Remembrance Includes The Pain

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October 15, 2021- In the fall of 2020, there were protests against keeping the statue of Juan de Onate, one of the Conquistadores who re-established Spanish hegemony in what is now the American Southwest, after the Indigenous Peoples’ Revolt of 1680. The statue still stands at the southwest entrance to Old Town Albuquerque. As painful as much of Spanish rule was, for both the Puebloan and nomadic tribes that were subjugated, that collective pain and the response to it-including the retributive pain meted out by the rebels upon the Spanish settlers are cautionary tales-two among many from which mankind is learning, ever so slowly. The horrors endured cannot be wiped from memory.

All across Europe, there are reminders of the grim events that forged that continent’s present state, from the Museum of Torture, in Bruges, Belgium to the preserved concentration camps of World War II. In Africa, the dreadful remnants of Slave Castles and places like Ile Goree, remind residents and visitors alike of the widespread culpability for this most heinous sustained and codified injustice. Hiroshima and Nagasaki bear witness to the ultimate fate that awaits the worst of ultranationalists, along with the millions of innocent victims that their excesses cause to be brought down with them.

Here in North America, it is surely tempting to “correct” history, by eradicating statuary that reflect the erroneous notion of one racial subgroup, or ethnicity, being superior to others. Indeed, statues of Confederate leaders and slave holders scarcely have any place, standing in communities that abolished slavery, to the extent it ever was practiced in them, well before the onset of the American Civil War. Ditto for the Stars and Bars.

I have visited places associated with controversial, even unsavory, historical figures and events, from the Confederate Cemetery of southern Maryland to the site of the Silver Creek Massacre, in eastern Colorado-and will continue to do so, for the purposes of my own understanding. I do so, knowing that I will never subscribe to either heinous mistreatment of other human beings, or to the systems that spring from it.

Careful, measured and accurate presentation of unpleasant to horrific episodes of our history, and of the blinkered systems they produced, is however part of learning. De Onate’s role in the suppression of both indigenous peoples of New Mexico, and of the lower class settlers (including Afro-Spaniards, many of whom were enslaved) needs to be kept in mind. Seeing his likeness on horseback, upon first entering Old Town, is a suitable prompt in that regard. It also brings forth further contemplation, as to the role of the clergy, including the founders of the nearby Church of San Felipe de Neri, in the oppression of those viewed as of a lesser humanity. Again, gratuitous statuary in places not associated with a given figure of history- as in a statue of Christopher Columbus in, say, Portland, Oregon or of Robert E. Lee, in downtown St. Louis, serves no purpose other than to gratify that figure’s local admirers. In such a case, those admirers should be free to keep their memorabilia on their own private turf. For the rest of us, history presented in its true context will suffice.

Those are my thoughts, after visiting Old Town Albuquerque, before heading back to Home Base.

The Struggle Was/Is No Hoax

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October 14, 2021, Albuquerque- The themes expressed in the New Mexico History Museum are common, in their presentation of the call for rectification of all that has been done wrong, between one group of people towards another, over the centuries. Simply put, there is no person, group of people, ethnicity or nation that has a corner on purity, kindness, love for the Earth, etc. Any time people feel backed into a corner, they lash out.

This is true, no matter how privileged and well-off people are, in actuality. “The reality of man is his thought”, said ‘Abdu’l-Baha, on His visit to Paris, in 1911. If a person feels that he is a victim, then no amount of explaining from someone else, even grounded in real time, will change the afflicted one’s perspective. it has to come from within. Before Europeans came to the Americas, there were times when the various Indigenous nations would quarrel and wage war. Usually, this was sparked by natural disaster, combined with population growth, resulting in scarcity. The influx of large numbers of people who came from other parts of the world, and who had different values and practices, did not exactly ease the situation.

The solution, though, is never to deny another person’s reality, as some intellectuals are trying to do with regard to social justice movements. The conservative who refers to the claims of a progressive as “that hoax”, and vice versa, brings no peace. Everyone has a piece of the truth, and deserves to at least be heard, so that the feeling of being backed into a corner does not arise. I came to this realization, again, after visiting the section of the New Mexico History Museum that deals with the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. The rebellion succeeded, initially, because there was unity of purpose across the various Indigenous nations. It failed, in the end, both because that unity did not hold and because the victors did not see fit to treat Spanish civilians, especially women and children, in a humane manner. It was the generating of extreme negativity that sucked the energy out of the otherwise worthy campaign for relief and equanimity for maltreated Indigenous people.

