Sunday, November 29, 2015

Photo-of-the-Week #239 The Badlands of South Dakota, September, 2010

Here is just one of the many vistas of this unique landscape. This is in Badlands National Park in South Dakota. It's one more example of the awesome scenery, topography and geology that makes up the United States.

I drove through Badlands National Park the first time in late September of 2010 when I drove to Rapid City to finalize my change of residence and domicile to South Dakota and obtain my South Dakota drivers license. This is the fifth state I've held a drivers license from and had voting privileges.

It continues to amaze me how much there is to see just in the lower 48 of the United States. I've only scratched the surface and I've been traveling around this country for the better part of 50 years. Of course, a good part of that was on business, so the travel was mainly to major cities and metropolitan areas. But, now, while I've been to most of the major cities and metro areas, my focus is really on exploring the smaller cities and towns and the natural wonders of this land.

Of course, there is even more to see in Canada, Alaska and Mexico. I dare say, I have a lifetime of travel and exploration ahead of me without even leaving the North American continent. There are still a few places I'd like to see overseas, but frankly, with the hassles and inconveniences of air travel these days and so much turmoil in various parts of the world, for the most part, I'll be just as happy to visit the rest of the world through travelogues on large, flat screen, 3D TV's.

No, it's not the same as actually going to the places, eating the food, smelling the aromas and mingling with the people, but I've learned that everyone will die with “unfinished business.” So, I will still be looking for an opportunity to revisit New Zealand and I'd love to get to Australia. I would also like to revisit Ireland.

There are places in Europe I haven't been, but that's okay. I wouldn't mind getting back to Prague and Budapest. I've been to China, but frankly, from what I've seen of the explosive growth and pollution there, it's not high on my list to revisit. I wouldn't mind spending some more time in Hawaii and exploring the Big Island. I'd also enjoy visiting some of the Caribbean Islands and revisiting the Bahamas.

That's a lot of territory to cover in the X number of good travel years I have left ahead of me. Wherever I make it to will be a gift and I'm going to continue enjoying the lifestyle of a nomadic wanderer.

Live free and be happy. EH 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Photo-of-the-Week #238 Freedom in Florida, Haulover Beach, Miami, Florida, February 2004

What can exemplify personal freedom anymore than being on a beach sans any clothing? So, you might be asking what might I have been wearing and how far away was I with my telephoto lens? I am not a practicing nudist or naturist, the two labels that seem to be used interchangeably for this lifestyle. However . . . when in Rome, do as the Romans do. Yes! I was a full participant and the photo was not taken with a telephoto lens.

The backstory for this photo begins with a trip to Florida with my friend. We had the use of another of my friend's house in a Miami suburb while he was traveling on business for an extended period. The friend I was traveling with, who I'm still good friends with, decided she was going to test me and see how much of a prude I was. What she didn't know is that I had gone skinny dipping on a few occasions before I met her. I also spent two weeks in New Zealand where the folks are much more laid back about things like the naked human body, as are people in most of the rest of the world. So, I had enjoyed several group nude experiences there as well. I passed her test hands down.

This is Haulover Beach in Miami, Florida, an internationally acclaimed, clothing optional beach. I hadn't been there before, nor had my friend, but she is an RN and very comfortable with the naked human body. She adapted instantly to being on a beach, nude, with numerous other strangers all wearing the attire we were all born in.

I grew up in a relatively conservative, northern New Jersey family. I attended a puritanical Baptist church from as early as I can remember. Modesty was heavily stressed. Nudity, the naked body, had shameful, dirty and sinful connotations. So, believe me, my first couple skinny dipping experiences were very, very stressful for me. Thankfully, while, as I said, I'm not a practicing naturist, I'm much more comfortable in my skin (no pun intended) today than I was as a repressed teenager and college student.

Being nude with other people in a situation like this is very natural (thus, the label, naturist) and freeing. One rapidly learns to accept that all the beautiful bodies we see in movies, soft and hard core porn magazines, Playboy and similar magazines are the exception. People are just people. We all have different bodies. Naturists, for the most part, at least according to my experience, are not who we may define as exhibitionists. If they were, they wouldn't allow children and teenagers to be exposed to the lifestyle. That being said, yes, there were at least a few exhibitionists on the beach. They had to make sure everyone knew they were there and focused on their usually unexposed “assets.” Exhibitionists have always fascinated me. Some time I'd like to interview some. But, naturists are just you're average person who accepts their bodies and those of everyone else as a natural part of life.

Perhaps you've already had the opportunity to experience the freedom and less stressful environment of a place like Haulover Beach. You know how enjoyable it is to strip away any facades and just be yourself. If you've never had the opportunity or made the effort to walk on an ocean or lake beach au naturel, you should. After all, all you're doing is removing those last few scraps of cloth separating you from a feeling of real freedom. And, truthfully, it's not like we all don't know what the small pieces of cloth are covering? It doesn't matter if you're beautiful or not. It doesn't matter if you're thin and fit or a plus size and lumpy. It doesn't matter how large or small or perfect your male or female “attributes” are. It doesn't matter if you're wealthy or poor, belong to the country club or dine at a soup kitchen. No one judges anyone else. There are just no facades.

