My Traveling Dilemma

“As you grow older, you become faced with the problem of what to do with your time.” (Sunday Adelaja)

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone:

I immensely enjoy traveling over six months each year. Yet why does the option of staying home sound increasingly more enticing? Why not buy a dog/cat and enjoy my simpler lifestyle as a pensioned retiree in South Florida? Turning more introspective at times in the face of the latest health, financial, or family challenge, my enthusiasm for taking grandiose *trips/ vacations now seems at times to be shrinking. At the moments of lifestyle doubt, some realistic questions thus emerge. Does a nostalgic glance at a past photo album now suffice as a suitable replacement for a journey to Paris? Can reading more travel blogs on Word Press satisfy my wanderlust urges to visit exotic places? What entertainment opportunities am I missing at home by being away so often? Why do I seem more intolerant these days to extreme cold or hot weather?

A past weekend jaunt to Cleveland, Ohio provides a suitable case in point. While I did witness a convincing Cleveland Browns win at First Energy Stadium amidst bitter cold and blustery windy conditions, I could have more healthily enjoyed the Browns win at a local sports bar in Fort Lauderdale. As I likewise paid my dutiful respects to legendary bands inductees at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Saturday, strong lingering thoughts persist now of missing talented writers speak at this year’s Miami Book Fair. Or in frolicking outside like a kid amidst fallen autumn leaves and festive holiday displays, I might have equally conveyed the changing of seasons spirit in warmer conditions by putting up our living room Christmas tree. As I sit in bed now sniffing with a nagging cold, I thus wonder how the following nostalgic highlights from frigid Cleveland might represent some subtle hints that I will soon experience travel-less, lifestyle times.

While I braved the unaccustomed to cold weather outside, Ruth more sensibly spent time with cousin Jo warmly indoors.

Why does raking up dead leaf piles up north in winter seem so depressing? Wouldn’t I rather relaxingly lounge on my patio at home overlooking our green, tropical paradise?

Why do I see these eerie looking dolls staring at me so menacingly? Are they trying to tell me something?

I embraced the rebellious spirit of student activism as expressed in these concert posters during my “heyday” of “rock and roll” times. To what extent does this restless energy still motivate me these days to travel?

As I ponder the inner meaning of this blog’s wander-less theme, was I experiencing a travel less omen by these flightless seagulls along the Lake Erie shoreline?

Why do I need to travel to Cleveland to buy overpriced Cleveland Browns merchandise at the stadium? I can buy them more inexpensively at home online?

Given my cold weather intolerance, I could have at least been sitting on the sunny side of the field during the game.

I consider myself a “Diehard” Cleveland Browns fan on game day wherever I’m at. So what difference would it make for me to endure the Sunday irritations of this kind of chaotic mob scene to watch the game live?

If so many dedicated Browns fans can gather at Browns Stadium to feel the energy of hometown game fever, then why can’t I similarly be contented at my South Florida home?

Spotting this beautiful Christmas tree downtown with children underneath, I sensed that the “Yuletide” message of giving to others can be best experienced with a warm gathering of family/friends at home.

*In past blog entries, I’ve elaborated about why I experience  vacations and trips differently. While vacations typically allow me to settle into more spontaneous enjoyment of a place over a longer period of time, trips normally relate to short term “getaways” of tightly structured, itinerary nature.

Perplexing Paradox Connections

“Let go of certainty. The opposite isn’t uncertainty. It’s openness, curiosity and a willingness to embrace paradox, rather than choose up sides. “(Tony Schwartz)”

Paradox – A person or thing that combines contradictory features or qualities.

In today’s deeply divided America, the idea of forming compromise manifests today as a seemingly insurmountable problem. It seems to me then that the idea of paradox provides a practical solution to overcome such “I’m Right You’re Wrong” thinking. Consider the following dilemmas.You are driving through a desert in torrid heat and spot a grassy oasis in the distance along the lonely road. It’s true that you’ve envisioned in your mind a potentially restful place to stop ahead. Yet you soon realize that your mind has simply played a “trick” on you in making real this comforting yet false mirage. Or imagine that storm clouds suddenly part to reveal a spectacular rainbow in the distant sky. Yet as you come nearer to this colorful orb, these pleasing visual images vanish into “thin air”.

In both of these paradoxical situations, notice how one’s perceptions of reality can dramatically alter from moment to moment. It follows that the appearance of such contradictory thoughts in the above examples clearly alters any prior assumptions about the presence of deserts/rainbows. Paradoxical discoveries then provide a worthwhile way to open our mind to consider alternate realities of human experience.

I similarly see the power of paradoxical thinking as a creative, decision-making tool with respect to my independent minded travel. For by applying the element of contradictory connections to a paradoxical event encountered , a variety of new lessons about conducting my when, where, and how trip wanderings pop up accordingly. So as I “dig deep” into my sensory capabilities, I thus present ten (10) perplexing paradoxes encountered from my recent journeys in the following photographic collection.

