Friday, November 25, 2016

Coming Soon

Getting Ready for 2017

a new website for the new year                  

Coming Soon !

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Click here to go to my JOY OF LIGHT GALLERY

Stop trying to figure out 

What you want to be when you grow up

Growing up isn't all it's cracked up to be

 - Rather -

Prosper by doing what you love

Be grateful
Forgive others
Stay in the moment
Be of service
Love deeply
And keep dancing until you die.

                                        - Stephen Phillips

Born To Be Wild

Steppenwolf  ( 1968 )

Get your motor runnin'
Head out on the highway
Lookin' for adventure
And whatever comes our way
Yeah Darlin' go make it happen
Take the world in a love embrace
Fire all of your guns at once
And explode into space

I like smoke and lightning
Heavy metal thunder
Racin' with the wind
And the feelin' that I'm under
Yeah Darlin' go make it happen
Take the world in a love embrace
Fire all of your guns at once
And explode into space

Like a true nature's child
We were born, born to be wild
We can climb so high
I never want to die

Born to be wild
Born to be wild

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Today's Musings

Beyond a Divisive Election 

State of The Union's Other Half

There are two distinct Americas. Until now - those living in one America had little understanding of those living in the other. Divisions in our political views have been clear and deeply rooted for decades. But what drove these division was far from fully seen. Our recent Presidential election triggered a cascade of words and data which may have delivered some clarity and insight on the forces which are tearing at our national consciousness.

Rail Trestle in Wheeling, West Virginia 
It was none other than the late great Tim Russert of NBC's Meet The Press that has us referring to 'Red' and 'Blue' States in our national discourse. What seems clear is that neither Red nor Blue America appreciates or understands of what drives the political perceptions of the other. And more importantly - the social values of one group does not merely differ from the other - it is often in direct opposition.

Sadly, I'm certain that my view of our conservative enclaves has been as blind as anyone's. This despite my brother being a Republican conservative, my twice recently having driven coast-to-coast on the back roads of America's heartland, and despite my having friends or family in rural sections of Nebraska, Mississippi, West Virginia, and Florida.

On my two recent drives across our land - I found people to be helpful and friendly. I had a wonderful experience at every turn and never once felt uncomfortable. That said - I am white - and I understand white privileged. I certainly now have a deeper appreciation of what that status confers upon a traveler navigating our nation's back roads. I'll also plead guilty to incorporating the view of those media elites towards our nation's heartland. Without a thought - I've referred to the midland as the 'drive through' states. My mind stating, "Nothing out of the ordinary here, ladies and gentlemen, everybody is doing just fine."

Abandoned Filling Station in West Texas

The Revelation

In retrospect I now grasp that many of the towns I viewed on my trip were clearly in economic trouble. The sheer number of closed businesses should have told me something. These failed enterprises are mostly what a community depends upon - banks, hardware stores, and auto parts and repair shops among them. A town's grocery might be dark but there now stands a 'Dollar General' store. The local automobile garage might be boarded up - but you now have a fine selection of candy, chips, and sodas purveyed at the local quick-fill. These new chain businesses are no doubt paying minimum wage and likely are owned by an entity from outside the community. The surrounding landscape often reflects signs of economic troubles as well. Fields are producing crops in some places but there many large swaths
South of The Arch - St. Louis
of fallow farmland. There is also a surprising number of electric windmill generators in many states. But the farms and generators both represent large automated operations. They certainly do not employ significant numbers of people from nearby towns.

Based on what I've learned since the election I now clearly appreciate the anger of people in non-urban America. They were not spared the economic collapse of 2008. To the contrary - they were hit especially hard. Homes were lost. Cars repossessed. And even worse - jobs have been eviscerated. What manufacturing work there was has vanished. The wheels to the economic engine fell off the train with most of the jobs that were - now gone forever.  

As employment opportunities disappeared there came large disruptions. The impact tore through the social fabric. Grown children moved in with their moms and dads, or with a sibling, or with their friends. Many folks who heretofore held a good job with a decent wage - are now working two jobs which pay at or near minimum wage. Some are self-employed with irregular income. Many can't afford health insurance. For others the lack of work is now chronic. Many of these people now use drugs as the answer to hopelessness. As is predictable - with the use of drugs comes a rise in crime within once safe neighborhoods. Divorce rates are up. Proud people who have worked all their lives now turn to food shelters and government assistance in order to put food on the family's table.

