No “Free Pass” From Values

“America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.” (Alexis de Tocqueville)

In our extensive global  travels, my wife and I have always been acutely sensitive of the need to spread “goodwill” towards  others we encounter. When visiting the poverty stricken lands of  tribal Kenya, we offered pencils to Masai children. In touring China, I shared English language letters with curious children along busy Shanghai public squares. Encountering strangers in Bangkok, Thailand and New Delhi, India, we bowed in silent, “Namaste” prayer. Making new friends in long train rides throughout Western Europe, we became friendly hosts/tour guides for them when they later visited us in our home in Florida. 

As you can see, values matter. So I expect our  President should see it makes equally good sense to model similar standards of goodness  in his unique capacity as our country’s supreme negotiator and ambassador overseas.Yet the following events in recent days cause me to be deeply disturbed. 

1. As the Trump/Putin Summit opened this week, I read that our President felt compelled  to cast blame to Americans for stupidity and foolishness …in worsening of America/Russia relations. Meanwhile, it has been widely documented that he has praised the authoritarian regime of Vladimir Putin numerous times since taking office. 

 WHOSE SIDE IS OUR PRESIDENT WORKING FOR WHEN HE REGULARLY SIDES WITH DICTATOR LED RUSSIA WHILE DENIGRATING OUR OWN COUNTRY?

2. This weekend, twelve Russian operatives were lawfully targeted by the Robert Mueller Investigation  for illegal activities activities against the Democratic opposition leading to the 2016 Presidential election. What right  then did he have  to claim at the  London Summit  that the Mueller probe  was targeting him personally with  “witch hunt” intention?

WHY DOES HE CRITICIZE THE FAIRNESS OF AMERICAN RULE OF LAW IN THE MUELLER INVESTIGATION AS A PRETENSE FOR RUSSIAN BARGAINING WHEN THERE HAS BEEN INDISPUTABLE EVIDENCE OF RUSSIAN INTERFERENCE IN THE  2016 U.S PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION? 

3. On the final day of the NATO Summit, Trump gave a brash, closing statement to the press. After being asked by a foreign reporter to clarify his earlier criticism of Theresa May, he dismissed such talk by announcing  that our country is filled with fake news.

 IS  IT ETHICALLY  OR LEGALLY RIGHT FOR  A PRESIDENT TO TAKE A DANGEROUSLY POOR, PUBLIC RELATIONS STANCE ABOUT THE COUNTRY HE/SHE TOOK A CONSTITUTIONAL OATH TO “PRESERVE, PROTECT,AND DEFEND” IN SUCH A GLOBAL FORUM? 

4. On Saturday, our President met Queen Elizabeth. I sadly observed  a picture of him walking boldly ahead of her in a formal procession as the slumping yet endearing presence of the 91 year old Queen dragged slowly behind. 

HOW COULD OUR PRESIDENT ACT SO OBLIVIOUS TO AN AGING MOTHER FIGURE AND THUS SHOW DISRESPECT TO THE HISTORIC LEGACY OF THE BRITISH QUEEN ? 

5. As the European Summit proceeded, on Saturday, thousands of people protested in London about President Trump’s there. In acknowledging such negative reaction, he noted that he would not take time to visit London because he felt unwelcome there. Meanwhile, it became a priority of him  to take leisurely time off to play golf the next day in Scotland.

IF THE AMERICAN WORK ETHIC ENCOMPASSES  EARNED SUCCESS EACH DAY, WHY SHOULDN’T A PRESIDENT ADOPT AN ETHICAL OBLIGATION TO  SIMILARLY  SPREAD “HARD AT WORK” VALUES  WHEN TRAVELING ABROAD? 

Civil War Mindset In Question

“A Union that can only be maintained by swords and bayonets, and in which strife and civil war are to take the place of brotherly love and kindness, has no charm for me.” (Robert E. Lee)

Is the current state of political disharmony existing among Democrats/Republicans  in the  United States  heading us toward another Civil War? What lessons from this tragic period of American History appear  relevant to our present day conflict? In the months leading up to the Civil War in 1861, our country was deeply embroiled in a North/South sectional dispute over the issues of slavery and related states rights/powers. The inability of the two sides to settle on peaceful terms  would ultimately lead to eleven southern states seceding  from the union as well as a destructive bloodbath where over 620, 000 soldiers would ultimately lose their life in the ensuing  four years.      

