Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Dogwood Tree

The Dogwood Tree in 2013
I returned from our road trip just in time to see the blossoms on the dogwood tree in the front yard.  Like many dogwood trees in this area, this dogwood tree is suffering from the “Dogwood Blight” (Anthracnose).   There is little that can be done to save the dogwood tree once infected.  The change in this particular tree from 2013 to 2016 has been rather drastic as you can see from the photos.

I’ve been advised to cut the dogwood tree down since there is little hope of improvement.  Last winter I had the boxwood shrubs along the front walkway (shown in the 2013 photo) removed, because boxwood in recent years has also been infected by a blight.  

The Dogwood Tree and Boxwood-2013
What should I do?  I’m reminded of the parable Jesus told about an ailing fig tree in Luke 13:6-9:  “A man had a fig-tree growing in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it, but found none.  So he said to the vine-dresser, ‘Look here!  For the last three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig-tree without finding any.  Cut it down.  Why should it go on using up the soil?’  But he replied, ‘Leave it, sir, this one year while I dig around it and manure it.  And if it bears next season, well and good; if not, you shall have it down.’”

Shall I leave the dogwood tree one more year?  Why not?  Who knows, it just might get well if given proper care and attention.  Then, again, it may not.  We are often in a hurry to cut off a relationship gone sour, or a dogwood tree that has become sick.  Perhaps waiting and giving it (a relationship or a tree) a chance, will bring about healing and health.  

The Dogwood Tree-2016

Friday, April 29, 2016

On the Road Again with Katie

I was really pleased when granddaughter Katie asked me to accompany her yesterday for a visit to Jersey City NJ.  She is searching for an apartment and I was eager not only to spend a day with her, but also to get back “On the Road Again.”  After all, I’ve been off the road for two whole days! I haven’t been to Jersey City for many years and had some rather negative images of it embedded in my mind.  All of that was changed yesterday as I observed an old city in the throes of renewal.  The Jersey City that I remembered from long years ago is no more.  We have to be careful of our stereotypes, both of places and people, formed by images and relationships in the past.  Places change and people change and often for the better!
Driving in the area is still as treacherous and confusing as ever, and at one point we found ourselves at the toll booth entering the Holland Tunnel into the Big Apple.  Fortunately, the toll booth attendant and the police woman nearby took pity upon us and permitted us to turn around without paying the $15 toll.  Another stereotype was demolished then and there.  People (in urban NJ and elsewhere) are generally friendly and helpful (except perhaps when driving the streets of Jersey City and the NJ Turnpike at rush hour).  

Katie and I had a little time to spare between appointments and spent an hour or so walking in Liberty State Park in Jersey City.  It was a bit chilly, but the scenery was impressive.  We could see Ellis Island, the skyline of New York City, and the “backside” of Miss Liberty as we walked along.  This was my first opportunity to see the ONE World Trade Center, the monolith built to replace the twin towers destroyed in the September 11 attacks.  It is now New York City's tallest skyscraper and a beautiful piece of architecture.  

What a wonderful day in the “city” with a beautiful young woman at my side—and that young woman is my granddaughter!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Nothing Is Normal Anymore

“Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.” (Pat Conroy, novelist)

From my deck the voyage continues....
I am home again, but these last two mornings I’ve awakened with the thoughts, feelings, and scenery of our recent road trip in my mind.  Conroy is right, the “voyage never ends.”  Monument Valley is no longer something I’ve seen on film and in photographs.  It is a reality experienced and that reality (the grandeur and wonder of it) is now a part of me.  I can feel the cold wind blowing as we rode in the open air tourist truck through the valley.  I can smell the dust.  I can see (in my mind) the lofty battlements of red rock as though I were still there.  

But I am not there now.  I am home.  There is now a lawn to be mowed, gardens to tend, and weeds to pull.  There is mail to sort, to read, to respond too, and some to toss.  There are chores galore!  Is my life back to normal?  By no means!  The adventures live on and are played out in “the quietest chambers,” and nothing can ever be normal again.  

and I can see...
This is the great benefit of travel—both abroad and in our own land—the adventure never ends and life can never be “normal” (the same) again.  This happened to me long ago when I first left home at 17 years of age and traveled to distant places such as Greece, Crete, Syria, Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, Egypt, Germany, etc.  Indeed, I confess, nothing has been normal since (as many of you already know) for I carry this greater world within me—and “it plays out over and over again in the quietest chambers.”

