Adjustments

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May 18, 2022- I arrived back at Home Base, early this afternoon, to a message that my semi-annual chiropractic evaluation is tomorrow afternoon. This pre-empts any errand of assistance to Phoenix, for at least a couple of weeks. Laying low tomorrow is actually a good thing, since a double charge at last night’s motel won’t be fixed for a few days-per bank protocol. Besides, my constant travel is raising a few eyebrows around here, as it does every so often.

There does seem to be a lot of spending, across the country, and in response, the financial markets are selling off as much as they can-partly to dissuade said spending, which I suppose is the markets’ way of cooling inflation. My own policy, with regard to money, is much like the one I have towards water: Use, minimally as possible, what is needed to achieve my purposes, and turn the spigot off, when I am in the scrubbing, or working, process. As long as the well is not totally dry, I’m good.

On another note, the three weeks ahead, as mentioned earlier, have a lot of cleaning, getting rid of stuff and generally pitching in with whatever service activities come up. One such involves helping with fire-wise clean-up, at our Baha’i camp, on Saturday. I am also keeping one eye on the fire and hurricane situation. Things are quiet now, but lulls tend to not last long. Time and money always ask for adjustments in their use.

The Soft Desert Landing

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May 17, 2022, Indio- Time was, that I would bull my way on back to Prescott, in either heat or cold, from a visit along the southern California coast. While I could still have done that, this afternoon, staying the night in this Colorado Desert town that has become something of a resort , in the style of Palm Springs, seemed prudent. It does my heart good to see Indio do well. The Coachella Music Festival, and a subsequent makeover of the area, have helped along those lines. Indio is not pretentious or hipster-like, in its relative prosperity, and most of my overnight neighbours are campesinos, looking for field work or whatever they can find.

Still, the eastern California desert is a fine place to rest, before the final alley-oop to Prescott, tomorrow. The rest of the week, once I get back, is full of activity-and includes service in Phoenix and near Flagstaff, as well as online activity around Home Base.

It was a pleasant stay, last night and this morning, at House of Trestles, in San Clemente. I could easily stay there again, especially as there are few hostels that would abide my joining a Baha’i online gathering, sans earphones. Dana Point, where I met longtime friend, J, for lunch, is also an ever-welcoming place. I enjoyed a cup of “Killer Dana” coffee, at CJ Beans, in the town’s central business district, then J and I had a nice meal at Harpoon Henry’s , along the harbour. There are proposals to “expand’ the harbour, owing to a shortage of boat slips. This would probably result in some shops and restaurants being closed and any remaining establishments being “upscale”, so as to generate revenue that would pay for the harbour expansion. I hope that doesn’t happen. More is not often better, when it comes to adding to already considerable material wealth.

Besides, with the rapid sequence of events, that occur without respect to wealth or social status, (i.e. the Laguna Niguel house fires), I get a feeling that too swift a move into scaling up, in either size or level, may be a fool’s errand.

Division Street, and The Bonsai That Unite

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May 16, 2022, San Clemente- The drunken man, professing White Supremacy, yelled at me to “Get lost”, as I walked along El Camino Real, in this Orange County beach town. I guess the t-shirt I’m wearing, with its Baha’i logo, set him off. I kept walking and he drove off.
Baha’u’llah does state that “Man is the supreme Talisman. Lack of a proper education, however, hath deprived him of that which he doth inherently possess.”- Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 259. Nowhere, of course, does He limit this bounty to any particular group of people.

