Satisfying Sojourn Sensibilities

*Note To Reader – I am making slight changes to my blog format. All pictures corresponding with key thoughts made in my writings will now be placed together at the bottom of each entry.

One’s best thoughts in life often come at the most unexpected places and times. Amidst the complex challenge of survival in today’s urban world, many Americans choose to feverishly program their days with tight deadlines to accomplish familiar routines. In my past experience as a world traveler, however, I treasured each moment’s potential for a more spontaneous use of my time. Thinking creatively “outside the box” under those conditions, I noticed greater willingness to release my mental comfort zone to consider taking creatively alternative actions. What were these right brain dominant “juices”, then that released my fixated mind from retaining its routinized dull doldrums?

Give “Self Ego” A Rest

As a somewhat egocentric individual who strives to work independently, sharing of effort to achieve “interdependent solutions” to problems does not come easily. Thus my unselfish decision to participate in an Earth Day cooperative effort to clean up debris at Volunteer Park in Seattle last spring seemed refreshingly new to me. Working with this hardworking team on my hands and knees to complete hoeing, pruning and raking tasks for public landscape preservation no doubt provided humbling satisfaction for putting aside my own well being then for the sake of the “greater good. ”

Find A Home Anywhere

A home embodies how we best live and see ourselves. When we create a home that meets our fullest needs and expresses our true character, we enrich our lives. Adopting the principle that my South Florida residence induces such inner sanctity, new places experienced in travel often trigger similar home memories of personal privacy and neighborhood engagement that I prominently value. Two examples make this concept clearer. By gazing at the green grass along the outfield of famed Wrigley Field in Chicago, fond memories surfaced of a child who rejoiced in those times of playing catch with his best friend in the back yard of his childhood house. Furthermore, in finding a sheltered spot on top deck of our cruise ship on a recent transatlantic adventure, a safe sanctuary for reading silently in private was assured.

Imagine History As It Really Was

Being a passionate history buff, I deeply desire to obtain firsthand knowledge about important events in travel. Seeing for myself the hallowed grounds of Gettysburg battlefield as well as taking a scenic drive along the historic paths of the Oregon Trail – Route 66 highway would provide vivid reminders of the true, American timeline “story”. Accordingly, by engaging in a heated conversation about slavery at the Springhouse Tavern along the town’s historic Tarrytown Road as well as “firing up” up the jukebox and enjoying an ice cream soda at Kingman Arizona’s retro, 1950s Drive In, I could also sense realistic vestiges of these two, significant time periods.

Free Play Cures A Cluttered Mind

Real life crisis often spoils a restful vacation as obsessions about health, money, or career often weigh heavily in my “Monkey Mind.” Amidst the stark silence of wild nature, however, such negative introspection often becomes suddenly silent. At Redwoods National Park last spring, I exhilarated in the refreshing absence of mental clutter. “Lightening up” in my demeanor then, I proceeded to hug a tree, sing lullabies with birds, and imagine face-like cloud shapes with my eyes “painting” the sky.

Cultural “Wakeup” With An Open Mind

With each new journey, I encounter new sounds, smells, languages, tastes, sensations and sights of various cultures. Accepting the idea that all human beings can live together in peace in spite of such differences, I strive for empathy toward  others who clash with my own cultural perspective. In my 2017 visit to India last, no doubt I felt great concern for the unyielding poverty inflicted on the lower caste “untouchables“ in New Delhi in spite of my somewhat “sheltered from reality” lifestyle in middle class, suburban America.

Savor “Uphill” Enjoyment

I have often embraced hiking designated trails in U.S National Parks in spite of its physical/emotional challenges. Steep ascents over treacherous cliff-sides in past treks along the California Sierra Mountains have commonly provoked “uphill” fear of failure thoughts. Yet my self induced stress along these arduous ascensions has consistently been balanced with positive auras as I gazed awestruck at the amazing vistas sighted beyond my view.

