Archive for travel

Where to take the kids

Posted in Family with tags on January 25, 2009 by macmystery

I found this a couple of weeks ago.

It’s a list of the top 15 American landmarks that every kid should have a chance to see.  Some of the things on the list, I have yet to see. Some I’m not sure I agree with, but it’s

Here’s the list.

“A Writer’s Credo”

Posted in Books, Journalism, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on September 9, 2008 by macmystery

My friend Jennifer mailed me a book on Yellowstone Park by a man named Jack Turner a few weeks ago. I can only imagine spending serious time in Yellowstone. It’s one of those places most people only read about. You know it exists, you’ve seen it on PBS specials but you’ve never been.

Consequently, making it to the east side of Yosemite National Park was one of my goals for my six-week stay in Reno this summer for the Maynard Editing Program, where I met Jen.

Unfortunately, it didn’t happen. It was simply a casualty of circumstance. I did see Lake Tahoe twice, Virginia City twice, and I made it to San Francisco and the West Coast for the first time in my life. (Not to mention, despite not being gay, I’ve now been to two major Gay Pride parades. Bizarre.)

Jennifer, who lives in San Antonio, saw the book at a booksale, knew about my unfulfilled goal and bought the book for me. She sent it along with some Alamo crackers for Dylan.

I haven’t got around to reading it yet. I will as soon as I finish the book I’m reading about the South. But I have perused “Travels in the Greater Yellowstone” enough to find this nugget between the acknowledgements and the introduction:

“The moral duty of the free writer is to begin his work at home: to be a critic of his own community, his own country, his own government, his own culture. The more freedom the writer possesses the greater the moral obligation to play the role of critic.”

The words were not written by Turner, but by Edward Abbey, “an American author and essayist noted for his advocacy of environmental issues and criticism of public land policies,” to quote Wikipedia, which of course, is always dangerous.

Apparently, Abbey, who died in 1989, was quite a controversial character. He was quite the environmentalist, with most of his attention focused on the American West, yet he refused to be associated with those we commonly know as environmentalists and tended to anger those on both the right and the left. For example, he advocated burning draft cards as early as 1947, but was known to support the National Rifle Association.

Abbey’s politics aside, his “Writer’s Credo,” originally written as a lecture and included as a chapter in his book “One Life At a Time, Please,”  is as on the money as one could be. And though Abbey was an author and not a journalist, at least in the common sense, he hits on what some of the goals of a journalist should be.

In the process of finding out more about Abbey, including spending considerable time on a Web site dedicated to his works and fans, per se, I came across a treasure trove of interesting quotes by the man. Here are a few: 

To truly bring about change, one must be willing “to oppose injustice, to defy the powerful, to speak for the voiceless.”

“Truth is always the enemy of power. And power the enemy of truth.”

“Whenever I see a photograph of some sportsman grinning over his kill, I am always impressed by the striking moral and aesthetic superiority of the dead animal to the live one.”

“Better a cruel truth than a comfortable delusion.”

“A knowledge of the true age of the earth and of the fossil record makes it impossible for any balanced intellect to believe in the literal truth of every part of the Bible in the way that fundamentalists do. And if some of the Bible is manifestly wrong, why should any of the rest of it be accepted automatically?”

“The tragedy of modern war is that the young men die fighting each other – instead of their real enemies back home in the capitals.”

“Society is like a stew. If you don’t stir it up every once in a while then a layer of scum floats to the top.”

“There is no force more potent in the modern world than stupidity fueled by greed.”

“In art as in a boat, a bullet, or a coconut-cream pie, purpose determines form.”

“Grand opera is a form of musical entertainment for people who hate music.”

“Science is the whore of industry and the handmaiden of war.”

“The rich can buy everything but health, virtue, friendship, wit, good looks, love, pride, intelligence, grace, and, if you need it, happiness.”

“The feminist notion that the whole of human history has been nothing but a vast intricate conspiracy by men to enslave their wives, mothers, daughters, and sisters presents us with an intellectual neurosis for which we do not yet have a name.”

“There’s nothing so obscene and depressing as an American Christmas.”

“Motherhood is an essential, difficult, and full-time job. Women who do not wish to be mothers should not have babies.”

“The best American writers have come from the hinterlands–Mark Twain, Theodore Dreiser, Jack London, Hemingway, Faulkner, Wolfe, Steinbeck. Most of them never even went to college.”

“Abolition of a woman’s right to abortion, when and if she wants it, amounts to compulsory maternity: a form of rape by the State.”

“In the Soviet Union, government controls industry. In the United States, industry controls government. That is the principal structural difference between the two great oligarchies of our time.”

America My Country: last nation on earth to abolish human slavery; first of all nations to drop the nuclear bomb on our fellow human beings.”

Any hack can safely rail away at foreign powers beyond the sea; but a good writer is a critic of the society he lives in.”

“There never was a good war or a bad revolution.”

“Baseball serves as a good model for democracy in action: Every player is equally important and each has a chance to be a hero.”

“The most common form of terrorism in the U.S.A. is that carried on by bulldozers and chain saws.”

“A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.”

“Jane Austen: Getting into her books is like getting in bed with a cadaver. Something vital is lacking; namely, life.”

And last, but not least:

Life is too short for grief. Or regret. Or bullshit.”

