Politics · Travel · Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle · Writing, editing, editorial, philosophy

What defines a journey?

What defines a journey? How do you determine that it was good or bad, successful or unsuccessful, positive or negative, ordinary or extraordinary? Having just returned from my journey, I have realized that there are more components that define the character of a journey than one might initially suspect.

The actual travel from one space to another is one of the primary determinants as far as the value of the trip. Having difficult flights, connections, nearby travelers, weather, or airports can all have an influence on the quality of the experience. The COVID-19 pandemic has serious impacted everything about flying, from checking in to deplaning.

Start to finish, I completed five take-offs and landings, four airports. None of them were extraordinary in any way. The shops carried essentially the same junk; the only difference between one airport’s products and another’s was the local team or cause that it represented. When you are in Phoenix, you see the Suns and Cardinals. In Oakland, you (still) see Raiders and 49ers. But the food is essentially the same, the waiting areas are almost carbon copies, and it’s pointless to pay any particular attention to fellow travelers.

Car rentals don’t have the potential to have good or bad influence on the event. One rental car is essentially the same as any other. But reaching the car from the terminal can be more or less stressful, depending on the support personnel involved. In the first case, I was annoyed by a driver too unconcerned or apathetic to assist with my heavy suitcase. On the way home, the person in the same role was helpful, cheerful, and eager to assist in any way. My guess is that if he could have rolled or carried by bag into the terminal to help me, he would have done so.

Then there are the accommodations. A room is a room is a room, right? The fact that my plumbing didn’t work and I had to change rooms certainly didn’t add or detract from my trip. But the neighbors in the next room who left their television on all night and spoke only in loud voices did have an effect.

Somehow, all of this must remain incidental to the actual reason for my being where I was. With a close family member in irreversible decline, the balance of the trip automatically becomes irrelevant or trivial. My emotions about this are too powerful and compelling to articulate in this space. But I am amazed at how unimportant the airlines, the rental representative, and hotel neighbors suddenly become, especially when I reflect on the powerful, emotional time I spent with family.

The proverbial bottom line is that the logistics can’t and won’t have the power to have any significant influence whatsoever, due to the more outcomes derived from my trip. Even the two gentleman in the row behind me on the plane who have spoken only with mega volume in a foreign language haven’t the impact that I might have expected. Ultimately, why did we travel, whom did we see, how did we spend our time, and what noteworthy tasks did we accomplish take precedence and will continue to do so for the as long as we can predict the future. Shalom.

Politics · Travel · Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle · Writing, editing, editorial, philosophy

POTUS and pandemic

The news sources have just disclosed that the POTUS and First Lady have both tested positive for Covid-19. While I am not sufficiently cold-hearted to wish for the worst of consequences, I am hopeful that there will be some outcomes from these diagnoses that will be good for America.

One of my first thoughts was a comment President Trump made early on, that this was just a “little virus like the flu.” We don’t know anything specific about his condition yet but my best guess is that he has enough symptoms to confirm that it’s not the flu. One of my biggest gripes about our president is his apparent lack of compassion for a number of sectors. Maybe he will begin to experience that empathy for those who have and continue to suffer from Covid-19.

Beyond that, I don’t know exactly what I expect. For one, I am hopeful that he hasn’t infected numerous people. My second hope is that if he is able to continue campaigning, he will have enough good sense not to do so, for the sake of not infecting others.

What will this mean for the next debate? My best guess is that many of us will either elect not to watch it or hope that they make considerable changes to it so as to make it much less painful. There has been some talk about muting the microphones of the speaker who doesn’t have the floor but I’m not entirely certain that a live or muted mic will make any difference to our President. It may be that by October 15, he will just not be able to participate in a debate.

Beyond all that, we will simply have to wait and see how the President and the country are going to be impacted by his positive test for Covid-19. At the very least, he will finally realize that anyone is capable of acquiring it and maybe he should have been a bit more judicious with his mask. Shalom.

Colorado · Travel · Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

A warm welcome

Good day! My name is…actually, that’s really not important. What truly matters is that I was hired by God to design the indescribably splendid location known as the Rocky Mountains.

Because the mountains have been here for many centuries, I’ve been on the payroll for quite a while. But this is a huge, tremendously important responsibility.

First there is the weather. My directions were to arrange a diverse assortment of clouds. Some are wispy and either caress the mountains or envelop them. Some simply provide the wide, eternally changing backdrop for the mountain vistas. Temperatures change rapidly, ranging from warm and sunny to freezing and blustery.

