The 2018 Road: Honours, Learnings and Observations- Part 1

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September 2, 2018, Prescott-

The forty-day journey, whose chronicle I have just completed, is now well-past the reflection stage.  The longest trip I have undertaken, since 2015, has passed without controversy, among those of my family and friends who have viewed my travels in the past, with some consternation.

There were mostly good things that happened, this summer that is nearly passed.  I want to first note those who have honoured me with their presence, in the deepest of ways.  Then, I shall note the learnings I picked up from the trek. Finally, some observations are in order.

Honours-

The first of these always goes to my family: Being in Christ Church, Philadelphia, for the wedding of my beloved youngest niece; having my son, Aram, and his girlfriend next to me during the service, throughout the reception and for much of Father’s Day.  I’m grateful to her, for having given him much happiness; being with all of my siblings, nieces and nephews and nearly all of my extended family.

My northern Nevada family has always been there for me, as well.  This year, over Memorial Day weekend, was no different.

My sister in spirit, Corina, drove an hour each way to visit with me a bit-once I got to Wilmette, but to no avail.  My arrival was way too late, so back she went, to spend Sunday afternoon with her beloved. I feel honoured, nevertheless.  Just being in the embrace of the Baha’i House of Worship is a singular honour, in itself.

Having dinner with friends in Mishawaka, IN, was a sublime blessing.  Thanks, Val and Sparky.

I cannot say enough, for the staff and fellow hostelers at Auberge Bishop, Montreal, for confirming my worth as a human being, in the aftermath of a serious loss.  I am also grateful to the agents at USAA, for mitigating that loss.  It was a joy to take lunch at one of  the restaurants of a friend’s establishment:  La Panthere Verte.  I would feel similarly honoured, again, at hostels in Baltimore and in Memphis.

One of the greatest honours is to connect with the spiritual energy of one’s ancestors. My maternal grandmother’s hometown, Plattsburgh, NY first welcomed me, and a few weeks later, my sister and a maternal cousin connected with some of Grama’s grandnieces and great grandnephews.

Penny’s family will always be my own, as well.  They helped me greatly, in the wake of Montreal.  A few days’ respite, in the family home, in Spring Hill, FL helped me rest before the home stretch, and reaffirmed our bond.  Paying my respects to her departed cousin, a few days before, in Maryland, was essential.

There are many, across the nation and world, who I regard as spiritual family. They are of all Faiths and of no Faith.  Connecting with a woman who is like a daughter to me, in Virginia Beach; an immigrant friend who is like a brother, in Salisbury, NC; and my Tennessee brother and sister of the heart, in Crossville, have made all the difference in healing a part of me that still grieves, somehow.

Being in Memphis, and feeling the pain that all of us who are of good heart experienced, the day Martin Luther King, Jr. died, was cathartic.  I had not cried in a good long while, and this overwhelming sadness brought out a lot.  Later in the day, walking along the banks of the Mississippi and along Beale Street, felt like a dirge was playing.  Dr. King honoured us all.

NEXT:  Learnings

 

The 2018 Road, Days 2-3: Pre-conceived notions, Heart Pancakes and A Warrior Princess

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May 27-28, 2018, Carson City- I got into Carson City, and a long-time friend’s house, around 10:15, on Sunday night.  I’ve been here, each year since 2012, on either Memorial Day or Independence Day. The members of Family S have been like biological family to me, for far longer-since the early 1990’s.

So, a stop up here has been a precursor to my summer time excursions, whether I’m headed northwestward or am eastbound.  I’ve known some family members since they were tweens and now am honoured by the presence of Princess B.  She will remain off-screen here, per my own policy when it comes to children, but B. is a highly intelligent and imaginative young lady and nobody will lay a hand on her, by my lights- or those of her grandmother, let alone on her parents’ watch.

Monday was spent in study of a Baha’i text that deals with consultation.  This is a practice that is sorely needed, not just in this country, but across the globe.  How many times have I found friends, even from other parts of the world, not opening their minds and hearts to other points of view?    The text I studied yesterday reminds us that no one person has all the answers, nor does any one group.  We watched a PBS documentary on the many aspects of warfare, after the study session.  Failure to view people outside one’s group, community or nation as human, or worthy of respect, has been the single greatest underlying cause of warfare, throughout history.  This is true, regardless of the cause of record.

All day today, Tuesday, I have thought of the world being left to B and her contemporaries, and to my grandchildren, yet unconceived, unborn.  She, her grandmother and I enjoyed a lovely Chinese buffet, shopped for things we needed at Target and Best Buy and came back for a “group project”, involving a streaming device and antennas.  Then, we enjoyed pancakes, including  two heart-shaped gems.

