Sunday, December 28, 2014

Photo-of-the-Week #191 - 25th Reunion, Merry Christmas, Clovis, California, December 25, 2014

This is a one of a kind photo. It, quite obviously, is different than my typical photo of the week. The photo illustrates the best Christmas gift I've had in years. It is a "double reunion."

Pictured, left to right, is my former wife, Cynthia, (and while I had two other long term relationships during my lifetime, one of them being to a second wife, I consider Cynthia my only wife), my 36 year old son, Pete, and yours truly.

The reunions? This Christmas is the first Christmas I've celebrated with my son in 12 years, he moved to the West Coast for the following Christmas. But, I said it was a double reunion. Indeed it was because it was the first Christmas in 25 years that Cynthia, Peter and I celebrated the holiday together.

We now live very different lifestyles. I, of course, have no fixed residence of my own any longer and consider wherever My McVansion is parked for an extended period of time as "home" for that particular period. Currently, my location is Clovis, California. Cynthia, although raised in Fresno, California (right next to Clovis), lives in a condo in Palm Springs, California. Pete lives in the "City of Angels," Los Angeles, California. Pete's home was in Seattle, Washington for just over nine years prior to his move to Los Angeles about two years ago where he rents a nice little house.

Palm Springs, Los Angeles and Clovis are all within about a three hour drive of one another. But, I, being an east coaster, born and raised in New Jersey and having lived the past 44 years in the Mid-Atlantic region (Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia), have a continent between us since I still remain in the eastern U.S. much of the time.

This is actually a banner year for me. I had the opportunity to spend time with my son once during the summer of 2014 and now again, during the Christmas holiday. The last time I spent time with my son was during the summer of 2012.

This second photo is of Cynthia, Peter and Cynthia's mother (my former mother-in-law), BJ Gardner. The photos were taken in the backyard of BJ's residence. BJ worked with me for many years during the latter 70's, the 80's and part of the 90's. We've been spending time reminiscing about the many projects we worked on together, the people we worked with and met and all the places we traveled to record conferences for clients from coast to coast. During the early years, Cynthia, Pete as a child, pre-adolescent and teenager and I traveled and worked on many projects together.

I think the most important thing is that despite the fact Cynthia and I only spent about 20 years of our lives together, we made it a point to remain friends and to care about each other over these past 25 years. Unfortunately, I see many relationships that have ended in divorce where one or both parties are very bitter and often hate one another. I never felt that way about Cynthia and I don't believe she has ever felt that way about me. It seems such a shame when two people have spent such a significant part of their lives together and then throw all that away to bitterness and hatred, especially if there is one or more children involved.

Additionally, Cynthia's family, mother, brothers and sister, their spouses and children, all continue to embrace me as part of the family. This is a blessing and gift to be truly appreciated.

I hope you also had a very happy Christmas, Hanukah or any other holiday you may observe at this time of year, regardless of where you are or who you spent it with. I also wish you a happy, healthy and abundant 2015 and hope you realize your aspirations for the upcoming year.   

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Photo-of-the-Week #190 The Land of REAL Illegal Aliens, Walmart, Roswell, New Mexico, December 2014

I think this photo is pretty self-explanatory. Roswell, New Mexico has made quite a big thing about an event that occurred in 1947. A flying saucer supposedly crashed on a ranch outside Roswell (about 60 miles or so outside Roswell). There they found the bodies of extraterrestrials, obviously, depicted as the lanky green men painted on the windows at the Walmart Supercenter at the north end of Main Street. "Are these real "Walmartians?"

Well, I'm not sure that everyone has the same story. Some people see these denizens of outer space as green while others see them as an ashen gray or almost white. I guess it's all in the eye of the beholder. The city has made quite a small business out of these supposed visitors from some far away planet.