06922FC9-7495-4BCF-8D67-6BA916070780 Major political change in Washington further fueled this conflict.  The rise of the Republican Party with Abraham Lincoln’s two term victory as anti- slavery President spread deep seated anger among slaveholders in the Confederate states. Yet through his determined leadership to preserve our nationwide unity, our country survived. 

58FCEAC8-22C1-4883-B42D-CFB5C1704594Being  curious to find authentic evidence of the political tone that prevailed in the pre-Civil War era, I discovered some revealing letters in my research of the “Online Internet Archive”. Common threads of Southern discontent expressed in these anonymously signed letters showed  radical opposition  to a “spirit of a country united “ and in particular President Abraham Lincoln’s Presidency at the time. It seemed true to me that our country today faces a similar set of extreme circumstances characterized by a rapidly escalating divide of friend and foe on a wide reaching, national scale. These letters thus showcased  below illustrate that these toxic atmosphere  elements again threatens to cause nationwide war.

1.  The God’s Will Crisis – “The South”

Click on letter here

Notice in this letter that holy “Godliness” appeared as a protector of “noble right” for Rebel insurrection. Southern devotion to his “holiness”, in this view, justified this cause is justification to slaughter their Union opponents in the future. With comparable religious passion, some “Christian Right” believers  today provide strong support for our President in hope that he will return our country to the strict moral teachings of the Bible. In the meantime, religiously conscious issues like women’s rights suppression, white supremacy, and xenophobia are targeted in a politically toxic way.       

2.Patriotism Gone Haywire – “ Southern Song of Liberty”

Click here for letter            

To defend our homeland” reveals as a strong theme in this letter, implying that Confederates  would fight against the enemy who they feel shamed the country’s greatness. The desire to retain a pro-slavery culture, as a patriotic duty , however, appeared treasonous in the North, inevitably providing heavy justification for war. In today’s times, our country equally seems under patriotic attack. Our  President angrily exhorts to his followers that (1) Democrat political opponents  threaten our country’s greatness, (2) NFL players who do not stand at attention during the National Anthem are treasonous, and (3) strict enforcement of anti- immigration policies restores the right path to American greatness. Unsurprisingly, however, his questioning of one’s  loyalty to citizenship, has exacerbated bitter disunity and political alienation for political gain, ultimately weakening our country spirit.

3. Charismatic Leader Myth – “Country,Home, and Liberty”

Click here for letter

A leader who expects  blind obedience to his/her cause can dangerously manipulate the minds of avid followers. In this letter, the reference to Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States provided strong reasoning that a state of Southern rebellion existed  to justify calls for warlike action. Many thus would see little wrong in Davis’ appeal for such endless bloodshed. Our “reality star” President today, likewise, propagandizes to his Republican base that “Making America Great Again” is his greatest priority. Yet his angry tweets, pathological lying , and “witch hunt” denials of  the Robert Mueller Investigation make greater headlines for him in his crisis ridden Presidency.         

 4.Lunacy of Violent Redemption –  “Liberty or Death”

Click here for letter

This letter vividly points out the “win at all costs”theory that Confederate should  commit intimidation and violent action  against enemy as a noble cause. Revengeful attacks to save their Southern homelands from enemy invasion seemed preeminent in their minds. Little attention was given in this letter, however to the moral implications of their mass killings. Enter today  a raucous political rally for Donald Trump today and you might not  feel safe if you work for CNN or have left wing, political leanings. If your child feels traumatized about a recent school shooting at a local high school, don’t expect talk of gun control from the President as a way to solve the problem. If you are a female activist  exercising your free speech right to have an abortion in protest, you might consider the emotionally driven tactics from your pro-life enemies that await you . 

The letters I presented in this blog fuel a bloodthirsty war and senseless road to our country’s destruction. A much different path seems critical now to transcend religious differences, embrace country over self, present honesty by leadership example, and embrace non- violent action. We all may not agree but at least  let’s try to consider voting for those who care in the above stated ways  to make our country better. 