The songwriter Pete Townshend warned, after experiencing callous behaviour from some attendees at the Woodstock Music Festival, in 1969, that “parting on the Left” could change to “parting on the Right”, in his song “We Won’t Get Fooled Again”. It happens when, as the initially victorious have so often found, their views on holding power turn out to be unimaginative, merely copying the practices of their former oppressors-and thus either paving the way for the return of those oppressors, as happened in the late Seventeenth Century, or worse, hard-wiring the succeeding generations in patterns of socially maladaptive behaviour.

I have paid close attention, especially lately, to the interactions of people, across ages and ethnicities, in the latest stages of COVID19. I have heard of incidents of line jumping and people flailing at each other, over masks vs. no masks. I saw nothing of the sort, anywhere in mask-mandated New Mexico, these past four days. People appear to be making an effort to get along, on a very basic level. even when, as one conservative friend said, they regard the mask mandate as inane.

Everyone’s struggle is real, and though that struggle does not become everyone else’s God-given burden, we can at least wish the bedraggled soul the best, and not actively make the onus heavier, by denying that it exists.

I left Santa Fe, around noon, after the museum visit, making brief stops in the artistic havens of Galisteo and Madrid, before settling in at the avant-garde, minimalist Monterey Motel, near Old Town, in this sprawling, but still rather charming metropolis on the Rio Grande.

Here are a few scenes of the day.

Learning, with some satisfaction, that the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum has sufficient rock star status as to require a fair amount of advance planning, before a visit, I made a note to wait until next time.

After leaving Santa Fe, a drive to quiet, artistic Galisteo introduced this adobe church: Our Lady of the Cures.

En route from Galisteo to the artist community of Madrid, I drove past some badlands.

Once in Madrid, I found this little gem, in the Gypsy Plaza. Mr. Shugarman carefully packaged two of his signature chocolate bark squares, for my gradual enjoyment. He also ships his wares, so some beloved friends may expect an occasional surprise, direct from Madrid.

Madrid, on the east side of Sandia Crest, is another reason for me to return to northern New Mexico, soon. After tending to a critical business matter in uptown Albuquerque, I settled into Monterey Motel, about two blocks west of Old Town. The avant-garde ambiance was welcome this evening.

The Daughter of Pedernal

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October 12, 2021, Santa Fe- The rough-hewn log cabin greeted several of us who pulled into Ghost Ranch around noon. It’s given name is City Slicker Cabin, though BYOB (Bring your own bedding) is the obvious message for those who take a look at its plank-floored emptiness. Needless to say, the present owners of the property take care to lock it, each night at 5 p,m,

The day had started wet and cold, as I enjoyed a homestyle breakfast at Cuban Cafe, across the road from Cuban Lodge, both owned by the same family, in Cuba, NM. Rain changed to snow as the road took me over Sierra Nacimiento, and to a brief stop at Abiquiu Lake, a reservoir built by the Army Corps of Engineers in 1963. The earthen dam which secures the lake was raised in 1986.

Having made a reservation at Ghost Ranch, for a day pass, I was told rather apologetically by the attendant in the Welcome Center that I would not be able to eat in the Dining Hall. Since that was not one of my expectations, I thanked her and went into the theater, to watch a brief video about the property and its history. Imagine my surprise to see a treasured friend among those who was on a group hike, a few years back.

Ghost Ranch has attracted many of us, well-known and obscure, alike. Ansel Adams, Nelson Rockefeller, Del Webb and Robert Wood Johnson (the founder of Johnson & Johnson, and the second part-owner of the property) have all treasured its serenity and beauty. Perhaps most famous of all, however, were Max Roybal, the Santera (carver of wooden saint likenesses) of Ghost Ranch, and Georgia O’Keeffe. It was Ms. O’Keeffe’s association with Ghost Ranch that first prompted me to want to pay a visit. There is much about her simple artistic style and love for basic black and white backgrounds that has appealed to me, since my teen years. She had a passionate love of desert and mountain alike, regarding nearby Cerro Pedernal as “her” mountain. In many ways, Georgia was a daughter of Perdernal. She is also regarded as the “Mother of American Modernism”, relative to painting and sculpture. She lived on Ghost Ranch from 1934-1984, when frail health prompted a move to Santa Fe, where she passed on in 1986, at the age of 98.