Last night, at FOUND Hotel, in San Diego’s Little Italy, there were a few folks who were acting mighty lost, while saying they wished others-particularly the homeless who wanted to be let in, would get lost. No hostel, or residential hotel, is equipped to handle random homeless people wandering in off the streets. There has been progress made in sheltering, in many cities, but the task is looking Sisyphean. The number of units and condominia, catering to the uberwealthy are increasing at a rate outpacing those that provide for people in lower income brackets. Those who are experiencing homelessness, particularly in communities where housing costs are exorbitant-almost to an unconscionable level, are also finding their numbers increasing. Division Street, the nominal and actual social divider, of which Studs Terkel wrote in 1967, has become a metaphor for the country as a whole. Some hard decisions, regarding the accumulation of wealth, at the expense of a great many people, will need to be made in the not-too-distant future. Everyone will need to be at the table for this one.

I needed to change the channel in my head, after seeing so many people encamped in downtown San Diego, along Pacific Coast Highway and near Mission Beach. Revisiting Balboa Park’s Japanese Friendship Garden set the right tone. My focus was on the collection of bonsai, now at 18 and looking in on the koi, who were small when I was last there, in 2015.

Here are a few scenes from the Garden. The koi in the pond nearest the entrance have tripled in size, these past seven years.

Three types of bonsai: Pine, flowering and unflowered leafy are on display, in the Garden’s Bonsai Center.

My rejuvenation complete, it was an easy trip northward to Orange County, stopping briefly to complete some business at San Diego Baha’i Center, taking a detour to La Jolla’s sandy beach and another to La Cristianita Historic Site, in Camp Pendleton, which commemorates the first baptism in Alta California.

Tonight, I am comfortably at House of Trestles Hostel, amongst surfers and other lovers of the ocean. Here, everyone feels at home, even the dachshund-chihuahua mix.

The First Nation and the People of the Future

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May 15, 2022, San Diego- Today saw two focuses: First was a pair of meetings-one on the Hidden Words of Baha’u’llah, brief, but profound thoughts on spirituality and morality, which He intended to serve as instructions to those who were undertaking independent investigation of truth; the second, in mid-afternoon, was a presentation of two children’s books, each written about a powerful Black woman.

The people of the future will, perhaps after a fair amount of suffering and changes in society, recognize both intellectually AND emotionally, that mankind is one human race. That today’s presentation comes a day after a deluded young man drove two hundred miles, specifically to kill Black people (of whom eight were killed, along with two Whites, and three seriously wounded.), is no real coincidence. There is no real future for the philosophy of racial supremacy. The unity of the human race means that there will be no replacement of one group by another. Nor will there be a return to the oppression of one group by another.

After resting for a while, upon the conclusion of the second meeting, I made a return visit to Old Town San Diego. My focus this time was on the recognition of the area’s First Nation: Kumeyaay, formerly known as “Diegueno” and on the art of the Mexican people, prior to California’s passing into U. S. control. Here are some scenes of this visit.

The above scene honours the Pico Family, one of the San Diego area’s more prominent Mexican families of the early Nineteenth Century.

Below are two Mexican ollas, or water jugs, each with its own colours and designs.

I needed a change of pace for dinner, after enjoying a visit with friends at Harbor Breakfast, this morning and planning to return there again tomorrow. There was no better place than Cafe Gratitude, a vegan establishment, which titles its offerings with affirmations. Here is a description on the eatery’s window.

It was a most wondrous day, starting with the bright faces of Melissa and Maria, at Harbor, continuing at San Diego Baha’i Center (the site of Penny’s and my wedding, nearly forty years ago), continuing with the delightful stories of achievement this afternoon, the vibrance of Old Town and the healthy fare of Cafe Gratitude.

Round and Round I Went

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May 14, 2022,San Diego- It took 45 minutes to locate FOUND Hotel. The address is 505 West Grape Street, which is easy enough for those who recognize that the east-west surface streets in Little Italy are often bisected by Interstate 5, and its entrance/exit ramps, which feed large volumes of traffic onto Grape and Hawthorne Streets in particular. Add to that, the train and trolley tracks, with which I am at least a bit familiar, and locating a small hostel becomes an adventure in perseverance.