Refreshing End To Fireworks Show

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As a sultry nightfall settled in Fort Lauderdale, on the Fourth of July, I again experienced the pulsating pops, psychedelic light show, and  smoke haze of fireworks shows exploding  nearby to shatter the normally serene atmosphere of my middle class, suburban neighborhood. As extreme vibrations from each blast  went off, a disturbing cacophony of dog barkings, cat screams, and car alarms proceeded to  distract my mind while along the nearby lake, fish leaped from the sound rippling water at this unsettled time. I soon imagined that this experience much resemble a war scene.
The next evening , I expected a continued  “fireworks” show of political negativism, so to speak, would take place during my attendance at a local Democratic Club outing in Davie, Florida. Seeing posted signs of Anti-Trump rebellion,  I anticipated then that this meeting would quickly “spin” into a heated forum for emotionally “mudslinging  dirt” about Republican opponents running in the upcoming November, midterm elections. To my surprise, however , the event proceeded for the next two hours in a much more surprisingly positive fashion.
 How motivating to me that I participated  in a quietly reflective,  round table” discussion  with other Democratic voters concerning ways to increase voting turnout.  Good timing  it seemed  to hear Florida gubernatorial candidates Phil Levine, former State Senator Jeremy Ring, and others educate me on key issues at this time without blaming the current Republican party majority. How gratifying that I was given ample opportunity to engage in face to face discussions with elected officials to air strictly issue viewpoints tonight. I felt the excitement of former governor/U.S. senator Bob Graham entering the room to a standing ovation at the end of the meeting. His passionate optimism to support his daughter Gwen’s run for next Florida governor provided convincing evidence that Democrats would be winning  more elections with positive role models like her  in the future.
It thus appears  that the  Democratic Party can gain ground in midterm elections to increase voter turnout by engaging in such hard work as I viewed this night to foster enhanced community interest. It’s also clear to me that enticing one to vote Democrat does not necessitate a raucous, Trump mob scene where followers blindly join in with cultish obedience. I thus look forward to seeing a fitting  end to a fireworks show of “blaming  and shaming others” before upcoming elections as  Democratic Party candidates choose “high road” methods to promote renewed respect for truth, scientific outlook, and human dignity  in their campaign behavior.
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Vanishing “Fourth Of July” Spirit

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…” (The Declaration of Independence, ratified July 4, 1776)

Dear President Trump:

I would like to look forward to America’s tradition of family cookouts, community fireworks, and colorful parades on our July 4 holiday of independence. Yet I sadly report that I do not feel like celebrating on this upcoming Fourth of July. For on this day, marking the birth of our country’s ideals, our constitutionally provided freedoms to speak, write, and assemble are under attack. The hallowed words of the Declaration of Independence simply ring “empty” to my ears now.

Click Here For Full Text Of Declaration…

Consider some alarming signs pervading our country today. Observe how your endless Twitter rantings creates a backlash of distrust that our government will not take responsibility to guarantee these fundamental rights and freedoms for all. Feel the sad images of crying, immigrant children now crowded together in barracks, while the price for their freedom is bargained for your own electoral gains. Witness how the child separation issue has spiraled into mass protests, senseless arrests and intensified political gridlock throughout the country. Notice how your callous support for the N.R.A. provokes a desperate, wake-up call for students to protest this summer against the fear of more high school shootings. Under these dire circumstances, how successfully can I celebrate freedom’s glories on July 4 this year?

I implore you to spend a few minutes of your precious time and study the Declaration… with an open mind. Why did the Founding Fathers write this document? What led them at great risk to oppose a tyrannical king? Why in fact did they call themselves the United States of America? If such confrontation must be employed for America’s best interests now, then understand that a fair deal of seeking “greater good” for all must be equally made.
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With Regards,

A “Stars and Stripes” Believer

The Least I Can Do

“And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed—if all records told the same tale—then the lie passed into history and became truth. ‘Who controls the past’ ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.” (George Orwell, 1984)

How can I continue making my blog meaningful to readers in idle times when I am not traveling? Feeling threatened by the rant filled theatrics of “Donald Trumpland” these days, it seems logical now to divert my mind from such political negativity. Thus turning to the rich, “multicultural stew” of my home base in South Florida, I have intensified my self involvement in this diverse community in several ways.
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1. ATTEND LOCAL PROTEST RALLIES FOR POLITICAL CHANGE

This past weekend, my wife and I sat patiently in the summer heat and humidity of South Florida to witness a spirited rally of over 300 people gather along the entrance steps to the U.S. Courthouse in downtown Fort Lauderdale to condemn inhumane treatment of immigrant refugees along our borders. An impressive list of state/local government speakers would fire up this captivated crowd of many ages, races, and nationality with calls to actively resist the horrors of separating immigrant children from their families. Amidst this Woodstock-like atmosphere, protest signs were readily available and shared throughout the crowd as the stoic presence of local police guarded the rally’s perimeter.

