The reality of doing dumb things wasn’t always limited to me traveling. It also wasn’t limited to me at the pool or near the pond. Sadly I have had the ability to do dumb things in almost every single part of my life. In the early days of GPS, before what we have today I was, I know the geek adopted GPS! I remember knowing the way to places and arguing with the GPS. It was something I frequently did. It so happened that I was bound for Chicago on a business trip. Sometimes I flew, I drove. In this case, I decided to drive. It had rained in the Northern Indiana and Chicago area. I 65, or interstate 65 north was the route from Indianapolis to Chicago.
There was a really bad accident on the road ahead (I-65), and I pushed the reroute me button. Now this was in the early days of GPS. There are a couple of things that ultimately were changed later, but at the time, things were different. I have a PocketPC, with a GPS sleeve and an application running on the PocketPC that was providing me with real-time driving information. I was roughly 5 hours ahead of the meeting and about 1.5 hours from the meeting location. The GPS didn’t know about the accident, but the police were standing there waving people off the highway (I later learned a semi-lost its entire load all over the road. No one was hurt, but it took a long time to clean it up!
My GPS quickly came up with an alternate route, so I relied on technology. I was cruising along a State Highway (the Interstates in the US are Federally built and maintained). The GPS arrival time went from 1.5 hours later, to 55 minutes later. I was not only going to get there well ahead of the meeting, but I was saving time over the highway! I came around a corner at about 55 miles an hour, on the state highway and slammed on the brakes. By the time the car stopped, I was about 30 feet into a flooded road. You see those early GPS’s didn’t know about road conditions. Didn’t understand the concept of weather and ultimately were good at maps but bad at everything else. I sat there for a couple of minutes. I stupidly thought about going forward, but remember horror stories of people driving into moving floodwaters. So I turned around. I went back to the route that the police recommended via the detour. I arrived at the meeting 20 minutes late (nearly a 4-hour trip took nearly nine and a ½ hours).
Sometimes, having a tool that understands more than what is directly in front of you is critical!
We went out to dinner last night at one of our favorite places near us. We have a lot of favorite places that are within a 20 or so minute drive of the house. We went early (in the DC area it feels like dinner for most people starts at 7 pm). The restaurant was fairly empty but started to fill up as we were finishing our always delightful meal (there is a reason we love Zane’s, first it is close to our house. Secondly, they serve just amazing Japanese food. You can find my Yelp review of the restaurant here. The reason for this story, however, is that as we were walking out, I noticed a young couple dressed to the nine’s. Realizing that May is prom season I wondered if this was a first date or Prom night.
That got me thinking about our first Prom experience, my daughter going while we still lived in Greenwood. She is the only one of our kids that graduated from Center Grove High School. The twins graduated from Northwest High School in Maryland. My daughter’s prom experience was interesting. Mostly because she went, not with a boyfriend but with one of the coolest people she knows her good friend. He is someone that I would honestly say is a part of the family. Someone that I am proud to know. He is a Facebook friend of mine. My daughter’s boyfriend, before prom was a bozo. I don’t and won’t mention his name ever again, nor would I want to resume my acquaintance of him.
He was a bozo. I cannot think of better word to describe him. They broke up before prom her junior year. In stepped her good friend. Again, a wonderful young man. He laughed at my jokes which in my world makes him a very smart person. My jokes are the best jokes, if you don’t believe me, ask me and I will happily tell you that my command of the dad joke world is second to none! Anyway, the first two pictures are of my office in the basement of our house in Greenwood, the rest are of prom prep. I included the office pictures because, well they demonstrate that my office remains just as messy even after moving two times from the time of this picture!
Part of my journey as a writer was through a Royal Manual Typewriter. My father taught me to write what I was thinking. Then when I was done to go back and clean things up. I should probably do a better job of cleaning things up. I found a Royal like the one my father had all those years ago on Etsy. I also have a 1930’s portable typewriter with the case, but it is in really bad shape. I keep them to remind me of my father. I also keep them to remind me of the journey. I used to sit in front of a blank sheet of paper, now it is in front of a taunting flashing cursor. Either way there is blankness in front of me as I start my journey, my wander project each day. It is a journey that mixes the joy and sorrow of my life around me. This blog focusing on the various components of the Family History project my kids and I began now nearly three years ago.
Nick used to take lego sets and make new creations!
Over the years there are a number of things that change and a number of things that stay the same. The family history project focuses on tracking the things that changed. We got married on the hottest day of June 1991. It actually wasn’t the hottest day, but we were outside in wedding attire and it was hotter because of that. As we stood there on the porch of my parents farm, listening to the minister read the ceremony a bee buzzed around us. That moment in 1991 was not the end of a previous journey nor was it the beginning only of a new journey. It was the mixing of two journey’s together. The past, present and future captured in a series of photographs and video. We have 20 DVD’s worth of family videos, plus more than 100,000 images that have been scanned, archived and we have begun sharing them.
