time is that? It's time for the Veteran Speakers Retreat. The VSR, as
we call it for short, is an annual “retreat” for veteran
(typically senior) professional speakers.
professional speaker, if you're not aware, is someone who is paid a
fee to present a keynote speech, conduct a seminar or workshop that
may be as short as a couple hours or as long as a week or so. They
may also speak, not for a fee, but to promote their other businesses,
products, books and courses. These speakers expound on topics as
diverse as the dictionary.
was, a member of the National Speakers Association, the primary
professional organization for the speaking profession, for a quarter
of a century. While the NSA represents only a portion of the people
who speak professionally, it's certainly an influential organization
providing education, business building and standards for the
yes, I was a professional speaker as another element of my
multi-faceted professional life. However, I was never a full-time
speaker, as so many of my friends in the profession are. It was
actually something I did more as an avocation. While I did collect
fees for some of my speaking, I mainly spoke to promote my other
a band of gypsies we go down the highway We're the best of
friends Insisting that the world be runnin' our way
- Willie Nelson
Listen to the Audio Version:
Everyone . . .
know it's been a while since I've posted anything new here. Frankly,
I needed a short break. There were just a lot of things going on and
my poor little brain was getting fried.
I was devoting time to straightening out the space I had been
occupying at my friend's place in WV where I was based camped for way
too long. And, I was devoting more time to completing some
modifications and changes to “My McVansion” before heading out on
the road again. I ran it past my mechanic and we found a few minor
things that needed some tightening, replacing or refilling. I wanted
to make sure it was road worthy before I started wracking up the
about the time I was finally ready to roll out the door, one of my
few remaining clients (from my 50+ year career in the recording &
voice-over business) called with a new project. Actually, the 3rd
or 4th complete update and redo of one of his training
programs. I had to record the program at his offices in Fairfax,
Virginia (where I have an office at my disposal whenever the need
should arise). But, the scripts wouldn't be ready and cleared by his
lawyer for another week and a half. So, one more delay, but certainly
worth it. Dave and I have been working together on his programs for
over 35 years.
due to all kinds of circumstances (and probably a few excuses) I got
a late, er, make that LATE start, by several months getting back out
on the road. My last post was a week or so before I finally headed
out, probably close to a month ago. When you're in one place too
long, there seems to be a longer transitional period than one might
think, at least for me.
I headed to northern Virginia as soon as the scripts were ready,
bunked in with my Air Force buddy in Falls Church, Virginia for a few
nights, recorded the 8 CD's worth of new material with my client,
then headed west. Unfortunately, I had to forego all my planned
visits and wanderings south of the Virginia border. That bummed me
out, but I'll plan more time for that this coming fall and winter.
did get to visit my long time book editor and his wife, good friends
from my book publishing days. I also got a chance to run through
Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, Tennessee and camp for three nights in
the Great Smoky Mountains National Park – most pleasant and
relaxing (as I spent time editing my client's programs). Since then
it's been a continuous road west, doing my best to avoid interstates,
although the yesterday was and today will be interstate days. This
was only because to get to my destination for the next couple weeks
I'd have to go a hundred or more miles out of my way and expend gas
money I'd rather conserve at this time. I've actually seen quite a
bit of Americana that I haven't seen before on this trip already.
stopped in Jackson, Tennessee to visit the International Rock-a-Billy
Hall of Fame, founded and curated by one Henry Harrison. I had only
planned to spend about an hour at the Hall of Fame and then move on
to Memphis. But, I met Henry, a delightful and knowledgeable man
about the rock-a-billy genre of music and friend of many, if not
most, of the notable artists. While there, a delightful woman, Debe,
who looked much younger than her age, befriended me. After we left
Henry and he closed the Hall of Fame, Debe filled me in on the city
of Jackson, drove me past the late Carl Perkins home, then took me
over to her new massage salon where I met her husband, David.
had a delightful dinner and parted ways until Sunday morning when I
followed them to their church service – at a Unity Church. I had
never been to a Unity Church service before and always wanted to
attend one. Seize the opportunities when they arise. That was in
Memphis. We spent the rest of the day in Memphis and had dinner on
the famous Beale Street, enjoying live entertainment and good food.
