Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Road Trip!

Despite rising numbers of those infected by the variants of COVID, travel was recently at the highest point since before the pandemic began.  People are tired of being stuck at home and anxious to get out and do things and live life fully again.  I’m one of those.  I hadn’t traveled since last summer, when my daughter and I successfully navigated a cross-country road trip during one of the worst times of COVID exposure.  It was a weird trip, with many tourism sites closed or limited in capacity due to the pandemic.  Hotels had many restrictions, and cleanliness was almost more important than the accommodations themselves.

So here we are, one year later.  My daughter and I are vaccinated, and we needed a vacation.  Based on the horror stories of canceled and overbooked flights, poor customer service, and violence occurring on planes in flight, we had no desire to fly anywhere.  Being isolated on a large ship with the potential of infection meant no to a cruise.  Even amusement parks are somewhat tenuous due to the amount of touchpoints offering high chances of exposure.  What’s left?  Another road trip!

We decided to take a road trip to a region we hadn’t explored much, and wasn’t too far from home:  New England.

Here are a few highlights:

New Haven, CT – We started the day visiting the PEZ candy factory, followed by lunch at Louis Lunch, where the Hamburger was invented.  Then, in a driving rain, we visited Yale University, where a security guard saw us wandering around and ended up giving us a two hour tour of the campus.  My daughter had not considered attending an Ivy League school, but the tour was so enjoyable, she has decided to at least apply to Yale.  A few days later, we visited Harvard, as well.

Bethel, NY, site of the original Woodstock – Because the Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt home, museum, and library in Hyde Park, NY, was still closed due to the pandemic, we adjusted on the fly and ended up in Bethel, NY.  There we visited the Bethel Woods Center of the Arts, which provides a wonderful museum and overview of the Woodstock Music Festival in August 1969.


The Coast of Maine – So many highlights, with scenic lighthouses (Portland Head Light, Bass Harbor Head Light, and West Quoddy Head Lighthouse); Acadia National Park; Penobscot Narrows Observatory; “Lenny,” the 1700 pound chocolate moose, in Scarborough; and Eartha, the largest rotating globe in the world, in Yarmouth.

Mount Washington, NH – The tallest peak in the White Mountains, there are a few ways other than hiking to reach the top.  The Auto Road allows you to drive your car, and that’s somewhat scary if you have a fear of heights due to the lack of guard rails above the tree line.  The most fun way to the top is the Cog Railway, which is what we did.

Dog Mountain, St. Johnsbury, VT – Home to the Stephen Huneck Gallery, Dog Mountain stands as a tribute and memorial to those who have lost a member of their family, man’s best friend, their dog.  There is a chapel at the site containing notes from floor to ceiling left by owners of their loved ones, and it begs the question, “Do dogs have a soul?”

Seneca Falls, NY – Home of the IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE Museum, this is the city that inspired Bedford Falls, the town featured in the movie and home to George Bailey.  Frank Capra, the director, visited Seneca Falls just before the movie went into production.

Watkins Glen, NY – Home of the Watkins Glen International road course, my favorite race track.  Aside from the annual NASCAR event, it hosts races of every kind and at every level.  And, for $30, you can take three laps around the track in your own car!  This was a bucket list item for me, and it was one of the highlights of our trip.  And if I hadn’t gotten stuck behind a Ford pickup during my laps (we were not allowed to pass any vehicles), I would’ve gone much faster than my high speed of 86 mph.

It was a great trip, and I highly recommend getting out and taking a road trip vacation (if you have gotten vaccinated).  It does the body, mind, and soul and world of good, and almost makes it feel like life is normal once again.

Monday, August 23, 2021

That's Long Enough

I guess that's long enough.  I've been away a long time, and I'm finding this "home" hasn't changed a bit.

My office has a biweekly newsletter, and it had a problem with readership, meaning no one was reading it, and there was a substantial lack of material.  I decided to submit one of my essays from a blog entry from this site, slightly modified it for a different audience, and submitted it.  It was well received, and I was encouraged by the editor to continue submitting stories, articles, essays, or whatever I wanted.  It gave me a regular column in which to share my thoughts, get things off my chest, and generally say what was on my mind.  It is highly unusual to be given that kind of freedom.  I wrote the column for almost two years, 46 entries in all.  I received nothing but positive feedback, which had a therapeutic effect on me.  I mined a lot of material from this blog for that column.

A few weeks ago, the editor received a complaint from a colleague who threatened a grievance due to the assumption that there were too many straight white males writing articles for the newsletter.  There were two of us writing regular columns, and it's true:  we were both straight white males.  Never mind the fact that we were writing voluntarily, and that the editor would accept just about anything that was either related in some way to the work that we do, or was entertaining and not offensive.  Anyone could write and submit an article.  But the complaint was legitimate, and the editor determined that she should cut back on the number of columns written by straight white males.  All two of us.  Her solution was to have us alternate columns, so instead of writing an article every two weeks, we would each write one article every four weeks, alternating every two weeks.

I was disappointed, but the arrangement was fine with me.  However, the more I thought about it, the more I just wanted to be done with the whole thing.  So I requested that I be given the opportunity to write one more article to basically say goodbye, and announce that the column was ending.  I thanked everyone for their support, for the kind words sent to me as feedback, and for the extraordinary good fortune of being able to write something with such freedom.  It published last week.

The feedback I received was immense, unanimously positive, and certainly a greater response to anything I've ever written.  Readers were disappointed, but seemed to understand.  One told me that I should collect all of the articles I had written and make sure to save and share them with my daughter, who might appreciate them more than anyone else.

That led me to remember that this blog, "Away From The Things of Man," was written for that very purpose.  My audience has primarily always been for my daughter, and the writer of that particular piece of advice was a reminder that the blog would always be a place for me to scratch the writing itch.  And here I am.

The purpose of this blog has never been about gaining readers.  That was secondary to giving my daughter something to remember her father when I'm no longer around.  She missed out on knowing her mother, who passed away when she was only five months old.  My daughter needs to know how much I respect her, how proud of her I am, and how much I love her.  She is my primary source of happiness.  And while I tell her that all the time, I want her to be able to find these words in whatever format this blog is kept for the rest of time.

So, if there is anyone still out there who read this blog prior to this entry, welcome back.  I won't be writing every day, but I hope it will be often enough to keep your entertained. 

Have a great evening, everyone.