I still love to take pictures of people taking pictures.
The folder I found to share for today is one from 2006. Many things happened that year. I actually finished my project in Malaysia that year. I stopped by Bangkok to visit my parents who were there (dad was still teaching in Bangkok long after he returned from IU). Barb’s parents were living in Franklyn Indiana by then, in an apartment as part of a retirement facility. The world was still shaken by the events of the previous five years. 2001 had a huge impact on those of us that traveled for a living. The kids were growing. The boys turned 8 years old in 2006. Their sister was 14. Great kids then (that hasn’t changed they are still great kids).
When you have dogs, and they come with you on trips they have to travel well. One of the many things our dogs do to fit in is travel extremely well. They are amazing in the car. This is Dylan when he got home from the trip. He hopped onto his settee and napped. We’ve owned labs now for more than 16 years and the guarantee is they are great in the car. Well our three over the years have been great. We do make an effort to stop every 3 hours though they have a chance to relax and stretch for a bit. The trip home due to presents, was a bit cramped. So the dogs were more pressed for space then they are used to. No complaining by them, they just moved around until they found a place to relax. They also hung out in Bloomington with my mother’s dog’s. She has three poodles (full size) and a poodle. Well in fairness she has two full sized standard poodles and a small Scotty. Her third standard poodle is not standard, he is huge.
The flipped ear is a Dylan specialty. When we picked him up in Richmond Virginia 4.5 years ago his ear was flipped. Here he is wondering what the humans are doing. He did enjoy opening his stocking. His favorite part of Christmas is staying in the hotel. He loves a piece of bacon in the morning to start his day. We ended up staying in the Springhill Suites by Marriott on the South West side of Bloomington Indiana. It is a very clean, easy to access hotel and I would give it as many stars as you can for a hotel. They serve hot breakfast and the team working there was fast and efficient. They left a wonderful not in our room letting us know that there would be not service on Christmas day, but the front desk was open so we could get things if there was anything we needed. We weren’t in the hotel room much so it didn’t matter. But Dylan loves hotel stays. His first hotel stay with us was more than 4 years ago in Virginia Beach Virginia. They also had bacon for breakfast. Plus in Virginia Beach Virginia the humans are more evolved. On the beach side of the city they allow dogs to wander in and out of all the stores. Dylan felt that was important to the evolution of humans who struggle to be as smart as Labradors are.
This was Raven’s first stay in a hotel. We have taken her on vacation before, just stayed at my mother’s last year and in an apartment when we took her to Oak Island North Carolina. So she was experiencing the joy of hotels for the first item. She quickly embraced Dylan’s get me bacon in the morning rule, and found the floor to be quite nice for stretching. Both Dylan and Raven pronounced the bed comfortable, but wished the humans would not have been on the bed or that the bed was bigger, Only having 68% of the bed available for stretching out cramped their styles. The bacon made up for the too small bed, somewhat, but not completely. When did the dogs seize control? Our lesson learned from last year was not to force the dogs to be together for the day and night. That caused more tension. By us taking the dogs to the hotel they had a chance to get away from their cousins and chill a little. There was an abrupt transition in the morning. but mom and my sister usually take the poodles and scotty for an early am walk. Raven and Dylan are huge fans of the walk process and early morning walks are even better!
I don’t often take pictures of hotel rooms, except when they are amazing. This one, in Prague. It is from the Marriott. I arrived at the hotel exhausted but opened the door initially and freaked out. I thought, based on the downstairs view I had, that I had a hotel room with a Murphy Bed (a bed that retracts back into the wall) I didn’t. I had a two floor, massive hotel room with two bathrooms. There was even a sleeper sofa if you wanted to entertain guests. I put my stuff down and wandered over to the Marriott lounge. They had me at smoked salmon and beer. Just a really beautiful city. Prague, at least in the downtown area, is very old. The new, mixes with the old by consuming older buildings and making them new on the inside. The hotel was next to the casino downtown and just a little walk away from Kafka’s pub. I did stop in for a drink (or two). I didn’t however undergo a metamorphosis while I was there. Nor did I see any 5 foot or larger cockroaches. I did get to enjoy a wonderful time in a bar named for the famous Czechoslovakian writer. Plus I got to see the amazing city of Prague.