They also put me in contact with another person I met with on Monday
before crossing the Mississippi River and heading west.
is what is so great about my life and lifestyle. It's one serendipity
it's Friday morning as I write this. I'm parked in a Walmart (Motor
Inn – bring your own accommodations – as I like to quip) parking
lot in Amarillo, Texas. This is where I spent the night last night
with other vandwellers and RVers parked all around me – all headed
for their own adventures and serendipities. It was wonderfully cool
and comfortable sleeping last night and it was a beautiful sunrise
shining right in my back window this morning. The temperature was
about 49 degrees here at about 3,600' above sea level.
will be leaving here shortly to head to my destination for the next
couple weeks in high desert country of central New Mexico. I'll be
meeting up with a fellow full-time traveler and his wife. Sharon is
heading out on an adventure of her own with her sister, so John will
be baching it for a couple weeks. So we're going to enjoy some of our
own adventures. I'll complete my client's project, do a few more
things to the van I didn't get to do before I left and enjoy some
time to catch up on a lot of reading.
received some emails from some of you, my loyal and much appreciated
readers. Thank you for your concern. Several of you were concerned
something happened to me (illness, accident, died, dropped off the
face of the Earth). Let me reassure you, I AM FINE – better than
fine, actually. It is so great being back out here on the open roads
(and knowing my writings were missed). So, yes indeed, I'll also be
WRITING and will be preparing a number of new articles for the blogs.
I've been taking photos – how could I not. It's what I do. I'll be
posting them with some stories to go along.
travelers, whether in larger forms of RVs or vans, travel almost
continuously. Others select a location and stay there for, perhaps,
anywhere from a couple weeks to a couple months, some even longer.
I'm kind of between those two extremes. I don't like to be traveling
everyday. But, sometimes I may do that in short spurts like I am
right now. But, when I get to an area that I really like and can find
a comfortable place to park for several days to a couple weeks or so.
I do that and spend time on my personal projects and writing. I may
venture out from there and do day trips to explore the region.
life is grand. As the late Gene Autry wrote and sang, I'm back in
the saddle again, out where a friend is a friend . . . Stay
tuned! My batteries are recharging and getting near full. There is so
much to write about and discuss. Keeping life simple, living free and
being happy in a world full of turmoil. This may be one of, what may
turn out to be, the most historic election cycles in our country's
history. We could end up (I'm not making any predictions or
endorsements) with the first non-political establishment president in
64 years since Dwight Eisenhower or the first woman president since
the beginning of our national history. Who knows? It's an exciting
time to be alive, yet there is certainly much to fear and be
concerned about. Let me finish this article with this quote from “A
Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens:
was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of
wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief,
it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was
the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter
of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us,
we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the
other way – in short, the period was so far like the present
period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being
received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of
is really all that new except for the technology and the players.
That's why it's important for us to live free and be happy. EH
is IT! For all of you who have tuned in each week for this simple
feature I've called my Photo-of-the-Week, this is the 260th
photo article. I said this is it, because after 260 consecutive weeks
or five years, I'm ending this series. And, NO, it's not because I've
run out of photos. Believe me, I have several thousand photos to
continue choosing from. I'm simply tired and bored with producing
this particular weekly article.
chose this particular photo as the final one because it doesn't
represent the “end” rather, as a sunrise, it represents the
“beginning.” Literally, this photo depicts the beginning of a new
day. And if you hadn't noticed, this is a day late. I usually post
these photos on Sundays. So, while this is the end of this weekly
feature and series, it's also the beginning of something new. I'm not
sure exactly what that is, yet. But, it will be coming pretty soon.
