Driveabout#36

I need to pause here and make sure I give a shout out to the National Park system. Today I stumbled upon Agate Fossil Beds National Monument. It is a little place out in the middle of nowhere Nebraska. But it is so cool. It is a place of a huge Miocene era find (after dinosaurs, but before us).
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That story is enough of a reason to stop, but there is more.
The rancher that got all of this started turns out to have been very friendly with the local Lakota people. Turns out he ended up with one of the greatest collection of Native American items that I have ever seen. I’m not saying it is the largest, but the items are spectacular.
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My point is there are these parks all over the country. They are generally worth stopping at, so please do.

Driveabout#35

Ya, hoo and the pressure is off.
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Yesterday I visited the last state of these United States that I hadn’t been to.
Does that make me legendary?

Today I must do an oil change for my car and by “I” I mean I do it. One of my peculiarities is I do my own oil changes. And I drive a stick shift. It is really not a big deal other than the temperature is hovering around 44 right now. At least it is dry, the snow stopped yesterday. The other interesting implication, given that I change my oil at 5000 miles and this is the second oil change of this trip, is that I have driven for over 10,000 miles since the House of Irony kicked me out 2.5 months ago.

What next?
I still have more driving to do. It is off to Phoenix, Arizona where I have a black belt review at the end of November. Yes, it seems I have to renew my belt every two years. At first when I learned this, by getting my belt about two years ago, I was somewhat offended. If you remember, I broke my foot in that process. I paid the price, I was a black belt! But, upon reflection, if you don’t practice something, are you still that? Aside from riding a bicycle, all other skills degenerate. So, I could always say I received a black belt. But to say that I am one, well, I have to prove it. At least one more time.

Driveabout#34

I’m sorry and I must apologize.
I haven’t been thinking of you enough.

As I write this I am in a public library. I have found them very convenient spots to stop and post my thoughts and pictures. What I also found in New England is some amazing architecture. I now look forward to my next stop to see what they might offer.

Today, for example, I am in El Paso, Illinois. This 1906 stone structure is quite elegant and inside contains a lot of local history.

But what I should have been sharing with you were the New England libraries I visited. Really magnificent creations. And I didn’t record and share them. I’m sorry.

And in a somewhat similar vein I have been thinking about houses. Answer me this, in 100 years do you think anyone is going to drive by your house and go “wow” and dream about restoring it or admiring it because someone has? I saw a lot of houses like this in N.E., but I’ve even seen a couple here in El Paso. Why don’t we make houses like this anymore?
Or am I being overly romantic. Maybe they didn’t make all that many in the past, but I suspect it was a much higher percentage.

These houses had soul. Does yours? Is it important? What did we trade for?
Alas, I have more questions than answer.

Driveabout#32

I’ve been hanging out in Acadia N.P. for a few days. This is as far North and East as I am going to make it. So, it time to say adios to this fall weather
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and hit the road heading back West.
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A couple of asides.
First, the weather has been so great that I’ve failed to be able to get any fog pictures while on the coast of Maine!

I can’t remember if I mentioned that one of the subtexts of this drive was to visit the rest of the 50 states I hadn’t been to. When I started there were 12 states on that list. It was a lot of miles before I could cross off South Carolina. Then West Virginia. Delaware and Rhode Island were a hassle, but done, because they are surrounded by toll roads, large cities and the hustle and bustle I like to avoid. After a few distractions I made it to Vermont, then New Hampshire and finally Maine.

What’s that leave, 5 more?

philosophyon-line dating#13

I’ve been disturbed by questions I can’t answer.
I drove through Gettysburg, PA. It is a quaint town in the small, New England’ish genre. However, it is a famous name, unlike many of it’s neighbors.

Because a lot of violence was visited upon it.
And a president made a short, but inspiring speech afterwards.

Here is the ending of that speech:
“that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Why would soldiers of the South die for a cause (slavery) that they were not the beneficiaries of?

Is it hypocrisy for the North, who won their freedom by revolting against their current government, declare that others don’t have that same freedom?

Did freedom prevail?

Was that the best way to end slavery in the United States?

Is our government “of the people, by the people, for the people”?

What will men in power do to retain their privilege?

Would you (or I) act differently?

Driveabout#31

Hopeful or hopeless, you decide.

I’m in Shenandoah National Park. I’ve decided to take a loop hike; 7.7 miles, 2313 elevation change, with the last leg of 3.1 miles along the Appalachian Trail. The last leg is relatively flat, the starting legs are not. It is down to Doyle River Falls and then keep going and loop back up the next canyon to Jones Run Falls and then back to the top where the Appalachian trail will take me back to my car.

As I’ve mentioned before, this part of the country has been having a bit of a dry spell. The water isn’t flowing much which make the falls not up to their potential. Further, I still haven’t caught up with the fall weather, yet this country is pretty spectacular.