Wednesday, April 27, 2016


In the fourth century AD, the Church developed a list of seven deadly sins, also known as the capital vices or cardinal sins. The list was used for Christian ethical education and for confession. The list includes the following: pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth.

I’ve committed all of these sins from time to time, but this morning the sin of envy seems to be dominating my spirit.  While visiting my friend Mark in WV, I mentioned to him how envious I was that he had all of his life’s work surrounding him—his sculptures, his self-designed and built home, his handmade furniture, his unique log cabins, his experimental concrete homes and all the other creative work of the years. These are tangible things—they can be seen and touched and felt, and everywhere you look at Mark’s place you see his life’s work, the results of his creative spirit, mind and hand.

Monument Valley, UT
I’m envious (for a little while this morning) because my life’s work (the pastoral ministry) is not so tangible.  What can one see, touch, and feel from my 50-plus years of ministry?  What can I point out or show of my life’s work, and say,  “This is the work of my spirit, my mind, and my hands?”      My work has been with intangibles—the impalpable.  My calling was and still is to realize what life means and to share that meaning with others.  This cannot be measured by results, or by tangible evidence, but I am convinced it is as real as Mark’s tangibles.  The 90th Psalm ends with two aspirations.  May the work of our hands be established, which means may there be some permanent practical results to our life-work.  And may all delightful things be ours, which means may there be a touch of the divine beauty in that work—unseen, unknown, untouchable, but there—always there!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Home Again

Day 35:  Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Mark and Norva's Home
We traveled from Dayton OH on scenic routes to “Wild and Wonderful” West Virginia on Monday and in the evening visited our friends Mark and Norva.  Mark is one of the most creative persons I’ve ever met.  Mark and Norva’s home is such a comfortable place, situated in a wonderful valley surrounded by national forest.   Mark built the house some forty years ago, using his artistic woodworking talents in amazing ways and through the years has built a number of log cabins in the valley (one of these is his woodworking shop).  Mark and Norva’s warm hospitality is enhanced by the rich walnut, cherry, and chestnut paneling along the walls, the large timbers of the ceiling, and Mark’s many wood sculptures and handmade furniture in their home. 

 This morning, before beginning on the last leg of our thirty-five day journey, we enjoyed breakfast with Mark and Norva and said our good-byes until next time.  We ran into heavy rain in the mountains of WV and western MD, but these storms soon subsided and the weather became quite pleasant.  We arrived home by mid-afternoon in time to do our civic duty of voting in the Maryland Primary.  Our granddaughter Katie had a dinner prepared for us—all we had to do was put it in the oven.  Since then, we have just CRASHED!
Mark & Norva

Blackwater Falls WV

One of Mark's cabins

Monday, April 25, 2016

Taking It All In

Day 34:  Monday, April 25, 2016

A new day dawns here in Dayton OH.  The clouds dominate at the moment, but I hope the sun will eventually break through as we drive to WV today.  These travel days have passed so quickly.  I guess that is what happens when one is having “the time of his life!”

I read these words from Kahil Kibran a few moments ago:  
“All those who are born with a hunger for Life, are not trying to touch the outer edges of other worlds by deep thinking and deeper feeling—our sole desire is to discover this world and to become one with its spirit.

The great poets of the past were always one with Life.  They did not seek a point in it nor did they wish to find its secrets.  They simply allowed their souls to be governed, moved, played upon by it.

Poets are not merely those who write poetry, but those whose hearts are full of the spirit of life.”

It struck me that this is what I want (a poet?)—not to merely travel and see—but to let all of it become a part of me—and me, a part of it all.  I want my heart to be full of the spirit of life—one with its spirit!

Thus, I travel on again today to take in all of the mystery and wonder that my soul can manage.  

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Celebrating Memories and the Present

Day 33:  Sunday, April 24, 2016

Don and Sally this morning....
It is always great to be  with our friends, Don and Sally, in Paxton IL.  We enjoyed our brief visit, catching up on where each of us are (health, retirement, work, projects, thoughts, etc.) and then sharing where our children and grandchildren are, remembering our past experiences together of years ago (over 54 years now!) and also celebrating the present moments and our hopes and plans for the future.  Thanks, Don and Sally, for your hospitality and for the years of friendship.  We treasure it!

