Sept. Ides Notes

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September 15, 2022- The counter lady from the Window Glass repair shop called me, two hours after I had dropped KIA off, and deadpanned that the car was ready for pick-up. I walked over from downtown, and she gave me the keys, with a light smile and a neutral “Thanks for choosing us.” The place used to be a fun place with which to do business. Oh, well; at least the workmanship is still good. It’s nice to have a windshield that is whole again.

It was good that I decided to have breakfast at Raven Cafe, as my friend Melissa’s two daughters happened by, to get coffee. It’s always good to see them. Besides, the pancakes are great, and coffee excellent.

I made it to the Post 6 General Meeting, which I have not attended in some time. Nothing major was decided, but talking with a fellow Legionnaire about Baha’i was an unexpected pleasure. It affirmed what I said last night, during a Baha’i gathering, about not always making grandiose plans and expecting others to follow suit. The measure of Faith is in willingness to act, and in following the Will of the Divine.

I keep reading blurbs from mass media giants that tell us “You WILL vote ________________ in the coming election, because that’s how it’s always been.” Breaking news: I will vote the way I please, because THAT’S how I’ve always been.

I saw fit to shuffle a late October weekend event (Sedona) to early November, so as to attend a late October event somewhere else (Scottsdale). That, in turn, means Monument Valley/ Aneth (UT) shifts to mid-November. Thanksgiving plans are unaffected. I know you’re impressed, but that’s life.

Lastly, the huge file of keepsakes and old card/letters has been culled, and organized into more sensible sub-folders. The most important stuff remains here; the rest went to the Maxi-Shredder.

It’s been a fine day, all in all.

Fresh Eyes and Heart

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September 7, 2022- There is no better breakfast burrito, anywhere, than a Red from Glenn’s Bakery, on Gallup’s near west side. At least, that has been my experience. I don’t like a BB filled with potatoes-starch upon starch, so there’s that factor. Glenn’s Red Burrito has bacon, red chili and scrambled eggs-nothing more, nothing less and there is a choice of spinach or pumpkin tortilla. I chose spinach. It had not long been out of the oven.

That was the start of the home stretch, of a brief journey of stellar upliftment. The Colorado East Baha’i Summer School was not a treasure trove of scholarly talk, which so many Baha’is my age seem to expect. It was a re-connection of souls, after nearly three years of all COVID, all the time-and its attendant Zoom/Microsoft Teams “gatherings”. It had a devotional focus and considerable attention to our Nine-Year Plan, which itself already seems to dovetail with the enormous changes we have seen, these past two years. Mostly, though, it was a joyous reunion of hearts- and I was glad to be a part of it. To have followed that with an evening of equally heartfelt spiritual connection, along the West Rim of Rio Grande Gorge set my heart afresh.

Then came Taos and the return along El Camino Real, always refreshing to the eyes. I return to places out of love for those whose spirits shine-and there are more of those, with each stop along the way. It is that way in Cortez, Santa Fe, Madrid (NM), Moriarty, Albuquerque’s Old Town, Gallup-and Winslow. A little place called Sip Shoppe, across from Standing On The Corner Park, has been my go-to place in Winslow, for a few years now. I was delighted to get into town, in time for an early lunch.

There was, however, a pall on the occasion, as I received word that one of my paternal aunts, whom I had visited in Maine, a few years ago, had passed on. After lunch, I walked over to Route 66 Park, which Winslow has established along the Santa Fe Railroad tracks. I wanted only peace and quiet, hoping to sit in the gazebo and pray. The spot was taken up by a disabled man, who seemed to be needing solitude of his own. After some further walking along the sidewalk that featured three or four verses of doggerel, I chose a north-facing bench, and engaged in my prayer and meditation.

Thinking further, about a friend who had done a marvelous series of posts on Winslow, a few months ago, I took a few shots of Route 66 Park, before heading back to the Sportage and driving the rest of the way to Home Base.

Classic VW Beetle, Route 66 Park, Winslow
Sculpture in honour of Indigenous peoples of the Winslow area
Ode to Hubbell Trading Post, about two hours northeast of Winslow

The towns and cities of the Southwest are particularly given to being seen with fresh eyes, each time one passes through.

El Camino Real

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September 6, 2022, Gallup- Last night, it came to me that much of the messaging I’ve been getting of late, as to what course of action should be followed, has come to me through other people. This morning, though, the message was loud and clear-devote the morning to Taos and its surroundings, especially along El Camino Real-the “King’s Road” towards Santa Fe, along the East Rim of Rio Grande Gorge.