With Ms. O’Keeffe’s long and cherished career in mind, I set about exploring the grounds of this fascinating property. Carol Stanley moved to the former Archuleta property, in 1930, recording the deed to it in her name, after divorcing her husband, Roy Pfaffle, who had won the property in a poker game. A frequent visitor, businessman Arthur Pack, bought the property from Ms. Stanley, in 1935. It was he who developed the land to its present rustic, but economically viable, state. Mr. Pack and his wife, Phoebe, being childless, sought a non-profit entity to purchase the land, after he became infirm. The Presbyterian Church was given Ghost Ranch by them, in 1955, and uses it as an educational and spiritual retreat. The property was damaged somewhat, by a flood in 2015, but has largely been restored.

Here are five scenes of Ghost Ranch.

I spent about thirty minutes walking the nearby Labyrinth. Being in a deep state of meditation after leaving the Labyrinth, I decided to not photograph it, this time, but looking at the Medicine Water Wheel, one can get a fair idea of the appearance of the maze.

There are two museums, south of the Welcome Center: The Anthropology and Paleontology Museums. During the height of the Covid Pandemic, these were the only museums in New Mexico to remain open! Even so, only four people at a time could visit each one. I spent another forty-five minutes between the two.

When it was time to say farewell, for now, to Ghost Ranch, I was bid adieu by these two sentries:

Enchantment, Preserved

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October 11, 2021, Cuba, NM- The message was unequivocal, as I drove past the highway that led to Chaco Culture National Historical Park, and towards Farmington: “We are giving you THIS day, to honour the ancestors!” I turned around, and drove towards Chaco, promising myself that I would not continue along the unpaved road that led to the place, if there were any spots with high centers or jagged rocks that would reach up and take a bite out of the rental car’s oil pan or gas tank.

I needn’t have worried. There were spots with mild washboard, but nothing that harmed the Chevy Malibu. My new friends, Michael and Pat, were less fortunate, losing a water jug to the one spot on the road that had a hairline rupture and shook their vehicle. I think I went over that spot at 10 mph. Probably, the harbinger for what turned out to be an excellent observance of Indigenous People’s Day was this sight, along NM Highway.

Another half-mile along, a friendly rancher had arranged this greeting.

Today’s visit brought me to Hungo Pavi, Chetro Ketl and Pueblo Bonito. The above, and the next two photos, feature Hungo Pavi.

I moved along to Chetro Ketl, one of the four clusters of buildings in Chaco that use a mix of round and square.. Chetro is located directly west of a fine collection of petroglyphs. Here is one of these.

As large as Hungo Pavi and Chetro Ketl were, they were mere suburbs of Pueblo Bonito. The central community was also the major trading hub for the Four Corners region, and likely as important to the commerce of at least the western half of North America, as Cahokia and Serpent Mound were to the east. Here are three views of that enormous place.

I will be back in this phenomenal place, perhaps as early as December. The spiritual and historical significance of Chaco Canyon, to both those who settled here and those who came after, is still being realized.

Stay on Game

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October 10. 2021, Gallup- Today is Double Tenth, the popular name for the National Day of Taiwan. The country is on watch, as it has been since 1949. Taiwan is staying vigilant, on game.

On a smaller scale, I, too, have to remain vigilant, on game-for a different reason. Life is getting more frenetic, I’ve noticed. More people are casting discernment to the wind, with me being one of them, for a split second too long, on September 23. The lesson was to not take eyes off my surroundings-in any situation.

After a morning that became whirlwind-a breakfast at Post 6, delayed a bit by human error (not mine), I hosted an online meeting-starting on time, but with seconds to spare. It all worked out, very nicely. A phone call to my mother, before all that, soothed any concerns I had about her well-being. She was more concerned that I was recovering from 9/23. I am, and just about completely.

