USFMAN PODCAST INVITE FOR 2023

As 2022 soon ends, I wonder how I might expand reader interest in the listening version of my blog. To clarify, I’ve used the Anchor podcast tool that Word Press endorses for posting all of my written entries on the Spotify website for more than a year now,. You can find them there by typing the search term “Snippets of A Traveling Mind.”  So if you are interested, I encourage you to take a more detailed look at what I’ve been working on. Just click on the link marked summary  below and then follow the cursor prompts that appear on each page of the slideshow. Thanks. 

 

                              Summary 
Continue reading “USFMAN PODCAST INVITE FOR 2023”

New Orleans Jazz Inspires Travel

“ Life is a lot like jazz…it’s best when you improvise…” (George Gershwin)

Ruth and I finally took some time to see “Hamilton”, the musical, in a matinee performance at the “Broward Center For The Performing Arts” in Fort Lauderdale last week. As a former history teacher, I settled into into act one wondering mostly about how accurately the events of the American Revolution would be presented then with this youthful cast. In doing so, it became obvious to me at the onset that this high energy play took on an improvisational tone reminiscent of a jazz combo performance as this diverse array of talented artists utilized their fast flowing lyrics to electrify the crowd that afternoon.** By continuing to observe this historical perspective into act two, I ultimately concluded that as each scene elapsed with such spontaneous ease during these dialogues, these creative  depictions of the actual events that happened in early colonial America felt believably real. In support of that conclusion, I observed  notably plausible characterizations  of a stately George Washington, an impulsive Alexander Hamilton, a diabolical King George and the deep thinking Thomas Jefferson that afternoon. 

So it stands to reason that last week‘s vacation to New Orleans similarly provided for us plentiful, “spur of the moment” action involving jazz musical infusion as we explored on our own this historic American city. Know then I found myself reflecting back to my college years as a former musician myself, knowing that jazz music heavily relies on the spontaneity of skills, emotion, and the environment. So allow me to suggest a one day tour of several New Orleans sites  in the similar jazz vein of “making it up as you go along”.

I therefore suggest you begin your “Big Easy” tour with a short ferry ride to the quiet neighborhood of Algiers on the opposite bank of the Mississippi River from the bustling French Quarter downtown. As you saunter serenely along the designated walkway of the “Jazz Walk of Fame Trail”, I recommend you utilize a convenient audio guide app to hear pleasing sample soundtracks at seventeen statue landmarks memorializing legendary jazz musicians who earned New Orleans fame along the way. When the mood strikes you at any point along this route, feel free to take some photographs of your favorite downtown setting across the river as well.

I know it’s only day time, but don’t assume you’ll be obligated to wait for a scheduled jazz show on touristy Bourbon Street tonight. For you can easily head back over the river now and let your ears guide you to any street band performances or an outdoor cafe “gig” around popular Jackson Square or the French Market where most likely you will not be obligated to pay. Too bad you missed jazz themed Mardi Gras this year, but you’ll get the idea of this immediate burst of jazzy excitement then by either doing some window shopping along Canal Street, staring at French latticed balconies along Bourbon Street, or perhaps engaging in some serious statue gazing at Music Legends Park further uptown.

I figure you might be getting tired of walking so much now. So go ahead, it’s still early, and instead get on a local streetcar back on Canal and head northeast toward Frenchman Street where the “locals” might go to experience a quality jazz band performance when desired. While there are several venues to choose from, I would highly recommend the “Spotted Cat Club” early show at 6:00 pm. As you will likely be fully loosened up now by this intimate live performance, show your appreciation for this fun filled day of New Orleans jazz with a striking photo  by a favorite statue. Enjoy the photos. 

** Note that videos and photos were strictly forbidden at the Hamilton performance.

New Orleans Thrill Endures

“New Orleans is a city you must visit when you’re young and foolish but return to when you’re wiser and still searching for your dreams.” (Edward Lee)

Let’s face it. Our human life lasts for a mere speck of time so we might as well take advantage of what we most enjoy at any stage of our life. No American city in my past travel experience thus personifies that existential adage of self-exploration for me better than New Orleans. So given my fervent devotion to studying authentic history, enjoying live music, and engaging in serious discussions of multicultural understanding as a blog writer and novice photographer, I present a brief chronicle below of some memorable “quality time” spent in New Orleans during our five day, mini- road trip last week.

