always do, when I visit their family home. Of course, adult conversations flowed, and went around the little rocks that sat firm in the stream of consciousness, acknowledging their presence, their concerns and their moods. Such is the way, at Dharma Farm.

My day began with a reading of the Sunday Arizona Republic, knowing that my involvement with the print edition of the newspaper will be coming to an end soon-my journeys, and the duties that will face me locally, will only accelerate in the days and months ahead.

Celebrating the Feast of Light-one of nineteen spiritual observances, during the year, that bring us Baha’is together in devotions, consultation and fellowship, was done in person, late in the morning and around Noon. We have been observing these occasions virtually, for nearly two years, give or take a couple of random in-person gatherings, during a perceived lull in the pandemic. The disease continues to hover, over our heads and in the background, infecting more people with mild cases. Outdoor gatherings, however, seem less problematic, and so it was, this morning, in the lovely back yard of some friends.

In the afternoon, I gathered surplus garden tools, relieving my storage shed of some of its excess, took along a bag of small gift items for the children and headed up the road to Dharma Farm. The Universe, it seems, lets us all know when our time for gathering is right. The family and their crew of four had spent the past two months sowing, planting trees and working on the restoration of Whispering Winds, Dharma’s predecessor in the Verde Valley, well east of here, whose core building and energy were transported to this sacred spot. One of WW’s principal residents came by for a visit today, as well, expressing gratitude that the essence of his former home was being preserved.

The day proceeded, as a couple worked with one of the children to put together a fabulous stew. The rest of us conversed, walked the grounds and took in the shade of afternoon. Each of the tools I brought will aid their efforts and the value of the coins will set the children on a journey to the independence-and interdependence, being imparted them by their parents. Watching and listening to the little people, I am comforted, reassured, by their gentle energy, wisdom and nascent collaborative skills. There is sharing, asking one another for permission and just a general acknowledgement of one another’s dignity. These are the gifts that come from their parents, and are reinforced by the crew members, who have bonded so well with the children. It was fitting that our after-dinner activity was putting together a jigsaw puzzle, selected by the three-year-old, with three teams working on sections. A mellow circle of conversation in the glow of sunset followed, topped off by a carefully-tended fire pit, that saw us into the night.

The spiritual energy of those who surround us, despite having left their bodies behind, guides days like this, indeed guides all days. For that, I am greatly reassured and comforted.

Embracing the Whole

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June 4, 2022- This was a day for traveling the spectrum. Breakfast at Zeke’s was a time for recognizing that there will be a lot more to bringing about a Green Energy program than just cutting fossil fuel use on paper. Electric vehicles need those same fossil fuels in order to produce electricity, at least for now. I won’t argue the need to cut down on widespread use of fossil fuels. Towards that end, I am keeping my own vehicle in the best condition. Eventually, I will either get a hybrid or alt-fuel vehicle or live somewhere where a vehicle is not necessary.

Mid-day, a group of us discussed building vibrant communities and contributing to social transformation. These themes can only be realized by bringing people together, across points of view and by building on common ground. This is not as trite as many people seem to think, but it does entail some consistent hard work. Baha’is believe that consultation entails listening to what might, at first blush, seem objectionable points of view, and though we do not support those practices which would harm others or deny human rights, the mere expression of a viewpoint does not, in and of itself lead to tyranny. Once a point of view is expressed, it should be regarded as no longer the property of the person who expressed it, but as belonging to the group.

The final part of the day was spent helping a group of progressives at a community picnic. There were several booths, which highlighted such themes as registering to vote, banning Dark Money in political campaigns and tightening restrictions on sales of firearms to those assessed as mentally ill. I will help any group that is about the betterment of society and the preservation of Human Rights-which are God-given rights. I didn’t have to do much , but helping to break down the event was much appreciated. I even re-united a woman with her open-toed sandals.

Helping to transform society will be a lengthy process, requiring patience and perseverance- as well as an imperturbable open-mindedness.