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

 

Not Throwing In The Towel

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Towel-Dog-760x500May 25, 2018, Prescott-

An erstwhile friend has decreed today as Towel Day.  I will stay on the fringes of these festivities, as that’s how she and her significant other seem to want things.  Besides, my schedule, these next two days, is packed- as I will be, by Sunday morning.

School ended yesterday, and for me, it was as successful as 2015-16, and a far cry from last year.  I did not limp to the finish line this time.  The kids, and my co-workers, will reconvene in a week’s time, for Extended School Year.   I will sit that one out, having a major family event in mid-June. The wedding of my youngest niece will bring us all together, and will be one for the books.

As always, I have taken the steps to certify that both my car and I are ready for this year’s long road trip.  Vehicle has taken its lumps, but I have repaired most of what’s gone wrong and will tend to the cosmetics over the next day or so.  Ditto for yours truly, and while my cosmetics are showing their age, my health care providers aren’t putting me anywhere near the scrap heap.  I’m content with what I see in the mirror.

After two, and maybe three, important events here in town, today and tomorrow, I will head northwards, to Carson City, for an annual reconnect with one or more members of my extended spiritual family.  From there, the route looks like Utah, Colorado, Kansas, central Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ontario, Montreal, Plattsburgh, NY, Vermont,Massachusetts, Connecticut, West Point, eastern Pennsylvania (especially Philadelphia), Baltimore, Delmarva, Hampton Roads, across Virginia, the Carolinas, Tennessee, southern Missouri, Oklahoma, Amarillo and Albuquerque’s Old Town, before getting back to Home Base-somewhere around July 4.

In spite of all this seems to entail, I have built in a goodly number of daily rest stops, visits with friends and family and good clean fun.  My main mode, rain or shine, will be camping along the way and relying more on picnicking, than the heavy restaurant visits of past adventures.  There will be a few of those last, though, when I can at least treat those who have been so caring to me, over so many years- and special places in my heart, like Artful Dodger, Cupcakes & Cravings, et al.  Porthole Pub, in Lynn, MA., is slated to close soon, making way for some sorely needed luxury condos. (Wonder how we’ve gotten along without them, all these years!)  I ought to prevail on a few family members to pay a last visit to Porthole.

Whether here or there, my Faith is essential to keeping me going, on a daily basis.  So, one of the events this evening is faith-based, several of the people with whom I will visit, in the coming weeks, are my fellows in faith and the Baha’i House of Worship, in Wilmette, IL falls into the middle of my outbound itinerary, as is only proper.

One way or another, I will maintain a daily presence here- letting all my peeps in on what’s going down, as in the past.  After all, there are plenty of coffee houses and such, along the way- and Good Sam Parks are reliable with WiFi, to boot. Instagram, a gift of the above-mentioned erstwhile correspondent, remains on my network.  One keeps the baby, while waving farewell to the bath water.

 

Year End Reflections, Part 2: Sojourns

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December 24, 2017, Prescott- I spent yesterday at the Grand Canyon Baha’i Conference, in Phoenix, but elected to stay up here today, as some chores need doing, before I head out on the Greyhound journey to Spring Hill, FL, and a visit with Penny’s mom and sister.  It will be odd not having a vehicle, by which to stop, visit with friends en route, or to respond to others who may live not far from them.  This is, though, a journey of focus.

I have made such focus a more important part of my life, this past year. People and their feelings have been one such concern. Reorganizing my blog site, and making a more concerted effort to attend to others’ comments, as well as their own blogs, has been another.

My travels,while still extensive, going across the continent, yet again, were more devoted to family, friends, and specific purpose. I saw my son off, on his way to Korea, from San Diego, at the beginning of the year.  OC, always a part of any California visit, took up the end of my temporary farewell, to the light of my life.

I can never go without a visit to a little girl and her family in the Reno-Carson City area, so that came first, in the summer.  It seemed capricious to dart back to Arizona, just to deliver a bundle to people who didn’t seem to care, one way or the other, but it mattered to the sender, so I did it.

Friends and family, across the Midwest, the Northeast and Upper South, were more appreciative of my time with them.  Mom always needs to know her wanderer is in a good place, physically and emotionally, so when I was in my hometown, she had the bulk of my attention, but not in as hovering a manner as previously.  A side trip to Maine, also very focused, help break up any sense of hovering.  So, too, did meeting one of my newborn grand-nephews.

My youngest niece and her upcoming wedding brought me to Philadelphia, so as to at least meet her fiance.  Another little grand-nephew was also there, along with his big sister, whom I also had not met.  There was a focus on history, in the three days that followed: Philadelphia itself, Brandywine, Antietam, Harpers Ferry and Lexington, VA. Going to Harrisonburg, perhaps my favourite western Virginia town, took me back to Artful Cafe (once known as Artful Dodger), followed by a brief visit with a friend who once lived in Prescott.  People find it strange, but I don’t forget someone who treated me with a high level of kindness, even if they themselves have moved on.