Packing was fairly light, though I am ready for the vagaries of October-winter gear is mixed with near summer wear. I set out a bit after noon, noticing that there was a huge volume of traffic headed from Payson to the Phoenix area, for some reason going west to the Verde Valley, then south on I-17. I was headed in the opposite direction, but found it took seven minutes to be cleared for turning left so as to head north to Winslow.

There was no further delay in moving towards Gallup. I did stop for coffee, in the small Navajo Nation border town of Chambers, AZ. The restaurant attached to Days Inn was closed, but the convenience store had coffee. A well-meaning lady brought a stray dog into the store, pleading with the attendant to find a place for the scared puppy. Apparently, the finder was from Phoenix and had no way to care for the dog, which she said had been wandering around near the large semi-trailer trucks parked nearby. It being Sunday, and Chambers being a good hour from the animal shelter in Ganado, there wasn’t much the attendant could do, save put the dog outside and tend to her at shift’s end. Me? I am driving a rental car, have no pet carrier and would not be able to keep the animal at Home Base. I left a small group of people there to sort it out as best they could.

Once here, in western New Mexico’s regional commercial hub, I found no fewer than four motels closed for renovation. All can definitely use a world-class makeover, including the Lariat, where I stayed the last time I was here. El Capitan Motel is open for business and is definitely of recent renovation. The place is at least as good as a Motel 6, if not better. Who says Mom & Pop have nothing on the chains?

I am modifying my itinerary a bit, foregoing a drive into Chaco Culture National Historical Park, as the skinny on the roads into the park says there are very rough sections of the dirt roads, just before the park entrances, on either side. I am driving someone else’s vehicle and discernment precludes taking it on a rough route. I can drive a paved road, along the periphery of Chaco, which will suffice for now. Monday will thus be a day of familiarizing myself with the edges of the Bisti Badlands and the areas around the towns of Farmington, Bloomfield and Cuba.

My vigilance, in several instances of craziness, mostly pertaining to traffic, was much sharper today. I find that most reassuring.

Summer’s End

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September 20, 2021- This has been a strange eight days. I chalk most of it up to the change of seasons, which often finds me out of sorts and seeing darkness where none is intended. That, in turn, leads to trusted friends drawing back a bit and my being in a somewhat isolated state, for a few days. Taking the hint, this year, it’s a time to take care of a few things that have gone neglected for a while, today, and be in nature tomorrow-the day of Equinox.

It didn’t help matters any, that a planned deployment with the Red Cross fell through-only because I didn’t make a second consecutive phone call to the dispatcher-when I was expecting a confirmation call from that individual. Funny, how the protocol from last year has changed. At any rate, given my emotional state, I would not have been on game and mistakes may have happened, that would not have served well. Things, no matter how confusing, happen for the general good.

Today begins a second series of September birthdays (Mom’s and my middle brother’s being the first set, earlier this month). This one starts with the birthday of someone with whom I have had scant contact, in this life, but an inexplicable bond from some other realm of existence. It includes the birthday of my sister and ends with the commemoration of Penny’s birthday, both next week.

Summer’s end caps a season that took in a second cross-country journey, saw some friendships start to fade, others generate and renewed my bonds with good-hearted people. It included a longer work project than I had planned, but the results were fairly successful. It is now time to look towards Autumn-the season of harvest, and of my own birth. It will bring me to southern California, for a few days next week; complete Red Cross training that I feel is needed, in early October; and make a journey to places in New Mexico that have longed called out. Fall will also bring a couple more sessions with the dermatology team and hopefully see my little family come out here for Thanksgiving. I may yet also go on deployment for a couple of weeks.

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” – Dan Wilson, “Closing Time”

Now, for another song, from a master songwriter:

Best Laid Plans

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August 26, 2021- To those hoping for a sestina, followed by an octina, in the next two posts-sorry, I worked extra hard today and am ready to do so again tomorrow-so, rain check on the two big kahunas. I don’t go by other people’s schedules anyway.

My day began with a phone call from my colleague, for whom I am covering classes. We have worked as a team, these three weeks-I, in person, with the students and she from her family’s home, in another state. I was on my own today, with basic, but well thought-out plans, which kept five groups of potentially rambunctious teens happily engaged. Not everyone got all the concepts being considered, but when does that ever happen? The students made my day dance.

