Things I’ve Learned


December 31, 2022– As another Gregorian calendar year heads to the history books and memory n, what is most important, for an individual, are the lessons brought forward over the twelve months now past.

So, here are twelve things I’ve learned, some cogent, others banal-but all useful.

January- The border between the United States and Mexico is neither as chaotic as politicians away the border claim it is nor as smoothly functioning as it might be. I saw many content, focused people at the station in Douglas, AZ and no evidence of hordes of people sneaking through, at Coronado National Monument, a rural station, south of Sierra Vista.

February- Human beings, regardless of how they come to identify themselves, deserve the respect of those around them-and a keen listening ear. Losing someone who has not been completely understood by some of those around her was both unsettling and cautionary. Rest in Peace, Salem Hand.

March- Most of Man’s inhumanity to Man stems from insecurity. Andersonville showed the historical proof of that, both through its physical remnants and through the exhibits on Prisoners-of-War, both within this country and around the world. A more benign case occurred, in Miami Beach, stemming from a middle-aged man, having designs upon much younger women and threatening violence when I cautioned them about one aspect of his proposal.

April- There is no foolproof means of transport. Taking a train, when the route is secure, is a marvelous way to both see the countryside and to make good friends. The system is not without flaws, though, and a fire at a remote bridge resulted in my taking a Greyhound bus, between San Antonio and Tucson.

May- It is never too late in life for people to connect. An odd proposition was made to me, by someone much younger-and was quickly, if politely, deferred. On the other hand, two people who had been alone for several years, found each other and had a lovely garden wedding, making for several years of a solid bond.

June- There are still places where even brief inattention to surroundings can lead to discomfort, even momentarily. I found one briefly “wet” situation, checking out the depth of a bog. Fortunately, it was an “oops” moment, and caused no difficulty to me or anyone else.

July- You can go home again, but family is often going to be swamped with schedules, plans made at the last minute by spouses and friends, or just the crush of dealing with one of the greatest of American holidays.

August- No matter how well a car is maintained, the aftermath of a chain-reaction accident can lead to a total loss being declared, even 1.5 months after it occurs. So it was, for the vehicle that took me across seemingly ridiculous distances, with nary a squeak. Another person’s health issues led to Saturn Vue’s demise.

September- Not all Baha’i school events need include a heavy dose of scholarly presentations. Just being with children and youth, in crafting, dancing and fellowship, is as much a tonic for the soul as any engagement with intellectuals.

October- New friends, made in the wake of a bureaucratic flub, and clear across the continent, to boot, are as fine a result of a mistake as I can imagine. Three Bears Inn will be a place where I could definitely stay for several days, especially en route to the great mountain parks of the northern Rockies. It is all the sweeter when followed by a visit with dearly beloved friends, themselves so much like family.

November- Speaking of family, it is never necessary for my biological family to expend energy on my entertainment. They do so anyway, but just reveling in their presence and celebrating their achievements, is the finest way to spend any time-especially a holiday.

December- As an Old Guard increasingly passes from the scene, among my cohort of veterans, younger people are arising, in service to those who served our nation. I am also re-learning the rewards of patience, with those around me, as we all face increasing uncertainty. They need me, as much as I need them. I also need to be patient with myself.

Fighting Headwinds


March 16-17, 2019-

Having hugged my kids farewell, I found processing out of Korea, at Gimhae (Busan) and at Incheon (Seoul), to be a breeze.  The flight back to San Francisco was, longer, as we were flying into the wind currents and things got a bit rough, when we passed through the North Pacific, between the outer Hawaiian Islands and  the Northwest U.S. coast,  I was able to sleep for about five hours, and ended up viewing  “Kin”, which had an interesting Sci-Fi premise, loosely echoing John Sayles’ “The Brother from Another Planet” (1984), except, in this case, the alien is a 14-year-old boy, who is very vocal and is being raised by his adoptive Caucasian parent.  He comes across a weapon, from his home planet, links up with his ex-con foster brother and is subsequently pursued, both by the foster brother’s angry loan shark creditors and by his relatives from Home Planet, who at least want the weapon back.  It all ends, fairly well.

My arrival in San Francisco was not too shabby- C & I was quick and welcoming and the walk from International to Domestic is nowhere near as cumbersome as is that in LAX.  Nevertheless, I was not able to reach the United terminal in time for the scheduled flight, and end up on the next one, reaching Phoenix at 11:20 P.M., five minutes late for the shuttle. That, in turn, put me on the last shuttle, at 12:15, and long story short, I made it to Home Base by 3:30 a.m.