The other “fun” part was that Google Maps has the old phone number for FOUND, which loops ad nauseam and does nothing to connect. Hostelworld has the new number, which I called, and connected with Gabrielle, the office manager, instantly. Thus, 45 minutes did not turn into an hour. I am set for the next two days.

The day’s drive from Blythe to San Diego featured three traffic-tying accidents along California Highway 15, between Murrieta and Mira Mesa. Once past those, my air conditioner stopped complaining and worked just fine. (In traffic tie-ups, I have learned to turn off the A/C and open the windows, which works just fine in anything less than the blast furnace of a Sonoran Desert summer.) A return to an old favourite, Gramma’s Country Kitchen, in Banning, brought a fine Frisco Burger and Cole slaw. I also enjoyed pleasantries with Donna and Karen, who have greeted me at the counter, on various visits over the past eleven years. Donna is “Gramma”, running the establishment with her husband, who stays mostly in the office.

Going up and over the hill through Hemet and Menifee, then inching along, through the above-mentioned accidents, I still got to the hostel before 5. This evening, after grabbing a couple of slices at Mr. Moto Pizza, and a few words of greeting to two of my hostel mates, it was time for a visit to the Harbor. Here are scenes of sunset, in “America’s Favorite City”.

I walked back up to Little Italy, on the way back to FOUND Hotel, and came upon a lively crowd, enjoying the presentations of a DJ. Here is the fountain, around which little girls ran and shrieked with delight and different young people tried their hands-and feet, at somersaults.

Harbourside and Downtown were walls of sound this evening, thanks to the mid-Spring music fest. I am destined, it seems to happen upon such revelry, no matter where I go. Yes, life has its moments, but it’s generally sweet.

Luck

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May 13, 2022, Blythe- This morning, I joined a Baha’i study circle which is concerned with the thirteenth book, in a series published by Ruhi Insititute, a social-centric academy in Colombia. Since 1985, R.I. has published study books, in text and workbook form, focusing on topics from “The Life of the Spirit” to “Marriage and the Family”. This particular session, in which I am now involved, is studying the Baha’i approach to Social Action. As it happens, we began with Section 13 of this Book 13 ( Unit 1), on Friday the Thirteenth.

I will have more to say about the Baha’i approach to Social Action later. Suffice it to say, we take all points of view into account, distilling the most useful of ideas into programs that benefit everyone.

Cosmic advisor Elizabeth Peru notes that today is the only Friday the 13th of this calendar year. Some will breathe a sigh of relief, as a common superstition in medieval Europe, that 13 is an unlucky number, has carried over into contemporary life. There is still no 13th floor, in many public buildings. Friday the Thirteenth is often the stuff of anxiety, and even has its own horror movie series.

My day was quite one of good fortune. Besides the rich and informative study circle, a package I was expecting arrived right at Noon; packing for a brief trip to southern California took less time than expected; the smooth drive itself showed good gas mileage and I settled into a remodeled Relax Inn, my go-to stop in this desert town, on the Arizona border. My needs are fairly simple, and truth be known, Friday the 13th has never been unlucky, in my experience.

It’s a tough world, I know, and my work will continue, to ease as much pain as possible, for those who suffer. Removing superstitions from our lives is one way to help.

Renewal

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May 6, 2022- A new “passport wallet” arrived today, taking the place of one I received from my little family, two years ago. It never did hold my passport, as COVID kept so many of us within national, and sometimes state, borders. This one may well be more likely to do so. On a different note, I have to replace my main water system’s filter. The new filter will take three weeks to arrive-from who knows where. I am glad to have a portable back-up.

I spent another few hours tidying up my posts from a 2014 visit to Europe, and re-read all those intentions I had to go back over there in 2017. Various things, mostly financial, happened to nix that. Some have, in fairness, rolled their eyes at my ongoing talk of more overseas adventures and time will tell. It will not be for lack of trying, though, and I do keep getting inklings that certain places are in my short-term future.