Taos has been a town through which I passed, not spending much time there-until today. With a commitment to myself to drive as far as this old mining town, I freed up a few hours to make friends in Taos, as well as time to stop and see people I love dearly in Santa Fe, Madrid and Moriarty.

So, parking KIA in a free dirt parking lot, I walked a long a row of art galleries, not purchasing anything this time, though I will spend more time picking out at least two art pieces, on a future visit, weather-permitting, in December.

Here are a few of the shops along Kit Carson Way.

View of Couse Center, a forum for promoting arts in Taos.
Garden in courtyard, Mission Gallery

As last winter’s New Mexico visit was centered on the O’Keeffe Museum, so I fully expect to devote a few hours to the Couse Center, in the days between Christmas and New Year’s. I will be able to get a good cup of hot coffee at World Cup, at the east edge of Taos Plaza.

Drink for thought, World Cup Coffee House, Taos
World Cup is the Taos link in my chain of connections

An energizing visit with a mix of very hard-working people and laid-back former attorneys and factory workers established this connection, much as prior encounters at Henry and The Fish and Double C’s Diner did for Santa Fe and Moriarty, respectively.

Like Santa Fe, Taos has La Fonda Hotel in its Plaza. Here is a look at the lobby and its hearth.

Lobby of Taos La Fonda Hotel
Fireplace, lobby of Taos La Fonda Hotel
Alley, off north side of Taos Plaza

After this, I went south, about three miles, to Ranchos de Taos, the original Spanish Land Grant settlement. Here, there is a smaller plaza, and Iglesia San Francisco de Asis.

This is the central church of Ranchos de Taos

Heading towards Santa Fe, I came upon a spot where Rio Grande is flowing rather rapidly, and another, where the river is more languid.

Note the small rapids in two spots along the Rio Grande. (East Rim of Rio Grand Gorge)

A few miles south, here is a fishing spot, favoured by local residents.

I will be back, again, weather-permitting, very soon. The rest of the day saw short, but very genial visits with friends at Henry & The Fish, Java Junction (Madrid) and Double C Diner,where I got a take-out meal, as it was too early for dinner. The chicken enchiladas were just as tasty, when I got to Colonial Motel, here in Gallup, as they would have been had I dined in. Having good friends at a coffee shop or eatery is even more important to me than the fare itself.

Finding friends all around, this has been a marvelous journey.

“Manitou Likes You!”

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September 2, 2022, Colorado Springs- After edging along I-25, due to an unfortunate collision, I made a detour over to Manitou Springs, a most pleasant town west of Garden of the Gods and north of Seven Falls, as well as being a gateway to Pikes Peak. My once favoured lunch spot there, Hearts of Jerusalem, closed during the COVID period. In its place is Good Karma Coffee House and Deli, a thoroughly delightful husband and wife-operated spot, with a short, but well-conceived menu. After an “Inside-Out Grilled Cheese”, I walked on over to The Taos Maos gift shop and bought a nicely-made wind chime, which will accompany another that will get from Arcosanti, in a few weeks. Maos is as interesting as its name implies, and has small items that can enhance even the simplest home.

After that was done, I remarked to the parking lot attendants, two very agreeable and helpful ladies, how much I like Manitou. Their response was: “Manitou likes you!” Moments like that are always affirming. I got up to La Foret Conference and Retreat Center, just northeast of downtown Colorado Springs, in mid-afternoon, and checked in to Colorado East Baha’i School an hour early. We began study and discussion of meaningful social action, this evening and will continue over the next 2.5 days.

I am in a comfortable little cabin, with one roommate-a nice gentleman, and six other cabin mates, all very considerate and agreeable people. There is an abundance of children and teenagers here, also very considerate and high-functioning people. As we are preparing to get ready for sleep, thunder and lightning are all around us. Rain has come to CS to the first time in two weeks, a welcome easterly extension of the monsoon.

I bid you all good night, with a scene from Manitou Springs and one from La Foret.

Yes, Manitou is ONE of Colorado’s Christmas cities.
Inglis Hall, named for La Foret’s founders.

Highway 160, Old and New

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September 1, 2022, Walsenburg, CO- The message outside the Bistro was endearing: “In the quilt of life, friends are the sticks that hold the quilt together.” The Farm Bistro, in downtown Cortez, is a place that I have patronized each time, save one, that I have been in Colorado’s southwestern commercial hub, since 2015. What matters to me, about a business establishment, even more than its products, is the reception I get when I enter and how I am treated while there. The Farm Bistro excels in that regard. Heck, the manager even gave me a peanut butter cookie for having been patient while the staff was serving a tour group. As long as we have eyes, ears and hearts, it pays to use them in a way that reassures others that their efforts matter.