To begin our vacation last Sunday, the decision to book a centralized lodging location downtown at the historic Best Western St. Christopher Hotel provided excellent reason to take to the streets nearby on foot to visit such popular tourist hubs as the bustling Canal Street shopping corridor, raucous Bourbon Street strip , as well the more serene shoreline environs abutting both sides of the Mississippi River. To further enhance this slow and easy approach to visiting New Orleans on this most recent occasion, we purchased an inexpensive transit pass allowing us three days of unlimited street car travel throughout the city. Beyond the Old Town proper to the west, we thus devoted an entire morning to ride along St. Charles Avenue and thereby absorb the historic antebellum look of pre- Civil War New Orleans. A second memorable streetcar excursion of interest brought us north of the downtown to the serenely forested grounds of City Park for an afternoon visit at the prestigious Museum of New Orleans.

Our transit pass also granted us free passage across the Mississippi River by ferry to Algiers Point, one of the oldest existing neighborhoods in the city. Following a shoreline path labeled aptly “The Jazz Walk” there, we obtained some fantastic panoramas across the river of New Orleans downtown. Turning inland, our Algiers tour would continue with a curious look at colorful homes shaded with bright pastel colors in this quiet residential vicinity. Regrettably, however, for stomach intolerance reasons, neither Ruth nor I would take time to indulge in any spicy Cajun or exotic Creole food options so enamored by many New Orleans tourists during the course of these streetcar excursions.

Know as well that on the last day of our New Orleans vacation, a major highlight happened with my online purchase of two affordable tickets on Stub Hub at the last minute to experience “Leonid and Friends” in live concert at the House of Blues along busy Decatur Street. For upon being unexpectedly escorted to our seats that night in row one, less than ten feet from the stage, we enjoyed over three hours of masterful musical entertainment from one of our favorite horn bands.

As the winter holiday season approaches, I must end this blog with some timely human insight I experienced on this mini- vacation. For I notice a distinct, heartwarming spirit lingering in me upon reflecting back to our friendly encounters with such a diverse representation of people we met during our latest New Orleans vacation. For during street encounters with those being either male or female, black or white, affluent or poor, as well as young or old, I noticed a spirit of helpfulness and giving to all in this city that’s been so decimated by major hurricane disasters in recent years . May we be so fortunate to find a glimpse of such togetherness as we celebrate at home or away on this important American celebration in 2022. Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Raymond’s Kindness Evolution

“ All flourishing is mutual ” (Robin Wall-Kimmerer)

Although Raymond normally looked forward to the upcoming Winter holidays, he seemed bothered about his recent decision to instead pursue a three month road trip vacation along the eastern banks of the Mississippi River region. For such a bold decision to journey elsewhere meant that this retired widower, who once prided himself on being a strong “family man”, would miss out on the joyous spirit of giving and receiving gifts and other holiday rituals at this festive time of year.

But frankly speaking, Raymond now tired of being “caught up” in the rut of such burdensome tasks as writing “Happy Holidays” cards and completing his long list of shopping and social obligations. So while this trip would be an honest test of his will to act as a more independent minded person, he’d also harbored doubts that such self – sufficiency could sustain itself over time. For there were some ” bottom line” indicators that Raymond ominously considered about this life change juncture such as how could he stretch the limits of his monthly budget plan to complete such a longer vacation and to what extent would he feel loneliness and social rejection upon neglecting his holiday commitments to others as normally expected. So with November approaching, Raymond’s introspective brooding intensified.

Fortunately Raymond found some insight about  how he could best resolve his current travel crisis in reflecting why he performed a kindness ritual of hand feeding whole peanuts to friendly squirrels perched along his front condo guardrail each day. For as he found success in gaining the trust of these small critters every morning by way of these warm- hearted feeding gestures, he similarly reasoned that by giving more kindness to himself under his present circumstances, he’d be more confident to proceed with what he soon planned to do.