Possibly, it might begin as early as next week.
you haven't figured it out, yet, I thoroughly enjoy sunrises and
sunsets. This sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean was taken in January of
2009. I shot it from the balcony of a hotel room in Myrtle Beach,
South Carolina. A buddy and I were on one of our spur of the moment,
spontaneous expeditions in January of 2009. There were very few
people at Myrtle Beach at the time since it's a summer resort and
most people don't go to the Atlantic beaches during the winter. That
suits me just fine since I don't like crowds. But, the temperatures
can be quite moderate at the more southerly Atlantic beaches and the
sunrises and sunsets are still glorious.
actually featured another shot from this series several months ago,
except, for some unexplicable reason, I called it a sunset. The sun
doesn't set in the eastern sky over the Atlantic from Myrtle Beach. I
guess I wasn't paying much attention to detail. This is definitely a
sunrise and, in my opinion, a beautiful one. I especially, like the
clouds and the palm fronds in the photo. They add “color” and
texture to the vibrancy of the sunrise colors.
to from here? I'm not sure. Since I operate a dash cam while I'm
traveling, I may start posting some short video clips of interesting
places as I travel the highways and byways (mainly the byways) of the
U.S. There may also be some screen capture shots from the videos if
there is something specific I want to highlight. The videos may have
voice-over narrations instead of printed article descriptions
(articles). I'm not sure exactly what form future posts will take,
yet. I'll most likely do some experimenting until I find the new
formula I like.
be heading out on the road again within the next several days. I'll
be experimenting with the new dash cam I recently installed in My
McVansion. It appears to take some pretty good high definition video.
Of course, I'll have to be sure to keep the windshield clean, since
“bug season” is already beginning.
plan to take a lot more photos and a lot of video since I have added
more camera power and accessories to my media arsenal. The van is now
set up for both video editing and production as well as high quality
voice overs. I'm planning to finally launch a podcast series and the
YouTube channel I've had for a while, but have not posted any videos
on, yet. So, stay tuned. This wandering nomadic vagabond has lots of
roads and miles to explore and new stuff in store. I hope you'll
enjoy it and share the blog, podcast and YouTube channel with your
friends. It's time to extend my reach and motivate more people to live freely.
decided to end this Photo-of-the-Week series at the five year mark.
That will be at the 260th post of weekly photos. This is
#259. I have no particular reason for ending this series. I still
have thousands of photos left and I'm always taking more. I simply
feel like taking a break and coming up with something new. I'm
thinking it may be video instead of still photos. Stay tuned and
you'll be surprised as much as I may be with whatever I come up with.
So, there is still one more photo in this series next week.
Saturday April 16, 2016, something occurred that hasn't occurred in
more than 20 years. As a matter of fact, something occurred that
probably hasn't occurred in possibly as many as about 50 years.
20 year marker was that my two younger sisters, Lois and Denise, and
I met and spent several hours together. I've seen each of them during
those 20 years. They've seen each other during those 20 years,
however, the three of us hadn't been together at the same time and
place over those years. My, how the years have flown and how we've
changed (please note, I didn't use the word “aged”).
50 year marker was that we actually were together for about five
hours and shared a meal together. Many people who read this will
raise their eyebrows about both of these events. I'll not go into the
details of our family, other than to say, there are a million stories
in the “Naked City” and ours is one of them. Obviously, we are
not a close knit family and, if you'd guess there were circumstances
that precipitated the situation, you'd be right.
sister Lois, four years younger than me, drove from her home, a town
just a couple miles from where we all grew up in northern New Jersey.
My sister Denise, eleven years younger than me, now lives in a small
town in the Shenandoah Valley about 15 miles south of Winchester,
Virginia. Winchester is where I made my home for about 26 years prior
to taking on my nomadic lifestyle the end of 2008.
drove to Winchester from the small town I use as my eastern base camp
in West Virginia and met up with Denise. She rode with me to Hershey,
Pennsylvania where Lois met us. Yes, the same Hershey as in Milton
Hershey and the Hershey Chocolate Company. It was about a 2½ to 3
hour drive each way to that meeting point for all of us. Of course, I
had close to an additional 2 hours each way from West Virginia to
Winchester. My total time behind the wheel was about 9 hours.
was cordial. And, as is typical, especially when you haven't shared
any time together over long periods, there was a lot of reminiscing.
We are in contact and there are no anger issues to speak of.