2. OBTAIN TRUTHS FROM LOCAL RESEARCH RESOURCES

In my casual reading of the Miami Herald on Sunday, I came across an article titled “The Power of Propaganda”, publicizing a current exhibit at the Wolfsonian Museum in downtown Miami.Imagining its relevance to me as a concerned, American citizen in these authoritarian- like times, the next morning, I would tour this provocative topic collection on my own. Displaying powerful images of early 20th century, Russian history through poster displays, movie clips, and household artifacts, I learned that lies, deceit, emotionalism, and violence had been misused to solidify Communist power then. Was this damaging era of free speech/ press distortion repeating itself in my own country now?

3. USE TRADITIONAL MEDIA SOURCES EFFECTIVELY

I normally write blogs with the specific purpose of simply sharing positive insights with Word Press/Facebook readers about my most frequent endeavors of travel. Yet last week’s entry composed as an imagined letter to President Trump had turned starkly political as I heatedly vented my objections to separating immigrant child from parent as I saw it to simply achieve conservative electoral gain.

Click Here For Last Week’s Blog

Feeling compelled by several readers to further publicize this letter, I submitted it to the Miami Herald , Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, and USA Today as proposed editorial entries. The least I can do while I await their response in my idle travel time interim, would be to form new letters of protest in my mind and continue my grass roots activism as the election primary season approaches.

I Am No Criminal!

“Democrats are the problem. They don’t care about crime and want illegal immigrants, no matter how bad they may be, to pour into and infest our Country, like MS-13.” (Donald Trump)

Dear President Trump:

In your latest statements in reaction to the child detention issue,you stated that Democrats cause rampant crime and illegal immigration to occur because they don’t care about this issue. How insulting this statement means to me as a native born, white male and former reading teacher/professor who dedicated his life to teaching high standards of citizenship and moral behavior to his culturally diverse classes for almost thirty years.

As an informed Democratic voter who studies the issues intently, these thoughtlessly disparaging statements also imply that I am anti-American if I reject your strict enforcement of border laws for illegals and their children. Your daily temper tantrums and blame game if you don’t get your way only invites my hardened opposition and more intense questioning of your strict immigration policies. Very simply, my multiculturalistic attitude cannot be ended by authoritative decree.

Let us “turn the tables”a bit. Picture Little Barron crying “Daddy, Daddy” lying in a hot cage far away from the comfort of home as overzealous soldiers determinedly enforce the law to keep outsiders out of their country. Or imagine Ivanka screaming as her children are torn from her arms to await an unknown fate in a hostile land. Step into a war torn disaster zone where martial law threatens everyone to stay off city streets or risk being shot. Do these situations make you proud of country?

Heartless treatment of foreigners along our borders does not make “America Great ”, as you so desire. Understand that talking tough about mass deportation and placing children in cages to ignite your political base sends the wrong moral message. Ardent Democrats like me are not the enemy as well, considering our two party system invites lawful compromise through freedom of discussion. When you calm down, look around and ponder a way to be a President for “all” people in our country.

With Regards:

A “Give Me Your Huddled Masses” Advocate

USFMAN ROADTRIP Q&A REVIEW

I feel compelled to summarize our 2018 road trip to those bloggers who are interested in our travels. I invite you to visit each of my thirty travel blogs covered on our journey from 2/28- 6/15/18 for a photographic illustration for key destinations in our independent travels.

1. How long did your roadtrip last ? How many miles did you travel?

Our 2018 road trip in the United States/Canada lasted approximately three and one half months or 108 days. My odometer registered nearly 15,000 miles traveled.

2.What do you consider the highlights of this vacation?

Ruth and I strived to visit as many friends/family as possible in conjunction with our planned destinations.We thus enjoyed the welcoming spirit of making thirty two, personal connections, several of which were first time visits. We also relished our success in incorporating a daily routine of yoga practice for thirty minutes each day, hydrating frequently and eating smaller portions at mealtime. To avoid the monotony of long drives on Interstate highways, we frequently veered off on side roads to experience the unique ambience of such places as Texas Hill Country, the historic corridor of Route 66, and the Oregon/Lewis and Clark Trails.

