May 28, 2015

  • The Road to 65, Mile 180: Two Gardens, Two Riverwalks, Part 1

    May 27, 2015, Reno- The sodden ground of Texas has been much on my mind, in this strange, beautiful and terrible end of May.  The Red Cross has issued a call for volunteers, both general and specific.  Once again, here I am, far afield from the disaster area, wrestling with a measure of guilt and facing my own challenge.  Such is the cost of marching to one’s own drumbeat.  There will come a time, again, when I will find myself in a disaster area, and will be all-in with the recovery work.  For now, that work falls to others.

    So, on I go- being here, in The Biggest Little City in the World, for some people who I have known, seemingly forever, and they for me.  It will take another day or so for my vehicle to be refitted; then I will take my leave.  I hope that, in some way, I will have refitted my friends to address their individual pain-fields, and to be more equipped to cast that pain aside.

    Most cities have at least one public garden, where flora of all kinds are celebrated and allowed to flourish.   One of Reno’s is the Wilbur D. May Arboretum and Botanical Garden, named in honour of a local philanthropist and rancher, who was a scion of the May Department Store’s founder. It is part of the larger  Rancho San Rafael Regional Park. Our visit there, yesterday, took place under partly cloudy skies, in comfortable conditions. Here are a few scenes.

    The Duck Pond had two intrepid mallards in it.  The often ubiquitous Canadian geese were nowhere to be seen.  It being a strange year, that is somehow not surprising.

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    After stopping by the Visitor’s Center, and confirming as to the reason for the dearth of waterfowl, we continued to the Arboretum and Botanical Garden, proper. St. Patrick’s Grove greets the visitor, and extends along the sidewalk.

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    The stone shamrock reflects, with its cracks, the experience of  Ireland.

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    The Labyrinth Garden is small, and mainly features ground cover, around the intriguing maze-like circle.

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    Passing into the Arboretum, we came first to the Kleiner Grove, featuring oaks of the East Coast.

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    A small area is set aside, in honour of Wilbur May’s mother.

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    The bridge, and adjacent waterfalls, express Mrs. May’s tastes.

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    This waterfall was available for photographing.  The other was the focus of another patron’s deep meditation.

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    This abandoned water slide lies just east of the park.

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    The Songbird Garden was rather quiet, but then, it was mid-afternoon.

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    These fountain stones evoked Carnac, for me.

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    Light and shadow have a reassuring effect.

    While finishing up our visit, I thought of Blucher Park, Corpus Christi’s downtown nature walk, which feature’s that area’s native plants.  It was lovely, this time of year, in 2012.  I wonder about its condition now, after the tribulations of last weekend.  Corpus saw its record for wettest month broken, this past weekend.  It apparently did not suffer as much as places further north and east, but the pain is there, and the community lost one of its own, in floodwaters near the town of Uvalde, west of San Antonio.

    We continued on, this afternoon, to Reno’s Riverwalk and downtown.  More about these, in Part 2.

     

     

May 27, 2015

  • The Road to 65, Mile 179: Whatever It Takes

    May 26, 2015, Reno- I am proud of all those who are standing firm, in the wake of the torrents that have raged in the southern Plains and Prairie regions, over the past four days.  It was pointed out to me, by another reader, that these types of events have been de rigeur in the nation’s midsection, for so many years now, as to be unsurprising, if not expected.

    Life is always challenging.  One way to look at this is to recognize that our challenges are what build personal and collective strength.  Texas and Oklahoma have lost a few people, and lots of property, as a result of the floods, tornadoes and ongoing rain.  There have been a fair number of heroes emerging from the disasters, as well- most notably those who were proactive in getting their property and their neighbourhoods ready for just such events, and who have been in the forefront of the initial recovery efforts.

    This won’t be the end, in this tough year, especially in the hurricane pathways.  There is no telling about tornadoes, earthquakes and fires.  You know what, though, the nation and its communities will face these, too.  Opportunities for service seldom go begging to be filled.

    I am just glad that all my friends are safe, in the affected areas.  I am also very grateful to my friends of three generations, here in the Reno area, who have been nothing but generous and helpful during my own, relatively minor challenge, which we as a group are meeting and resolving, over the next few days.

May 26, 2015

  • The Road to 65, Mile 178: But For The Grace

    May 25, 2015, Reno- Yesterday, for us here, was a day of reflection, of gratitude towards the fallen, and of intense discussion about spiritual matters.  I will need to invest a fair amount in my vehicle, this week, and I will be okay; it will be okay.

    I am terrified for our country’s fourth-largest city.  I haven’t spent much time in Houston, over the years.  I have a few friends there, and will be in touch with them by private message, tomorrow.  I appreciate, to this day, the assistance given us by some Space City residents in 1984, when my wife was deathly ill, after our return from Guyana.  They sacrificed greatly on our behalf, and set the mold for our own welcoming of people into our home, over the years- some for weeks, others for months.