It has long been past time to visit with the Indiana branch of our family, so a few hours, on point, in Jeffersonville, sent me heading west, with a sense of having completed my connection.  Falls of the Ohio and downtown Paducah were side-benefits of this diversion. Finally, I was honoured to visit with a cousin, in southwest Missouri, before scooting across the plains, to home  There were side benefits to that last leg:  Sedan, KS, with its little ravine, called The Hollow; a kind lady running a motel and cafe in Mooreland, OK; a race against the monsoon rains, in northeast New Mexico; brief return visits to Cimarron, Taos and Rio Grande Gorge; and proving that I still can handle the delicate balance between rest and roadsmanship, on the last leg of the drive home.

I chose a journey to the past, over an emotional visit to Las Vegas, in October.  It was tough going, coming back especially, but Besh Ba Gowah and Gila Cliff Dwellings made me recognize, anew, the importance of appreciating just what those who came before us gave to people, whom they had no idea were coming.

Journeys aren’t, per se, hard on me, so long as I maintain attention, pacing and focus.  New friends came out of these past twelve months, though I may have lost one of the older ones.  Friendships will take up my Christmas post, as seems appropriate.

 

 

 

 

Onward

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January 1, 2017, Chula Vista- Seems people were so fed up with the year just past, that my retrospective montage was received like a lead balloon.  No matter- the clouds have cleared, from the torrential rains of the past two days (most welcome, here in southern California, and the neighbouring states of Arizona, Nevada and Baja California Norte).  My hope is that the clouds hanging over our nation, and over many parts of the world, will dissipate, as well.

I have a few, short-term, goals for this year:

January- This week, for the most part, will find me in the San Diego area, largely here in CV, with an Orange County outing, to Crystal Cove, on Thursday, before I head to Phoenix, and a dental check-up on Friday.  Training in Psychological First Aid, on Saturday, will let me bone up on those skills.  Who knows, as to just how many occasions such will be necessary?  Next Sunday,  my penultimate trek along Black Canyon Trail will bring me to the Emery Henderson Trailhead, in New River.  The last hike on that trail will follow, later in the month, (probably on the 21st. ) Over the Martin Luther King Day weekend, Aram is likely to visit, so the three days will be open-ended, to his preferences.  Other weekends will be divided between Baha’i studies and the trail.

February-  Son heads out to South Korea, the second week of this month, so I will spend 2-3 days in southern California once again, to see him off.  It’ll mean 1-2 ,years of Skype and a once-a-year visit.  I’ve been in those shoes, several times.  President’s Day weekend will likely find me in the McDowell Mountains, northeast of Phoenix.  A service project will also be done, during the Baha’i days of giving and service to others, known as Ayyam-i-Ha (Feb. 25-28).

March- This being a month that features a Nineteen-Day Fast, with Spring Break coming towards the end of said Fast, my plans are open-ended.  The inclination is to head over to  southern New Mexico and western Texas, to pay a couple visits to friends in the area, and take some relatively moderate hikes, the likes of which have worked out nicely, over the past few Fasts.  The Baha’i New Year (March 20, this year) will be followed up by a journey to Native American Baha’i Institute, to re-charge spiritually.

April- This is the month of the twelve-day Baha’i festival known as Ridvan,  commemorating the days when Baha’u’llah declared His mission, in 1863.  My energies will be thus directed. A few jaunts along trails in the Sedona and Payson areas will also be on the agenda.

May- Decision time, as to keep my current position, or move to a different school, will be at hand.  A long-postponed revisit to Boyce Thompson Arboretum, and neighbouring Superior, is the only existing item on the hiking agenda, for this month.

June-The first month of summer will keep me in the Southwest.  A week in SoCal will focus on Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties.  Visits to Navajo and Hopi are also on the agenda.

July- My now customary week in Carson City and Reno will move to the first seven days of this month.  Then it will be northwest, to Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. From there, finances and circumstances will dictate my direction- either a week’s visit to Korea, or down the road, through Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Colorado.

August-Back to whatever work assignment awaits, and whichever forays into nature are allowed by the Monsoon rains.

September-The Bicentenary of Baha’u’llah’s Birth will be celebrated next month, so this foot soldier will be ready to do whatever the Commemoration Committee needs done.  Otherwise, Labor Day will take me up Granite Mountain, and the end of the month will mean a weekend in Flagstaff’s Inner Basin.

October- The aforementioned Commemoration will take place on  October 22.  Hope Fest will also happen this month, so there will be much work, in service.  Fall Break is a cypher, at this point:  Tucson and vicinity will get first dibs.

November- Thanksgiving, this year, will be observed at Desert Rose Baha’i School, between Phoenix and Tucson.

December-  Christmas week will find me in Massachusetts, with family whom I feel have been somewhat neglected, over these past several years.  Several fences need mending.  That will include a train trip to Philadelphia, right before New Year’s, and on down to Tampa Bay, for the first week of 2018.

Books?  “The Brothers Karamazov” slog continues.  “The Standing Stones Speak”, by Natasha Hoffman, “The Century Trilogy”, of Ken Follett, “The Alchemist”, by Paolo Coelho and a pair of books on rebuilding communities take top priority.  Speaking of which, my long put-off book of poetry and short prose will be put together, starting with choosing the better of the poems I wrote, over the past year, and adding verse as it comes to mind.  No specific promises, as to date of publication, but it will be sometime this year.

So, off we go- Trump’s wild ride,  widespread exercises in patience with one another, and continued healing (on both a personal and a collective level) will define this next chapter in the life of this beautiful humanity.