3.What was your great surprise in this road trip?

With so much political division and anger being reported today by traditional/social media , I was shocked at how friendly and accommodating stranger encounters seemed to us in every region we visited on our road trip. I thus became motivated to restrain myself from engaging in heated conversation about my political discontent for our current Presidency in “red state” communities.

4.What disappointed you most about this vacation?

So many gun shops and weapons billboards in American downtowns/suburban communities chilled me as I read about high school shootings daily.

5. What tech travel item proved most valuable?

The ability to use GPS navigation offline through travel apps
Triposo and Maps.me, eased my fear of WiFi unavailability.

5b. What non- tech travel item proved most valuable?

Plastic bags and heavy duty grocery bags saved space for car trunk storage and made easier finding stored items.

6. What valuable tips did you gain for future road trips ?

a. It helped to book visits with friends/families on weekends to avoid adding stressful workweek complications.

b. California consumed too much of our time on this vacation.
Perhaps we should limit our next road trip only to the Western United States.

c. The weather in western national parks like Mount Shasta, Glacier and Yellowstone proved extreme in springtime. We must plan our future arrivals in late May/June to more completely visit these places.

7. What state visit did you enjoy the most? Why?

In the west, Colorado offered endless hiking opportunities in less crowded conditions.

In the east, Virginia’s plethora of Civil War battlegrounds intrigued my history buff mind,

8. Any fun moments stand out?

Just a few of many moments stand out below.

We seemed privileged to book an inexpensively balconied seat to see Roger Daltrey and members of The Who play the entire rock opera, “Tommy.” I attended my first NBA playoff game and witnessed the Cleveland Cavaliers pull of an impressive win. My mind absorbed in a time warp to the Civil War past as I got lost on the famed Gettysburg battlefield. I sat on a dirt bike to visit beef cows on a real farm in rural Nebraska.

9. How did your visits with family/friends work out?

Staying with family/friends for a few days while intimately rewarding, presented significant challenges. It seemed impractical, at times, to excuse your social obligations with them in favor of independent sightseeing.

10.What new places most interested you on this road trip?

As a brief sample, we finally visited Bethel, N.Y, to see fifty years from our teenage past , the 1969 Woodstock Concert setting.We saw small town Texas thrive near Big Bend National Park and in Hill Country. We tasted the extremely saline waters of Great Salt Lake and sailed the cool waters of Puget Sound. I spoke French to order my meals in Montreal, Quebec.

11.How did the weather affect you?

Living in ever- balmy South Florida, we rarely take notice of change of seasons. To time our visit to the Pacific Northwest, with springtime flowering in full blossoming glory thus captivated our interest for sure. Rocky Mountain settings retained an air of uncertainty for us as elevation rises increased the chance of snow hazardous driving. The austere silence of the Arizona desert north and south of Phoenix seemed surreally meditative.

12. How successful were you in sticking to your planned route of travel? How did you alter your itinerary?

Amazingly, we covered our entire planned itinerary on this road trip. Avoiding the temptation to enter snowy, Western Canada in April proved wise from a safety perspective.

13. Any memorable meals?

Our friend Dan, accompanied us for a relaxing salad lunch over a captivating view of San Francisco East Bay from Treasure Island. We sat to eat “down and dirty” with Texas barbecue in Texas Hill Country. We celebrated with Thai delicacies in our reunion with India trip friends in Chicago.

14.How would you describe your physical/emotional condition at this end of this journey?

We felt homesick and in resistance to resuming our urban, regular routine. Physically, I kept my weight down and returned home with a more manageable appetite.

15.How did you manage blog writing? Any alterations made?

I wrote thirty blogs or approximately one entry every three days.
Google research of places I visited consumed much of my blog planning time. Heavy use of my I phone camera provided the greatest impetus for my travel blogging as I pondered a way to make a present moment narrative of such photographic moments. I continued my experiment with poetry in places that I felt most emotionally connected.