Logistics is the main issue. Lots of memories of old people (friends
and family), places and things. It's amazing how, as kids at
different ages in our development, we recall certain things and not
others. We also recall common memories quite differently sometimes.
It was very cathartic.
week's photo-of-the-week came to mind as I was sorting through a
bunch of photos from my hometown area in New Jersey. I was motivated
to look through this batch of photos by our meeting yesterday. The
house on the right of these two family houses is my Uncle Pete's
house. Uncle Pete has been dead for quite a few years. Admittedly, he
wasn't necessarily my favorite uncle. My father was raised as an
orphan from age 8 until he was 18. Uncle Pete's was my father's home
for those 10 years.
you look at the house you can see there is a basement, a first and
second floor and an attic. My father and my uncle, his younger
brother, grew up in the attic, which was, to the best of my
knowledge, unheated. And, of course, as most attics are, it was also
the hottest part of the house during the summer. Heat always rises
and the sun beats down directly on the roof of the attic.
don't recall if the last home my parents owned was air conditioned.
It likely was not since none of our earlier homes were air
conditioned, not even window air conditioners. I still remember how
hot it could be during the summers even in the lower, insulated parts
of the house. So, I can only imagine what my father's life was like
while growing up.
is an excellent thing to do from time to time. I don't live in the
past and I don't enjoy talking with people who live in the past. That
was then and this is now. However, as my sisters and I did yesterday,
reminiscing about our early years can really help us appreciate the
life we live today. I surely do. How about you?
water theme photo. I've always like this photo because it represents
a different perspective and a kind of juxtaposition.
photo was taken from the beach under the Duck Research Pier, US Army
Corps of Engineers, Field Research Facility in early March (we call
that winter) 2008. A good friend has a timeshare beach house not far
from this pier that I have had the good fortune to utilize
occasionally with a group of friends.
pier is quite tall and, obviously, very sturdy. It's primary purpose
is scientific research into tides, impacts of hurricanes and
nor'easters, water depth surveys and a variety of weather related
studies. The facility has been in place since 1977. It's 1,840 feet
long. It's work has been recognized internationally.
quite easy to walk under since it's so high. But, I always enjoy the
interesting perspective being under the pier with the colors on the
cement and metal pilings. So, maybe I have a weird definition of
art, but to me, this is . . . well, unique. There may be other piers
like this in other places. I just don't recall seeing them or being
as intrigued as I am with this particular pier.
April 3, 2016 as I write this. It was snowing when I got up this
morning. Give me a break. I looked outside and thought, “Oh no!
This is a nightmare, I'm back in Syracuse, New York again and it's
1968 or 1969.”
It's spring. It is, at least, according to the calendar. I was
supposed to be in the southwest by now, where it might be a bit
chilly in the evenings, but warmer and sunny during the days. I spent
another winter – unplanned – in the east in what may be
considered the Mid-Atlantic region, but more properly, Appalachia.
wind blew hard, probably gusting to 50 or more miles per hour. The
rain came down in torrents for a good part of the night. This
morning, the wind was still blowing, the Arctic blast came during the
night and it was snowing when I woke up. Now, it's later in the day,
the snow has stopped, the wind has died down to a light breeze, the
sun is out and the sky is blue.
need a dose of beach, salt water and bikini babes. There's nothing
like feeling the warm sand running through my toes as I walk on the
beach. I also enjoy the rays of the sun on my body. The sound of a
gentle surf and some sea birds is like a lullaby. And pretty young
women in skimpy bikinis quicken the heart rate of a guy my age, whose
mind keeps trying to trick me into believing I'm going on 33.
I pulled this photo from two years ago on the Gulf coast in Florida.
I remember where I was and who I was with. Unfortunately, while Tommy
is a terrific guy and I enjoy his company, he just wasn't a cute babe
in a bikini. But, I captured a shot of this one.
Island National Seashore is calling to me. I'll be heading to Texas
and I won't be far from Padre Island. It's been about 13 years since
I was last there. I just may have to pull myself up a piece of beach
to park on for a few days and enjoy the sun, surf, sand and hopefully
a bevy of bikini babes. I have my sunscreen packed. Live free and be
Sweet memories. Just a little over a year ago, this was my location.