    Now is time for everyone’s thoughts, prayers and actions to be focused on Houston, on Texas, and on the south central part of the country. Water, everywhere, is our sustenance, and yet our threat. Across the globe, India has a different issue:  Extreme heat.  I’ve not been there, but those who have, have told me that the intense heat throughout most of the subcontinent nearly exceeds anything habitable- yet people make do.  It falls to those of us who are doing relatively well, by comparison, to also focus positive energy in their direction.

    I’ve had a fair share of difficulty and challenge in my life.  Yet, the old saw about missing my shoes, until I met a man with no legs. always resonates- especially in times like these.  God bless the fallen.  God bless the displaced.

May 25, 2015

  • The Road to 65, Mile 177: Northwestward, Day 3

    May 24, 2015, Carson City-   When I have been rendered less mobile by circumstance, and it is a weekend, my tendency has been to go with whatever flow that presents itself.  Memorial Day weekend is not time for automotive shops, or many other business establishments, to carry on business as usual.  Besides, the weather, almost nationwide, is pretty horrific right now.

    We had a beautiful morning in the Reno area.  The plan for today was to visit with other friends in Carson City, Nevada’s capital, some twenty-eight miles south of Reno.  It was not a heavy schedule, but a picnic lunch and some playtime for a three-year-old, at a park on Carson’s north side.  Here are two scenes of the park, with children and families left to their own devices.

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    Our little friend had a great time, going up and down a couple of slides, and around other parts of the playground.  She was very much interested in the mushrooms which were growing near our picnic table, though not to the extent that lunch was ignored, especially with the doughnut dessert waiting after bites of cold cuts and cheese.

    As an afternoon storm began rolling in, we went back to Carson friends’ house, kibbitzed a little about a cheesy, semi-adult cable TV show featuring robots trading barbs with a guy in a Starship Troopers get-up, and headed back towards Reno, using Hwy. 395.

    The route took us past Beagle Rock.

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    We checked out Big and Little Washoe Lakes.  The former was little more than a puddle and in fact, Little Washoe is, at present, the larger of the two.

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    “Big” Washoe Lake

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    Little Washoe Lake

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    Little Washoe Lake

  • The Road to 65, Mile 176: Northwestward, Day 2

    May 23, 2015, Reno- I ended up here, exactly where I wanted to be this evening.  It was the way I ended up here that is one for the books.

    The morning dawned, grey, cold and gloomy in Tonopah.  I had a light breakfast, then headed up the street a bit, to downtown, to take in the Jim Butler Days Parade.  This is Tonopah’s Founder’s Day event, so all the area converged on Hwy. 95, and thereabouts.

    Tonopah, NV on a grey Saturday morning (May 23, 2015).

    There is an urgency, with respect to the protection of children here, as in many communities.  These pinwheels serve as a reminder that this is everyone’s responsibility.

    At 10 A.M. sharp, the parade started.

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    As is always the case, local service organizations provided clown cars and other motor vehicles.

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    A hobby horse took center stage, atop a local car dealer’s entry.

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    Young ladies performed a belly dance,with dignity and grace.

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    I passed by the venerable Mizpah Hotel, centerpiece of downtown.

    My attention was then drawn to Tonopah Mining Park.  Similar to Arizona’s Jerome State Park, the expansive spot celebrates Nevada’s rich history in extracting gems and minerals.  No serious study of mining can ignore the Silver State.

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    The entrance to Tonopah Mining Park.

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    Ore wagons and drilling bores are on display, with visitors asked to keep a respectful distance.

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    This is an example of where miners lived, here in Tonopah.

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    Here is what is called a Grizzly, where the ore and mineral were separated.

    In the Park’s museum, I paid attention to the many examples of gems and minerals offered by the soil and rock of Nevada.

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    Note, in particular, the azurite (bright blue stone).

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    Malachite is also important here, as it is in Arizona.

    Finally, I caught the view of downtown Tonopah, from the hillside.

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    I walked back to my Nissan, and had little trouble heading northward, until I got to the small city of Hawthorne, just shy of Walker Lake.  There, the same issue which landed the old warhorse in a shop in Prescott, recurred.  I waited ninety minutes here, enjoying a tasty calzone, from Pizza Factory, and writing in my journal.  I received a message in my head, saying “We’re going to get you to Reno.”  Trusting this, I started the car up again, and voila!  On we went, along the shore of scenic Walker Lake, past the towns of Yerington, Silver Spring and Fernley, and a tripped railroad gate, which was not an issue for me, as I kept the car in park, then was able to go around, with help from a sheriff’s deputy, who was engaged in traffic control at the errant gate.  (There was no train.)