After a hearty breakfast, prepared by Don, we pulled out on the road again, traveling to Dayton OH where we will stay tonight.  Tomorrow afternoon we hope to visit with friends, Mark and Norva, in WV.  Mark and I first met one another in a “remedial math” class at Alderson-Broaddus College (now a University) in Philippi WV, about 50 some years ago .  We’ve maintained contact through the years and our relationship has been very meaningful to me—and I hope to Mark (and Norva) as well.

From WV it will be a brief day’s drive back home to Rising Sun.  My travel-mate is more than ready to get back to her sewing room and quilting.  She has patiently put up with my gypsy notions long enough.  Meanwhile, I’m thinking of my friend, Bill, in Paducah KY and when I might be able to visit him there.  I just can’t help thinking about being “On the Road Again!”  

Sally found this picture of some clown at a Chapel Retreat
back in 1963.  What in the world was I doing?  No one
seems to recall!!!!
Today, Cindy and Steve celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary.  I had the privilege and joy of officiating!  How time flies!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Nothing Ever Happens in Small Towns

Day 32:  Saturday, April 23, 2016

Yesterday we crossed the Mississippi River in St. Louis after a pleasurable meandering through the Missouri hills via scenic byways.  As we crossed the river into Illinois, the land flattened out and all along the highway I observed the large fields being prepped for spring planting.  Our meandering has led us further north than we expected to be, putting us very close to our friends, Don and Sally, in Paxton IL.  How can we pass up the opportunity to see them again?  They have been friends for over fifty years!  I called last night.  Don and Sally are available and we will enjoy a visit with them this evening.

We’ll pass through Champaign IL on our way to Don and Sally’s.  Our son, Luke and his wife, Kim, met there during their graduate school days—and our grandson Ethan was born there.  Don and Sally befriended Luke and Kim during their studies and we were and are so appreciative of their care.  Such friends are rare!

Paxton is just a little town—but some years ago, I received word that Eleni (a member of a Greek family I knew on the Island of Crete in 1960) was living there.  After a Yokefellow Conference in Indiana, I rented a car and drove to visit Eleni and her husband, Duane, in IL—and to visit with Don and Sally too.  Eleni was just a little girl when I was on Crete—how good it was to see her again all grown up—and in Paxton IL.  Since then, I’ve visited a number of times with Eleni and her family.  And some say nothing ever happens in small towns!

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Ozark Connection

Day 31:  Friday, April 22, 2016

Here we are at the Lakes of the Ozarks on this bright and sunny morning after a long drive along scenic routes in Kansas and Missouri yesterday.  What a beautiful land bursting forth with spring!  The Ozarks bring to mind  Harold Bell Wright, an author of the early 20th century who wrote such books as “The Shepherd of the Hills,” “The Calling of Dan Mathews,” and “God and the Groceryman,” stories of life and faith in the Ozarks of his time.  Mort McCardell of Rising Sun introduced Wright to me nearly 40 years ago.  Reading Wright’s books were instrumental in my hearing the call to develop the Yokefellow Center there. Funny, isn’t it, how every little bit of sharing we do with another—a book, an author, an encouraging word (and even a mean word)—can make a great difference in a person’s life? Mort and Harold Bell Wright made a tremendous difference in mine!  

The deck awaits....
Today we will head on eastward and toward home.  As we get closer to home, our focus begins to become more limited.  I’m already thinking about the flowerbeds, the weeds, the lawn, etc., and all that will need to be done when we return.   But we aren’t there yet—and all of that can wait—while we continue to enjoy being “On the Road Again” for a few more days.

(Thank you, Liam, for showing me how to use my cell phone to post these blogs when Wi-Fi isn’t available.)