Plans, these days, are made to be changed. This is a poster year for flexibility, and methinks it is not the last such year that lies in wait. I thought for sure that I would visit Canada in the Spring and Europe in the Fall. Instead, two cross-USA trips took place this Spring and Summer and New Mexico will replace Silesia and Old Prussia, in October. I am very fortunate, regardless.

A man in another country thought for sure that glomming onto me and calling me “Brother” would guarantee him a steady supply of money. Instead, he got some help and a few lessons on forbearance and trying to network, rather than the old “You owe us” guilt trips, which are fast running out of steam.

This has become the year of shattered assumptions and of resilient self-reliance. I am feeling finer, with each day that I face whatever fire happens along. I wish everyone the same.

Odds and Ends

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August 5, 2021- August, around here, is both the hottest month of the year-and the month when evenings start to get cooler-at least, after the 15th, or so. Today is a bit on the stifling side, with a fair debate between the National Weather Service and more independent climatologists, as to whether we will get rain again tomorrow, or have to wait until next week. NWS’ default prognosis for our area is always “Mostly Sunny”-which is right, about 60% of the time. The monsoon, thus far, has been a lot more active than NWS predicted, so we’re not badly off.

I will talk more about life with Delta, tomorrow. I haven’t had the boomerang disease, yet, and am fully-vaccinated, so masks are still clean and handy, but not needed all that often. I read a fair amount about kids of friends having COVID, and being kids, after 4 hours of sleep-are ready for a day of fun and games. I miss the days of being on autopilot, NOT!!

I had Elantra serviced once more, after the journey back from New England. In 2022, she will have one long drive ahead-late February to mid-March, across the South. The May & June sojourn to the Northwest, Canada and northern tier of states will be a hybrid train and rental car workout. The Grizzled Gray One will get ample rest, here at Home Base.

For some reason, as I watch the Day Care van pull up, three houses south, I was reminded of the time that, as I was coming back from an errand, late one afternoon in May, a man who seemed to be impaired was crossing the street and stopping in the middle, trying to figure out which way he wanted to walk. Up behind me comes the Day Care van, with a little boy looking like he was doing the potty dance, in the second row of seats, for which the driver passed me on my left, even though this is a two-lane road and my left turn signal was on. Pedestrian was all the more confused, and started doing his own dance, in the middle of the street-looking at me and grinning. Once van had passed, and pedestrian had figured out where the curb was, my sense of “Don’t mind me, I just live here” also went away and I pulled into the driveway.

One can never be too sure of routines staying routine.

What Gives?

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July 31, 2021- Stopping by one of my favourite local eateries, this morning, I received the jarring news that the owner of the establishment had come close to death, while I was away. He has recovered somewhat, but was still in an upset frame of mind when I saw him briefly.

There is a shortage of those willing to work, in our community, as elsewhere across the country. Some blame the recovery checks sent out earlier this year. Others point to the continued unemployment benefits being distributed. Having had to collect such benefits, on a few occasions in the past, I find that hard to fathom. Besides, the satisfaction of a job well done far outweighs the dubious bliss of lazing about in bed all day-but maybe that’s just my upbringing talking.

July, and the second journey back East this year, have come to an end. I won’t be leaving the Southwest again this year, barring a family emergency. The cost of the unexpected, but necessary, first trip, in May, and a freely-made investment in an enterprise that has turned out to be a money sink, have used the amount that I budgeted for a European visit, slated for this Fall. I don’t begrudge the entrepreneurs who asked for my contribution, but it is obvious that they did not think the whole thing through, thus their requests for continued donations-which I am refusing. Sometimes, the best thing one can do for another is to let him/her hit rock bottom.

I will make shorter journeys, in the months ahead: A memorial hike, on the Navajo Nation, is tentatively slated for mid-August; a visit to southern California is in the works for mid-September and I plan to spend 1-2 weeks in New Mexico, in mid-October, visiting and re-visiting some favourite parts of the Land of Enchantment. As COVID has pushed everything backward, 2022 looks to be busy enough: Spending time with friends and family in the Deep South, in February-early March; Trans-Canada and across the northern tier of the U.S., in May-early June and the postponed European visit, in October- mid-November. 2023-25 will bring other peregrinations, as well.