    I got to Sparks, and called my friend from  Sierra Sid’s Casino parking lot.  Then, it happened again, no power when shifting into gear.  Considering the four stop lights and two left turns that lay between Sid’s and my friend’s house, I got a tow.  No one else was inconvenienced and the mechanic saw what my problem was.  I have a safe place to stay, the car is parked securely here, and on Tuesday, I will get the vehicle to a transmission shop. We will get to the  bottom of the issue, this coming week, and then the journey will go on.  In the meantime, I will get to see more of Reno and the surrounding area.

May 23, 2015

  • The Road to 65, Mile 175: Northwestward, Day 1

    May 22, 2015, Tonopah, NV- After tending to matters of due diligence, including a chat with a local auto transmission expert, I bid my lovely adopted town farewell, for a month or so, and headed north- with some initial trepidation.  One stop sign or traffic light after another, these butterflies faded, as my Nissan kept on performing like a trouper.  I made it to Kingman, gave the car a fueling and myself a break, then headed further, to White Hills.

    Rosie’s Den Cafe lies about thirty-seven miles north of Kingman, just shy of “Last Stop in Arizona”, where an unfortunate gun accident changed the lives of two families, last spring.  Rosie isn’t around anymore, but the raucous atmosphere remains in full throttle.  The bantering continued, between the waitresses, cooks, manager, at least one disgruntled vendor and the local regulars, while I continued with my chili cheeseburger. (This road trip will have its share of guilty pleasures, and plenty of healthy fare to balance them.)  There was a bit more tension in the air at Rosie’s than the last time I was there, so “Pray for Peace”.

    Las Vegas traffic wasn’t too bad, and virtually dissipated, north of Summerlin and the Kyle Canyon turnoff.  My next stop was Indian Springs, a half-hour out of town, for more gas.  The ride remained as smooth as silk.  I had kept seeing the name Amargosa Springs, in my mind’s eye, over the past several days.  Of course, that little community is home to The Alien Store, so I stopped and stretched a bit.  Then it was onward, through Beatty, Smitty’s Junction and Goldfield.

    Tonopah, with its magnificent hotel-casino,Tonopah Station, was my stopping place for the night.  I had fish and chips for supper, and settled in at Economy Inn.  Rain, which has been my companion, off and on, all day, stopped briefly- long enough for me to get to the Station’s cafe and back, on foot.  I will end this account with a few choice photos.  (Yes, these are my own photos.  The Samsung logo will accompany all of them, henceforth- company policy).

    First, here are a couple of views of the area around The Alien Store.

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    Tonopah has a similar terrain, being the eastern foothills of the Panamint Range, and the eastern portion of the Mohave Desert.

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    Tonopah Station holds its own as a classic hotel.

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    James, the Bear, greets gamblers and diners alike, in the hotel foyer.

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    So, this old mining community has given me safe haven for the night.  Tomorrow will bring a brief look at the surroundings, then a 3 1/2- hour drive further on, to Reno, and some time with old friends.

May 22, 2015

  • The Road to 65, Miles 173 and 174: Preparations

    May 20 & 21, 2015, Prescott

    My final day of the academic year was spent again overseeing reading programs and computerized math tests.  it’s been, all in all, a fine year.  Next year won’t be as punctuated by my travel, as I have nothing out-of-region that would impede my work- except possibly  a few days for my brother’s 60th, in September.

    In the meantime, there is the matter of making sure my car is roadworthy.  It went through five stress tests and two road tests today, courtesy of the automotive shop I use. I will stop by the transmission specialists, first thing tomorrow morning, and ask their opinion about the stalling out.  Three mechanics pronounced the matter solved, though, so I am not sure the transmission folks will be any different.  Still, I have to ask, before heading out on Friday morning.

    All of my former client’s stuff is out of storage, and at his new agency.  He seems to be adjusting well.  He tried to get the new agency to reimburse me for last weekend, but that is not in their budget.  I wasn’t expecting it, in any event.

    My friends in Reno are expecting me, sometime on Saturday, so I will get there, one way or another.  Most likely, it’ll be by Nissan. I will be traveling lighter than on previous occasions, and hope to get the most essential stuff into my backpack, with the items only needed for “town” visits in a spare bag.

    The heat will be off in the house.  My landline will be turned off, as will my printer.  The DISH account will be suspended for the summer.  Who needs re-runs?  My dinosaur TV is ready to go to the parts collector, anyway.  I will deal with that at the end of June.

    Now, I will lay me down to sleep, and knowing that my dear friends are praying on my behalf, adds extra heft to the spirituality that underlies my impending journey northwestward.  Stay tuned.