Watching Buddhists methodically build a sacred “Mandala” in San Luis Obispo, California with great skill and effort, I wonder why did they tear it down so soon after completion?

Lesson # 1: Travel with passion now while you can.

Sharp French cheese typically makes a tasty delicacy on our visits to Paris. So why does it have to smell so bad before I taste it?

Lesson #2 : Be mindful of deceptive Air B&B lodging advertising as you never know what you will be getting.

Creationism theories as depicted in this Kentucky Museum Diorama demonstrate that dinosaurs coexisted peacefully with humans in prehistoric times. So why do humans treat animals so inhumanly today?

Lesson #3: Be kind to strangers because you want to not because you feel morally compelled to.

This set of stairs in Jaipur, India might make a beautiful addition to this tower. But what functional sense does it make that its path takes one nowhere?

Lesson #4: Be willing to change your walking path to avoid encountering deceptively enticing dead ends.

Why aren’t these water buffalos fulfilling their basic survival functions as river dwellers in New Delhi, India? Instead they appear forced to walk on the the dusty roads.

Lesson #5: Respect the natural habitats of animals when approaching wildlife areas.

At the beginning of every Miami Dolphins football game at Hard Rock Stadium,a joyous celebration of fans welcomes their hometown team as they enter the field. Yet how many of these spectators are so distracted by such raucous party action that will lose focus on actually watching the game?

Lesson # 6: Don’t get “caught up”in the social agenda hype of guided tours.

American History textbook attribute the beginnings of our Democracy to the “Founding Fathers”. Thus, how many visitors who stare at this Art Museum painting in Cleveland, Ohio are oblivious to the prominent presence of Native American people proudly depicted here? Would they thus interpret our country’s origins from a strictly a “white man’s” point of view?

Lesson #7 : “Lie low”and avoid boasting about “America First” ideals in my overseas travels. Be mindful of the views of other cultures.

The entirety of Yellowstone National Park sits atop a massive underground layer of explosive geothermal activity. However, in walking dangerously along it’s volatile land surface dotted by free flowing geysers, wild running rivers, and deep crevassed snowfields, I often experience the unexpected feeling of inner peace and calm serenity.

Lesson #8: Face hazardous destinations in travel with a positive state of mind.

The lifeless desert expanse of Central Utah suddenly got unexpectedly exciting for me at Goblin State Park as I overlooked this strange field of rock formations resembling  cartoonish conversations of dwarf like gnomes.

Lesson #9 : Be more observant of your natural surroundings for signs of personal growth.

It can be very challenging at times to make your way through the hectic crowds of a busy, American city. Yet I notice that this talking monument at Millennium Park in downtown Chicago provides a pleasing sense of human belonging to counter such impersonal urban madness beyond.

Lesson 10: Allow your visual sense to lead you along walking tours of an unfamiliar city to places of informal human gathering.



Journey From Mind To Soul

“Like a path frequently traveled becomes clear and well-marked in the forest, so too does the path to your soul become more clearly marked in your consciousness.” (Genevieve Gerard)

Have you ever been stuck in a rut of mindless, habit forming routine? Perhaps you might then undertake the following experiment to search for solutions solely within yourself. Choose a desired location you have already visited accompanied by a memorable photograph of that place. Using all of your senses, examine closely the details of that photo presented. Then close your eyes and visualize opening up physical sensations such as warmth/ coolness, tightness/ looseness, or shades of color throughout your body. Pay particular attention to this flow of energy emanating from the tip of your head down to your throat, chest, stomach, and pelvic region.

Thus encased in this relaxing cocoon of evolving self perceptions, you’re ready to make a critical mind/soul connection. What “gut feelings” or new understandings now come to mind about yourself or the ever changing world around you? Witness the following examples of such self-revelations inspired by the following photographic display from my recent travels.

1. Cultural Learning

In examining these two photographs from past European stays, I notice the following: (1) Ordering a simple hot dog can be a confusing ordeal at this German meat market, (2) How strange that young people go wild for oldies swing jazz in this Paris club. Hmm! It seems that my prior assumptions regarding what I am accustomed to expect in travel can be “blown away” by what seems real.

2. Historical Learning

As I observe these cobblestone walking paths/old town walls in Quebec City, I travel back in time and imagine these medieval structures inviting me to slow down to the “horse and buggy”pace of medievalism.”

3. Scientific Learning

Gazing with awe at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, I witness steep canyons slowly sculpted by wind, rain, and the Colorado River below. I thus feel humility that my opportunity to be alive on earth miraculously exists in this mere speck of geologic time.

4. Artistic Learning

How can I make better use of my “right brain” to pursue more imaginative enjoyments of travel? Perhaps an extraordinary array of clouds, flowers and rocks as depicted below might make wonderful settings for stimulating my wandering artistic imagination.