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Remembering in Kansas

Day 30:  Thursday, April 21, 2016

Yesterday we left Amarillo and traveled I-40 (familiar road) to Oklahoma City.  The same old road was monotonous.  We turned north at Oklahoma City and traveled new roads to Wichita, Kansas, a place we’ve never been before.  Fortunately we were able to get a campsite at McConnell Air Force Base (the last one available).  Situated near a lake filled with bass (I watched some fellows catch a few last night) and surrounded by trees and green fields, it has been a pleasant place to spend the night.  Perhaps I should linger here for a day or so?

Among the giant stone sculptures in Monument Valley
I saw this little one that took my fancy.
Years ago, my friend, Darrell, served here at McConnell as a Chaplain.  Darrell and I met while attending seminars and training events around the country with the Air Force.  We would often arrange to stay in a room together at these events, where we, a Methodist clergymen, shared many of our concerns and problems of parish and Air Force life.  We talked about visiting one another—but Kansas and Maryland are some miles apart and that visit never happened.  I wrote Darrell a letter in December 1994.  His wife answered, writing that Darrell had died at age 54 a few months before.   This morning, here, where once he served,  I remember Darrell.  It is not the place that is special—but the people we connect with that place that make it sacred ground.

Where shall I go from here?  I’m thinking I’d like to return to the Lake of the Ozarks near Jefferson City, MO, a drive of some 280 miles.  We have stayed there several times and I’d like to return.  We shall see where the roads may lead.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A Celebration of Odysseus

Day 28:  Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Odysseus--The Mobile Adventurer
The drive from Albuquerque NM to Amarillo TX yesterday was a pleasant one.  We had good weather through the day—though it seems to me we are chasing the “low front” that has wreaked so much havoc in parts of TX.  We ran into some rain as we approached Amarillo and I suspect we’ll experience some more rain today as we travel on to the East.  Where?  I’m not sure.  I know it will be toward the East.

The big event yesterday was Odysseus’ odometer turning over to 100,000 miles!  There were 27 miles on it when we purchased it five years ago!  What adventures Odysseus has opened up for us over those years.  It has carried us to every state in these United States (Nova Scotia too) several times now (Alaska and Hawaii visited by air and sea).  It has enabled us to re-connect with friends and relatives all along the way. The vehicle has been used only for our travel adventures and seldom for any other reason—100,000 miles of adventure.  

Will I be able to travel with Odysseus for another 100,000?  I spoke with a German tourist a few days ago and he told me Odysseus with its Mercedes Benz diesel engine could easily go another 300,000!  Wow!  I’m already planning my next “On the Road Again” adventure!  And, not just the next one—but all those to be enjoyed for the next 200,000 miles!   

Our Navajo Guide (Eric) and the "freezing cold" tour truck
 with plastic curtains at Monument Valley

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Unfamiliar Roads

Day 27:  Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Goosenecks State Park UT
Yesterday we drove from Goosenecks State Park in UT to Albuquerque NM.  It was a beautiful drive on unfamiliar roads through the Navajo and Apache nations, with snow-capped mountains, gigantic monuments of stone, canyons, desert, sage, cedar, multi-colored sands, and then as we climbed to elevations of 6000 to 7000 feet, we encountered rain, snow, sleet, hail, and wind.  It was wet and cold (36°) in Albuquerque when we arrived, but we were snug, dry and warm in our little home on wheels.  The rain ceased by late afternoon and this morning it looks like a bright, sunny, and much warmer day than yesterday.

I do not like to travel roads traveled before—but it is necessary to travel a familiar road in order to discover the unfamiliar one.  Every day we awake to the familiar—but we do not know what that new day holds—it may open the way for a new, unfamiliar, and wonderful new road.  Keep an eye out for it.  I will do the same as I drive eastward toward Amarillo TX today—maybe it will be Amarillo TX—it could be Kansas—if a new, unfamiliar road is discovered along the way.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Goosenecks State Park, Mexican Hat UT

Day 26:  Monday, April 18, 2016

Traveling north yesterday from Monument Valley to Mexican Hat, UT, we were able to see a little of The Valley of the Gods (a miniature Monument Valley).  The unpaved road into the valley held pools of water and the weather-beaten sign at the entrance warned that the road was impassable when wet.  Needless to say, we decided not to attempt the 17 mile drive.  Instead, we went a few miles south and camped overnight at Goosenecks State Park.  It is primitive camping (no showers, flush toilets, electricity, water, etc) but with our Odysseus we lived it up in luxurious style, having on board everything necessary for our comfort.