May 19, 2015

  • The Road to 65, Mile 172: Scattered Forces Get Magnetized

    May 19, 2015, Chino Valley- I had an uneventful drive to/ from Chino, today, in a rented Ford Focus.  My Nissan, which will shortly be my vehicle on a Pacific Northwest sojourn, was repaired this afternoon, in short order.  The electrical mechanic had no trouble putting in a new alternator pulley- which is crucial to proper charging of any motor vehicle.  While he was working on it, he found a rather expensive hand tool, which belongs to my regular auto maintenance person.  I, in turn, found a voided photo ID from Michigan, for a chauffeur, in the rental car.

    A lot of little things thus came together.  It’s amazing how unity of thought and purpose can resolve many, seemingly unconnected matters.  The rental agency placed the photo ID in a file; the mechanic to whom the tool belonged was ecstatic at getting it back and the owner of the Nissan (me) feels affirmed in my placing trust in a total stranger, who is now a preferred vendor.

    I am a bit concerned about three boys in one family, at the school where I worked today and will work tomorrow.  All three were in and out of trouble today, which hasn’t happened all that often.  Another friend has to chronically face her four sons getting ill, simultaneously and with great flourish.  The energy needed to keep a family functioning together, is indeed a thing of wonder.

    Scattered forces can come together, for both good and ill.  As I learn more about quantum mechanics, I see how positive forces need to be brought in focus, to avoid harm and despair.  A commenter on another site bemoaned the “lack of anguish” in today’s religious gatherings.  I believe such hand-wringing shows a dearth of understanding.  Christ told us not to despair, but to work hard at relieving the misery of the sick and the poor.  Baha’u’llah wrote:  “Wert thou to scan the pages of the Book of Life, thou wouldst, most certainly, discover that which would dissipate thy sorrows and dissolve thine anguish.” – “Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 133.

  • The Road to 65, Mile 171: Alternators

    May 18, 2015, Prescott- My Nissan has a slight headache.  It turns out that the issue is a defective pulley that helps drive the car’s alternator.  The new pulley will arrive tomorrow noon, at our area’s only auto electric shop. Then I will have my car back, in time for a Pacific Northwest sojourn.

    The devices that keep a car running smoothly, and help the battery maintain consistent current, are impressive and solid little boxes, full of brushes, wires and bearings.  The devices that keep us on track are also solid, yet are not always box-like in nature.  Brushes, wires and bearings, of a sort, are in our brains, and in our minds.  The brushes are the cleansings we do each day, in the face of new information and insights.  The wires are our connections, from one part of the brain to another, and from one part of our life to the next.  The bearings are the abilities we have, which keep us flexible, and allow our adaptation to change to go smoothly.  We must keep them lubricated, with an open mind and loving heart.

    It is the view of some, that Mechanism will be the lord of the future world.  Mankind, in the view of extreme roboticists, will simply have no purpose.  I disagree. The semi-human beings seen in the Terminator and Avengers movie series each claim to be Pro-Life.  That, to me, means maintaining, lubricating and refining our working parts.  This, only the flexible intelligence that is human will be able to do, ever.

May 18, 2015

  • The Road to 65, Mile 170: Power

    May 17, 2015, Prescott- I admit it, I get cheap thrills from watching tv shows where people who abuse their power get a good, hard comeuppance- usually after they try every trick known to man and beast to hold on to that ironclad control.  Two shows now current, “A.D.” and “American Odyssey”, focus on criminal geniuses who have amassed great wealth, through nefarious means and the grassroots, loosely tied groups who are working to bring them down.

    My guilty pleasure aside, we know what happened with the dastardly Roman elite and its backers in the Jewish Sanhedrin; so, “A.D.”, dramatized as it is, only reinforces the conceptions people have on the persecution of early Christians.

    The problem with merely fighting the powerful, without having a clear-cut, well-conceived plan about what comes next, is that we become the powerful, and fall back on the very systems and methods against which we were previously trying to upend.   Pete Townshend, in “Won’t Get Fooled Again”, offers a cautionary tale:  “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss”.

    So it goes, and we have the spiritual descendants of the early Christians, trying their level best to persecute critics of their school policies, in places like Waco, TX- where people trying to implement anti-bullying codes in Christian schools are being even more humiliated by the church establishment, which is working to cover up the incidents.  To be fair, there is plenty of blame to go around, among all faiths, in the misuse of power.  The depredations of Muslim and Buddhist reactionaries are too many to recount, and atheists, led by Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot, wrote several volumes on how not to meet the needs of common people.

    Power corrupts, and absolute power….. Truth be told, power can only be absolute for a brief period of time.  The common folk always find ways to get around it, to erode its base, and, eventually, to show just how illusory the concept actually is.    The only true, lasting power is that of love.  “Love gives life to the lifeless; hope to the hopeless.  In the world of existence, there is no greater power than the power of love.”- ‘Abdu’l-Baha, speaking in London, 1911.

    I don’t know how “American Odyssey” will end, but I do know that the end result of a lust for power is, sooner or later, a total loss of power.