5. Interpersonal (Sociological) Learning

In revisiting this country store in the small town of Jeffersonville, New York, I sense that animals can often be your best companion when you travel.

6. Economic Learning

As this mini car attests in Paris, if I realize that less is better on the road, I might similarly find some wise strategies to “downsize” at home.

7.Psychological Learning

In the desolate, inland tundra of Iceland depicted below, I can appreciate the meditative potential of loneliness experienced in a quiet place.

8. Geographic Learning  

 Ruth and I often traverse the mountainous terrain of America’s National Parks in our road trip travels. Observing the arduous task of ascending to such high ground overlooking this unfolding panorama beyond, I can more easily see how we can conquer any fears of facing the unknown ahead in travel.

9. Religious Learning

As I humbly observe the inner serenity emanating from these beautiful floral surroundings in India, I imagine then that spiritual connections can be felt anywhere in travel.

10. Political Learning

From our recent cruise stop in Barcelona, Spain, angry political protests in favor of Basque political freedom again capture my attention. It seems I must make travel more of a grassroots, protest mission against human injustice. Making more visits to local museums/bookstores and street bars overseas might help me to undertake this activist mission.


Freedom Flourishes In Boston

A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on.”     (John F. Kennedy)

“Citizens of Boston! Consider your blessings; consider your duties. ….. Let New England continue to be an example to the world of the blessings of free government, and of the means and capacity of man to maintain it. ….. (Josiah Quincy)

From a tourist perspective, Boston always presents itself to me as a historically interesting town. There certainly lies authentic proof here of free will served through independence from Great Britain control in the latter years of the 18th century. On past occasions, for instance, we’ve visited iconic downtown landmarks along the Freedom Trail, gazed at the hallowed battlefields of Bunker Hill, Lexington, Concord, and relaxed along the colonial “green-space” of Boston Common. We thus found good reason to book a half day, bus excursion on our most recent Atlantic cruise with the hope of re-living this spirit of liberty at John Adams National Historic Park and John F. Kennedy Presidential Library/Museum.

As my primary interest of this tour would thus be historical, I hoped to photograph for my readers a Bostonian showcase of freedom’s reign at these two sites on our scheduled itinerary. Departing from the waterfront in late morning , however, our vehicle slowed frequently amidst heavy commuter traffic. How satisfying it felt then to discover that the lighthearted scripts of our elderly tour guide could be a useful mind diversion from such time delays and unsightly gridlock.

Several of his humorous tidbits, spiced with Bostonian drawl/ culture, come to mind. He first spoke of a past prison incident where inmates rioted because they no longer received an adequate supply of lobster (“lobsta”) at their daily meals. He then noted that angry city drivers never chose to honk their horns at other drivers but would eagerly “flip them off” with a finger. He would further demonstrate his showy talents by boasting a fantasized scenario where every professional team in Boston would respectively win their finals championship this year. As he concluded this amusing narration, we arrived at the small hamlet of Quincy, where our historic adventure would pleasantly begin.

In Quincy, Mass., Presidents John Adams followed by his son John Quincy Adams resided year around in this country homestead now part of Adams National Historical Park. Amazingly intact for almost three centuries, it remains as a living memory of America’s first “Founding Fathers.”

Passed on to four generations of Adams families, the lush landscaped grounds of this estate inspire public interest in environmental preservation. In time, these manicured grounds attained the nickname, “Peace Field.”

John Adams traveled to Europe extensively as an American diplomat in support of American liberty ideals. Interior decorations of this estate include prized mementos collected overseas from friends/allies during this period of his life.

As a patriot, skilled in the professions of law, science, and politics, John Adams filled his time with challenging daily learnings. Yet he also made time for informal gatherings.

Many notable figures in American history line the interior walls As many of them visited the Adams estate over the years, one can imagine the “buzz” of freedom’s diplomacy engaged here.

John Quincy Adams spearheaded the addition of a Stone Annex (the first Presidential Library) at the rear of the Adams estate. The extensive collection of books here remain as a living testament to the intellectual foundations in colonial times of America’s democracy.

The John F. Kennedy Center at Columbia Point, Mass. stands as America’s official memorial to his life and Presidency. Its unique contemporary design overlooking a serene bay inspires visitors to view the Kennedy legacy as one of American innovation/imagination.

Kennedy’s legendary leadership qualities as President are vividly depicted in this museum. Yet in other ways, he might be portrayed as a mere humble man.

Great political leaders inspire high ideals. The writings of John Kennedy displayed a keen awareness of freedom’s call that lies at the heart of our American Democracy.

Free spread of communication in American politics provided a vital link to Kennedy’s election as President. What measures to directly impact voters occurred in Kennedy’s time? Are they as relevant today?