Embracing “Old Gettysburg” History

“If you go to Gettysburg and take the time, maybe take a tour, maybe just drive around, read some of the monuments, read some of the plaques, you will come away changed.”(Jeff Shaara)

Most people who read my blogs realize how enthusiastic I am about obtaining a real glimpse of American History. Yet rarely do I find a place that seems ideally preserved with authentic relics to create a true “time warp” simulation of the past. Our road trip visit to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and the surrounding Civil War National Military Park would however provide such a place. A lazy walk along Steinwehr Street through center of town seemed surreally “antebellum” in character as I spied strange sights of men/women dressed in mid – 19th century character blending in perfectly with stately mansions, stone taverns, and grand churches along narrow pathways. To the immediate east/west of downtown, a twenty one mile tour of the hallowed grounds at Gettysburg Battlefield presented a captivating look at the strategic positioning of Union/Confederate soldiers culminating in the July 1-3, 1863, “turning point” battle of the Civil War.

DOBBINS HOUSE TAVERN

Built in 1776, by an Irish pioneer, as a farm house serving a natural springs, this simple stone structure was later used during the Civil War as an escape haven for runaway slaves. Still standing as an eating/drinking ale house, Ruth and I savored a romantic dinner in candlelight amidst an amazing interior decor of glowing fireplaces, stone walls, hand carved woodwork and other authentic relics of this pre-Civil War period. Taking a curious peek around, I found added pleasure in spotting a dusty and dark corner with steps leading down to the original basement where escaped slaves were hidden.


EISENHOWER NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE

Dwight Eisenhower, America’s 34th President and hero of D-Day in World War II bought a 189-acre farm/residence for $40,000 adjacent to the Gettysburg Battlefield in 1950. He later retired there after his Presidency until his death in 1969. In Gettysburg, Ike found this place as as a refuge for finding a more quiet and settled life as he had in fact moved to over thirty places during his illustrious military/political career. Booking a semi-guided tour of this famous site, I felt deep understanding of his Midwest roots inspiring him to spend “quality time” with his family, raise cattle, and relish the hard work challenge of farming. For added interest, I noted that over 90% of the relics in his home and farmstead stood authentically original on this two hour tour.

GETTYSBURG BATTLEFIELD AND CEMETERY GROUNDS

Abraham Lincoln’s memorable Gettysburg Address in November 19, 1863 at Cemetery Ridge stands as an enduring symbol of our nation’s freedom. Taking a peaceful walk along the perimeter of this immense burial ground, I soon spotted the solemnly statued presence of Lincoln. What a thrill to imagine his magical words “ four score and seven years to ago”… commemorating the final resting place where more than 3,500 Union soldiers were ultimately buried in the battle of Gettysburg.

The blood-spilled battle clashes at “Little Round Top”, “Pickett’s Charge”, and “Devil’s Den” unfolded in my mind as I meandered from low to high ground throughout the battlefield park. How sad that a McDonalds Restaurant and “chain” retail shop in the distance would be thoughtlessly placed within eyesight nearby. While Gettysburg cannot resist the “hands of modern progress”, the town will timelessly live on, however, as a reminder of America’s historic will to remain free as a united country.

Feeling The Woodstock Revolution

“The essence of Woodstock was that we accomplished what we had started out to do in the early sixties which was to show that we as to be people, were not going to back down from our political feelings, our emotional feelings and our newly discovered citizenry.” (Richie Havens)

“Back To The Garden” ideals galvanized the Woodstock generation with a sense of youthful purpose in America in the late 1960s. Forty nine years after the famous Woodstock Festival, Ruth and I experienced a similar surge of positive energy in our road trip visit to the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts/Museum in the Southern Catskills Mountain region of New York. On August 15-17, 1969, the famous Woodstock Music Festival drew close to one half a million attendees, at Max Yasgur’s, quiet farmland location here to experience three days of peace, love, and rock and roll.

The land surrounding the Woodstock Festival gives few clues as to the feeling of the time when this iconic event happened. Yet, our two night stay at a nearby Air B&B farm, gave us a real sense of the rural isolation and inaccessibility that the mass of festival attendees faced in reaching the concert grounds at that time. To be honest while chickens, cats, and cows on this farm seemed perfectly content, we suffered somewhat in the lack of a nearby town’s urban convenience.

Driving to Bethel now along narrow farm – lined roads, we sighted an official, stone memorial plaque overlooking the bowl-shaped incline marking the actual Woodstock Festival field. A more personal sign of this site’s importance would be evidenced in extensive carvings of peace/love messages on adjacent picnic tables. I imagined then the mass chaos of people converging on this remote farm with only point of road ingress/egress. I also pictured the anger of conservative town residents as this threatening mass of concert goers trampled freely across nearby private lands in this quiet, rural town.