Know then that in the ensuing days, Raymond booked a comfortable Air B&B apartment near Vicksburg, Mississippi, adjacent to the slow moving shores of America’s largest river. In choosing to stay more positive about himself away from home, each day he might be satisfied to just sit down for a spell, enjoy a little music,  savor the past, meditate some, or take a leisurely walk in this swampy wilderness to pass his time. But given his recurrent fears of being alone, now and then Raymond’s memories would revert back to those squirrel feeding times to suggest that he desperately needed to “reach out” in kindness to others as well beyond his own intensely private cocoon. He would thus begin an inquiry about places in town where he could meet and greet those in the local community and perhaps lend a hand to others as an eco- enthused volunteer. Who knows! The thought even crossed his mind then that he might find a fresh female companion to share new memories with him here.

Thus it came to be that during a chance meeting one day in mid November at a gas station, he encountered  “Old Man Ernie” a longtime local resident. Good fortune struck then when he obtained some tips from this stranger to check out an old fashioned, convenience store along Route 61 called “The Tomato Place.” So upon taking a first impression of the market’s nature shrouded entrance and adjoining botanical garden, Raymond curiously desired to take longer look inside the building. There he observed a unique combination of pleasing smells and sights of fresh produce and plant life taken from the surrounding land as well as took in an informal town gathering place filled with spirited holiday time conversation. 

Unsurprisingly a few days later, Raymond took the initiative to volunteer his services to the “Tomato Place” manager, who agreed that he could be helpful to his business through the remaining weeks of his vacation. So on most afternoons, Raymond found work as a friendly greeter for any customers browsing around the storage racks filled with fresh holiday fruits, vegetable goodies and other homemade products stocked in the store. When not busy with this task, one might have caught him instead showing off a creative shrub or flower set in the garden or perhaps doing some pet sitting at times for new neighbors and friends. Seeing no reason to look back at his past life, Raymond would now be determined to make this friendly place in Mississippi his second home for years to come.

It’s clear to me then that Raymond’s sudden change of life status suggests a reconsideration of how we might best engage in those simple acts of kindness toward ourselves and other beings as we approach 2022’s holiday period. Enjoy the photos of “Tomato Place in Vicksburg, Mississippi.”

A Beautiful Vision Endures

“ A man growing old becomes a child again. “ (Sophocles)

At this more mature stage of his life, Jackson, a retired architect , recollected fond memories of his happy childhood growing up over fifty years ago as an only child in suburban neighborhoods near Akron, Ohio. He also realized his close family ties with two, hard working parents who professed faith in the “American Dream” which prophesied that while tough times lay ahead to raise a family on limited financial means, life would eventually turn out to be richer and fuller for everyone. So by virtue of inheriting such stubborn family optimism in times of crisis, Jackson reasoned that those current memories about his Ohio childhood would be clouded by more of the good than the bad he faced over these life formative years.

So with such self-bias in mind, Jackson knew “full well” why he had accepted a volunteer position at the Ohio History Center in Columbus a few days ago. For he deeply desired to re-experience how happy he once felt in a more  youthful time of life as he conducted scheduled morning tours for museum visitors at the exhibit titled aptly “1950s: Building The American Dream”. For during these daily rounds that he walked through the museum with such strangers each weekday, he recollected three consequential values that most contributed to his joyful experience of childhood life back then. Seemingly, nothing could stop Jackson from frequently framing such nostalgic daydreaming moments around each of these qualities he currently missed in his life right now.

1. Life Seemed Simpler

Picture a typical day in Jackson’s life then as a child when he seemed driven to seek free time without benefit of today’s complex Internet explosion and associated digital technology Revolution. So it seemed with a smaller range of choices to amuse himself in the 1950s, a simple yo- you, jump rope, or marble set could occupy his undivided attention sufficiently for a while. Or during those impatient evening waits for his mother to fix the family their TV dinners on a slow heating stove, he might turn on the black and white TV in their cozy living room whereby only two or three stations would be available to watch. After dinner, he might opt for more quiet leisure time in this section of the house by pulling out a trusty encyclopedia volume and thereupon plopping lazily on the sofa to read up on a famous biographical hero of his current liking. Perhaps when more privacy was needed, he would politely excuse himself to his small bedroom. For then he could feel free to put on a couple 45 r.p.m., rock n’ roll records on his “turntable” or perhaps settle into the slow pace of a Cleveland Indians ballgame on local AM radio.