Of course, I would never force anyone to go to a clothing optional beach or participate in any kind of situation, like taking all their clothes off in a group of nude people if it made a person feel uncomfortable. Like everything else in life, this is a lifestyle choice and doesn't suit everyone. I've not had an opportunity to revisit Haulover Beach since this time, but I will the next time I'm in the Miami area and the weather is conducive.

Live free and be happy. EH   

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Photo-of-the-Week #237 – In Solidarity with the French People, November 13, 2015

This week's photo, or actually a symbol, isn't about me or the places or experiences I've had. It's about the horrific experience the French, and especially the Parisians, had on November 13, 2015 . . . Friday the 13th.

In the U.S., the Friday following our Thanksgiving Day holiday has become known as Black Friday. Frankly, I never got it . . . the designation, that is. However, Friday the 13th of November this year is truly a Black Friday for France.

We may not all agree with each others' or other countries' politics, but no one, no people or country deserves what happened in Paris on that day.

I have little more to say than my thoughts, prayers and condolences go to the people of France and especially the families and friends of those who lost loved ones through the carnage that occurred that day. That includes at least one American family (so far). Vive la France, God Bless America and God Bless all freedom loving people everywhere. 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Photo-of-the-Week #236 – The Sandy Hook Lighthouse – 2,500 Miles Removed, Lake Havasu, Arizona, May 2015

Behold, what you are looking at this week is a miniature model of the replica of the Sandy Hook (New Jersey, my home state) Lighthouse which is 15 miles from this location on Lake Havasu and approximately 2,500 miles from the actual, real McCoy on Sandy Hook in New Jersey. Go figure.

So, now I've seen the actual, original Sandy Hook Lighthouse and the model of the replica on the opposite side of the continent. I didn't actually go to see the life size replica. I'll look forward to doing that the next time I'm in Lake Havasu City.

Here is the “Rest of the Story” as Paul Harvey would say. This information is on the plaque to the right of the “monument” of the replica of the original. What? Does any of this make sense? Maybe I should just say . . . “Only in America.”

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Photo-of-the-Week # 235 – Happy 7th Anniversary Day To Me – November 1, 2008

This is a view from the front door and porch of my residence and the world headquarters of Oakhill Press and Oakhill Recordings for nearly six years. I affectionately called it Oakhill Ranch. It was located just outside Winchester, Virginia in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley. This day, exactly seven years ago today, was the first day I was no longer residing on Oakhill Ranch and Oakhill Press and Oakhill Recordings were no longer headquartered at this location.

This was, as I sometimes refer to it, my “Emancipation Day.” I had made a decision several months earlier that when the long term lease I had on this property terminated I would not renew and I would leave. This bucolic vista greeted me everyday for most of those six years (except for those days when I was traveling). I have displayed other photos of the house and property in Photo-of-the-Week posts in the past. To be honest, there wasn't any view from the house that I didn't cherish. But, I loved this view from the front probably most of all.

I've been very fortunate and blessed during my lifetime and professional career. I have only worked (and operated my businesses) outside my home at some commercial or similar location for a total of about ten years at the most. The places I've lived and operated my businesses for the other approximately 40 years, have been idyllic. While some may feel I wasn't as financially successful as many entrepreneurs, my quality of life made my life very rich indeed and definitely better than many of the others.

Finally, the day came when it was time for me to make another lifestyle choice. It was with no small amount of anxiety and trepidation that I made the decision and took the action. So, here I am, exactly seven years later with nary a single regret for my decision and looking forward to an even richer future as a location independent individual and entrepreneur.

For anyone who finds himself or herself at a crossroad and place of decision regarding your future, I am in full empathy with you. As the saying goes, “been there, done that.” My simple advice is that you weigh your options, have some idea what you would like your future to look like and then make the decision and take the action. DO NOT become a victim of the “paralysis of analysis.”

Could you make a mistake? Of course! Does that make it the end of the world? Absolutely not! And remember, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Even if you make a mistake, you will learn something. Mostly, you'll learn more about yourself, who you are and what you are seeking in life. As stated, I have not regretted my choice or decision for a single minute over these seven years.

If you want to talk with someone who has, as I said, been there and done that, contact me. My contact info is here. Ed's Contact Info 

One last note about this photo. It is not a very high definition photo because I took it with the very basic and simple first digital camera I bought to enter the world of digital photography. But, I like the photo and even though it's not one of the higher resolution photos I took in succeeding years with a better camera, it's still a keeper for me.

Live free and be happy. EH