Passing the Open Air Concert Pavilion, we now entered the Museum at Bethel Woods hoping to capture a “true historic essence” of the 1969 festival. The Museum’s main exhibits provided a captivating multi-media experience, combining film, music, interactive displays, artifacts, and personal narratives to tell the story of the late sixties and the Woodstock festival. I thus concluded that my most memorable experience at the Woodstock museum was its honest representation of the festival as a musical event striving to achieve peaceful unity amidst a decade of sweeping cultural/political turmoil.

I witnessed so many memorable music moments of the concert on our Bethel Museum Visit today. Richie Havens opening the festival with a stirring verse of “Freedom”. Janice Joplin wailing her piercing blues lyrics, liberating females to speak out against their subordinate status. Joan Baez in her “folksy” plea against her husband’s unjust imprisonment. Jimi Hendrix, ending the festival with his dramatic guitar interpretation of the Star Spangled Banner leading to his Vietnam battlefield protest interlude, and iconic rendition of Purple Haze.Sadly, I wondered whether such Woodstock moments to dramatize cherished human rights/freedoms are progressing forward in these politically polarized times today.

Drive-Thru Glimpse-Eastern Canada

“Whether we live together in confidence and cohesion; with more faith and pride in ourselves and less self-doubt and hesitation; strong in the conviction that the destiny of Canada is to unite, not divide; sharing in cooperation, not in separation or in conflict; respecting our past and welcoming our future.” (Lester Pearson)

With the arrival of June on our 2018 road trip, Ruth and I realized that our Eastern Canadian journeys to Toronto and Montreal would prioritize time managed stays with friends rather than casual sightseeing tours. Feeling somewhat guilty that I would miss out on the historic/cultural riches of English and French history in the respective city centers, I pondered a more mundane glimpse of our Canadian road trip adventure. Several revelations about our highway travel there come to mind.

1. Canadian traffic flowed well as we traversed toll-free state highways.

Our driving experience along Canadian Highway 401 from Toronto east to Montreal along the north coast of Lake Ontario took place smoothly. Consider the 100km. maximum speed limits/steep enforcement penalties combined with clear and concise sign reference to key destinations off the highway as prime evidence of our efficient and safe ease of travel. Note also how state tourist pamphlets were provided to us at rest stops detailing key destinations throughout the provinces with upcoming events available. To ease downtown gridlock in Toronto, contemplate the logic that we opted to take faster express lanes clearly separated by cement wall barriers to avoid traversing more congested lanes entering and exiting the highway.

2. We savored the “open road” feel of the Canadian Highway.

Unlike American Interstate highways, there seemed little to distract my mind from driving along our Route 401 drive to Montreal. The absence of advertising billboards along with vast swaths of greenbelt providing unobstructed views of the lakeshore felt oddly serene in the face of our long distance highway challenges. While road surfaces at times showed evidence of weatherbeaten potholes, construction zone advanced warnings and minimal lane closures in these hazardous locations kept traffic flowing with little speed interruptions.

3. Canadian highways captured a keen sense of authentic history.

In our travel experiences, I have noted that the encroachment of urban sprawl tends to create a faceless commercial presence in a city/suburb unconducive to historic preservation. With fast food, car sales lots… the expected norm in such money blighted areas, we refreshingly passed towns on our Canadian route 401 trek seemingly untouched from their historic past. The Shakespearian England look of an aging Ontario barn, a medieval-like town center tightly clustered near the town church, a proud Quebec province flag observed in an open field all attest to the idea of preserving the unique heritage of British/French culture that pervades there.

Conclusion

There lies ample evidence that the Canadian Socialist Model relies on heavy taxation of its citizens. According to a 2017 report, the average Canadian pays over 42% of their income on taxes per year while Americans average only 14% annually. These facts then lead to the question of how to best solve my own country’s traffic gridlock crisis. Having faced constant slowdowns on our current road trip driving through such regions as Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago, the Canadian system of taxation to seems quite relevant here. As our “America First”, Republican regime takes full credit for tax cuts in the United States today, what are we losing in public service for return?
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References:

1. http://www.globalnews.ca/news /3691159/canada-taxes-incomes-fraser-institute

2.https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/taxes/2018/04/25/how-much-does-the-average-american-pay-in-taxes/34138615