2. A Neighborly Spirit Prevails

In Jackson’s tightly knit,  blue collar environs, everyone seemed amenable to trust and friendliness toward each other. For one, he no doubt noticed that residents often left their front doors open and unlocked. When venturing outside, he might also  have observed  how this amiable spirit continued during impromptu social gatherings. Perhaps an ice cream van would ding-dong along in the distance to announce its it’s tasty treats as neighbors patiently “chit -chatted” on front lawns awaiting the truck to turn on to their street. Or on any given sunny weekend, community “buzz” might spread beforehand that a picnic outing for all to share might be taking place soon in one family’s unfenced back yard. During holiday time as well, John no doubt recalled fond memories of friendly neighbors filling kids Halloween bags with candy, Christmas Carols being sung house to house and of course those “open house” feasts of food and spirits on New Year’s Eve.

3. Dare Oneself To Act Curiously 

Jackson grew up in the post World War II era of the “nuclear family”. Being thus a “latchkey” child victim of these times, his mother’s heavy housewife duties and his father’s long working hours left the likely scenario that they would not be able to give him much “quality time” with them at home. So how did he manage such a less scripted routine each day? In particular, how did he nurture his personal interests with out being “micromanaged” by meddling adult role models? You might say then in both cases he took some worthwhile risks of sheer adventure during this period that ordinarily he might never have attempted in a stricter family environment. Climb up the tallest Oak tree to to reach its highest limbs, proceed to the heights of the steepest hill for a  fast downhill sled ride, ignite flammable substances in a kitchen bottle to watch it amazingly explode, or fiddle with the buttons in the center console of a flashy parked car knowing full well that he would have no business sitting inside it. Fulfilling these curious desires in such ways was his “modus operandi” of these times.

By the way, Jackson wants to share with you today some of his favorite photos of this 1950s display that he savors each day at the Ohio History Museum 

Springfield’s Star Studded Hero

“ Every man is said to have his peculiar ambition. Whether it be true or not, I can say for one that I have no other so great as that of being truly esteemed of my fellow men, by rendering myself worthy of their esteem.” ( Abraham Lincoln)

I’m a huge Civil War enthusiast so one might expect Abraham Lincoln would appeal to my interests greatly during our road trip travels. So I scheduled Springfield, Illinois, the home of “Honest Abe” from 1837-1861 as a two night stopover on our most current adventure this week. In the past,  I’ve experienced the thrill of retracing the steps of Abraham’s life around his former home and surrounding neighborhood at 8th and Jackson Street near downtown Springfield.        

 I’ve also taken an “up close” look at Mr. Lincoln through photo tours of his restored, former law offices where he walked to and from for many years while litigating court cases for the entire state of Illinois around 6th and Adams Street. Yet as the weather began to turn blustery cold with heavy rain, we felt it an opportune time to stay indoors and concentrate our time visiting the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum instead on the second morning of our visit.

So with a  very busy schedule on our Tuesday docket, we began our day with a “retro” return to the 1950s past with some early rock n’ roll and greasy, fast food breakfasting along Springfield’s Route 66 corridor at Charley Parker’s Diner. Driving then to a conveniently designated parking lot downtown, we then easily managed to  dodge the pelting rain by walking through the undercover canopy of historic Union Station across the street to the Lincoln Museum. On a more seasonably dry day, I would have taken more time to explore this historic depot that most prominently served as the site where newly elected President Lincoln left Springfield for Washington D.C. on February 11, 1861 and posthumously returned home on April 14, 1865 for his ceremonial burial.

