Boy what a week (or two)

I haven’t been writing the past couple of weeks for a pretty good reason.  My son was born last wednesday at 10 in the morning and, well, as can be imagined I have been fairly busy.  In a good way, but a rather exhausting way as well.  It is a wonderful thing to bring a new child into the world, but man it takes a lot of energy!

So needless to say I won’t really be traveling far anytime soon.  But there are so many places close by to visit still that I will be doing my best to better enjoy what is close by than what is further away.  The other day, when my wife wanted to get out of the house with the kids for a little bit (surprise, right? 🙂 we ended up going on a bit of a drive.  With springtime coming in this area of the world, the array of colors and blooming plants are astounding and something that I enjoy looking at.  And it occurred to me as I was heading out the door that instead of just going to a store or someplace that we usually go, why not instead enjoy the drive?

It amazed me just how nice it was to get out of the house and drive, and I know that my kids and wife liked it as well.   Being able to travel with family is something to enjoy and doesn’t have to be a highly planned out and organized affair in order to be a good bonding experience.  Sometimes all it is is an extended drive to the store, taking roads you normally don’t take and not being afraid of getting lost that bring the most memories.  And plus it also means that when your kids get tired, you can just take them home and put them in bed. 🙂  Always a plus in my book…

When Trips don’t happen

One of the worst things about planning out a trip is the anticipation.  Yes, I know, usually when people talk about anticipating something it is synonymous with excitement, happiness, etc.  Though I suppose that would depend on where you are going, but I think that in most instances when people talk about their trips and where they are going they are generally very happy about the idea and very anxious to get going.

For myself, when I am going somewhere by myself or with others and have a plan laid out for what I am going to be doing I tend to become rather stoic about it.  People will ask ‘Aren’t you excited about this trip?” why yes, yes I am I reply.  ‘But you don’t look like it.’ is the general response.  To which I reply, ‘well, until I actually start something, I tend to not get to excited about it.’

It seems like a rather dour way to live, always living in a sense of your ideas and plans are not going to work. I should explain a little bit about myself.  I am an idea man, or at least that is what I consider myself to be.  I have this ability to come up with a lot of different ideas of how to do things, when to do them and generally a really effective way to do it.  Need more efficiency at work? I’ll take care of that.  Need the details of a party planned? No problem.  Want that closet organized?  Sure, I can handle that.  Oddly enough I even like doing all the planning, getting all the little details right and making something that was disorganized organized.

When I start to get things together for a trip, it is pretty much the same thing.  I am taking all these variables (places to go, people to accommodate, how much money will be spent) and I am organizing them into something doable, something fun.  And it is a matter of pride and excitement for myself to see something that I have worked on and organized come off well.  That is one thing that draws me to traveling.  It is not only the idea of going and seeing new things, it is providing others with that ability through proper planning that comes with the experienced gained by traveling a lot myself before I help others to travel.

When trips don’t happen, when people don’t listen to my ideas, when I do all this planning for nothing, well, it is a bit disappointing.  I suppose for anyone who puts a lot of time into a project, not seeing that project be successful is rather distressing.  You spend all this time doing something for others (which is what I am doing most of the time) and then it is brushed off as something inconsequential in that other persons life.

I don’t get excited for a reason, and that is because of the disappointment that generally accompanies something not happening.  I still do enjoy planning things for others and will continue to do so.  And when those trips don’t happen, I do the pragmatic thing and tuck those adventures away for another day.

A Challenge

I have been blogging for a couple of months now.  I admit, I was more writer happy when I first started, though i suppose that having written around 10 blogs is nothing to be ashamed about.  That being said, I am wondering a couple of things.

First off, I wonder how many people actually read my blog?  I have several people who ‘like’ and ‘follow’ my blog, but I am not sure if that is only a way for them to get me aware of their blog (which I have read several of them, and they are quite good) or if people just like to show support of new bloggers.  Either reason is fine, I am only curious as to what others are doing.

I like to think that when I talk about my traveling on this blog that it affects those around me in a positive way.  Or maybe it is just a journal for myself that is available for the public to see.  Many interesting insights are learned about life and people in general when you read about others experiences.  Listening to history podcasts and learning how they gather that information has taught me that recently, and it makes it so that I want to write more about my experiences with others, and how I see things going on around me.  It is an interesting thought to think that someday somebody might read what I have written and be inspired by it.

So I have a bit of a challenge.  For me and for all of you who read my blog.  I would like to see more comments, and more specifically how the things that I write affect you.  This could be a memory that you have had of traveling, or it could be a comment on how reading others blogs have inspired you and helped you to continue with blogging when it seemed like there was no point anymore.  Also, any tips and advice you might have for new bloggers would be good, things that have helped you to continue to grow in your writing styles and stay focused on writing more each month.