Bitterness & Rage

By 2011 or so, the nation began to rise from the recession's bottom. Reports in the news told of the recovery of Wall Street and of the Banks. The bailed-out auto industry started to show signs of health and were producing well built cars along with impressive revenues. The Dow Jones Average was on a steady climb. But the number of homes going into foreclosure were also on the rise. The notion of unfairness would take root and begin to flourish within the hearts of proud Americans. And until November 8, 2016 - no individual, no institution in Washington or anywhere else would provide these people with assistance for their families, their communities, or to their damaged pride.

The table was now set for one of America's biggest Presidential Election upsets.

Boonville, Missouri

My most recent pass across America ended just last month. In retrospect, it was obvious that the problems which plague much of the country betray a picture of widespread loss and pain for those who live there.With the clarity of twenty-twenty hindsight - the election of Donald J. Trump to be President of the United States comes as little surprise. The sadness I'm feeling comes from the difficulty in typing the words, "United States"

As most of us - I love our nation. The exchange of ideas and willingness to compromise is essential to good governance. Seeing the words - "United States" - right now - just seems surreal.


Friday, August 26, 2016

Getting Ready to Roll

Greetings all

This intrepid traveler is once again getting set to hit the road - sometime in mid-September. My cross country trip last year was a personal milestone. After many years of experiencing chronic vertigo and arthritis - I was fortunate to be referred to a gifted physical therapist. Marcella instantly knew what I'd been going through. She worked with me for months and through specific exercises - managed to guide me towards improved health.

As a result of her care, I managed to fulfill a decades long dream to drive the 3,073 miles of highway U.S.50 - from Sacramento, California to Ocean City, Maryland. On the return trip, I wandered through the Oklahoma Panhandle, West Texas, Santa Fe, New Mexico, and several of the great National Parks in Colorado and Utah, as well as Great Basin National Park in Nevada.

That journey was life changing. Having gone from a dizzy old fellow who couldn't navigate a dirt path or a walk along the beach without either falling down or becoming nauseous - I'd re-discovered the freedom to travel. My heart and spirit reconnected with life!

So, with memories of last years adventures still fresh - it is my hope to hit the road again in a few weeks. My trip "Rules" will remain the same. Leave when the time feels right. Go where the road dictates. Stop when it's time to explore - or time to rest. Stay until it is time to go. Remain on the road until I hear the call of Home.

Bryce Canyon National Park - October 2015

Having driven through the heart of our fair land last fall, my thought is to take a generally southern tack this year. The "Rules" forbid my making any greater assertion of plans at this point - which is the only way I'd have it.


Gratitude fills me as plan this departure. My health continues to be good. My work with others in the recovery community continues to provide depth and richness to this life. I've been blessed with many deep and lasting friendships among my fellow alcoholics. My explorations in meditation and in studying various practices related to Buddhism and Dharma teachings provide me with boundless joy and love. I'm humbled by the many friends who share this life - and make it so much more pleasant to navigate.

And Thanks To Many of You

Last year's trip was an abrupt affair. On the second Saturday in September, my former sister-in-law, Kim and her husband, Vimal - lost their house to the Valley Fire in Lake County. The next day - a good friend was killed in an automobile accident - outside of Sacramento. These events shook me and informed me that life is short. I needed to return to the living as soon as possible. My earlier medical condition had me depressed and feeling withdrawn. I was unable to hike or to ride a bicycle. After months of physical therapy - these symptoms had been dramatically reduced. I'd been wanting to traverse US 50 for many years and I was now healthy enough to take it on.

Short on cash, I initiated a "Go Fund Me" campaign.  I managed to raise over $800 dollars in about a week. I couldn't have done the trip without the help. To all of you who participated in supporting me - thank you from deep within my heart. I'm humbled by your kindness. I'm also happy to report that this year - I'll roll along self-funded.

Counting Down
So I'm preparing to set out across our great land again. This trip I'm hoping to be a bit more prepared. Specifically, a working laptop computer. During that last trip - I can't tell you how many hours I lost at night trying to download images from my cameras onto a computer that was fried. And then there was the blog host that I knew not well - and never did configure to my liking. That's why I'm posting this pre-trip blog on good old "Blogger". It isn't fancy but it's easy and clean.
U.S.50 - "The Loneliest Road in America" - just to the east of Justin, Nevada
 I'd love to hear from anyone with ideas or suggestions.