Entering the vast lobby of the museum itself, my attention immediately fixated on a lifelike, wax model depiction of the Lincoln family including Abe, wife Mary Todd and their four children. This stirring monument marked the beginning of a two hour, “state of the art” tour covering Mr. Lincoln’s iconic legacy of key time junctures  in his  life through engaging “surround sound” theaters, captivating photographs, and original artifact display memorabilia.

The first of these visiting strands that particularly caught my interest  took place at  the Union Theater, whereby I took an unique look at an aging Lincoln face from an artist’s perspective which according to this expert revealed an intriguing contrast of both sadness and joy. Thus it seemed difficult for me to know the kind of person Abraham truly represented during his political life of fame. Moving on to the “Journey Two” corridor I examined the stressful four years of Mr. Lincoln’s Presidency when he experienced the seemingly unending struggle of upholding the integrity of his beliefs to bring forth a successful end to the long Civil War while in contrast being subject to so many cruel attacks by political and personal foes to undermine his administration. His original writings that produced his famed Gettysburg Address and Emancipation Proclamation as well as an alleged death mask molded on Lincoln’s face a few months before he was assassinated on April seemed notably interesting in this regard as well. 

Moving backward in time, a much calmer depiction of Lincoln’s early life took place at the “Journey Two” section as I observed Abe’s amazing transformation from poor log cabin conditions in rural Indiana and Kentucky to the growing city environment of Springfield, Illinois where he exhibited gifted intellect, superior storytelling skills and ultimately became a political winner on the Illinois campaign trail.

Perhaps the “larger than life”legend of Abraham Lincoln could best be depicted for me as we concluded our Springfield visit on Tuesday at the towering presence of Lincoln’s Tomb interring him and his family. Located on a quiet hill overlooking old, antebellum residential streets of Springfield, this honorably final resting place for the Lincoln spirit preserves fond memories of who I believe will be acknowledged  as America’s greatest President for many generations to come. Enjoy the photos.

The Ghosts of Amache Unbanned

“ Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” (George Santayana)

It’s my sincere belief that the primary responsibility of a historian would be to retell the story of the past in the most truthful and thus unbiased way possible. So I am quite sensitive to today’s controversy in my home state of Florida for example where many teachers claim that new state course guidelines in Civics Education pressure them to downplay such controversial subjects as slavery, racism, and other human rights abuses inflicted on others in the past. Know that I personally experienced this challenge to avoid “stirring the pot” of controversy as a past history teacher in the racially tense setting of inner city Miami with a recent history of violent black community resistance to white majority rule.That meant that some school administrators would covertly persuade novice white teachers like myself to skip talking about race in their Civil War instruction and similarly “tread lightly” on the topic of the racially induced Civil Rights movement in late 1960s America as well. For professional advancement reasons, I simply sanitized my lessons accordingly as I was told.

So you might say I’m noticeably sensitive to those occasions when I encounter human rights abuses both home and abroad as I pursue life these days as an independent traveler. Witness as an illustration the surprising road trip discovery last week of Amache Reservation’s historic remnants as we passed along a lightly traveled back road in Eastern Colorado. For during our curious stop there to just briefly look around, I learned from a series of historic markers there that Amache once served as a holding grounds for 10,000 people of Japanese descent during World War II who were forced to leave their homes and ultimately be housed in isolation behind barb wire fences in this remote camp facility throughout the duration of this conflict. Further examination of these signs revealed that such an egregious display of racial prejudice against these men, women, and children, most of which who were predominately American citizens, resulted in unsanitary, crowded living conditions and widespread loss of basic civil liberties throughout this long course of their confinement.

As the following photo set reveals, I saw very little authentic proof of Amache Reservation’s infamous past that day. For only the barren steppe grounds, aging fence barriers, a few concrete buildings and unpaved dusty roads remain today on the Amache Reservation to mark the horrible tragedy that these innocent Japanese people endured. Yet I might say that my most enduring memory of this visit to Amache happened at the end of this visit at an obscure Honor Roll Monument paying somber remembrance to these undeserved Japanese victims of war. For it’s quite clear now that it made little sense for me to stand proudly amid such a travesty of injustice as an American citizen that day.