One of the most overused cliches in our culture is: “The more you give, the more you get.” I’ve found that usually comes from those who sit back and watch others get taken for a ride. At any rate, I am not buying into the cynicism and the chortling. No one person can be expected to raise others up, in perpetuity, It takes a community tide to lift all boats.

July Road Notes, Day 24: Connectivity

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July 28, 2021- When stopping for a meal, traveling alone, I like to sit at the counter, if one is available. It often gives a chance to converse with the server(s) and anyone else who happens to be sitting nearby. This evening, dropping into The Wiggly Pig, in Cortez, it gave the young server, who was fairly sweltering, a chance to express her feelings about the “Swamp Cooler” A/C system. The rooftop box set-up is financially efficient, but does little to provide comfort to anyone doing physical labour, within. I noticed the cook didn’t look too happy, either, when he emerged from the back, momentarily. He did, however, serve up a fabulous bleu cheese burger.

The journey back to Prescott was serene, and comfortable, offering a chance to recap.

Amarillo: Wes was a bit quieter than usual. I was the one yakking away, though I forget what about. Smoky Joe’s did give me a chance to give back to him, for all the times he has been a gracious host.

Grapevine: It’s always relaxing to be with my little family. Son has reached his “Third of a Century” mark, and is growing into something of a paternal role-even if the children are still in the future. He looked after me, and got my Bluetooth installed in the car-and made certain Elantra was not a toxic environment. Life in this apartment complex seems more satisfying-with more families than single men, clustered in groups.

Tulsa: Approaching my Greenwood District visit, by stopping first at Sherman, TX, offered a prologue to the study of the 1921 Massacre-as one of the key families in Greenwood had moved there from Sherman. The little north Texas town would, itself, have a few days of infamy, in 1930. Greenwood’s slaughter has, thankfully, not prevented people of colour from rebounding-and those who have gone on to succeed in life are less likely to suffer depredations than their predecessors of a hundred years ago.

Memphis: Many people wonder why I stop here. It’s about the heritage-and making note of the pockets of vibrant culture that sustain what is actually a wonderful hub of art and musi: Beale Street, Sun Studio, Cooper-Young District, and the area around the Museum of Civil Rights. Yes, the parking lots are scruffy and Super 8, by the river, was a bit on the rough and tumble side, but I’ll take those as trade-offs for the cultural richness and youthful energy that transcend the heat and humidity.

Crossville: Another place of extended family, who have my well-being in mind. The pond, the unique pets, the interesting conversations that flow from talk of travel, independent businesses and the history of people of colour in Massachusetts-these made for a sweet two-day respite. The hike to Fall Creek Falls, in the rain, no less, just accented how soothing the little plot of paradise can be.

Harrisonburg: Two years away from another of my homes away from home made only a slight difference. I miss Jess and Mike, but Duke’s has taken up where Artful Dodger left off. Dan and Naomi are doing just fine-and there is Village Inn, to provide comfort after a long slog up the Appalachian spine. Any number of interesting small cities and historic districts may be found, either south or north of “H”, as well. Though I could have done without encountering the voice from the past, at White’s Fort, in Knoxville, one does need to remember that such people are not uncommon, and patience is still needed, to a degree.

Oley: Glick’s is undergoing quite a transformation-Next Gen horticulture is going to be as fabulous as what has come before it, if not more so. As much as I enjoy visits with Beth, it was a pleasure to get to know Dave and the crew better. My D’s stopover, this time out, left me concerned for the well-being of the “May/November” crew, in a rare period of swelter. I tend to be very concerned for the young people, especially the women, I encounter- being patriarchic and avuncular comes naturally, after my upbringing.

Saugus: The town of my childhood is no longer “hometown”, per se. Mom is in the next town northward. Family still abounds, nearby, though, and I had a long overdue visit with dearly cherished cousins, in nearby Lynn. It was a pleasure to honour my brother and sister-in-law, for all they have done, and are doing. Mother herself is adjusting to her “new apartment” and still has the spunk that inspired me to achieve. Hammersmith Inn is still there, serving great breakfasts-and I noted a competitor, uptown’s Iron Town Diner-maybe next spring.