I went over to Planet Fitness and got acquainted with the new equipment, which the owners had installed last week. I found it all much easier to use, than the older pieces it replaced. Surprisingly, the staff is rather “Meh” about the refurbishing, with a “Glad YOU like it” response to kudos. Maybe there was lack of consultation, involved, or just sour grapes about working on a Friday night.

Each day, some things are replaced and others keep on doing their part. Renewal- of health, of energy, of friendships and of joy in living, seems to take place regularly enough that whatever self-doubt that hits me in the dark before dawn is fairly quick to dissipate, these days.

Bouncing Back

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April 29, 2022- April is the antipode of October, so it was no surprise to me that there was a mini-crash on Wall Street today, the first such event since the Covid Crash of March, 2020. Chances are, it’ll also be a short-lived slump, unlike that of October 29, 1929. There were several reasons for today’s downturn, the simplest being that it was the last trading day of the month, and even high rollers like their payday. The rest of the causes would take someone much smarter than me to explain.

My energy level was a bit lower today, as well, and it took me a bit longer to feel ready for the various activities, most of which were faith-based and on Zoom. Eventually, thanks to a nice breakfast at Zeke’s and the company of good friends (virtual, but no matter) through the day, I got errands done, and affirmed hostel reservations for my short jaunt to SoCal, in a few weeks. I also completed a long-running task that had started back in October.

There is seldom any end to either opportunities or challenges. The trick is to not let the latter upend the former. Thus, my work projects here and my travels are not going to be waylaid by temporary setbacks in the financial sector, though I promise not to be reckless in that regard. One can always truncate, without too much dismay.

It has always been the lot of May, in any case, to be a time for bouncing back from April’s scolding misfortunes. Besides, having completed a three-week journey without committing any faux pas, my confidence level is quite a bit stronger. Having overcome minor health challenges, I look forward to some finer days ahead.

Back To Trailside

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April 18, 2022, Sedona- The focus today was to be on Bell Rock, and it was, just not in the way my hiking buddy and I had thought. It was a harbinger earlier, when I turned right, on a green arrow, only to face the loud blaring by someone who had run a yellow and thought she had the right of way. Small potatoes, at the time, as I don’t pay any mind to people who make feeble attempts at pushing me around.

There is, though, the reality that there are few spaces in the trailhead lots closest to the actual landmark trails. This is a matter of both design and land allotment. The idea is to let fewer people use the trails, to minimize congestion. That’s a noble sentiment, but it doesn’t really work. We ended up going to a large parking area, across Hwy. 179 from Bell Rock, called Yavapai Vista Point. There are several short trails, each with amazing views of the great landmarks. Here are five such scenes.

The hordes did not obstruct the day, at least for us. We later had a marvelous lunch at Pago’s, a fine Italian eatery in Oak Creek Village. There was one waitress serving over 50 people, of whom we were among the last ones, for this point in the lunch rush. A second wave was coming in, as we left. Hats off, and a hearty tip, to the lady who was obviously tired, but keeping a brave face!

One last reminder: To brighten the photos, just click on them.

The Best and the Still-Potentially Good

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April 10, 2022- It helps me to consolidate my learnings from any observational journey, by looking at what was best and what could have been better. It never helps, really, to disparage a given place or person. We are all works in progress.

So, looking at the places of accommodation in which I stayed, over the three weeks just past, here are some impressions:

America’s Best Value Inn, Brunswick, GA- Clean and well-furnished. It was quiet, a bit out of town, but not too far out of the way. Good WiFi.

America’s Best Value Inn, West Melbourne, FL- Clean, but not well-furnished, aside from the comfortable bed, which was also the seat. It was fairly lively, being Spring Break and all, but no one carried on much, after 11 p.m. Good WiFi.

Vero Inn, Vero Beach, FL- Very clean and well-furnished. It is a small motel, yet the owners are very proud of their enterprise and treat guests like family. Great Wi Fi.