The remains of the supposed crashed flying saucer like flying vehicle along with the remains of the dead and any living aliens have been moved to the secret base known as Area 51 north of Las Vegas. Of course, everything about the 1947 event and the remains of the craft and its occupants is all conjecture. There are all kinds of conspiracy theories and I'm sure, like most events of this kind, it has been blown out of proportion. Do you believe?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

2015 Trek #1 - California, Here I Come, #2 Georgetown, Kentucky & Cherokee Village, Arkansas

I left Huntington, West Virginia Tuesday morning, December 9, 2014, after a pleasant breakfast with Patrick Grace and a tour of his current office and book storage space in downtown Huntington.

My next stop was in Georgetown, Kentucky to meet up with another vandweller (part-time) currently, Dan Cordray. Dan has been a reader and commenter on this blog for some time, so we've had a relationship, but hadn't met before. Dan lives out in the country side not far from the Toyota assembly plant where he works as an automation programmer.

Dan is a seasoned camper and a very basic "prepper." By very basic prepper, I mean Dan has prepared himself with food and other necessities for minimally about a month should some kind of natural or human disaster occur. He's far from a full prepper as defined by many prepper Web sites. He's not expecting the "end of the world" as we know it. But, if something happens that forces him to leave his home for a short period of time, he's prepared.

Dan is also a good cook. He prepared a terrific dinner with salmon marinated and packed on a cedar board. All the fixings were with it including a salad. And in the morning, before I left to move on to my next stop in Cherokee Village, Arkansas, Dan whipped up a delicious omelet with bacon and biscuits. Great stop and great first meeting.

After breakfast, about 9 AM, I was on my way to Cherokee Village. This was a fairly long leg of the trip, about 500 miles. I arrived about 6:00 PM at the home of John & Sharon Abert in Cherokee Village, where I joined them for a delicious dinner, parked the van and chatted into the evening. I also spoke with my other Cherokee Village friend, Craig Hines (and his wife Julie) who has been the book designer for most of the books I published during the 12 years I operated my book publishing company, Oakhill Press. We made a date to get together on Thursday for lunch.

I expect to spend about a week in Cherokee Village getting to know John and Sharon better, talk vandwelling/nomading and await the arrival of Michael Tubbs, producer of the new YouTube documentary, "Without Bound," about the mobile lifestyle. Michael will arrive sometime on Monday, December 15th, to capture video footage of interviews with me and with John and Sharon about our lives and mobile lifestyles. The interviews will most likely be on Tuesday, December 16th. Michael will then edit the footage into a YouTube documentary about, yours truly and another about John and Sharon. Should be fun.

I then plan to leave Cherokee Village on Wednesday, December 16th to head westward towards my goal of arriving in Clovis, California on or before December 24th for the Christmas holiday. The next post will be about my visit in Cherokee Village through my departure.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Photo-of-the-Week #189 - American War Memorial, Ash Flat, Arkansas, December 2014

There are so many interesting finds as one travels the United States. This is one of them. My friends, John and Sharon Abert, currently of Cherokee Village, Arkansas (soon to be full-time road warriors and nomads) brought me to this park in a small rural town, Ash Flat, Arkansas. In this park is one of the nicest small community war memorials I've seen in my travels.

These are only a few photos of the site here, but the memorial was very well done. It represented the five U.S. military services and the men, women and service dogs who died and those who were wounded during numerous military campaigns including WWII, Korea, Vietnam, the first Gulf War, the Iraq and the Afghanistan wars.

As a veteran of the Vietnam era, while I can't say I enjoy visiting memorials to all my fallen and injured brothers and sisters at arms, I do feel it's almost a duty to show my respect to them. I was very impressed by this memorial. It was very well done and very respectful, especially for a very small rural town. But, then again, small towns are often better able to express their respect in this manner simply because they are small and the loss of individuals in service to their country is a much more personal event. Most people in these towns know or certainly are closer to everyone in town than are those in larger or very large cities.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

2015 Trek #1 - California, Here I Come, #1 Huntington, West Virginia

I FINALLY made it on the road yesterday, Monday, afternoon at 4:30 PM. Whew! It sure does take a lot of time and energy to get packed and rolling when planning on an indefinite period of time and a variety of climates.
Nothing exciting about the first leg. I left base camp in Keyser, West Virginia at 4:30 and arrived in
the Huntington, West Virginia area to meet up with my old publishing friend (from my book publishing days), Patrick Grace at 9:15 PM. I followed Patrick back to his home where I spent some pleasant time with Patrick and his wife, Paula.