References:

https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/03/for-a-more-creative-brain-travel/388135/

https://nomadsworld.com/travel-helps-creativity/

Inside – Out Traveler

Outer beauty attracts but inner beauty captivates.”
(Kate Angel)

Finding beauty in people/place when I travel resides in the “inner reflections” of my “traveling mind. The following poem reveals how positive thoughts can transcend false visions of ugly encounters

An Unsightly Place Sends Dull Glimpses Of Glory
But So Much Beauty Inside Might Spring Sensational Story
I Never Know Where A Hate Splattered Wall Leads
Numb Urge For Flawed Perfect “Barbie Doll” Mind Misreads

I May Scoff At Drab Oldness In Fast Track To Please Me
Yet Inner Peace Flows From Strivers Who Drink Bittersweet Tea
Shabby Street Man Blows Jazz Cool For Hopeful Attention
A  Brief Stop To Listen Would Ease Rush Filled Tension

This Inside Out Traveler Can Find Sublime In Grim Grime
In Endlessly Searching For Self Growth In Good Time

Musical Energy Wandering

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” (Plato)

Wherever I travel, music supplies the positive drug that fuels my traveling soul. On long flights overseas I tune out from the monotony of prolonged stillness and cabin fever to a musical dream of upcoming adventure. Traversing long distances on American Interstate Highways as I travel west, the pleasant interplay of melody and harmony allows me to immerse myself emotionally into the beauty of my natural surroundings. Riding the rails of a speeding passenger train, the “clickery-clack” of wheel meets track pulsates in steady rhythm as I notice my tune of listening choice similarly hypnotize me into a blissful traveling motion. On long sea days along transatlantic cruises when homesickness sets in, a nostalgic song elicits vivid reminders of a return home to loving family and friends.

The following list below thus provides a sample playlist of ten inspiring travel songs I most value to feed my traveling mind. The corresponding videos associated with each selection provide a strong sensory feel for the wandering soul that I so preciously cherish.

Marc Cohn – “Walking In Memphis”

Chuck Mangione – “Land of Make Believe Mangione”

Tim Janis – “Beautiful America”

Enya – “Caribbean Blue”

Moody Blues – “English Sunset”

Traveling Wilburys – “End of The Line”

Alan Parsons – “ Days Are Numbered”

Toto – “Africa”

Dixie Chicks “The Long Way Around”

Ray Charles – “America The Beautiful”

Journey Onto Leadership Greatness

Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” – Andre Gide

How does one’s curiosity to visit new places, cultures, and peoples mold leadership character? As an avid travel blogger, I recently sought American Presidential biographies to answer that perplexing question. Focusing on the extraordinary abilities of four U.S. Presidents in Doris Kearns Goodwin’s new novel, “Leadership in Turbulent Times.”, I learned that early exposures to travel shaped each man’s leadership style for achieving later success as President.

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ABRAHAM LINCOLN

Born to desperate poverty in rural Kentucky, tall and gawky Abe sought refuge in reading books and telling stories. With little to read at home, he would walk for miles seeking something to read. In his one room school, he particularly enjoyed the travel adventures of Aesop’s Fables, Pilgrim’s Progress, and Robinson Crusoe. When Lincoln turned 21, he set out on his own for New Salem, Illinois, a bustling river town. Here he worked as a general store clerk, land surveyor, and flatboat captain, honing his genius for storytelling and ability to show plain spoken empathy with both friend/foe. Such communicative lessons would soon pay dividends for him as he wandered from town to town performing his duties as an Illinois lawyer and state representative. Clearly, his early adaptability to visit new places/people would impact him later as President in his resolve to heal the deep, sectional divisions about slavery during the American Civil War.

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THEODORE ROOSEVELT

Born as a sickly child afflicted with asthma to a wealthy philanthropist family, Teddy learned quickly that his life success would not come easily. Foregoing the entitlement privileges of his social class status, he sought refuge in nature to help him breathe better and grow physically stronger. Always curious to learn new ideas on his long wanderings, he followed bird calls, collected new bug specimens… while showing no fear of “backwoods” dangers. Such childhood interest to challenge his physical/mental limits in the outdoor world would ultimately inspire him in adulthood to explore ranching in the remote Badlands of North Dakota, game hunting in Sub Saharan Africa, and river captaining in the Malaria- infested jungles of South America. As Teddy had thus boldly ventured into new lands for risky adventure, he would similarly strive boldly with progressive minded ideas to solve big business corruption, labor strike disturbance, and tenement housing poverty as a reform seeking President. “Speak softly and carry a big stick” would thus fittingly become his mainstay slogan in the political arena for the rest of his life.