Bikini Hostel and Cafe, Miami Beach- Well-tended rooms, excessive surcharges on parking, minimal breakfasts and suppers, reasonable locker fee. The evening manager is engaging and attentive, especially to the needs of young people traveling alone. The rest of the male staff are rather aloof. The ladies, mostly housekeepers, are kind and relaxed, while doing their jobs well. This place could use an attitude adjustment, on the part of upper management and security. WiFi is great, though.

Conty’s Motel, Naples, FL- Large room, good furnishings and clean, though pricey for a place with stand-up shower. Owner is stoic, but attentive. WiFi is fairly good.

Plaza Travel Inn, Clewiston, FL- Very attentive owner-manager greeted me and apologized for having to change out his door bell. Good-sized room, good furnishings and clean. The co-owner even hoses down the parking lot, each evening. WiFi was good.

Gram’s Place Hostel, Tampa- One of the three best places I stayed this time around. Owner-manager is very grateful for visitors, and the place is usually packed. Lots of quirky memorabilia-even a tree Some areas needed work-one sink had no running water, but there was a working sink nearby. Kitchen could use some cereal bowls. (I’ll have to remember to donate some, if that is still the case next time.) Rooms were clean. Patio is spacious and welcoming. Great WiFi.

Motel 6, Spring Hill, FL- I stayed here two nights. Clean, with fairly good furniture. Quite a rambunctious group of guests, but no one bothered me. Desk clerk was engaging and very attentive. Good WiFi.

Motel 6, Americus, GA- I stayed here two nights, as well. Single woman runs the place, and was gentle, but firm, with panhandling drifter who hung around and bothered single female guests. There is a nice laundry room for guests to use. Room was clean and had good furnishings. Wi Fi was good.

Heart of Dixie Motel, Dadeville, AL- This place needs work. The owner did not realize that towels and washcloths were not available. Furnishings are passable. The bathroom was fairly clean. The sleeping room was a bit more so. WiFi was fair.

Sonesta Select, Atlanta- Marvelous, four-star resort hotel, and one of the three best places on this trip-as much because of the regal, but attentive, front desk staff, as because of the accoutrements. Furnishings were excellent and room was spotless. WiFi was gr

The Quisby, New Orleans- The third great place on this journey, and a truly Big Easy hostel, I felt that the management had their act together, keeping a potentially unruly bunch in good order. Clean and well-kept rooms, with comfortable bunks and very nice bathrooms. WiFi is excellent and the food is simple but excellent.

Alamo Inn, San Antonio- I got the last available room here, at nearly the last minute. Alamo would be #4 on my list of “bests”. Rick, the owner, is very accommodating and will even call an Uber for guests needing transport to downtown. The rooms are large, clean and have great furnishings. WiFi is great.

Accommodations being most important, eateries are a close second. The best were: Sunrise Diner, Brunswick; Fourth Street Deli, Fernandina Beach, FL; Tanuki, Miami Beach; Brian’s Place, Hernando Beach, FL; Cowboys Fire Pit BBQ, Lake Park, GA; Farm Burger, Atlanta; Cooks and Soldiers, Atlanta, Thousand Hills Coffee House, Atlanta and Oskar’s Cafe, Dadeville. For sentimental reasons, I add Zaxby’s, Dublin, GA and Osceola Tiger, Miccosuki Reservation, because the kids are caring and attentive.

The most memorable places visited were Andersonville National Historic Site; American Beach, Amelia Island, FL; Kennedy Space Complex Visitors Center, Merritt Island, FL; Downtown Key West; Smathers Beach and Bahia Honda, Lower Keys; South Beach, Miami Beach; Big Cypress National Preserve; Naples Botanical Garden, Naples, FL; Downtown Tampa; St. Petersburg Waterfront; Koinonia Farm, Americus; Tuskegee Airmen National Monument, Tuskegee, AL.

So those are my takes on things Southeast, at least for now.