I was staying on U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land in one
tiny segment of the Sonoran Desert. In the distance, at night, you
could see the lights from the small town of Quartzsite. Otherwise,
this was a peaceful place in the middle of a lot of desert territory
away from the congestion of larger towns and cities.
wasn't actually alone. There were folks camping throughout this and
other BLM territories all over this region of the country. In this
area, there were five other folks in residency. There were four women
and one other man. We each chose a small parcel of land and left
enough space between each party to provide the privacy we each
cherished. Yet, we were close enough that we could easily gather
around a campfire at night and even share an occasional communal
could almost say we had our cake and could eat it, too. That's really
a big part of this kind of alternative lifestyle. Each person had a
different educational, occupational/professional and spiritual
background. Each lived with different financial means. Each brought
unique skill sets to the table and shared them as they might help
another member of this ragtag, informal, unlikely crew. Different
interests and different origins from different parts of the U.S. Yet,
at this one time, drawn together for this short period to this small
commune. And then . . . we'd scatter in different directions.
rules were simple. Each to his own, except when invited or inviting
to share time, resources, conversation, meals, humor, knowledge,
wisdom and skills with one or more of the others. Each member of this
spontaneous, temporary commune was self-sufficient and didn't require
the others, but it was nice to have some social camaraderie.
words commune, community and even communism all have their origin in
the English, French and Latin words meaning common. Communes and
communities are basically more social forms of groupings for certain
common interests of those living within the social structure.
are, by their nature, smaller groups of people, generally with
reasonably close and common interests. They share the living
experience and typically each contributes voluntarily to the group
based on their talents and skills.
are similar, but generally larger, usually more diverse and more
structured. They typically have a much more defined hierarchy of
leadership with more defined rules, codes and laws to, a generally
accepted degree, benefit everyone in the community.
is, again, similar, but different. Communism as envisioned and
expounded by Karl Marx is both a social AND an economic system. It
basically doesn't recognize the individual rights of anyone. Everyone
is the same. Everyone is supposedly equal. No one owns anything.
Everything is owned by the central authority or government, if you
will. While the most basic premise seems Utopian in theory, in
practice, it's oppressive and repressive. A small elite group
controls everything and everyone, supposedly for the “greater
good.” As most everyone has witnessed, communism doesn't work.
have a group of friends in my former hometown in the Shenandoah
Valley of Virginia. We are all single, mostly divorced, some widowed.
On several occasions, because we enjoyed each others' company, we had
deep discussions about forming our own commune. While we were diverse
educationally, professionally, financially, spiritually and we each
came from different parts of the U.S. originally, we genuinely liked
one another. We had even traveled and lived communally for a week at
a time on several occasions. Some of the group did some serious
research on the concept.
never manifest in an actual plan. While we could agree on most facets
of creating such a commune, there was at least one big issue we
couldn't resolve . . . location. If the members of the group were
going to give up what they had to become a member of this small
association (we envisioned not more than, perhaps, 12 people),
everyone wanted it to be in a place each dreamed of living. Some
wanted to be near the ocean. Some wanted to be in a rural area. Some
wanted to live in the mountains. Some preferred a lake setting. Thus,
this seemingly, almost perfect dream never came about.
the beauty of what this week's photo-of-the-week represents to me. I
can be part of a small commune of reasonably like minded individuals
I can relate with. And, then two weeks later be by myself somewhere
or part of a different communal group. Many thanks to the folks I
shared this time with for including me and for the friendship. And,
many thanks to the people in other small communal groups I've been
included in. I look forward to more opportunities in the future to
share communal time with all of you.
an aside, I'm putting together an addition to My McVansion. Last year
I had to wait for the sun to move to lower positions in the sky to
cast some shade. Shade is especially useful on very bright, hot days.
So, this year, I'm adding a nice canopy to the right side of the van.
It will provide shade from the sun and shelter from damp, rainy days
all day from sun up to sun down. One is always working at improving
their home and that's true for vandwellers and RVers as well. Live
free and be happy. EH