A President must provide a positive role model for our country and the global community in time of crisis. In my brief tour of this museum, John F. Kennedy clearly meets that standard.

How might the Presidency of John Kennedy as depicted in this blog impact your voting decision for the election in 2020?


Tampa Tourist Temptation Therapy

“It’s  very refreshing to go away and take a break, to clear your head, and just get into something else.” (Francois Noirs)

On most occasions, Ruth and do not need an excuse to travel and do not hesitate to pack up and go. Yet we recognize that dealing with life’s harsh realities do impact our travel decisions as we get older and hopefully wiser. Some basic question thus can arise quickly. Would it be right to isolate ourselves from an ailing loved one for an extended European vacation stay? How easily could we arrange travel home in a family emergency? Can pending financial decisions regarding my loved ones be best handled abroad? Such concerns would thus weigh heavily on our mind in our decision to cancel our monthlong stay in Paris this fall.

Reflecting about my blog theme that one can enjoy the present moment of travel at anytime/place thus enlightened me to consider some new travel alternatives for Fall 2019. Feel the youthful energy again of a new semester on a revered college campus. Follow your favorite football teams this fall by visiting more games on the road. Celebrate the music of one of your favorite rock stars out of town in a magical theater setting. Settle into the pleasing nostalgia of a quiet walk in a historic city of your youth.

We thus foresee such quick “getaways” as a new travel therapy for us in adapting to upcoming times of life crisis. Thus acting boldly to test our new lifestyle alterations for the first time in late August , a brief sojourn to Tampa, Florida would surprisingly fulfill several of such desired, short travel options. I thus present the following photographic snippets from this most satisfying, fall inaugural weekend.

My favorite football team, the Cleveland Browns, just happened to be playing a preseason game in Tampa last Saturday night at Raymond James Stadium, I purchased an inexpensive ticket to the game and enjoyed the collective feel of other Browns fans similarly showing their faith in the new winning version of this team.

“Go Bulls” chants came alive for me as I enjoyed a morning walk around the campus of our undergraduate alumnus, the University of South Florida. The  welcoming presence of new students at the USF Student Center also provided vivid memories for me of the campus “buzz” surrounding the first week of college classes.

So few rockstars from the late 1960s remain active today as relevant role models for the aging “baby boomer” population. Thus, a Saturday film documentary of singer David Crosby at the historic Florida Theatre became a “must see” event for me. For his past/present life path depicted on screen, provided a brutally honest look at the youthful naïveté combined with magical music that inspired “live together in peace” ideals during my college days.

This grandiose theatre attraction opened on October 15, 1926 as a “Roaring Twenties” spectacle in downtown Tampa. As I curiously entered the theater lobby, I immediately noticed its ornately sculptured lobby punctuated by the melodious sounds of a genuine Wurlitzer organ in the distance.

Ascending my way along a narrow staircase to the balcony, I obtained a spectacular panorama of this unique stage/seating venue.

During my four year tenure at USF as a student and frequent visits to Greater Tampa later, I rarely ventured downtown. Taking a short walk to the river from the Florida Theater, I now witnessed for the first time a visually pleasing blend of both old and new.

In spring 1974, I received my undergraduate college diploma at Curtis Hixon Hall in downtown Tampa. Rekindling my memories of this milestone along my riverside walk, a fountain lined park now stands nearby the site of this demolished facility amidst the mystical Turkish dome backdrop of the University of Tampa.

Choosing a slower route of the Interstate to to exit downtown, I noticed shades of Bourbon Street New Orleans along the historic Franklin Street corridor. What was the Reverend Billy Graham thinking when he started his fervent religious crusade in this seemingly raucous area?

N.Y.C. From The Ground On Up

“New York City, city of exaggerations. Place of Herculean ascensions and perilous falls.” (Kurt Wenzel)

A first glance at the iconic New York City skyline certainly heightened our interest in touring Manhattan Island on our recent cruise along the U.S. Atlantic seaboard. With so much to see in only a short, one day stopover, however, our excursion options seemed noticeably limited. In addition, a Brooklyn landing point for the Caribbean Princess several miles from Manhattan Island precluded any thoughts of making our way on foot this day. We thus logically realized that a morning scheduled tour offering of a convenient “hop-on hop-off” bus service to/from NYC seemed the most feasible self traveling option this day.

Finding our way to the top of our double deck bus, we would soon cross over the Manhattan Bridge from Brooklyn into NYC downtown. I noticed then how the abrupt transition from our sheltered lifestyle on a cruise boat to the frenzied urban chaos of Lower Manhattan radiated both sadly depressing and positively energizing thoughts. It also seemed clear that the more I listened to our bus tour guide describe our surroundings, the more intense my mixed feelings about NYC curiosities became. Seeing good reason then to stay on the bus the entire time, I would thus photograph this tour, gauging my “see saw” like ambivalence for over thirty stops throughout our circle route uptown from Battery Park to Times Square and return.