Joys of Colorado Autumn

No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace as I have seen in one autumnal face.”(John Donne)

I definitely struck it rich on our five night visit to Steamboat Springs, Colorado on this October 2022 roadtrip. For it was a huge deal for me in witnessing the exciting unfolding of Autumn in the Rocky Mountains this time of year instead of laboring in the subtropical absence of seasons in South Florida where I now live. I might further elaborate that my current euphoria about experiencing Colorado Autumn now seems to resonate in me as a strong appreciation of being alive. For I’ve look forward on this vacation to seeing, hearing, and touching such a stunning landscape explosion in Rockies autumn of orange, red, and yellow as dying leaves naturally fall away to the ground in a swirling mass around me.

In retrospect, how easy it thus seemed to reflect deeply in those latest Colorado vacation moments about my Autumn childhood days in Northeast Ohio when I would normally leap into a fat pile of leaves or hide under them in peekaboo fashion under in the spirit of free play. Of further note, I’ve no doubt exalted in my existential ways in knowing that the natural course of change embedded in this current Colorado Autumn season reminds me to stay mentally and physically strong in my current life while it lasts in the best way possible.

So it became my number one goal in Steamboat this week to just simply get outdoors there to savor the colorful leaf cover whenever and wherever possible. To do so most easily, I first made it a habit to step out onto our rental apartment patio a few times each day to simply witness a towering mountainside vista in the distance enveloped in a shining canopy of orange. Fortunately, I would also ambitiously find three more inviting settings on our Steamboat stopover that would more fully satisfy my Autumn obsession.

Going south along relatively flat highway 131 to the town tiny of Yampa during the first of these excursions, I was able to spot Autumn’s colorful bliss of leaf change along this desolate road in notable contrast to the dull brown look of the desert like surroundings here. Turning onto an unpaved road in Yampa, I further recall ending this southerly tour with another blast of widespread leaf falling sensation as we relaxed at a small rest area for awhile. The next morning, a second outing of Autumn’s importance for me took place as we meandered north from Steamboat, through cattle country along Route 129 to higher elevations above 8,000 feet then below Mount Hahn. Feeling alone then amid such Rockies silence, we took our time to savor the unfolding panorama of rugged forests changing color during our picnic lunch at picturesque Steamboat Lake State Park. Feeling energized for a followup round of Autumn bliss that afternoon, we then drove back to downtown where our third adventure of this Colorado vacation took place with a gentle hike amid dense leaf fallings to obtain a clear view of famed Fish Creek Falls. The photo set below captures some eye catching moments I experienced during each of these outdoor viewings in the order I described them above.

So I invite you to dig deeper into your soul and savor something of value that this year’s season of Autumn change brings to you. As for me, I include the funny video below to summarize such jubilation for Autumn I’ve felt in Colorado this week. Just tap the picture.

 

All Aboard For Old Cheyenne

“We want to possess what they’re not making any more, what not many others can get and what will distinguish us from others.” (Gina Barreca)

Being dubbed the “Magic City of The Plains” in its heyday, Cheyenne, Wyoming once served as as a major stopover point for passengers on the historic Union Pacific line inaugural run moving westward toward California in the 1870s. For Ruth and I, we similarly viewed Cheyenne as a convenient junction to take a meaningful two night breather from those long drives across the Midwest and Great Plains of America on our current road trip. After all, we would soon be facing new challenges in the arduous Rocky Mountains of Colorado during the next leg of our current adventure. So I desired to find some time in Cheyenne to obtain an authentic feel for what traveling in the 19th century along these iconic Union Pacific Railways might have felt like at that time.

So my city research called for me to take an extensive look at Cheyenne’s rail transportation legacy last weekend at its famed Depot Museum. Serving as passenger terminal over the years since 1887, the first floor of this restored National Historic landmark now features an engaging museum provided through interactive exhibits and authentic period photos about Cheyenne’s early origins as a passenger railway hub. For this was an era of locomotive travel when I understood how train travelers took great risk in enduring the harsh realities of desolate terrain isolation, frequent Indian raids, and hellish winter conditions in the rugged west. On other adverse occasions, I learned that passengers delayed by rail track derailing or train engine failures would resort to begging people who lived near their frequent stops for food while waiting days for the train to move.