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FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT

As 5th cousin to Teddy, FDR shared the privileged Roosevelt name. Amidst the comforting presence of private tutor education and close family relationships, he experienced a happily contented childhood, at Hyde Park Estate, New York. Having free run to explore his own interests, he often tagged along on outdoor outings with his father, James. When the elder Roosevelt, became incapacitated by a heart attack, FDR began to spend more of his time inside the home. He soon took an intellectual interest in the world around him immersing his mind in new hobbies: reading maps, collecting coin/stamps collections and reading tales of the sea. As Teddy assumed his role as U.S. Presiden during this period, FDR then realized that his activist cousin would be a new role model of strong leadership in his life. Rising to editor of the college newspaper as a student at Harvard University, FDR would then urge students in opinion columns to engage distressed groups and individuals in finding impactful “real life” solutions to solve urban problems. Tragically contracting polio as his political career began to blossom, FDR sought hope for his debilitating condition in the healing power of sun and water. Seeking refuge in mineral water baths of Warm Spring, Georgia, he learned to empathize with the plight of the handicapped there who shared similar afflictions. Becoming America’s longest serving President, FDR’s past travel exposures had taught him some fundamental life lessons. Crisis management for a “New Deal” in our country to end the Great Depression would require a compassionate commitment to pass fair and equitable laws for serving the public will to the best of his abilities.

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LYNDON B. JOHNSON

Raised on a small town ranch amidst the prairie frontier of Central Texas, LBJ frequently accompanied his father, State Representative Sam Johnson, in his “barnstorming ” tours throughout the state to secure votes for upcoming Congressional elections. As a precociously inquisitive child, LBJ enjoyed engaging in one-on- one chats with strangers he met then. With his father’s gregarious role model in mind, LBJ thus seemed poised to similarly enter the Texas political arena. Finding little opportunity for such political work during the Great Depression, however, he embarked on a career in education. Moving from the family ranch to become a debate teacher and later principal at impoverished schools along the Texas/ Mexican border would present a formidable challenge for LBJ, while providing ample opportunities for him to refine his powerful leadership skills. In a deeply segregated, mid 20th century America, LBJ would later learn as President to apply his genius for conversational persuasion with Congress to achieve Civil Rights/Voting Rights reform.

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IMPLICATIONS FOR TODAY’S PRESIDENCY

America cannot “wall itself in” to solve our country’s immigration problem. The enlightened leadership of four Presidents described in this blog point out that our current executive leader must look beyond his  trusting base and suffocating affluence to sell a winning deal for National Security in our country. Tweet less and visit the poor people. If the government shutdown to be safe means for him a test of wills, realize that many Americans (including your followers) now feel unsafe in his indifference. If I were him ,“Don’t Listen to What They Say.Go See” (Chinese Proverb)

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Daring Dilemma Unsolved

In the following short story, a teen age tragedy provides important life lessons to be learned about becoming a better person.

“Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fear, but around in awareness.”(James Thurber)

Jeff got up every day at 3:00 am. to bundle his newspapers and throw his assigned paper route. He truly appreciated the satisfaction of performing this job alone in nightly silence. Yet he did not want his parents nagging ways to interfere with such solitude in his life as he approached his senior year of high school. Lately it seemed, however, late night parties, barking dogs, and drunken drivers along his daily driving route in this suburban community seemed an increasingly difficult distraction to him.

Being a careful driver, Jeff had normally stacked his folded newspapers in the back of his sports utility vehicle without obstructing his driving vision. Yet tonight, feeling more stressed than usual, he had rushed to pile up his newspaper bundles to the tip of the interior roof in a more haphazard fashion. With his “tunnel vision” eyes nervously focusing only in front of him, now, Jeff drove off on this fateful delivery night, clenching the steering wheel more tightly. If only he had remembered to re-stack his papers more carefully to unblock his rear/side vision!