I left Kayenta, an hour or so southwest of Cortez, after a delightful breakfast, courtesy of Hampton Inn. Across the highway from the hotel, the full geologic variety of Kayenta is in view. There were numerous families, of different compositions and sizes, in the wing where I stayed, but all were quiet and considerate. The Navajo Nation is a place where face masks are still required in public, so there I was with an N-95. At least we don’t have to pull them up and down, with every bite or sip.

Before going to The Farm, I noticed a man sitting on the corner of a gas station lot. He had a sign that read: “It’s my birthday. Any little bit helps, and God bless.” This was a new one, and even though I normally don’t hand money to sign-bearers, the notion resonated that this was a real birthday of a human being, and he had one other companion, who was bringing him a ball cap, food and water. I gave him a bill and was thanked profusely. Then, I went and enjoyed a Yak Burger and salad at The Farm Bistro.

Going past Durango and Pagosa Springs, I came to Treasure Falls, a small preserve at the foot of Wolf Creek Pass’s formidable ascent. I had stopped briefly at the bottom viewpoint of this small cascade, a few times. Today, I hiked up to the Falls topmost viewpoint, where on a good day, one can feel the spray. Colorado has not had as much rain as Arizona and Nevada, this monsoon, so the Falls were not as potent as they have been in past years.

Nonetheless, the hike energized me, in the warm mid-afternoon, far more than an iced coffee would have.

I was a bit tired here, but the rest of the hike was energizing-and unlike some other walks I’ve taken, I stayed on the established path. A group of other men did not-and advised against following their route.

This poor little one was struggling in the afternoon heat.

Once back on the road, it was an easy drive up and over Wolf Creek Pass. I spotted an overturned semi-trailer, on the opposite side of the road, with a large sign that said “KEEP OUT!”. My guess is that it has been laying there for some days now. I drove on, through South Fork, Del Norte, Monte Vista and Alamosa, before dinner time came-and I stopped at Lu’s Main Street Cafe, Blanca. Milynn served up a sharp and well-prepared Stuffed Sopapilla. It is a fabulous place to dine, and a worthy replacement for Del’s Diner, in nearby Fort Garland, which closed during the pandemic and now sits, looking forlorn and sad, at the east end of town. My only caveat about Lu’s is that the waitresses are high school students and closing time, on a school night, is around 6:30. They at least take their schedule as seriously as they do their jobs. Milynn and her co-worker were pleasant, but made it clear that they needed to get done soon. Nonetheless, when I come this way again, I will stop at Lu’s, hopefully earlier than I did this evening.

I got into Walsenburg, about an hour later, settling in to Anchor Motel. Other than a brief, but loud, dispute between two apparently drunken men, the place has been quiet. Walsenburg is a businesslike, but friendly, town.

Joy In A Sea of Sand

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August 31, 2022, Kayenta- I looked at the normally dry Red Lake, about fifty miles southwest of here, and was amazed to see it full! Traffic and lack of a safe place to pull off kept me from photographing the scene, but seasonal lakes are a definite joy to behold.

I am here, on the way to southern Colorado, and the Colorado East Baha’i Summer School, to which I was invited a month or so ago. There are always numerous visual delights on this route, US Highway 160, which starts near Tuba City and continues eastward, to near Poplar Bluff, Missouri. I have been on the route, as far east as Pittsburg, Kansas.

The Badlands, grasslands and Hoodoo country, from Cameron, AZ to the Ute town of Towaoc, Colorado seem energized and rejuvenated by this year’s specially productive monsoon rains. Even those areas normally devoid of vegetation are showing a certain lively energy. The sandy wonderland that is Monument Valley finds its southwestern terminus here, in this small but vibrant Dineh community. So, I have stopped here for the evening, as being among Dineh people has augured well for me, at the start of any journey-whether within the Southwest or transcontinental.

Monument Valley is a sea of sand, but what marvels that sand has helped create, with help from wind and water! I will begin tomorrow with a few photos and meditations of joy.

Unintended Requiem

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August 15, 2022- It is probable that the woman wanted to get home so badly, that nothing or no one else mattered, including the red light, at which two other motorists had stopped their vehicles. Regardless of the promptings, what ensued was that her vehicle ended up wedged to the car in front of it, which then slammed into mine.