Patrick threw me a power line and I powered up My McVansion for the night. Paula left for work very early this morning and Patrick had a church commitment to get to, but I meeting up with Patrick for breakfast in about a half hour.

Today, I move on to Georgetown, Kentucky to meet up with another vandweller, More to come.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Photo-of-the-Week #188 - The GRAND Canyon, Arizona, June 2010

Yes, indeed! It is a grand canyon. There is nothing special about this particular photo except I took it on my first (and so far) only excursion to the Grand Canyon. It's not an award winner and really not much more than the all too typical gratuitous photo of the giant chasm, but it's meaningful to me, because I took it, of course.

My plan was to make my second excursion to the natural wonder on this upcoming trek westward beginning tomorrow. But, I had planned to visit the northern side of the canyon that I'm told is much more scenic than the southern side from whence I took this photo. Unfortunately, due to the two month delay in my departure because of extraneous circumstances, it will be pretty darn cold in the Grand Canyon region already and the possibility of the access routes to the canyon may already be closed due to snow or snow that could fall by the time I get there.

So, this just allows for another opportunity to visit the Grand Canyon National Park and all the natural scenery and wonders therein. It probably won't be for at least another year or two. But, as General Douglas Macarthur was quoted as saying, "I shall return!"

Thursday, December 4, 2014

2015 Trek #1 Departure Date Is Imminent

The much awaited (by me) target date for departure on the first trek for 2015 is Monday, December 8, 2014. Yes, I'm calling it the first 2015 trek because it's so close to the new year and the vast majority of this trek will be during 2015.

The van preparation is coming along. It's been hampered a bit, unfortunately, by colder weather and a bit of snow and very cold rain, not to mention some serious wind from time to time. But, I keep progressing. A number of projects have already been completed (alterations, changes and additions) and while the current list of items still looks daunting - it's really quite doable.

Here's the list as of this morning, December 4, 2014:


Buy new larger drawer unit and 8" drawer units
from Walmart                                                               $  75.00

New Wiper Blades                                                        $  35.00

Complete the passenger side wheel well shelf - Ready to install

Raise the galley counter to fit in new larger drawer unit

Wire and install higher current capacity 12 volt sockets in galley

Install side door and rear door window curtains.

Cut and prepare acoustic foam for voice-over booth area in back of van
and install for fit

Mount flexible mic mounting for voice-over work

Build utility double deck shelf in rear storage under passenger side of the workstation.

Permanently mount and wire 12 volt sockets and USB sockets in cockpit

Carefully assign/reassign storage space
Mount meter and switch in project box then install and mount in van

Install 12 volt outlets in workstation

Install 7 USB port hub in workstation.

Wire 110 volt outlet in galley from new 1000 watt inverter

Wire 110 volt from 1000 watt inverter to rear power distribution panel

Mount RoadPro 12 volt water/liquid warmer in galley

Create hooks on trash basket to hook Walmart bags on for garbage

Install bubble wrap in windows for additional insulation

Trim green runner to fit

Acquire small throw rug for front section of van by side doors

Design way to mount 5 gallon water container
Everything that is crossed out has been completed and several of the other items have been partially completed. It's decent weather outside today so anything that involves work that must be done from outside the van is on today's agenda. The next couple days are scheduled to be rainy. Yuck! So, I'll be working on the interior projects.

Sunday is scheduled to be clean up and storage day. I'll be moving any of my excess belongings I have at my friend's house (my eastern base camp) into my nearby storage units. Most of it is stuff slated to be liquidated, YET! Completing as much, if not all, of my downsizing when I return sometime in the spring is my main objective at that time.

I will be posting some photos and maybe even a video walk around and walk through sometime after I get on the road. Meanwhile it's time to get back to work.