Monument Valley
Goosenecks Park provides an astonishing view of the great meandering canyon carved by the San Juan River 1000’ below the overlook.  We camped right along the overlook and spent the afternoon and evening gazing at the wonder of this desert upland.  The altitude here is 5000 feet and it is rather chilly this morning.  Odysseus’ generator is running quietly, providing us with heat, electric, and all the amenities needed (including my two cups of coffee).  One amenity that cannot be provided here is the use of the Internet and cell phone.  We once lived without these, but now they seem a necessity.  Why, I won’t even be able to post this until we are connected again!

Today we will drive east on Rt. 163S, 160E, 64E and then 550 into Albuquerque NM unless I change my mind as we go.  There is still snow in CO, and some serious weather in TX and OK, which we will watch closely and attempt to avoid.  Like the mighty San Juan River here at Goosenecks, we will continue meandering along these wonderful highways toward home.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Nature's Inscrutable Work

Day 25:  Sunday, April 17, 2016

The weather did not in any way diminish our visit here at Monument Valley.  We did our tour in an open-bed truck (with plastic curtains and it was “freezing cold”).  Eric was our guide.  Monument Valley was Eric’s childhood playground. His father is a Navajo medicine man.   He and his wife have two grown daughters, both college graduates.  He drives a school bus every day, works as a tour guide, and in his younger years was a bull rider doing the rodeo circuit.
Bryce Canyon

When driving into the Valley for the first time on Friday, as I mentioned before, the tears came and I felt a deep emotional/spiritual connection with the “Mountain,” as Eric calls the valley.  Eric, when told of this, suggested that the Mountain knew me, welcomed me, and I should thank the Mountain for receiving me.  I have thanked the Mountain!

Emerson wrote that “Nature always wears the colors of the spirit.”  This is certainly true of Monument Valley  I cannot begin to describe nature’s artistic hand through rain, sun, snow, wind, water, sand, and 50 billion years of endless work.  Photographs cannot capture this place.  Mind, heart, and sight cannot take it in.  Monument Valley is sacred territory for the Navajo.  It is sacred territory for me.

The word “sacred” means something connected with God (or the gods) and so deserving veneration (great respect and reverence).  Monument Valley is holy, hallowed ground.  It bespeaks of something beyond my understanding, something beyond my capacity to comprehend, something beyond what my eyes can see, something beyond the ability of my mind to absorb. It is an incredible piece of Nature’s inscrutable work.  Then why call it sacred?  I call it sacred because in some strange way it grabs my spirit and lifts it to a world beyond, not to nature itself, but to God.  Again, Emerson expressed it well when he wrote, “Nature is too thin a screen; the glory of the omnipresent God bursts through everywhere.”  

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Nature's Artistry at Work

Day 24:  Saturday, April 16, 2016

Bryce Canyon National Park
Unfortunately our plans to tour Monument Valley this morning have been cancelled due to heavy clouds, rain mixed with snow, and extremely intense winds.  Spring travel is always risky.  We hope the weather will clear and we can do an afternoon tour.  If that doesn’t work we’ll stay another day and take the tour tomorrow.  I don’t want to miss this opportunity!  

Sculptures in Stone

Day 24, Saturday, April 16, 2016
I have seen Michelangelo’s Pieta at the Vatican, the wondrous ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, Leonardo DaVinci’s Last Supper in Florence, Rembrandt’s The Prodigal in St. Petersburg, and the Mona Lisa in Paris, but none of these works of art can compare to the artistry of nature demonstrated here in Monument Valley UT. As we drove into the valley yesterday, the tears flowed as I beheld these huge sculptures carved by nature’s elements over millions of years.  There is a majesty and grandeur in these monuments of stone that I cannot describe.  I am awe-struck!