I hope that that is not too forward, but I really am curious to see how everyone else succeeds and keeps motivated.  And I would like to feel like I am doing this for more than just myself.  It is easier to give up when you don’t feel like you are helping or inspiring others, and I would like to think that as writers and creators we could all use a little bit of encouragement every now and then.

That’s it for this week, next week I will continue with my journeys.  I have several things to write about, things that have happened over the past few months and about trips that I have planned for the upcoming months.  It should be pretty exciting, and I am looking forward to it.  Hopefully as it warms up everyone will be able to get out, travel a bit and enjoy a bit more of the world around them.

Safe travels!

The Joys of writing a continual blog.

I started out writing this traveling blog several months ago, and I have to say that I did a fairly good job keeping up with posting every week.  I was able to write about places I had visited around in this area and what I felt and thought about them.  It was entertaining and I liked feeling like I was reaching out to other people with similar interests.  Overall I was having a good time and felt that I would keep on blogging for awhile.

And then it happened.  Okay, actually I have always wanted to write that and then follow it with something dramatic like, ‘the earth exploded,’ or ‘my car broke down.’ Which, the second one makes more sense since my blog is about traveling in my van, a van that is rather old and a bit decreped to be honest.  And it the world had blown up nobody would be around to read my blog anyway, which would be a real shame because, of course, the best is yet to come.

No, actually, what happened was life.  I had to move around and pack a lot of different things.  I started up two different jobs.  I had to fix an old shed (a shed that now looks rather good I must say) to put more things in it.  And I just became busy.  I was also feeling a bit intimidated about writing my latest post about my time in Carthage.  It was an awesome place to visit and I was wanting to do it justice in my blog and I didn’t feel that I had the right amount of time to write about it like I should.  I am a bit of a perfectionist in that sense (and that is a trait I wish I could carry over to other aspects of my life…).

When trying to reach a goal that is set it can be intimidating when you fail along the way.  Sometimes we set ourselves up really well to succeed and it annoys us even more when we don’t.  I made it a goal to write every week about traveling for at least a year, had several blogs set up in advance so that if I couldn’t get out for awhile I could still have things to write about, yet I still managed to not do what I had told myself I was going to do.  It is times like this that I look at what I am doing and ask myself ‘do I really want to do this?  Do I really enjoy it?’ And of course the most obvious question, ‘am I just destined to fail at everything that I set out to do?’.

The last thought is the most poisonous.  Nobody can tell what the future will bring and we decide whether we will fail or not at something.  Even if we don’t reach all the goals that we set out to do we still succeed in the process because we learn something about ourselves.  I like to write, but I get intimidated trying to write above the level that I am at right now.  So now I know what it is that I need to work on to move forward.  I may not succeed in making a post every week for a year, but I have learned something about what I need to do to be more consistent in my posts in the future.  Every success and failure has a lesson attached to it and I think the real success is finding the lesson and actually learning from it.  In that way we can move forward in our lives in a positive way.

So life gets in the way of blogging.  Eh, so what?  I still enjoy traveling and actually right now with one of my jobs I get to travel around quite a bit.  I am delivering product in my town, and it amazes me the areas that I haven’t been to in my town yet.  I have lived here for close to 12 years and I haven’t seen all there is to see in my own little part of the world.  It’s a shame, because there is so much to appreciate around here.  Not everything is a constant either.  Last week I was out delivering after it had been snowing.  I was a bit tired after a long night of constant delivery, and this was going to be one of my last ones.  On the way over to where I was going it started to snow again, big flakes that just gently floated straight down to the ground.  I got to my destination (a hotel) got out, turned around and saw the most amazing sight.  I was outside in the lights of the front of the hotel and was looking towards the freeway.  I could see all this snow falling all over the bare trees and green bushes and onto the ground. A lot of this gently falling snow was highlighted by yellow outdoor lighting and it was a bit dazzling at times.  As I looked over the ground I could see this heavy snow falling over the countryside, the buildings in the city, and over the freeway.  And it was quite.  That is one thing I like about snowfall, the silence.  It lets you soak in the experience without being overwhelmed by the sound, and at that moment was one of the more peaceful moments I had that evening.

Traveling doesn’t have to be to some far off place to enjoy it, and blogging doesn’t have to be perfect to enjoy the story.  Maybe now I can finish off the goal I set for myself, remembering that sometimes you don’t have to be perfect at something to enjoy what you make our of it.

Languishing in Lamar

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(This is the front of the house were President Truman was born.)

As I was traveling to Pittsburg a couple of weeks ago I had a specific plan in mind.  I was going to be traveling down highway 60 going west and on the way I was going to be stopping in a town or two to look at a couple of historic sites that had caught my eye while I was looking over my atlas the other day.  I have currently set myself a two hour radius that I have to stay inside for my travels since my van is not the most reliable of vehicles right now.  I also thought to myself that a lot of times we tend to think that the most amazing things are far away from our homes.  There are plenty of amazing things that take a long time and a lot of preparation to travel to, but there are a lot of places close by to our homes that are just as interesting.  I set this two hour radius so that I could better explore my own little part of this world, and I have enjoyed it so far.