One incident still rankles: A nice young lady, a flight attendant, on the domestic flight, had her skirt lifted by a female passenger’s shoe, as she was helping to go over the pre-flight safety instructions.  She handled it with grace and poise, before a male flight attendant switched stations with her and she spent the rest of the flight away from the errant passenger.  Having just finished welcoming my daughter-in-law into our family, and being welcomed into hers, I was angry that this even happened.  That young woman, someone’s child and probably someone’s beloved, should never have experienced this.  We are not in the bad old days of the 1950’s-early 70’s.

That brings me back to Korea.  Chauvinism and machismo were starting to fade, as we left the country in 1992.  There is scant evidence of it now- as Korean women have stood up for their rights and for one another.  It ought to be a global phenomenon, and I will be responsible enough to speak out against such shameful behaviour, whether it comes from a man or from another woman, wherever it happens.

Korean cities have been very similar in appearance to the U.S, since the rebuilding efforts of the 1960’s, following the Korean War.  Now, prosperity has made them even more so, with high rise apartment and office buildings, echoing those of North America, Japan and China.  Standing in the sun room of my family’s apartment, in Busan, I envisioned a parkour master trying to leap onto the nearby building’s roof. This is something I, with my stumpy legs, would never dare to try-but a good running start would give a practiced parkour enthusiast a chance- maybe.

Enough of whimsy, though, I am back in the quotidian world and have done little, other than sleep, on this St. Patrick’s Day- leaving the apartment only for a two-hour meeting. Work resumes tomorrow, and I don’t plan on going very far afield, for at least the next few months.  The just-completed journey, though, was astonishing. a good reflection of why I travel.

The Road to 65, Mile 127: Light and Shadow


April 4, 2015, Cherry, AZ-   On any given day, there are hundreds of possibilities, for both good and ill.  I set out this morning for Tonto Natural Bridge, looking to explore the northern approach to the Bridge, via Pine Creek Trail.  I had gone the southern route on my first visit, last Fall.  The link between the two is a six-inch wide ledge, that is navigable by hugging the rock face, for about three feet of trail.  I have declined to so navigate.  My purpose in hiking is never bravado or machismo, but understanding.

I spent about an hour there, looking at the remnants of a waterfall, above Pine Creek, and walking along the creek, going through the small caves above it and marveling anew at the Natural Bridge.

The slight sprinkle of fluid, at the “waterfall” is not done justice by a mere photograph.


Pine Creek Trail, on the other hand, means lots of boulder hopping, along the creek bed.



The basalt, which makes up much of the area, may be examined up close.


This is the consummate Southwest- constant interplay between rock and water.


Small caves abound, north of the Natural Bridge.


You may see the first of my confirmations, as the two ledges meet.



Segments of the Bridge show escape hatches for the light.





I stood, contemplating the Natural Bridge, for about ten minutes, while encouraging those who had selected to traverse the narrow ledge between the north and south sides.  I can’t see the thrill, but they felt it.

After a satisfying lunch at Early Bird Restaurant, in Pine, I headed over to Pine Trailhead, for a five-mile roundtrip intro to the Arizona Trail.


Actually, I have walked about three miles or so of the Trail, in Davidson Canyon, near Tucson.  The Trail itself runs 807 miles, 795 of which go directly from the Mexican border to the Utah state line.  The other twelve miles circumnavigate Flagstaff.

I chose Oak Springs Trail, which takes one across Highway 87, over to a Reservoir and up to a ridge line.

Spring is springing!  These looks like houndstongues, but I could be mistaken.


There was no mistaking the horned lizard, however.


I rested at this little nook, just east of a reservoir, called Bradshaw Tank.



I did not go all the way to Oak Spring, choosing to save the majority of this magnificent trail for another time.  There were some anomalous sights on the way back:  A memento of a previous hiker’s visit;


A scene of life that is emerging;


and finally, my second confirmation of the day.


I headed back down towards Camp Verde and Prescott, after that.

There is an interesting pullout, on the way up to the Mogollon Rim, at Mile 13 of the General Crook Highway.  This area is closely associated with the unfortunate conflict between the U.S. Cavalry and the Tonto Apaches, as I have explained in a 2012 post on  Fort Verde State Park.



Thus was the interplay between light and shadow.  Little did I know, driving down the switchbacks and along I-17 towards Hwy 169, and home, that this drive would likely be the last, for my trusty Kia Optima.  Its brakes locked, as I approached the stop sign at the 169 just a bit too fast, and ended in a ditch.  Two hours later, my car, shattered windshield, deployed air bag and all, was in a tow yard.  I was at home, explaining to those closest to me, by phone, what had happened, as my client listened and offered his own support, while organizing his possessions for Monday’s move.  The State Patrol and the judge in Mayer are sympathetic, but still say I need to take an online Traffic Safety course.  Yes, indeed,  officers, and Your Honour.  I will take the course, treat my scrapes and scratches, work with the insurance company, get back to mobility and not take anything for granted, ever again.

Happy Easter.