Today we will take a tour of the Valley with a Navajo guide.  How I look forward to it.  There is so much to see, so many places to go, in this big wide world.  I will never see or go to all of those places, so matter how hard I try, but I shall always be grateful for this opportunity—to behold these sculptures of stone in Monument Valley and observe the work of nature’s power.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Nature's Cathedrals

Day 23:  Friday, April 15, 2016

We camped on Wednesday night in the little rural village of Glendale UT—about 40 miles south of Bryce Canyon National Park.  We left the campground at 9:15 a.m. and drove to the park, arriving around 10 (it was 34° at that hour).  The park entrance fee is $30 (as is Zion NP and most others), but I have a National Parks Senior Pass  which allows us to enter any national park free of charge.  If you are 62—get it—the card is pure gold!  We drove through the park, stopping at all the view points along the 17 mile drive.  I felt as though I were driving for hours through the world’s largest cathedral.  We have visited Bryce Canyon before—but this time, somehow, it seemed even more grand, more sacred than ever before.  Thank God for Teddy Roosevelt and others who established our national park system.  This year is the 100th anniversary of our National Parks.  We enjoyed a late lunch at the Park Lodge.  (No bison, thank you very much—I’ve been there and done that!)

It was a short drive down Rt. 89 from Bryce to Kanab UT where we stayed last night.  Today we are off again on a 4 hour drive through southern UT and northern AZ, arriving, we hope, at Monument Valley by this evening.  Monument Valley provided the great scenes in many of John Ford’s films, especially those starring John Wayne.  I have longed to see this place and the Valley of the Gods nearby.  Maybe we’ll spend a couple of days.  Who knows? 

The sky looks ominous this morning.  I suspect we’ll be enjoying rain showers as we drive along today.  Yes, we will enjoy the showers, because like California, Utah is in great need of water.  My plan  (yesterday morning) was to drive “Scenic Route 12,” but a Park Ranger informed us that it would be snowing in those higher elevations.  That was all it took to get me to change my mind and take the southern route (Rt 89) and the rain!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Handling Disappointment

Day 22:  Thursday, April 14, 2016

Sometimes hopes, desires and dreams fail to materialize.  It has happened to me (and no doubt to you too) so many times that I no longer get all worked up about it (well, not much anyway).  Instead, I try to accept what is and move on.  (I try—but not always successfully, and usually with some pouting and self-pity).  Our hopes for yesterday were dashed when the fellow at the Utah Visitors Center told us that the North Rim of the Grand Canyon was closed due to drifting snow! This is the second time we’ve been denied this “bucket-list” visit. I refuse to give up and will certainly try another time.  I didn’t let it get me down or fence me in!  There was for us, and there are for all of us, other ways to go when one particular dream doesn’t work out.  A closed door does not mean all doors are closed.  Some are open and we must find them rather than just give up!

We changed our course  yesterday and instead of going south into Arizona, we went north into Utah, seeing again Zion National Park.  Today we’ll visit Bryce National Park and meander along the scenic roads of Utah for a few days.

Photos and words cannot do justice to this wonderful West!  I cannot explain what I feel when I see the deserts, the mountains, the mesas and canyons.  I only know I am held captive by their majesty and beauty.  I would not have seen some of these sights if we had gone to the North Rim yesterday!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Don't Fence Me In!

Day 21:  Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Here we are in Las Vegas, Nevada. I couldn’t wait to get over the Soda and Clark Mountains and cross over into Nevada.  Why?  I knew Whiskey Pete’s and Buffalo Bill’s Casino resorts were there along the road just waiting for me!  I told my daughter last night that I stopped at Whiskey Pete’s and spent all her inheritance in an hour or so.  Some people do that you know!  But I didn’t.

Whenever we come to Las Vegas I drive straight through the Strip (at 65 mph on I-15) and if the traffic isn’t heavy, I try to read the billboards on the various casinos as I pass by.  I noted that Billie Joel was to appear at one of them sometime soon.  I wouldn’t mind going to that show and hearing him sing “Piano Man.”  

Where will we go today after a night in Vegas (not on the Strip, but in a campground to the east of the city)?  We will go to Utah—maybe we’ll stop and see Zion National Park again, or Bryce—or maybe not!  One of the “traveling songs” I sing is “Don’t Fence Me In.”  Do you know the words?  Here they are—sing with me as we travel along together if you like.