With only 25 out 350 papers delivered in the first hour tonight, Jeff obsessed that he was running late on his nightly schedule. Suddenly he smelled the unmistakable stench of burning smoke and heard desperate screams emanating from the darkness behind his car. Ignoring this potential calamity seemed out of the question yet Jeff’s preoccupied mind combined with his cluttered back seat surrounding had adversely affected his rational judgment. As a result, Jeff would make the tragic decision to continue along his paper route robotically fixated solely on the need to “make up” for lost time.

Whining Cat Blues

“I don’t own a cat. My cat owns a human.” (Jarod Kintz)

A most challenging kind of travel in my experience would have to be the experience of moving. I especially feel empathy for domestic pets who must relinquish their accustomed territories to be “dragged along the way” so to speak. Fittingly then, a close elderly family member of mine moved this week from the spacious environment of her three bedroom house with adjoining yard to the intimate confines of a one bedroom unit in an independent living facility. The following poem thus written below expresses my observations of her outdoor cat, Molly, as she ponders the anticipated disruptions to her life on the morning of this impending move.

Whining Cat Blues

Amber Eyes Stare Sadly So Dazed By Confusion
Untamed By Boxed Madness So Far From Home
No Chance To Chase Lizards In Paralyzed Panic
Bird Prey In Mocked Chase It Seems I Am Grounded

How Dare You Cold Cage Me With No Place To Hide?
Run Swift In Vined Shadows I Must Ever Roam Wild,
Splattered Rain In Pooped Pathway No Litter I Mind
As Long As You Leave Me Free Reign To Outside

Where Can I Sleep As Cat Comfort Confines?
I’m Tired Of Playing Hear My Wickedest Whines

Dazzling Desires Delivered

“I am not bound to win, I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live up to the light I have.”(Abraham Lincoln”

It has been a disappointing year for my favorite Florida sports teams in 2018. The Miami Dolphins remain mired in perpetual mediocre performance on the field with key injuries, a porous defense, inconsistent blocking and quarterback problems. The Miami Hurricanes face the sudden resignation of their head coach after a disappointing bowl game loss to Wisconsin. The Miami Marlins shed payroll in a questionably located new stadium to satisfy economic profit at the expense of “top notch” hitting/pitching  performance. In spite of my unflappable gratitude for my undergraduate college alumnus,the University of South Florida, the loss of last year’s quarterback and questionably conservative  coaching calls at the end of the football season inevitably doomed my self optimism for this team’s winning direction after a most promising season start.

THE EXPERIMENT

Thus needing a break from my sports gloom as the New Year approached, I savored the opportunity to attend the highly anticipated 2018 Orange Bowl with my wife on January 7. For a surprisingly affordable price of $60.00 per ticket, I thus purchased two east end zone seats for this playoff match between the Oklahoma Sooners and Alabama Crimson Tide at Hard Rock Stadium. The expected excitement of seeing this game was clear. The winning team would advance to the College Football Championship on January 7.

Other thoughts about overcoming past game frustrations soon crossed my mind. No more throwing my binoculars during fierce game action, hiding from others in post loss seclusion, or booing mindlessly for subpar player performance. Tonight, I would also accept the challenge to minimize my obsession on team strategy, or individual statistical performance as after all, the participant players had volunteered to play for the team. Most importantly, I would willingly experiment with positive behaviors to avoid stressing about the win/loss outcome on the field. How important it now felt to spend more quality time with my wife, interacting “one on one” with surrounding spectators and simply absorbing the positive energy of “rah rah” college enthusiasm.

POSTGAME BLOG OBSERVATIONS

Throughout Hard Rock Stadium tonight, a mesmerizing show of sight/sound captivated my first attention. I noted then a vast “sea” of Alabama ruddy crimson throughout the stadium with a smaller contingent of Oklahoma red rose confined to a few sections in the west end zone. I also noticed then that vertical support poles throughout the stadium lit up in bright orange while the field surface projected more boldly green than usual tonight. As game time neared, both college marching bands slowly encircled the field setting the stage for two, polished pregame shows to further arouse the crowd.