Her insurance carrier’s senior agent was incredulous that I had driven from the accident site to my home, over 2000 miles away. The fact is that the vital parts of the Saturn Vue were in safe, operable condition- the fuel tank and exhaust, rear wheels, brakes and struts. I made it safely, and got to a few subsequent commitments, before submitting the vehicle to the auto body shop of my choice.

Insurance companies, by nature, are risk averse, as are State Insurance Authorities, and many mechanical shops. There are good reasons for all the above, mostly based on the history of litigation. So, upon finding that there was damage to the undercarriage of Saturn, Insurance Carrier A assessed the vehicle as a total loss. I was advised to have the matter transferred to my own carrier, and so Insurance Carrier B assumed control of Saturn, and will continue dealings with Carrier A. The auto body shop will be reimbursed by Carrier A, as well: Three days of labour and five days of storage are no trifle.

The vehicle that took me to the northern tip of Newfoundland, and many points between here and there, will soon be auctioned for parts. There will be those who say “I told you so!”, while not recognizing that ANY vehicle, in the wrong place at the wrong time, may be subject to death and dismemberment.

What will now transpire is that, for the first time since 1982, I will be totally responsible for the purchase of a vehicle. Saturn was a sentimental choice, as well as being chosen for its sturdiness. The next vehicle will be of more recent vintage, and have fewer miles under its belt. This is not because of the chance I will be taunted and ridiculed, but because the vehicle will need to last me several years-potentially being the last car I will own.

Do not “rust in peace”, Saturn. Your viable parts will do many others some good.

Crashes and Comfort Zones

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August 2, 2022- The woman two seats over from me, at the counter of a local establishment, began telling me about what she said was the worst accident she has handled, in twenty years in the automobile insurance industry. It involved a head-on collision, caused by someone who passed on a double yellow, on a curve, and was driving a luxury vehicle. The driver was from another state. His passenger was killed. The right-way driver has lost the use of his legs, for at least two years.

We agreed that there is a long-standing problem with people leaving their manners behind, when they cross out of their home states-and in some cases, home communities. There have been instances where a driver, culpable in an accident, has argued with police and the other parties’ insurance companies, saying that people should make way when said driver is approaching. You can easily guess how that worked for the guilty party. I was taught that other motorists, and pedestrians, are fellow travelers, and deserve every courtesy that I wish for myself.

Conversely, the other phenomenon the insurance agent has witnessed is the frequency of accidents caused by people within a few miles of their homes. The incident in which Saturn got bumped, on July 7, was caused by a driver who was two miles from home-and was headed there when a red light, and two other vehicles, were in between. My Elantra was once dinged by a woman who was backing up, while looking straight forward, because “this is a routine pick-up and I’ve done this every day for six months.” The same hapless vehicle was t-boned by a truck whose driver was two minutes away from his first landscaping job of the day. I was three minutes away from mine, and needless to say, neither of us worked that day. Had he driven the speed limit and had I looked left and right for ten seconds, instead of five, things would have been different.

As it happened, I made another run up to Bellemont today, to finish a cleaning task, using a power washer. There were no problems with traffic and drivers, as Tuesday is not a high volume day, even in summer. In any case, I tend to follow basic rules of courtesy, and follow laws, whether driving in Prescott or Parrsboro, NS.

Under A Gentle Mist

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July 26, 2022- I woke this morning, to a router/modem combo that was struggling to even fully load, and a candle pot that had somehow crashed to the floor and shattered, overnight. After cleaning up the pieces of ceramic and vacuuming the shards, I looked carefully at the device, and found its power supply was running very hot. So, the whole thing was unplugged and will remain so, until a technician from Sparklight comes over, tomorrow at some point. Thus do I write from the pleasant surroundings of Wild Iris Coffee House and will communicate with others, this evening, from Raven Cafe.

There is a misty rain in Prescott, this morning, a gentle reminder that, no matter how difficult things may seem at times, there is always a Guiding Hand that will help keep things on an even keel. Last night, as I walked from Bill’s Pizza, following a pleasant dinner served by a precious soul, I was approached by a longtime friend, who is a Youth Pastor. He asked my opinion on the political events of the past two years, then stated his disaffection with a certain defeated candidate for the presidency. My contention that any one of us can be dumb at times, but few are stupid, was reinforced by our conversation. My conservative friend has a good heart and a discerning mind.

I got a reasonable estimate from the auto body shop that I use here, so Saturn should be repaired, relatively easily, sometime in August, courtesy of the culpable party’s insurance company. In the meantime, it’s roadworthy and will get its welcome back oil & lube on Thursday.