A day at the beach

Posted in Family with tags , , on August 6, 2008 by macmystery
Caroline's first trip to the beach

Caroline's first trip to the beach

My sister Michele’s baby Caroline, who had surgery just a couple weeks ago, is doing just fine. She’s happy and gaining weight, two things that couldn’t be said a couple weeks ago.

In fact, she’s not quite two months old, but she’s on her first trip to the beach.

A weekend of camping

Posted in Family with tags , , , , , , , on August 6, 2008 by macmystery

The weekend before I departed for my six week stay in Reno, Brooke, Dylan, Ella and I were supposed to go camping with our Sunday School class, a yearly trip that we have come to enjoy quite a bit. It’s nothing rugged, simply a weekend at a campground with a gaggle of kids and some good friends and good food.

Needless to say, with everything I had going on, we had to bow out. This past weekend was our “make-up” date. Along with 3 1/2 other couples from our class and their kids (20 of us in all), we spent Friday through midday Sunday at the KOA campground in Boone, N.C.

On Friday evening, after everyone got set up and settled in, we all went to eat at the Dan’l Boone Inn. It was pretty good. Kind of like an all-you-can-eat Wade’s. In the same vein, but not as good as the Dillard House. Definitely not on the same level as the Blue Willow Inn.

Dylan got to play nonstop with his friends for two days. And despite a bit of whining, he was pretty good for the most part. He got to play mini golf and swim on Saturday.

On Saturday afternoon, we went with Stuart and his two boys on a short hike, easy enough for 4- and 5-year-olds. We drove to the other side of Boone to the Blue Ridge Parkway and stopped at the Cone Manor House, near Blowing Rock and overlooking Bass Lake. The grounds are home to numerous horse and foot trails. We probably hiked between a mile and two miles. We also saw a couple dozen horseback riders.

Ella was the hit of the camp. Some of the kids wanted to hang around her the whole time. And she was the only one in our tent who had absolutely no trouble sleeping. She got a bruise when Dylan ran into her pack-n-play with a big metal dump truck. But she was a trooper. She even enjoyed the hike from her perch atop the carrier we have that Brooke wore on her back.

After we left Sunday, we stopped by the Mast General Store in Valley Cruces before heading home.

While I didn’t sleep well … a combination of the hard ground, the cool nights and the four of us in a two-person sleeping bag … I’d have gladly stayed another week rather than come back to work and wait to hear who’s going to get laid off.

Coming home … a long strange trip

Posted in Family with tags , , , on July 18, 2008 by macmystery

With my six-week editing fellowship in Reno at an end, my friends Jennifer and AJ dropped me off at the Reno airport just before noon on Saturday, and my journey home began.

I was heading back to S.C. via Philadelphia. It was the last stop on this year’s baseball trip. Four of us – Chris, Richard, Will and myself – take a trip each year to three of four major league cities and take in some baseball. Toward the end of the trip, we typically plan the next year’s trip.

This year’s trip involved an Astros-Nationals game in Washington D.C., a Rockies-Mets game in New York and a D-Backs-Phillies game in Philadelphia. My fellowship forced me to miss two of the three games on this year’s trip, but I flew to Philly to meet up with the guys and finish out the trip.

I was supposed to fly from Reno to Dallas to Philly, getting in at about 12:45 a.m.

I was supposed to.

Got to Dallas after a ridiculously rough flight. Found my gate. And boom! There go the lights.

An hour and a half of sitting in the darkness of the Dallas-Fort Worth airport later, an hour and a half after our original boarding time, I make it on a plane. I get to Philly about 1:45, to my hotel room about 2:30 a.m.

My dinner? Beef jerky and an orange juice.

The game in Philly is OK. We eat lunch at the park. We hit the road. Richard had to get back home to D.C. so he could then head to meet his wife at the beach. I was riding on to Christiansburg, Va., with Chris, where I would meet Brooke and the kids, surprising Dylan, who thought I wouldn’t be home for the next day.

After a typical dinner at Hooters, we left Richard and headed to Virginia.

Sometime after 11 p.m., my phone rang. It was my wife, crying. Her mom had taken her dad to the hospital because he was having pain on his left side. They thought he may be having a heart attack. Now she may not be able to meet me the next day.

Finally, at Chris’ house in Christiansburg, after discussing several methods for me to get home if my wife wasn’t going to show up to get me, Brooke called back to say her dad was OK. They think he just had a SERIOUSLY pulled muscle. Thank goodness.

Around 12:30 p.m. the next day, my wife pulled in the driveway at Chris and Bridget’s house. I watched out the window as she got Dylan and Ella out of the car, Dylan having no idea I was there. (Apparently, according to Brooke’s blog, Dylan ran down a laundry list of what his “surprise” might have been, even thinking for a time that Brooke was taking him to a horse she had bought for him.)

His face lit up when I walked outside, and he saw me. I’m sure mine did, too. I knew six weeks would be a long time, but I had no idea how tough it would be to not see them.

“I knew Daddy was my surprise,” Dylan said.

Yeah, right.

The drive home was long. I felt like I should already be there. I was with everyone I wanted to see there. We stopped for dinner at a Chick-fil-A, and I gave Dylan some of the surprises I had bought for him.
He loved the chunk of silicon. It cost a dollar, but it’s like gold for a 4-year-old.

After dinner, we drove two more hours before getting home. I’m pretty sure I don’t want to go anywhere else for six weeks.