Oh, give me land, lots of land, under starry skies above
Don't fence me in
Let me ride through that wide open country that I love
Don't fence me in.
Let me be by myself in the evenin’ breeze
An' listen to the murmur of the cottonwood trees
Send me off forever but I ask you please
Don’t fence me in
Just turn me loose, let me straddle my old saddle
Underneath the western skies
On my cayuse, let me wander over yonder
Till I see the mountains rise
How can one share the desert beauty?
  Photos just can't do it!
I want to ride to the ridge where the west commences
And gaze at the moon till I lose my senses
And I can't look at hobbles and I can't stand fences

Don’t fence me in

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Roads Travelled

Day 21:  Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The green fields of the central valley
This morning we are hunkered down in the Mojave again, that majestic desert that always takes my breath away each time I see it.  Yesterday morning we left Monterey and traveled south down the central coast, passing by huge fields of produce, from broccoli, lettuce, strawberries and a host of others.  Then the fields turned into giant grape vineyards stretching as far as the eye could see.  Turning eastward, we passed the orchards of oranges, pistachios and almonds. Then we drove up and over the Tehachapi Mountains and entered the high desert, staying overnight at Edwards Air Force Base family campground.

Hunkered down in the desert.
Do you think I should up-size?
The Carl A. Milhoan Path
My uncle Carl was stationed at Edwards AFB and died in an aircraft test flight which crashed on Shadow Mountain near here in 1952.  Several streets on the base are named after crew members of that fatal accident, but not one for my uncle.  Several years ago, after researching and writing down his story, I named a pathway (I wish I could have erected a sign) here at the campground the “Carl A. Milhoan Path.”  No one is aware of this memorial path but me.  Each time I come, I walk the path and think of this uncle I never met—who, along with so many others, gave his life in the service of his beloved country.

I wish you could have shared the beautiful sunset here in the desert with me last night.  I remember my father saying at 80 years of age that he wanted to make one more trip to Arizona “just to see the sunset.”  I hope to make another trip back to the Mojave too—just to see the sunset!

Today?  Where will we go?  I have Las Vegas as our destination for this evening, but I sure would like to visit Death Valley again—so who knows!  It is so good to be on the road again.

Monday, April 11, 2016

On The Road Again!

Day 20:  Monday, April 11, 2016

A new day dawns in Monterey—a cloudy day, but no rain so far.  It is time to be on our way, to get back on the road again.  What highway shall I take?  There are some limitations.  If I go west I will eventually end up in the Pacific.  If I go north I may encounter weather issues and the same holds if I go directly east through the Sierras (Tahoe region).  If I go south, I will end up in Mexico.  The Southeastern direction seems to be the way to go, down through the central valley, Salinas, Gonzales, King City, to Paso Robles, then eastward on route 46 to Bakersfield and through the Tehachapi Pass and into the Mojave again.  We’ve traveled this route many times before, but the scenery still appeals.

Tomorrow, however, we will be more adventurous.  We’ll go northeast to Las Vegas and then drive along the southern boundary of Utah and into Arizona again to visit the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.  We’ve never been there!  I’m so excited to be on the road again!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Nothing is Ordinary!

Day 19:  Sunday, April 10, 2016

Yesterday’s rain here in California did not last long and I was able to pull some weeds, trim some plants, and put down some mulch in my mother-in-law’s yard.  It took me all day, but so it goes these days!  Today I have just one or two chores left to do before we get back on the road again tomorrow.

Ethan’s pinewood derby race was held yesterday in Flagstaff and the car he and his dad built did well.   Years ago I helped my sons make their first pinewood derby cars.  You will remember that I helped shape Ethan’s car last weekend in Flagstaff—but Luke and Ethan did all the rest of the creative work.  The completed car is certainly a “winner!”  

We think of pulling weeds, trimming plants, putting down mulch, and a grandson’s first pinewood derby car as just “normal” or “ordinary.”  But this is not true.  All of these things are “extraordinary!”  To feel the earth between one’s fingers, to catch the pungent smell of geraniums, to note how weeds create deep roots, and to share in the making of a pinewood derby car with one’s son and grandson are all “extras” in life.  In fact, there is nothing in our living that is ordinary!  Everything we do, from waking up in the morning to going to bed at night, are all extras!  There was a time when we could not do these things—and there will come a time again when we will not be able to do these simple things!  Nothing we do can be called commonplace, ordinary, or normal.  Everything is an “extra” and to see life in this way can make a big difference in how we live it!