Landscape was the next concern, made more complicated because of the altitude and occasionally frigid temperatures, not to mention the horrific amounts of snow. We decided on the majestic evergreens (mainly pine) because they’re hearty and always look natural. For a change of pace, we threw in some aspen and a few other deciduous species. And of course, there are shrubs and in spring and summer, many spectacular flowers.

Finally, we had to consider inhabitants. Humans are welcome if they don’t deface or desecrate the environment. And they often bring horses, cattle, dogs, donkeys and goats, many of which are amusing to watch.

The natural residents are moose, elk, deer, coyote, mountain lion, fox and a huge aviary population. We’ve also provided many little creatures such as squirrels, beaver, chipmunks and others. A consensus is that we’ve done a remarkable design job, with some sights that are pleasing to anyone and everyone.

While it’s difficult to send us your feedback, our reward is generally your visits and compliments on the work we’ve accomplished. Please enjoy on whatever level you choose, remembering to leave the mountain world as pristine as you found it. Shalom.

Colorado · Travel · Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

Invitation

It’s a small, local, no-name saloon and eatery. If you’re not a local or you haven’t eaten here before, you’ll never notice that it’s here.

But the uniqueness, charm and amenities make it a mountain stop that you’ll never forget. From the time you enter until you mosey on down the road, you’ll be glad that you discovered it.

The rumble of laughter and conversation suggests that the location population today is comprised mainly of locals. As people enter the building, the hostess/server greets many of them, expressing her pleasure at seeing them again. Altogether, there are approximately twenty tables, for a total occupancy of fewer than thirty.

The ladies room was probably as indicative of the rustic, unpretentious attitude as anything else. One stall was rendered out of order, with a hand-written note taped to the door. The other had a swinging door with no lock and the entire restroom appeared that it hadn’t been painted since Prohibition.

To complete the unapologetic ambiance, the beer selection was primarily Colorado brews, the menu was simple and “Turkey Reuben” was scrawled on the small whiteboard precariously perched on an easel in the corner. Thankfully, I continued my habit of selecting the special of the day and was thoroughly glad that I did.

If I’m very fortunate, my next visit to this part of the state will take me to this road, this restaurant and this turkey reuben. It was delectable and impeccably crafted. Undoubtedly, any reuben that I experience anywhere else will be decidedly inferior.

In retrospect, I must wonder how much of our restaurant enjoyment is impacted by the surroundings. Was the sandwich so good because the location was modest and uncontrived? Maybe the venue was fun in part because of the quality of the food. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter.

This is one more reason to love Colorado. In spite of the classic Rabbit Ears Pass whiteout at 9,426 feet that followed the meal, the majesty and grandeur of this state never cease to enchant and inspire me. Shalom.

Travel · Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

Traveling

Is there such a thing as airline travel model to which many people transform when they get near or in an airport? Having flown in four planes during this past week, I am beginning to believe that there is. With very little thought, I can cite numerous examples. Here is one of my favorites.

You enter an unusually small boarding area, seeking a seat to wait for boarding. At one glance, you can see five, six, seven seats that have jackets or backpacks or plastic airport bags. No-one ever offers to move said items to accommodate you.

Yes, I realize that some of the items belong to travelers who have temporarily left the area. But upon further scrutiny, I was able to verify that most of these people were traveling alone.

Travelers inevitably have opportunities to be congenial. Instead, in a full plane, the center seat becomes occupied by a young woman who gestures at the seat and mutters, “I’m sitting there.” Perfect – you’re welcome and I’m glad to oblige. For the balance of the flight, she inhabited my space and nearly ran over me to get through the jet-way on the way to baggage claim.

My son’s favorite is the baggage claim behavior. Numerous people will line the entire distance of the baggage claim conveyor. Unless you want to jostle, bump or otherwise inconvenience these parkers, it’s impossible to grab your bag when you see it.

And finally, it’s the space usurpers. On flights where bags fly free (thank you, Southwest!), I can never understand why people need to drag mammoth rolling devices aboard the flight. Are you afraid that you’ll never see your bag again? Or does it take too long to find your space along the conveyor?

On any and every flight, I get knocked and bumped by one of these large bags or backpacks. Do your rights empower you to violate mine? While I’m not the perfect traveler, I don’t object to wailing babies, late departures or people talking loudly and I don’t want to appear to be the curmudgeon. But because I don’t undergo a metamorphosis at 36,000 feet, I always wonder why others do. Shalom.