Those of you who have followed me , for the past several years, know that I have regularly come across heart-shaped items, both in natural and urban settings.  Here is a view of one heart-shaped pancake, before it was claimed by its rightful owner, our indomitable warrior princess.

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This visit was way too short, we all agreed, before B left with her father.  Tomorrow, I may connect for a bit with another WP reader, not far from here, before heading across Nevada and Utah.  Hopefully, I will also connect with extended family in Colorado and friends along the eastward route.   The centerpiece of this trip, my youngest niece’s wedding, looms three short week from now.

Single- Track Through Paradise

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May 28, 2017, Cave Creek-

I have now gone from one point of angels to another, meaning from Superior to Cave Creek, via Globe and the Apache Trail.  This road (AZ Highway 88) is mostly single track, offering enough room for vehicles heading one way to pass, whilst those going in the opposite direction wait their turn.  It’s good for people to do this, at least a few times in their lives.  I last drove the AT, in 1983, with Penny in tow.  She was petrified and made me promise never to bring her there again. Today, she and my other spirit-minders made sure I paid close attention.  With scenes like the one below, it might not have been so easy, had my main focus not been on the well-being of everyone on the road, including yours truly.  Fortunately, there were also plenty of turn-outs.

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There are two lakes along the Apache trail, between Roosevelt Dam and Goldfield. Here is a view of Apache Lake.  When I taught at Villa-Oasis School, in the late 1970’s, this was one of the places groups of kids were sent for camping weekends.

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Imagine how the Salt River must have flowed, before these reclamation projects took root.

At Fish Creek Hill, I drove up a 10% grade, made doable by the dryness of the road, and the cautious courtesy of all comers.  One is rewarded at the top, by  amazing views of the Superstition Wilderness.

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Fish Creek Canyon looks like a fun place to hike and camp- in November.

I drove on, and found the pavement had resumed, about 1 1/2 miles west of the overlook.  So did one young man behind me, who chose to pass, on a double yellow line, in a 15-MPH curve zone.  The look on the face of the driver who had to stop and wait for him was classic.  I would not want to be on approaching driver’s bad side. Itchy Foot was the only one who broke courtesy, on the 44-mile drive.

I stopped at Tortilla Flat, a small tourist haven, close to Lost Dutchman State Park, in the heart of the Superstition Wilderness.  Siphon  Draw and Boulder Canyon are two popular hiking trails, accessible from Tortilla Flat.  Again, late Fall and early Spring are the best times for this area.  Tortilla Flat does offer a wide variety of cool treats, and I thoroughly enjoyed a sarsaparilla float.

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Back in  1900’s Arizona,, sidewalks, and even some roads, were made of planks.

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Having had a nice relaxing break, I headed on towards Apache Junction, then up through the Valley, to pay my Memorial Day respects to Penny.

There is one more attraction on the Apache Trail, before one gets to Goldfield (another, slightly more upgraded “ghost town”),  This is Canyon Lake.

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Each of the lakes and vista points along the Apache Trail is worth a day or two, in comfortable weather.  People, nonetheless, go there, even in the heat of summer, at least where there is water.  Looking back, I spent most of my summer days in and around water, as a child and young adult, so the appeal is a no-brainer.  It beats being inside.

I stopped at the Cemetery, anchored Penny’s flag, and one other, and thought of how fortunate I’ve been, with her presence, since 1980, and since 2011.

As I pulled up to Local Jonny’s, a lovely young woman, who seemed to be an advanced medical or law student, given her heavy briefcase, was securing her dog’s leash to the gatepost.  There weren’t many inside, so  Alicia was  glad I stopped in, and in ten minutes, I had the last of her pitcher of iced tea and a cilantro chicken salad was placed in front of me.  Jonny’s salads are good for two meals, so I have Monday’s lunch in my cooler, as the drive back to Prescott begins.

Having angels surrounding me, in all directions, including above, is a comforting state of affairs.  Oh, and an e-mail from the chief of department leaves the door to my staying in Prescott ajar, at least.

 

 

 

 

Dreams Deferred

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May 26, 2017, Prescott-

In the interests of preventing further problems, for me and others, the chief of department has several questions, which she will raise next Wednesday.  A lot of decisions with regard to children are made, based on second-or third hand information.  There are specific program issues, personality clashes between adults (which do NOT take the children’s interests into account), and matters of style.

Memorial Day weekend has often been a time of deferring action, as there are many year end transitions that have to be accomplished, but people need respite.  I once lived out of my car for the weekend, while a prospective landlord took time off.  He, of course, blew me off on the following Tuesday, but I found a far better place in which to live.