As we departed Brooklyn Harbor on our “hop-hop-off” bus  north to Manhattan, the magnificent panorama of Manhattan skyscrapers and the Brooklyn drew closer. However, an unsightly field of industrial clutter/roof graffiti obstructed our attention to dampen our sightseeing enthusiasm.

Along our route through downtown Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan, we observed many historically interesting buildings. Yet the dense traffic gridlock and horn honks combined with the continuous noise coming from urban construction sites made it difficult to concentrate on the tour narrations of our driver.

Towering High Rise housing complexes at the southern tip of Manhattan provided stunning visual evidence of NYC’s current wave of luxury residential living. Yet I could also reason how few could afford typical buying prices averaging over $1,000,000 per unit there.

Sturdy structural designs from the early 20th century remain in Lower Manhattan as amazing fixtures of historic preservation. Yet poor infrastructure and unsightly urban decay increasingly damage their functional capacities.

The rebuilt steel tower of One World Trade Center again stands as a modern symbol of American will to heal from the 9/11 disaster. Seeing the tallest building in New York City again from a distance, I admired the modern grandeur of this structure. Yet as I drew closer to the monument, I felt the profound sadness emanating from its surrounding open space memorials in honoring so many who died there on that fateful day.

The public parks in Manhattan offered us plentiful opportunities for walking pleasure. However, Bryant Park, in particular, seemed overcrowded and thus lacking in privacy.

We exited our “Hop – On Hop Off” to the sensory mesmerizing sights of Times Square. Yet we got lost in the mass throngs of people looking for a specific restaurant due to GPS service interference there as well as poor address number signage on buildings. So much for the modern look of gentrification here if it makes tourism more difficult.

Passing street scenes often revealed interesting people watching opportunities in Manhattan While I often enjoyed this immersion into cultural diversity, New Yorkers at times seemed stressfully overwhelmed about the fast pace life there.

The subways of NYC create a subterranean world of urban survivors who are whisked daily below to their destinations in an efficient fashion. Yet in their failure to see the light of day, this cemetery overlooking a subway station suggested to me that such tunnel living each day evokes a dark and eerie kind of coffin.

The skies over Manhattan turned black and high winds whistled strongly in late afternoon at the end of our tour. Quickly entering a shuttle at Battery Park, we felt fortunate that we would soon be back in the safe confines of our cruise ship.

As or cruise departed New York City in evening, I admired the enduring presence of two landmark symbols of American immigrant freedom: The Statue of Liberty and the Verrazano Bridge. In the face of political times today fomented by our divisive American President, however, my fears mounted then about U.S. future commitments to such “open door” policies.



Charleston’s Southern Charms

Ruth and I recently completed a relaxing, sixteen day cruise on Princess Lines’ Caribbean Princess from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Quebec Canada. Enjoying calm seas and warm (but not overly hot) temperatures consistently throughout this adventure meant greater opportunities to lounge quietly along open air sections typically at the rear the ship. This outdoor strategy proved effective as well in allowing us to find easy refuge from the crowded interior corridors during sailing times. Amidst life’ slowdown on this cruise, I would also note that we made healthy lifestyle choices throughout this cruise to avoid over- indulging in “all you can eat” temptations while maintaining our daily gym workout/yoga regimen.

Being curious to explore, we were also pleased that our northerly itinerary along the Atlantic seaboard enabled us to disembark conveniently at nine, excursion destinations. Capitalizing on a booking incentive of $200.00 extra per person for this cruise, we would allot such bonuses to three, bus excursions of specialized interest. Our remaining land outings ashore, in contrast, would take place on our own, averaging between 3-5 miles walking distance per day. Adding a Hilton Hotel stay onto this vacation at the end of our cruise, we would then spend four, leisurely days touring “0ld Quebec City” in the company of close Canadian friends.

In my first blog installment of this memorable journey, I thus hope you enjoy my photographic recollections of cruise destination #1 – Charleston, South Carolina.

Our cruise dock debarkation point in the heart of “Old Town” Charleston proved ideal for beginning our self guided walking tour in the morning.

The Old City Market dates back to the founding of colonial Charleston in the 18th century. Bustling with tourists, our brief walk along the narrow corridors of this “National Historic Place” revealed a fascinating glimpse at enduring “Deep South”entrepreneurial traditions.

On a quiet side street, the Powder Magazine remains as the oldest public building in Charleston. In the restored museum interior, I enjoyed a “ touch and feel” perspective concerning the authentic weaponry of the Revolutionary War period.

Several early American flags displayed at The Powder Magazine served as a historic reminder that American unity stands as a fundamental principle of our country’s being.

On the site of the privately restored, Old Slave Mart Museum, a bustling center of African slave trade in Charleston took place here in the early/mid 19th century. As photographs were strictly prohibited on our interior tour of the museum, I include the following reference list photo for those readers who wish to learn more about the human tragedy of slavery’s presence in this time period.

