The 2018 Road, Part 2: Learnings and Observations

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September 3, 2018, Prescott-

In any stretch of time and effort, be it work or leisure, there are learnings.  Some come to us because they derive from novel experiences.  Others arise, because we become complacent, set in our ways.

I didn’t read the details closely enough, that morning in Elkhart, IN.  My eyes told me the dinner was that very night.  It would have been convenient-for me. The words actually read “tomorrow evening”.  That was convenient for the main party.  Read carefully, completely and in a wakeful state.

I crossed the bridge, from Warren, MI to Windsor, ON, without hesitation, this time.  I stayed in the proper lane, unlike on my previous run to Vancouver, three years ago.  The Canadian highways are no mystery-they’re essentially the same as on this side of the imaginary line.  Most of the problems we create in our minds are pointless.

For many years, since losing an electric cookpot to a raging maniac, who threatened to hurt my disabled wife (long story), I had been relieved of nothing.   My car’s interior had been left alone, for many years now.  On a Saturday evening, in Montreal, my lengthy walk to the Baha’i Centre gave someone, or two, a window of opportunity, which they smashed.  Gone were my seven-year-old laptop and my passport.  The computer has been replaced. The document waits for me to retake photos, which happens tomorrow. Use the money belt, even here in North America, and put the laptop in the trunk, if it is even necessary to leave it in the car at all.

When one is on the road, there are several options for accommodation.  Many people can’t abide the idea of not staying in an expensive hotel room or rented house/apartment.  Be aware of surroundings, but don’t rule out hostels, guest rooms, (clean) couches, campgrounds or even highway 24-hour, or 12-hour, rest areas.  The only things that matter are safety and hygiene.

Observations-

Even in a rundown, construction-heavy community, there are ways to mail a letter.  I don’t even remember the town, but somewhere in Missouri or Illinois, I mailed a letter back to Prescott.

People don’t seem to tailgate as much, or pass on the inside as often, the further east one drives.   At least, that’s been my experience.

Warm-hearted people may be found anywhere.  The same is true of the icy people. Most often, they work side by side.

Pay attention to body language, even when tired.  Some men of a certain age only communicate with head nods and grunts.  Then again, so do some teenagers.

Research different ways, ahead of time, to stay connected, when in the car.

Know that, in a pinch, it’s okay to cross back into the U.S., by car, from Canada, with a valid U.S. driver’s license and VA  photo id.  The reverse is not true.

Terra Shield, by do Terra, works very well, in keeping bugs away.

Lake Champlain,  Chesapeake Bay’s Western Shore and Richard Russell Lake are enchanting places, even when it is stormy.  Lake Oconee is the stuff of dreams, and crazy expensive. (No, I didn’t stay there.)

There is nothing better, when tired of the road, than just sitting for two days, in a family home, watching TCM and dipping in the pool.

Teen girls can cook, and cook well- the little breakfast place, off I-95, in Timmonsville, SC, offers proof.

Single African men also can cook well.  The little apartment which I visited, in Salisbury, NC, offers proof.

Eastern Tennessee has its share of “Heavens on Earth”.  I spent two days in just such a place.

Next time, whenever that is, I will set aside more time for  Denver, for Chicagoland, for Elkhart and for Amarillo.

 

 

 

An Eastern Homage, Day 18: Tears for St. Joan, and a Long Ride to Amiens

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June 13, 2014, Rouen- It was a bright and sunny morning in Rouen.  I declined breakfast at the hotel, but headed down to Square Verdril, to check on my swan friends.  The cygnets had grown a bit, over the past week.

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They were a bit more amenable to eating the bread I had carried, this time.

That done, I headed to L’Eglise Saint-Maclou, where I chanced upon a couple from Florida.  The husband advised me as to a good, durable money belt, which I picked up at a store, a bit later.

Here is Maclou, from the outside.  The interior was closed.

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On the sidewalk, as I left the church, was an affirmation.  Those who are my faithful readers will not be surprised.

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I drifted down the road a bit,and had a look at the banks of the Seine- as vital to Rouen as it is to Paris.

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Looking back, I realized my time here was getting short.

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So, I went and checked the time- at Le Gros Horloge, the clock tower.

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It was time for one last homage to Jeanne d’Arc.

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I entered Le Donjon, actually a castle built in 1204, for Philippe- Auguste, the first monarch to style himself, King of France.  It became a place of confinement for St. Joan, upon her capture by the forces of English King Henry VI.  It was also where his henchmen forcibly changed her garments into those of a man, which in essence broke her agreement with the monarch.  This gave him the pretext to order her immolation, and the French clergy in his employe carried out the immolation at Vieux Marche, as we have seen.

After mounting these steps,

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I stood alone in front of this mosaic, and felt St. Joan’s presence, offering a connection across the centuries.

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I have felt bonds with the long deceased before- last year, with unnamed soldiers at Gettysburg, two years ago, with long-dead Comanche people in Palo Duro Canyon, and years ago, with Cochise, in the Stronghold that bears his name. These are a bit  beyond the links I feel with departed family and friends, but are very similar.  A recent visitor to Prescott said that, in eternity, one has relationships with those closest to self, then with all those one knows in this life, then with all those who lived during one’s lifetime- and lastly, with all those who have ever lived.  These feelings fall within that last category, even as I am very much in the flesh.

Contemplating her suffering, and her love for God, brought me to tears in that spot.

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She has had many feel the same way, through the centuries.

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I wondered, when entering the last room of her confinement, what went through her mind.  The answer came back- peace, and surety.

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I went outside again, after about twenty minutes, and looked again, at this tower, built to establish the national identity of France, yet used so mockingly by those who sought to bring the country to heel.

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Fittingly, the French have turned the tables, and today this tower is also a memorial to those who  were persecuted during World War II.

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Now, as then, a small cat observes all that transpires.

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My time in this ancient place of origin was done.  I checked out of Hotel Le Morand, waited for about two hours at the train station, and after several minutes of spirited discussion between SNCF officials in Rouen and a union big wig in Paris, it was decided I would proceed to Gare St. Lazare, then go to Gare du Nord, and catch a train to Amiens.  That whole process took three hours, one of which was spent in a Metro car at St. Lazare, while other union bosses pondered whether they would even ALLOW the car to go to Gare du Nord.  My French and African fellow travelers did enough fussing and fuming for all of us, and we were PERMITTED to go, after a full hour.  I got to Amiens in less time than I spent in Paris waiting for the Chef de Travaille to get off his high horse.

Fortunately, the stationmaster’s assistant in Rouen had called my hotel in Amiens, on my behalf, and the dear clerk at Appart’city Amiens stayed at her desk for two extra hours, until four of us arrived from Paris.  As you can see, this hotel is fairly new, still a work in progress, and was the largest hotel in which I stayed on this trip.

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Exhausted, but gratified, I bid adieu to Friday the 13th.