This year brings a similar situation.  The possibility of returning to working with a high school age population is still quite real, but will need to defer to the principle of rest, and to further discussions.  My plan B is to be full-on with the Red Cross, though that will bring $0.  Then, too, there is the option of moving into a less expensive community, and starting over.  As I said, yesterday, quick, not dead.

The Road to 65, Mile 177: Northwestward, Day 3

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May 24, 2015, Carson City-   When I have been rendered less mobile by circumstance, and it is a weekend, my tendency has been to go with whatever flow that presents itself.  Memorial Day weekend is not time for automotive shops, or many other business establishments, to carry on business as usual.  Besides, the weather, almost nationwide, is pretty horrific right now.

We had a beautiful morning in the Reno area.  The plan for today was to visit with other friends in Carson City, Nevada’s capital, some twenty-eight miles south of Reno.  It was not a heavy schedule, but a picnic lunch and some playtime for a three-year-old, at a park on Carson’s north side.  Here are two scenes of the park, with children and families left to their own devices.

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Our little friend had a great time, going up and down a couple of slides, and around other parts of the playground.  She was very much interested in the mushrooms which were growing near our picnic table, though not to the extent that lunch was ignored, especially with the doughnut dessert waiting after bites of cold cuts and cheese.

As an afternoon storm began rolling in, we went back to Carson friends’ house, kibbitzed a little about a cheesy, semi-adult cable TV show featuring robots trading barbs with a guy in a Starship Troopers get-up, and headed back towards Reno, using Hwy. 395.

The route took us past Beagle Rock.

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We checked out Big and Little Washoe Lakes.  The former was little more than a puddle and in fact, Little Washoe is, at present, the larger of the two.

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                                                                 “Big” Washoe Lake

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                                                                          Little Washoe Lake

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                                                            Little Washoe Lake

This Memorial Weekend

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Memorial Day this year has a special poignancy for me, with the departure of my father-in-law on May 7.  We have traded Father’s Day, my in-laws’ wedding anniversary and his birthday for this special day of remembrance.  I am grateful for every year he was within earshot, a phone call away or a shoulder to lean on- though never to cry on.  Now, he gets to see us from a different realm, a more distinct vantage point.

Memorial Day has somewhat gone the way of other “Holidays” in America.  We are bombarded with offers we “can’t refuse”, many are expected to work through the weekend and others just seek a chance to unwind, in their usual manner.  There is nothing wrong with relaxation.  We all need it.

It has been gratifying, though, that in communities both large and small, people seem to be returning to things that matter most during this weekend of reflection.  Yesterday, I went to the Phoenix area a day earlier than I had planned.  The young grandson of a long-time friend had died, in a tragic accident, the weekend before, and yesterday was his memorial service.  Such a vibrant, vital child was now with the Holy People and several hundred people came from all over Metro Phoenix, and beyond, to show their love.

The Christian pastor said it well- We know not why such an early death happens to a young child, but as a gardener chooses a variety of flowers for his bouquet, so does the Heavenly Father choose those of different ages as His angels.  We prayed, hugged one another, cried and laughed at remembrance of this beautiful child’s antics.  In the end, after a satisfying meal, nearly a hundred balloons were released into the air, in his honour.    The loss of a child is always jarring, horrifying, yet the send-off for a soul can be magnificent, and this was so.

I drove off, after the service, and paid private respects at Penny’s gravesite, and at nearby tombs of two other Baha’is:  Kenneth Jeffers, and the little boy’s great-grandfather, Bill Karnes.  Three undaunted teachers of our Faith, laid to rest in a triangle within several hundred yards of one another, and now they are circling around us all, in the spiritual realm.  The Messengers of God promise us this and it seems so, every day as I arise and every night as I get ready for sleep.

Today, I focused more on service close to home, pulling a dead tree branch back from its overhang over our north wall, where it jutted into our neighbour’s parking lot.  So, one less eyesore and safety hazard is in the way of honest people trying to earn a living. I made some progress on clearing brush and weeds along the wall and in front of the wooden sheds.  More needs to be done tomorrow afternoon, once Memorial Day itself has been observed at our Citizens’ Cemetery and in front of the VA Hospital, and I have visited some hospitalized patients there.

Time is now getting short, before I head off to what amounts to a memorial month- World War anniversaries in France and Belgium, a visit to my paternal ancestral city of Rouen, France and walkabouts in cities large and small in Germany and Luxembourg, as well as the aforementioned countries.  Part of my mind and heart will be watching what goes on here in Arizona, as the fire season continues to play out, in Flagstaff, Sedona and other towns.  My heart goes out to those who lost loved ones in Isla Vista, near Santa Barbara and to those dealing with extended flood emergencies in the Danube Basin.  I will have more to say about the UC shootings tomorrow.  Be safe, my friends and readers.