Two incidents made for a very memorable hike. As I got to the bottom of Doyles and was about to turn up to Jones Run I saw a bear, just a black one. He was startled and took off before I could snap a picture. What I quickly discovered is he made the turn and was heading up the stream to Jones Run Falls. These canyons are narrow and steep so he was ahead of me and since the trail ran right beside the stream I couldn’t pass him.

So, what would you have done? I was again without buds, bells or bear spray. Of course I took out my camera and followed him.
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He kept looking back at me, I’d stop. It was also interesting to hear the echoing down the canyon as he was turning over rocks, sometimes big ones, in the stream. At one point he came up on the trail and I couldn’t tell if he meant to keep going up or come back down, towards me. So, I picked up a big stick and whacked it on a rock. Yes, big scary me. The stick broke. He turned uptrail and I let him get ahead of me. I could tell he was back in the stream by the rock echos. Walking slowly and not hearing him for awhile I came upon another hiker coming down the trail with his dog. I asked if he had seen the bear and he said yes, saying it had left the stream and gone up the side of the canyon.

So, it was back to full steam ahead, up, up, up. Shortly I encountered a lady coming down the trail. We exchanged good mornings (as most hikers are friendly) and she stopped me with a question on how the falls were. I admitted there were better times to be viewing them and asked if she was from around here, nope just visiting. I then mentioned I had just seen a bear upon which I could see conflict pass across her face. She sorta wanted to see one but sorta didn’t. Anyway, wishing her a good hike I headed up and she headed down. About 2 hours later, while on the Appalachian Trail part and heading back to my car, I see her again. Remember, this was a loop hike and obviously she was up to doing it also, just in the opposite direction. I greeted he again and told he I was wondering where she was visiting from. Oklahoma, here on a business conference. She had a camera around her neck that I asked if it was film, because of the retro look. No, it was a new mirrorless that she liked because of the analog controls. I mentioned I also took photos and she stepped closer as I pulled out my camera from my fanny pack. “Oh, that’s a big one.” I swear, that’s what she said. I mumbled something about how I had arrived at this rig but I should have said, with a smile, “hmmm, think I’m compensating for something?”. I showed her a picture of the bear she had just missed. And then we parted. Shortly I had the thought that what I should have done is asked her if I found myself passing through her town, could I stop by and she show me the pictures she took today. I would then give her my contact info (including this blog site) and ask her to contact me if she was so inclined. Then we would have parted.

Hopeful or hopeless?

Driveabout#30

I have good news and bad news.
It cost me roughly $2,000 to get my car fixed, but fixed it is and my journey will restart in the morning.
What happened is the belt tensioner on the timing belt broke. Which is surprising given that it was replaced roughly 5,000 miles ago, just before I started this trip. But here is where I made a mistake. I had a local (recommended) mechanic do the work instead of taking it to the dealership. The dealership was not convenient and I knew they would charge roughly twice as much, so I know why I made this mistake. However, I knew I was going on this trip so if anything were to go wrong the local mechanic would not be available, but with the dealership I would have a warranty that would be honored all over the country. Turns out things went wrong. Now I have that bigger warranty.

Now for the good news. It could have been worse.
On a modern engine, when the timing belt slips or breaks, your engine is toast.
When my tensioner broke, nobody can understand why the belt didn’t slip, but it didn’t.

So, which is it? Am I having a run of bad luck or am I the luckiest guy in the world? When I lost my clutch, it was a simple hose change, of which there was one in town. When I lost 4 lug nuts on the rear wheel, one held. When the belt tensioner broke, the belt didn’t slip.

I’m being given the chance to see the world as I want to see it.
I’m very lucky.

philosophyon-line dating#12

I just got the news. The most important part for getting my car running again won’t be in till Monday. So, that gives me some time for reflection.

Why am I doing this drive?
And will it help my on-line dating?

You may have noticed in past writings the notion that experiences are better when shared. There are, of course, some activities that just can’t be done alone. But I even speculated that scenes were better when viewed with others.
I no longer believe that is true. I have seen what is for me the prettiest thing in nature.IMG_3670aThis is Grand Prismatic Springs in Yellowstone. I am blown away in love with it. And unfortunately, my camera setups are not ideal for capturing it. My big camera can’t get far enough away and elevated and my phone is better for closeups, which you don’t get the stunning effect of this place up close.IMG_0160
Never the less, it is a stunning sight and in no way diminished because I was alone. I believe I am able to gain insight from this and it is not to use a metaphor like you can’t be too close or something like that. No, I believe that what I took for enhancement because of company was rather that I was being drawn to the present, a state of mind that I’ve been trying to reach more recently, a state of mind that I hardly even knew how to spell before.

I think I’m really begin to get it. Take these mechanical breakdowns I’ve been having. I can distinctly remember in the past the level of stress that would appear at even the hint of a mechanical problem. “OMG, am I going to break down? Can I afford the repair bill? Will I be late?” Truthfully I can declare that none of that has occurred on this trip. Life will be and my worrying about it will not improve the situation.
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