Maine and New Hampshire: Another long overdue visit, with cherished cousins, and along a beautiful stretch of Maine coast, highlighted this day. Stonewall Kitchens is a fine place to stop, perhaps for a breakfast, but definitely for gift shopping, ahead of any visits further afield. The solemnity of my visit to the graves of an aunt, uncle and cousin, who were veterans, was broken by the sudden cold rain that had me rush back to the car. What’s past is prologue-and seemed to be a short-lived trend: I had my third dinner, in five days, at a Ninety-Nine Restaurant, as the place in Augusta was just outside the cemetery. Maine’s and New Hampshire’s capitols grace two fine historical towns: Augusta and Concord, respectively. I just wish Concord had few more places of accommodation-though Holiday Inn filled the bill nicely.

New York and Pennsylvania: I will definitely make time, in the future, for a day or so in Albany, if for the architecture, alone. D’s was much more comfortable this time around, and a very strong-willed and proactive young lady seemed very much in charge, even though the owners were present, and interacting with the regulars. DuBois is a nice little town for an overnight stop.

Mishawaka: It’s just good plain fun to stop and visit with Val and Mark. That I took a wrong turn, abetted by a balky GPS system, and ended up just over the line, in Michigan, was a non-event, though it made for a late dinner. I learned to turn the phone off and back on, thus picking up the WiFi that WAS available.

Chicagoland and Wisconsin: It is ever a joy to stop at the Baha’i House of Worship, Wilmette, north of Chicago. The price is always to participate in the Windy City’s eternal rush hour, but no matter- I have an EZ Pass transponder now. I only need to plan ahead and load the account. That the Temple is as much of a draw for visitors as ever, brings joy to my heart. Madison offers a shimmering and impressive Wisconsin State Capitol-easily accessible.

Twin Cities: What a joy it was to meet members of the family’s Minnesota branch-and to learn of their Arizona connection. Family is family, and being blended just adds that much more strength to the unit. I feel a tight bond with cousins Darah and Amarah, and their crew.

St. Paul has an impressive Minnesota State Capitol-and Cathedral. George Floyd Square- in honour of an unassuming man, who was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, has brought disparate people together- and has brought focus onto the underlying shared humanity of us all. This was easily the most interesting experience, on a most interesting journey.

Great Plains Highways: Fairmont is Anytown, but it was special to meet Tericca, an engaging soul who came here from the Phoenix area, and who has a special appreciation for the back country of the Plains. Why I didn’t take more time to make sure the radiator cap was on properly, I’ll never know, but it was a good reminder-even though I had to sit for four hours, while a skilled mechanic, named Alex, gave my car’s cooling system a complete once-over. Falls Park is a fine reason to visit Sioux Falls, and a great place for locals to spend the three-digit summer days. Making it as far as York, NE, after the car service, was indeed a near miracle.

Castle Rock: It was a sublime surprise to find Max’s Diner, near the junction of I-80 and I-76. Navigating detours and road construction is just part of the deal, in summer travel. Max’s, with hand-made burgers, is a true gem, in a place called Big Springs, NE. Castle Rock, south of Denver, has experienced explosive growth, in the five years since I was last through this way. It was joyful, though, to be surrounded by young families, even to be next door to three very chatty and outspoken little boys.

Down the 160: This route feels like home to me, in so many spots. I could stay in Walsenburg, Fort Garland, Del Norte, Pagosa Springs, Mancos, or Cortez, and feel right at home. Alamosa, Monte Vista and Durango are a bit congested, but are also fine places to visit for a day or so-maybe longer, in the Fall. Del’s Diner (Fort Garland) is an unassuming spot, with plain fare, but the ladies are supremely gracious to all who stop for a meal. I miss the old “hippie” spot in Del Norte, and didn’t see anything that has taken its place. The drive over Wolf Creek Pass featured rain, in buckets. In Cortez, it’s always a coin flip: Wiggly Pig or The Farm Bistro. This evening, Wiggly won the toss. Love that Blu Burger! The rest of the road, through Dinetah, Flagstaff and the Verde Valley, just required that I stayed awake. Even with no place to get a cup of coffee, I found it easy to manage.

Tomorrow is S-Day (for Snip) and I will be well-rested for it.