Lamar is one of those towns within this zone.  I stopped in this town for a very specific reason: to visit the birthplace of Harry S. Truman.  Now I was originally thinking about telling a huge long story about President Truman and what he did and how awesome he was.  All that is true, but in the end I decided to focus less on the history and more on the places that I saw while in Lamar.  I wasn’t too overly excited by the birthplace of Harry S Truman, but I did make a couple of surprise discoveries that I will talk about.

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(The tours were not going on when I got there so I had to take a couple of pictures through the window…)

President Truman was an amazing person and accomplished a lot during his lifetime.  I suppose that the same can be said of most US Presidents, but I have a special place in my heart for President Truman because he was born in Missouri and that is were I live currently.  He was thrown into the Presidency after the death of Franklin D Roosevelt and had to make many hard decisions concerning war and social issues, and I respect the decisions that he made.

President Truman didn’t live in Lamar for too long, he was actually raised more in the Kansas City area (which for those of you who don’t know Missouri that is about 2.5 hours from Lamar).  During his live he was a Captain in WWI for an artillery unit eventually going on to be colonel.  He was a farmer for 10 years after the war before going into several Judgeships, then a Senator, Vice President and finally President of the USA.  I could probably go on about him for a lot longer, but that isn’t the point of this article, this is more focused on Lamar.  Though if you want to know more about Harry S. Truman, here is a link to explore: http://www.whitehouse.gov/about/presidents/harrystruman

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(A monument to Harry S. Truman at his birthplace.  President Truman himself attended the dedication of this place as a historic site.)

Lamar itself was a small town, and I was not too impressed by it.  It might have been the fact that I had already been driving for several hours, or perhaps because I had build up the town as being some sort of amazing place that had this monument to a President that I admired, or maybe it was only because I needed to go to the bathroom and when I got to the Historic site it was all closed down.  Either way, and this is true of a lot of small towns, the place I went too was very discreet.  The only way I knew to get to where I was going was by following tiny brown signs that were posted at what seemed like random along the side of the road.  Even though I have fairly good eyesight it was still hard for me to see what the signs said and I almost missed my turn.

The site itself was good for a walk around and I did enjoy the small town feel that I experienced as I went through the city.  It is one thing I liked about traveling along hwy 60, you always had another small town to go through every 15 min or so.  Nothing was every big or well laid out like you would see in a larger city, but they were big enough to have distinct personalities that were interesting to observe and take pictures of. 

As I got in the van after looking around the birthplace of President Truman to continue my drive, I felt a wave of disappointment at not having my expectations of Lamar live up to what they had been.  As I drove down the street I decided to be a bit adventurous and go a different way than the way that I came in.  I always try to just go with the flow when I am traveling like this and I am glad that I was.  I made an interesting discovery just a little way down the street.  A small theater was located on the square in the city of Lamar and it was cool enough to make me stop and take some pictures.

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(Not the grandest of buildings but I liked the architecture of it. There is also a drive-in theater attached to this building.)

The Plaza theater of Lamar is small, but it is rich with history.  Okay, well, that is how I wanted to start this section of the blog but unfortunately I haven’t gotten any responses back to my emails that I sent to the theater that I sent asking about the history of the place.  I mainly stopped because I saw the outside of the building being outlined by the setting sun and I had to take a moment to appreciate the beauty of the situation.  I enjoy looking at old buildings that have been well maintained.  There is a photo essay that I looked over once about abandoned buildings in Detroit and it pained me to see some of those magnificent old buildings with there meticulously well laid detail go to rot.  I always try to take time to appreciate what has been built before me and keep a sense of the sacrifice and changes that people made to keep a building the way that it looks.  There are many ways to tell a story and not all of them are through words.

I left Lamar after snapping the above picture, probably never to stop in that town again.  I might, one of these days, go back to take the tour of the house with my family.  But the city itself was a let down for me in many ways, though I suppose that first impressions are not always right with people and with towns.  Nevertheless I continued on to my destination of Pittsburg without so much as a glance back or a thought of what I might have missed.

 

Sights to see while traveling (part 1…of an indefinite number)

I have been away for a few weeks having some fun with my family that has been in from out of town.  It is fun to be able to travel around a lot, especially when that traveling involves the immediate members of your family.  I had to travel several hours to rescue one of my sisters when her van broke down while she and her family were in route to my place for a visit.  I enjoyed the chance to not only drive on roads that I haven’t driven before (they came in on a road that I have driven, but on the way back I got lost on accident) but also to visit with my sibling and her husband and small children.  Traveling is fun to do by myself, but I also enjoy the chance to talk with those that I enjoy being around while also enjoying the thrill of discovery that driving in new places brings to me.