Sauntering slowly south along historic Meeting Street, we stepped into a time warp presence of narrow, horse-drawn, streets and luxurious Georgian style homes during 18th century colonial times. Along the way, several, historic inns/mansions from that era caught our attention as well.

As the summer heat intensified on our tour, we stopped for a leisurely lunch at the historic Blind Tiger Pub.

Our walking tour of Charleston ended at the southern tip of the old city: Battery Park. Finding cool shade for a rest under giant Magnolia trees, several landmarks surrounding us stood prominently as testaments to Charleston’s turbulent wartime past.

Aboard ship again at sailing time, we soon savored a lavish Southern barbecue feast/chocolate dessert fantasy amidst an intimate dinner setting.


Spotting the historic remnants of Fort Moultrie and Fort Sumter on our route to the open seas proved to be an equally exciting moment in this departure.









A Welcoming Travel Decorum

“A spirit of thankfulness attracts others to your cause, ideas, and goals.(Skip Prichard)

It’s cruising vacation time for us again as we embark this weekend on a thirteen day sea adventure north along the Atlantic Eastern seaboard. How exciting it will be to enjoy the welcoming spirit of nine, day trip stopovers from Fort Lauderdale to Quebec City along the way. Hoping to sustain interest with an organized group at times, three relatively inexpensive, tour excursions bookings for the U.S. portion of this journey seem immediately essential. (1) In New York City, a “hop-on, hop off” bus option should provide maximum freedom of choice to cover main Manhattan sights for our full day ashore there. (2) While docked in Boston, a half day excursion to nearby John F.Kennedy / John Adams National Historic sites seem similarly enticing. (3) Exhibiting a taste for seashore seclusion, a morning walking tour of Maine’s Acadia National Park cannot be missed as well.

For our remaining six, shore destinations, we will either simply walk off the boat for a bit of spontaneous sightseeing near downtown or in the case of Quebec City, hook up with our resident Canadian friends there. We thus look forward to a welcoming presence whenever we can in managing our limited free time ashore. Yet I now realize that any expected hospitality in travel contains only half the story. For in fully enjoying these present moments of “hello” travel pleasantries, it seems equally satisfying to openly practice purposeful acts of thankfulness in return. Thus in thinking back to past vacation situations of welcoming potential, the following photographs do inspire me to express thoughts/actions of sincere gratitude.

1. Las Vegas Sign – “The American Dream”

Entering the neon studded strip past this glittering welcoming sign, I suddenly realized that money must be used wisely within restraint according to my budgetary limitations. Thank you.

2. Puget Sound Sign- Wild Nature

The beautiful depiction of Puget Sound in this poster engaged my political interest in preserving the natural beauty of our western U.S. wilderness lands. Thank you.

3. Reggae Beach Bar Billboard – Lifestyle Change

Spotting this sign as I sat lazily on a beach chair in Cozumel, I realized that I could feel free to travel at a much slower pace.      Thank you.

4. Dodger Stadium Road Sign – Baseball’s History

As I entered this picturesque hillside venue, this obscure road sign inspired my personal connection to famed legends of L.A. Dodger baseball. Thank you.

5. Route 66 Ad- U.S. Era Flashbacks

Cruising along “Mainstreet USA” in Kingman, Arizona, this sign introduced an authentic, road trip glimpse of small town” America reminiscent of my happy childhood past. Thank you.

6. Kansas City Vegetable Art Piece – Nutrition

Upon entering the front steps of Kansas City’s Nelson – Atkins Museum Of Art, this creative sculpture aroused my interest in following healthy nutritional practices by eating freshly grown vegetables. Thank you.


7. Freddie Mercury Statue – Power Of Music

As I paused to gaze at this amazing Freddie monument during a boardwalk stroll along Lake Geneva in Montreux, Switzerland, I regained a surge of youthful energy in recalling his magnetic rock musical presence as leader of Queen. Thank you.

8. Pensacola Airfield Statue – Companionship

At the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida, this statue demonstrated to me that difficult tasks in life can often be accomplished best by embracing teamwork strategies. Thank you.

9. India Cemetery Statue – Inner Spirit

On a guided tour of New Delhi, India, this friendly sculpture design aroused my curiosity to explore “East Asian ” modes of inner spiritual worship. Thank you.

10. Morro Bay Mural – Diversity

During a monthlong stay at this Central California, beach- town hideaway, a colorful wall mural covering up the divisive presence of a surrounding wall reminded me of the critical need today  to embrace cultural differences at home and travel. Thank you

11. Curaçao Welcome Sign – Travel Mindset

As we disembarked from our cruise ship for an self guided, walking tour of this Dutch Caribbean island, I recall how the cordial appearance of this welcome sign relaxed my mind from burdensome past/future thoughts at home to thus enjoy the present moments at this destination. Thank you.