Late August and early September will find me in Colorado and northern New Mexico, with a Baha’i school in Colorado Springs as the centerpiece. The second half of October will bring a visit to northern Nevada and eastern Idaho. I had considered a train ride to Sacramento, and renting a car from there, but the time and money required to drive up there is actually less than a train/rental car combination. So, once again, it’ll be Saturn and me going forth together. Thanksgiving will, most likely, be a Texas affair, with Christmas right here at Home Base, but more on those, later.

This is a community of very finely-tuned synchronicity. I left the coffee house, momentarily, to change parking spots, as there is a two-hour limit. Spotting an empty space in Iris’s lot, I went to the car, turned around and, lo and behold, the car in front of me got the empty space. Having been raised with a mindset of abundance, I pulled around the corner and found several spaces available. There is, most often, room for everyone in this world.

Golden Wrap-up

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July 17, 2022- Upon the conclusion of each journey I’ve taken, since 2011, at least one family member asks “What was the highlight of your trip?” I can most often rattle off something that stands out, yet there is, truth be known, more than one highlight-especially when I’ve been away from Home Base for a month.

The two anchors, as it stands, were the first stop, Homolovi State Park, where I returned an arrowhead to its guardians, the ancestors of the Hopi people, and L’Anse aux Meadows, where the first Europeans of record met the Indigenous people of the Americas. It would seem an ironic twist to have laid the artifact back in sacred soil, when so much of the San Francisco Peaks, an area holy to many First Nations people, was under siege from a fire, apparently ignited by a random camper trying to burn his refuse. It was my first instruction from my spirit guides.

From there, the road presented a mix of family and friend visits, with stops at places of historical, social, natural and spiritual significance. The historical gems included Marland Mansion, in Ponca City, OK; Prescott, ON Riverwalk; St,. Joseph’s Oratory, Montreal; Provincial Assembly Building, Fredericton, NB; Shediac, NB; the villages and towns along the Cabot Trail, NS-especially Cheticamp and Ingonish; L’Anse aux Meadows, NL; St. Croix Island International Peace Monument, ME; State Capitol, Nashville TN. These, of course, each have natural features that add luster to the historical aspects of the place. This is especially true of L’Anse aux Meadows, with its stark subarctic and maritime beauty.

The natural treasures also included Lake Ontario Park, Kingston, ON; Moosehead Lake, Greenville, ME; Wilmot Park, Fredericton; Bras d’Or Lake and Cape Breton Highlands, NS; Gros Morne and Terra Nova National Parks, NL; Pippy Park, St; John’s, NL; Deer Lake Park, NL; Fundy National Park, NB; anywhere along the coast of Maine; Natchez Trace Parkway, TN. and of course, the open Atlantic Ocean.

Spiritually, I felt especially at ease in and around the Baha’i House of Worship, Wilmette, IL ; Lake Ontario Park; St. Lawrence Riverwalk, Prescott, ON; Waterfront Park, Shediac; looking out anywhere along Bras d’Or Lake; Grand Faillante, French Mountain and Green Cove, Cape Breton Highlands; Matthew Head, Fundy National Park; Green Acre Baha’i School, Eliot, ME; Natchez Trace; and Centennial Park, Nashville.

Socially, my family and I were there for one another, in Sarcoxie, MO; Boothbay Harbor, ME; Saugus and Lynnfield, MA; Exton, PA and Grapevine, TX. Likewise, long-time friends in Enid, OK; Mishawaka, IN; Oley, PA; Crossville, TN; Amarillo, TX and Moriarty, NM made travel a lot lighter. I also feel like lasting new friendships were made in Montreal; McAdam, NB; Wycocomagh, Bras d’Or Village and Eskasoni, NS; Doyles, St.Lunaire-Griquet and Grand Bank, NL; Jonesboro and Perry, ME (the last, as long as the cranky restaurant owner isn’t around); Hohenwald, TN and Tallulah, LA. I missed friends in Wilkes-Barre and Bedford, PA; Harrisonburg, VA; Wildersville, TN; other family members in Maine, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania- and I will see them again. The purpose in all this journeying is indeed to “make new friends and keep the old”, as the old children’s tune goes.

For the time being, I will quickly get back into life here at Home Base. Baha’i camp, near Flagstaff, a day of dog-sitting and whatever else surfaces will keep me in peace and harmony for the rest of July. We’ll talk about August and September, a little later.