Alabama football tonight also meant “Roll Tide Roll” with maximum efficiency. With “Tide” amassing a convincing lead of 28-0 in the first half, I felt great need to rise from my seat to cheer in unison with the ”Bama” crazed crowd. After thrusting a nearby “Pom-Pom” shaker in the air, I gave “high fives” to adjacent spectators multiple times as well. At halftime, how strange it felt to ignore  my typical scurry for the stadium corridors opting instead  to watch the youthful energy of a pulsating rap music show on the field. As the outcome of the game became uncertain in the second half, the crowd grew increasingly hostile. Yet spectacularly acrobatic plays on both teams continued to be made, the impressive bands played on and people watching behavior seemed most interesting then.

I usually find it very difficult to concentrate as a spectator on a stadium sporting event without  texting, posting, or web surfing on my I phone. Tonight however, “played out” quite differently from my past multitasking norm as shifting  my point of view from performance competition to life enjoyment seemed the key ingredient to motivate me to shut off my device then. How  inspiring it was as well that the absence of Internet caused me to strike up several courteous conversations with “Bama” fans tonight.

What have I learned most about sports passion by attending my first  meaningful  bowl game?  Make the “now” moment of happiness matter most. Ominous attention on  future results can spoil your fun for the game. Don’t feel bad if you need to not follow the game action. Be cognizant of those who share your passion for the team but don’t boo and rant toward the opposing side or angrily question referee calls. Realize that the true essence of home field advantage lies within your inner being as your positive energy resonates no matter what the score.

For your interest, I present my favorite photographs from the Orange Bowl below:

 

Nature Choice Matters

America’s National Parks represent a featured highlight of our road trip travels. The potential environmental impact of park closings due to our current government shutdown thus provided the writing inspiration for the following poem.

“The nation behaves well if it treats its natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased and not impaired in value.” (Theodore Roosevelt)

Why Challenge Raw Nature In Such Thoughtlessness Shame?
Foul Mouth Springs Park Shutdown In Mindless Spin Game
Deep Chasms Rocked Healing So Stunningly Wide
Open Hearts To Preserve Nature No Need To Take Side

Why Curse Barren Heat Or Blame Shiver Storm Cold?
Pastoral Pure Pleasure A More Comfortable Mold
Crater Steamed Madness Blue Cauldron Of Hope
Impassable Snowdrift White Gold On Steep Slope    

Plentiful Wilderness Sustains Species Survive
National Park Treasures No Need To Deprive

Note: Witness the exquisite natural beauty of Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Everglades,and Grand Canyon National Parks in past photographs taken below.

Key West Weird Wisdoms

“Close To Perfect, Far From Normal” (Key West Chamber of Commerce)

What makes Key West, Florida so appealing to tourists? On the surface, it appears as a typically serene tropical island blessed by swaying palm trees, endless shopping opportunities and white sand beaches along a sun kissed shoreline. The first time tourist might hop on the popular tourist conch train for a 90 minute guided sightseeing tour of the main sights in Old Town, munch on local seafood in an airy terrace overlooking picturesque Mallory  Square and pop into a local souvenir shop or two along crowded Duval Street for shopping  to their heart’s content.

Yet if you stay awhile in Key West, you might look beyond such conventional tourist impressions to realize that a spirit of fantasy weirdness provides unique attractions to this sleepy town. Three personal memories of Key West oddness seem to contradict the foregoing, casual tourist” theory  of this slow moving town: (1) spotting an aging OJ Simpson in dark sunglasses sauntering inconspicuously along Duval Street  with his young girlfriend,(2) gazing at the webcam posted near Sloppy Joe’s  Bar regularly portraying hedonistic tourist madness or (3) dodging the  overgrowth of feral cats along the famed Hemingway House tour.