The newer part of the city, not the city center, is expanding up and out. This was my first trip after the end of the cold war to what had been a nation in what was Eastern Europe (I would make two more trips into Eastern Europe but for now this one was the first). I learned a lesson the first evening I was there, sitting in the lounge and having a beer. The bartender was a nice young man who wanted to practice his English, and was willing to speak to an American, even though I don’t speak English (that was his joke not mine although I did laugh). He offered me the local beer called Budvar and told me the story of how it was the basis of the American beer. I tasted Budvar and have tasted the American beer, and frankly the two are not in the same ballpark. Budvar is an amazing crisp beer. My second evening I decided to wander to the castle for a tour. I had heard of Prague’s castle from friends. co-workers I had just met and history books. Sitting on top the hill overlooking Prague it was just a beautiful place to stand and watch. I left my camera back in the room, which I realized just as the sun was setting and setting the castle ablaze in glory. So in this case words have to do.
I didn’t buy anything in the Kafka Bookshop. I did go in and wander. it was near the pub on the square. I love old European cities that have the open squares. Where you have the old buildings lining the huge open square. My new friend the bartender made fun of me for walking around like a tourist (I explained that I actually was a tourist). I asked him what he would do if he came to Chicago, or New York. He said he would wander around and see all the things he had read about, I said TOURIST! We laughed. The paving’s of the courtyard where large hewn stone and fun to see how they were fit together. No concrete between them as they were 400 years old. Old cities are fun to wander in. The bartender and I talked about places in Europe he wanted to go, to see some of the old places. I introduced him to the much older culture in Asia and the Middle East. That he should visit the places that had thousands of years of history. Before even the Romans. That was the night I was sitting in the lounge talking to several other hotel guests. The guest, who were from somewhere else in Europe I don’t remember where. Told me the history of the hotel. That once upon a time it was the hotel used for the Communist party leaders. That was why it was so large, and extravagant. It had hosed the leaders of the party when they came to Prague for meetings. I kind of felt a little guilty staying there the last night based on that story.
When dad traveled back in the day he would be gone for 4 or more weeks at a time. In places that sounded fun but you never knew. He would write us letters and I can say I missed him. I find I miss him now as well. But now its more hearing his voice or one of his smart aleck comments that I miss the most. I miss the sound of “Joe’s Bar and Grill” when he would answer the phone. I do that now, when Barb calls home and I know it is her I will answer the phone with some strange greeting like “International Festival of the Arts have you given?” Looking inward and being honest with myself I suspect I was a tough kid for my dad to understand sometimes. I know that because I find the same thing is true with my own children. I love them more than anything on earth. They are the greatest addition to my life without doubt. But sometimes I don’t understand them.
I think that is the hardest job a parent has. When the time comes to let go of your babies and let them be adults. Let them make mistakes, ones that you can see coming from 100 miles away. This isn’t going to work. You know it isn’t going to work but you have to let them stumble and fall. They are a part of you and some part of you that will carry on long after you are gone. But they are also independent humans that have to make decisions and fall down. The one time I fell so hard that well there are many who rightfully never get up when they fall that hard, dad was there (and so was mom). They helped me pick up the pieces and pull myself together. I could have gone to a very dark place, feeling sorry for myself and walling off the world. But mom and dad kept me out in the open and I will never forget that. They helped me past myself.
That is in the end what parents do. We keep the fires lit. We are there when our children fall. But most importantly sometimes we have to watch even knowing they will fall. But you have to let other humans fall sometimes. The ultimate trust is not always saving the day. The ultimate trust sometimes is letting the other person fail, even if it hurts a little.
Back to Australia a few more times. One of the fun things about dad traveling was he always came home with recipe ideas. New foods to try to make at home. He introduced us to foods from around the world (and around the US). From Buffalo Wings to a Rueben dad was always finding new foods that were both fun and tasty. His descriptions of the food he tried were always fun. It made the transition to Thailand easier. Knowing dad would try all the food I was always game. A few times I ended up with something that was too spicy, but I struggled through. By the end the first month it wasn’t too spicy anymore!
We end with an image taken from the Sydney Harbor on the tour. I was using the video camera to take video and stills. I actually ran out of battery before the 2 hour tour was done. It was an amazing mix of history and tour.
I love Australia.
It is a place I have on my bucket list to visit again. That and seeing the recreation of the Shire built in New Zealand. That is another place I really want to see. The rest of my bucket list I’ve actually had an opportunity to see. So that is it! One trip to New Zealand with a stop in Australia. I would like to spend more time around and in the Great Barrier Reef and of course as I said in New Zealand visit the Shire used for the movies. As a LOTR’s fan boy I feel like I have to do that before I die. Its one of those complete life fantasies things.