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So I decided to take a trip a few weeks ago when I had some spare time.  I had nothing better to do for the most part.  Work was out for the next few weeks for Christmas (I work for a school currently), my wife was visiting with her sister, and my family wasn’t going to be coming into town until the end of that week.  It had been awhile since I had gone anywhere and it seemed that for some reason everything (including a massive warm front) was lining up for me to take one last trip in my van before the Missouri winter decided to set itself in for the next couple of months and it became too cold for comfortable travel.

I set my sights on a small town outside of Missouri called Pittsburg.  It is in Kansas and is city of about 20,000.  It isn’t a city of large industry, more a city of students since is houses the state university of Kansas.  I didn’t have much time to visit all the places that Pittsburg has to offer.  To be honest my travel plans were cut short by a day due to family matters.  In the end I was grateful for that since it allowed me to focus more on the trip to and from Pittsburg, instead of just Pittsburg itself.  I passed through several small towns.  One of them (Carthage) had some really cool locations that I will talk about in another blog, and the other town (Lamar) had a historical place that I will write more about in other posts as well.  This blog is more about what I saw on the road to and from Pittsburg.

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There are a lot of small towns along the roadways of Missouri.  Unless you are traveling along 34 outside of Popular bluff around 9’o’clock at night, where there seems to be nothing but yetis and other woodland myths running around.  Along this area that I traveled I passed through several small towns that had interesting sights.  The picture above was a building that I spotted in a small town.  It is a simple mural yet it was very communicative of what went on in the building.  I enjoyed being able to enjoy the creativity of another person and also enjoyed how they advertised for them self in such a unique way.  I took a moment to snap the picture before I headed on down the road so that I could perhaps do this to my business one of these days.

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Traveling along this route, not really trying to go any place in particular, you can see some cool things if you keep your eyes open.  I passed on the way up a house that looked like a miniature castle that had been transplanted from a European country a hundred years ago. My wife and I enjoy this sort of architecture so I was quick to snap a picture in order to remember what it looked like.  I am thinking that the next time I will try to get out and talk with people that own these places so that I can understand the history of the location.  A place becomes a lot more compelling when you understand the history of it and how it has affected the lives of those around it.

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I finally made it to Pittsburg as the sun was going down.  I stopped by the local McDonald’s to use their WiFi (I am too cheap and poor to get a hotspot or smartphone yet) to check in with my family and look up some things about the area.  I always check to see if their is an airport nearby, which is where the picture with the (very blurry) moon is taken at.  I like the thought of being able to fly.  Not only because I could visit more places, that is not the only reason.  Their is a freedom that comes from being able to fly several thousand feet above the earth and look down on it and on familiar places.  It is a whole new feeling seeing a place that you have been to before from that angle.

Pittsburg was not very interesting.  I drove down main street and stopped every hundred feet for their intricate lights system.  The only upside to that system was the fact that they could do a fun Christmas decoration down the main street by running lights and garland across the wires that transverse the street.  It made for a beautiful sight that I was able to appreciate even more since I had to stop so much.  I suppose it was the cities way of apologizing for the stupidness of the system they had in place, and I was glad to be able to appreciate it.

As the night wore on and I became more sleepy I made my way back to the local Walmart.  With how my van is I am able to park where I want and go to sleep.  Walmart allows you to sleep in their parking lot and the convenience of being able to go into the store 24 hours a day makes it a very tempting place to stop for the night.

This is only the first half of this journey, next week I will talk about my trip back and some of the places that I was able to stop and visit.  I am a bit of a history buff (always interested and learning) and the sites I stopped at reflect that.  Missouri has a rich history since it has contained humans of one nationality or another for several hundreds of years.  There was much to visit and see, and as I drifted off to sleep that night, through the disappointment that was Pittsburg the excitement of a new day and more traveling shone through.

The Fear of Missing Our Youth

I enjoyed this article. Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in the thought that we are missing our lives because we are not accomplishing everything we want in that moment. It is a good idea, no matter where you are at, to stop and take a moment to just enjoy the feeling of being alive and experiencing that moment that you are in.

hello to all that

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I was driving on Route 16 between New Hampshire and Maine the other day, ferrying my co-workers from the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Lakes of the Clouds hut to my house in Rangeley for a night of relaxation after closing the backcountry hut for the season. The sparsely populated woodland highway was pitch dark, we had already seen three moose come out onto the road, and we were talking about our fears. Two seemed to be louder than the rest: the fear of settling down and the fear of not having enough time to do everything we wanted. What if there wasn’t enough time? What if the adventure came to an end before we wanted it to? These fears, palpable and real to everyone in the car, all of us twenty-two and twenty-three years old, echoed out into the blackness of the night. Out to the rest of our generation. To…

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