Moving across the first floor to the depot baggage room, I gained a further glimpse of early train travel by sitting on benches original to the waiting room and taking time to inspect luggage carts, bulky suitcases, and baggage scales scales from the period. While upstairs in the depot, I found further interest in the transition of American railways from steam engines to the diesel electric era as I walked around scale various narrow gauge railroad exhibits featuring scale model neighborhood simulations of Cheyenne and other western vicinities in early to mid 20th century times.

On a personal level, today’s tour of the Cheyenne Depot Museum gave rise to greater sensitivity for those passengers who once sought a new life in the American West via the Transcontinental Railroad. For while I share their sense of awe at seeing the vastness and beauty of the American West. I too express outrage at times as passengers once did in experiencing such perils of such long distance western travel. So, let’s just say I am an “old soul” at heart who’s looking to carve out his own path along the western frontier while being fully inspired by that historic period of explosive railroad growth in Cheyenne as described in this blog. Enjoy the photos.

Nice To Know You Nebraska

“Nebraskans laugh at the good jokes, become resigned to the bad ones, and, in all cases, have always nodded knowingly to themselves, warmed in the knowledge that they have built the Good Life.” (David Hendee – World-Herald staff writer)

Every so often I find a place in my travels that demonstrates what a good life should be. You might know this feeling as a strong sense of inner contentment in the experience of now. So I would like to describe to you in the following paragraphs how such positive visions arose for me on our three day, road trip stopover in Lincoln, Nebraska this week.

As we traveled through eastern Nebraska on Wednesday, I gripped the steering wheel more tightly on this cold and windy morning drive along Interstate 80. As these heavy cross drafts  caused my vehicle to sway sideways at times, I definitely seemed more alert to my surroundings. So as I drove on carefully that day, I began to notice that thousands of dead corn stalks on each side of the highway bended outward from the wind in unison.Most oddly,  I now seemed to be daydreaming that this vast sea of corn hands were waving cordially to greet my sudden arrival and I would at some point emerge from this stalk strewn prairie-land as their powerful king. A few hours later in the distance to my left , I also took great notice of the towering dome of the State Capitol of Lincoln. No doubt its conspicuous presence amid the prairie was signaling like a protective lighthouse beacon to welcome us into Lincoln that day. I could only wonder during these moments why  so many nice thoughts surfaced in Nebraska that first day. 

After settling into our motel that weekday afternoon, we looked forward to finding quality time to spend with our former Florida friends Nicole and Paul and their new baby Luciana during our two day visit. But some brief text conversations with them heightened our concern that their fast growing infant seemed to be keeping them up at night. So as it seemed wrong for us to impose on their need for more privacy now given their current sleep deprived condition, I’d become ecstatic about the sudden prospect of having more free time to experience some leisurely times of interest on my own in Lincoln instead. So on the next morning, I made it a foremost priority to at last, tour the widely renowned “Great Hall’ of the Nebraska State Capitol interior.

Picture then the following masterpieces of human endeavor that demonstrate the Good Life” that one might seek in this State Capitol  photograph set below. Imagine then the sheer exhilaration I felt quietly moving with six other tour strangers through an elaborately arched hall built of fine Italian marble lined with priceless tile mosaics and colorfully intricate murals covering seemingly every wall, ceiling, and floor in this grand hallway. Notice closely in these designs how certain soul uplifting themes would thereupon emerge upon close inspection such as the “Gifts of Nature”, “Past, Present, and Future Life on the Plains”, Cosmic Energy” and Highlights of Modern Civilization. Toward the end of our Great Hall tour, you might notice further why I stood in the Capitol Rotunda mesmerized by a captivating series of mosaics dedicated to the work of society to achieve virtue and the noble life. Set your sights as well on that spectacularly panoramic view of the Lincoln vicinity in the round that I saw from the four hundred feet heights of the domed Capitol Tower that happy day.

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