12. Golden Gate Statue – Patriotism

At the south entrance to this famed bridge along San Francisco Bay, the heroic sailer depicted in this monument impressed me to honor the great sacrifices that our U.S. military has endured to protect our country. Thank you.


Baseball Healing Power 101

“I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans.” (Lou Gehrig Farewell Speech, July 4 , 1939)

As I watch the news each day as an informed American, I struggle to handle the emotional trauma of the latest “meltdowns” of our President against Democrats, woman, minorities, and immigrants… Searching deeply for alternate mind diversions from such daily politicized crises in my country on a lazy Sunday afternoon, last week, I suddenly envisioned a “ray of hope” as I absorbed anew the healing powers of a Major League Baseball game. With my mind typically filled with in – game progress outcomes accompanied by a deep longing for heroic player deeds, I realized that I had found the ideal antidote to the destructive “I win, you lose” mentality of this President. For there are no actual defeats in baseball if you consider that this historic game inspires fairness of play, furtherance of diversity, and love of country.

Thinking more deeply about the positive impact of “America’s legendary “pastime”, to counteract such present concerns for our country’s direction, inspiring MLB baseball stories in recent days come immediately to mind. When raging Donald stokes fears of immigrant border invasions, I settle into the infectious smile of great Puerto Rican shortstop Francisco Lindor radiating throughout each game. When he targets people of “color” with disgusting tweets of racism to fire up his “White American base” ”, I counterpunch with the heartwarming fan tribute to Venezuelan pitcher Carlos Carrasco at the MLB All Star Game in his battle to overcome leukemia in the prime of his career. Noting our President’s recent “divide and conquer” demagoguery to circumvent bilateral congressional agreements about health care and many other vital issues, I am reminded by the unified outpouring of player/fan support in the aftermath of pitcher Tyler Skagg’s untimely death that it takes concern for EVERYONE to comprise a winning American team for Election 2020.

I conclude this blog with the following photographic display from our road trip travels, thus revealing how therapeutic thinking magic of live baseball exists in the eyes of this enthusiastic fan.

1. Settle in for a closer view of the action and feel the exhilaration of bat meets ball.

2. Admire the element of teamwork required for game success.

3. Don’t bother multitasking at a game. Let go of such mind clutter by focusing on the ball, not your latest I Phone distraction.

4. It’s wonderful to be a kid again.

5. Relax knowing a weather delay provides an opportunity to slow down your schedule in life.

6. Feel the welcoming spirit inside a comforting home field presence. Then show similar warmth toward others.

7. Stay focused on each game in quiet calmness by tracking player statistics on a scorecard inning by inning by inning.

8. A baseball game might not be the best place to worry about a diet. So eat enjoyably there.

9. Pay more attention to the positive human dynamics BEFORE a game begins.

10. Past baseball heroes can help one cope with the inevitable passing of life into death. Thus, it’s ok to cry in baseball.

11. Improve your critical thinking skills by watching the outcome of each play without premeditated judgment of all bad or good.

12. Absorb the sensory healing power of green grass nature comprising the field surface

13 Honor historic legends of the game that provide positive role model lessons for the present.

14. Sit in the cheaper upper deck seats and admire the panoramic surroundings beyond the stadium. Bring a pair of binoculars along.

15. Dress up in your favorite team gear to celebrate your local team spirit.

Never A Bridge Too Far


“It is a good habit to thank always the bridge which takes you to the other side or to mention the name of the bridge or to take the photo of it or to repair it if you can! In short, do something good for those who do goodness for you.”(Mehmet Muraltildan)

A common theme of my blogs concerns the desire to live in the present as we proceed annually on our road trip travels. It follows that neurotic obsessions of the past or unknown apprehensions of the future must be minimized on such long distance adventures. Crossing a bridge thus offers an inviting opportunity to test this “now” resolve as my senses lock suspended in time’s moment by moment in transitioning between one’s past place of visit and the upcoming site to be encountered of the unknown.

Consider for example how inspiring sensations of self growth can arise as a lost tourist traverses seemingly impenetrable barriers by way of masterful work of bridge engineering construction? Or ponder why a greater appreciation of nature’s glory arises along walking paths as the weary hiker slowly steps on a simple footbridge over a slow moving river? In connecting how past events connect to today’s times as well, what historical relevance matters for the time challenged commuter along a busy, commuter bridge that serves as a vital gateway to a thriving city? In also considering the rise of populist nationalism in America in today’s times, what magical formula in bridge appearance arises to unite friend and foe in order to tear down resultant physical, social, and political walls? With each of the above scenarios in mind, I thus reveal to my readers below some memorable bridge encounters from our recent road trip travels.