My knack of finding the bizarre in Key West continued on our self guided walking tour of Old Town at this last stop of our recent Caribbean  cruise. Adventuring off the beaten track to avoid tourist hustle on a Monday morning, ten historic/cultural oddities caught my photographic attention as briefly described in the paragraphs below.

1. Follow the crazy roosters around town
Disembarking from the cruise, we were strangely greeted by a flock of noisily crowing roosters surrounding us as we made our way to town. I wonder what welcoming message they were trying to convey to me at the time?
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2. Get lost in cemetery tombstone madness
In the “dead” center of town, above ground gravesites covered by weirdly customized tombstones filled the Key West cemetery grounds. Some  burial chambers  inscribed unusual epitaphs –  “I Told You I Was Sick” and “ At Least I Know Where He Is Sleeping Tonight.”
3. Seduce your artistic mind in Haunted House Heaven
Willie Smith, reclusive grandson of a prominent Key West  Sea Captain, John Geiger lived for over twenty years in his  family’s spooky 19th century mansion with shuttered windows and no electricity or running water. Who could imagine that an exquisite collection of John James Audubon birdlife portraits would thus be later displayed on this later museum site amidst these dark and dreary hallways.
4. Cool off  before lunch at Blue Heaven Cafe
Advertised historically as a brothel in early Key West times,   this  quirky outdoor  cafe amusingly advertised showers for $2.00 and watching those who bathe for $1.00. As we indulged in our omelets, the ever present roosters surrounded us again.
5. Celebrate holiday festivities in odd Key West  fashion.
The Yuletide Spirit can be demonstrated here in unusual ways  before Christmas with utility light poles attached to giant candy canes and mini Santa clad gnomes placed on top of patio furniture.
6. Hang out near bars that offer weird, people watching opportunities.
Along bustling Duval Street at night, extreme costumed revelry of Halloween happens regularly. In such case, odd people watching becomes a major activity.
7. Don’t depend on street signs to get you where you want to go.
Key West lies so far and remote from civilization so why bother to read the confusing distance and directional signs.
8. The feline species evolves freakishly here.
What genetic anomaly occurring at Ernest Hemingway’s Mansion  would produce a cat with six toes?
9. Creative marketing  strategies  stretch intellectual limits of the human mind.
Never discard your auto as junk in Key West. It might make a good advertising display. Boldly pink colors accompanied by distorted fairy tale sculptures  also make a good combination for business running appeal.
10. So many cruise boat tourists leave Key West blind to the natural beauty of sky meets sea.

My wife and I gazed at this magnificent Key West sunset as fellow cruise goers surrounded us at the bar scene on ship indulging mindlessly in alcoholic bliss.

Serious Tourist Tip:

It’s much more relaxing to arrive in Key West by cruise rather than car. The arduous drive south from Miami through the full  length of the Keys takes it’s toll on one’s physical/mental stability.

Resources:

Momentous Lapses of Time

Dawned Orb Glows Blue Vastness A Most Beautiful Sight 

 Immersed In Self Goodness  New Freshness Of Light 

Gentle Waves Pulse Breath Slowly No Need To Hurry

Heed Monkey Mind  Mantra Untroubled By Worry

 Sink Into Numbed Hammock Marley Mellow Frees Pain   

Wiggle Toes In Soft Sands Feel Each Crisis Will Wane 

Self Awareness Less Ego in Tropic Palm Sway 

It’s No Aimless Existence To Love Living Each Day 

Massed Rocks On Stormed Coast Time’s Eternity Passed

Find New Fondness For Now In True Wisdom At Last

I wrote the  poem above inspired by our Western Caribbean cruise stop this week in Cozumel, Mexico. My wife and I have been visiting this pristinely beautiful island since the late 1980s, finding it every time to be a  relaxing respite from our home base in hectic South Florida. The relatively unvisited/undeveloped east coast of the island remains our favorite place to visit away from the tourist commercial bustle. On our self guided excursion on this vacation, we again drove on the only paved road in Cozumel circling the island through  dense mangrove bush dotted with mystical Mayans ruins to our favorite bohemian cafes. 

Below are some favorite pictures on our day in Cozumel.