1.California’s Pacific Coast Highway 1 – (Be Inspired By Nature)

In driving cautiously through the steeply narrow roadways, of the “Big Sur Region”, I enjoyed welcoming rest stops at the famed Bixby Bridge and several other coastal passages. As I admired breathtaking panoramas of raw cliffs descending naturally to meet the rocky shoreline below the strong pillars of each crossing, I gained a strong sense from such nature’s synergy  that humans must similarly strive to work cooperatively in tandem for the sake of global humankind.

2. Mississippi River off U.S. Highway 61 – (Go Westward Ho)

Our crossing of the seemingly untamed Mississippi River each year on our road trips west becomes a symbolic marking point of exchanging our regimented, east coast ways for the anticipated freedom of open prairies in Texas/Great Plains lying shortly ahead. This year, however, I more cautiously observed a severely flooded Mississippi basin as a useful omen to be more mindful of extreme weather anomalies to be encountered by us this year.

3. San Francisco – Golden Gate Bridge (“Think Outside The Box)

As one of  the longest suspension bridge in the world, the Golden Gate Bridge provides spectacular panoramas of the San Francisco skyline and its adjacent bay. Yet dense fog and cold gusting winds often envelop this bridge to discourage ambitious, sightseeing options in this famous city on a given day. In turning more introspective in such surrounding bridge mist on the first day of our most recent visit,  I simply buttoned up my windbreaker, and thought of alternative ways to enjoy life with friend and family on this weather challenged day. Perhaps that thought would equally apply to handling those incessantly rainy summer days at home in South Florida.

4. Las Vegas Strip, Nevada ( See More Spend Les’s)

With the construction of several bridge overpasses extending across S. Las Vegas Blvd, it’s now practical to move easily from hotel to hotel across this busy thoroughfare without major disruptions of traffic and endless crowds. As a result, we no longer feel pressured to exceed our budget in gambling temptation at any one casino on our road trip visits to the strip. Las Vegas’ new pedestrian-friendly bridges at casino entrances also allows us to search more easily for economical concerts and other forms of entertainment along the strip.

5. Univ. of Tennessee in Knoxville (Striving For Upward Mobility)

The opportunity to pursue “Higher Education becomes more accessible for “all” as pedestrian overpass bridges link the downtown core conveniently to key academic buildings on the nearby campus. I also recall on our Knoxville road trip visit accepting the challenge to ascend steep bridge ramps to the upper decks of nearby Neyland Stadium in order to earn an exceptional look of the football field and Knoxville vicinity. I thus reason  from these two examples of bridge movement that rise to success in life can relate directly to the level of one’s expectations.

6. Page Ariz.’s Glen Canyon Bridge (Examine Environmental Impacts)

This massive arch bridge extending high over the harsh, arid region of the Colorado River Basin in one way can be viewed as a major accomplishment of Civil Engineering efficiency Yet at what cost does the presence of this Glen Canyon span incur when you factor in our road trip observations of the tourist invasion in this federally protected wilderness area? When you consider in this regard that Navaho Indians once revered this Northern Arizona desert region as their sacred homeland to preserve for all, to what extent do today’s boaters, swimmers, hikers, and campers similarly respect “environmentally sustainable” practices here today?

7. Downtown Cleveland, Ohio (Evolution Of A Struggling Industrial Giant)

This large Midwest city along the south shore of Lake Erie once reigned as a major hub of giant steel mill operations, burgeoning resident populace, millionaire oil businesses, and a thriving railroad connections. Reinventing itself today as a tourist center in the decline of America’s industrial era, its historic bridges remain as a testament to its former glories. Thus we often find good use of Cleveland downtown’s efficient bridge access by car when attending a professional sporting event, enjoying a picnic along the lake, or in visiting the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on our road trips. 

8. Northern Idaho’s Dixie Bridge – Route 12 ( Meditate With Nature)

The Louis and Clark Highway  follows a tortuously winding path along the rugged Lochsa River for 134 miles. Stopping for a much needed rest, at this simple wooden bridge, we sat quietly here for awhile to rejuvenate our minds/bodies amidst nature’s stillness.


9. Niagara Falls N.Y. – International Rainbow Bridge (Overcome Walls Of Difference)

In contrast to the current scene of U.S. immigration confusions along the Mexican border, this popular entry point near Buffalo N.Y. provided us with easy access as we simply walked along this pedestrian friendly bridge to and from Ontario Canada with our current U.S. passport card for display. Thus this bridge has transformed Niagara Falls from its traditional reputation as a haven for American honeymooners into a bonified model of peaceful co-habitation in the world today.

10. Cumberland Falls, Kentucky – ( Pursue Road Not Taken )

In the famous poem by Robert Frost, “ The Road Not Taken” the traveler opts to follow the less traveled path that few others have taken. This country bridge encountered at the end of our last road trip similarly seems to go oddly into deep woods, “no man’s land”. Would you dare to cross this bridge alone with no map, GPS guidance or other assistance?

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