Tag Archives: travel

A travelogue

We did it!

Johnnyinabox

To my lasting amazement, we managed to load our household things onto a truck, drive the truck to a shipping station, and load everything onto a truck trailer there, all without loss of limb or temper, and on time, too. We could not have done it without the timely help of our friend Carol, two of our friend Monica’s boys, three hard-working men from Man With a Truck, and the prayers of our friends. Thank you!

Go east, young family

Some generous friends gave us a little going away party a couple of weeks before we left. As we told them our plans for North Carolina, it sounded like a new version of the older American dream of going west: to get a little land, have a few animals, we planned to go east.

Fahrenaufderautobahn

“We’re getting the band back together”

Almost always when we visit Tucson, the Spurious Freedom diaspora get back together to jam. This band has been through a lot together – sickness, job loss, cross-country moves – but the bond among the band members and families remains strong. The band, and the band wives and children, are a group of loyal, big-hearted folk. We are fortunate to know them.

MikeandAnyhony

Here is the lead guitar player Mike jamming with Anthony. Mike is amazing on the guitar.

Feasts of reason and flows of soul

Thor

As I mentioned once before, I love that we have a lot of time to talk on road trips, even if the subject matter is no deeper than school yard rhymes remembered from when we were kids.

Deep in the heart of Texas

In central Texas we passed this scene, which seemed quintessentially Texan: a ranch, with a Texan flag on a fort-style flag post in front, with a cross on a hill.

Texas

G’amp and G’anny’s house

On Monday we arrived in Louisiana, at Gramp and Granny’s house. We got to visit with Auntie Phoebe and Uncle William and the cousins, who live across the street. We had ordered snow boots to be sent to Gramp and Grannie’s house to pick up on our way. Johnny tried his on, and they met with his approval.

Johnboots

We had to take off his footed sleeper to try on the boots; then he ran off to test them out before getting dressed the rest of the way.

The night that we arrived there was a rain storm. John didn’t want to come inside; we sat on the back porch and watched the rain pour down, and the sky flash with lightning again and again. I couldn’t blame him for wanting to stay outside and watch it.

We made it!

The night before last we arrived in the Smokies. Granny came with us to help us out for the first week and a half. We found our little rental in the dark, and settled in. So far my observations are these: it is very pretty here in the mountains; and it’s co-oooold! I’ll keep you posted.

Good morning; and, aloha.

Alohaflower

Imagine the title of this post delivered in flat, measured tones by a Caucasian man; then imagine an imitation of that in the feminine voice of my diminutive little sister, and you have an idea of what I hear when I call her in Hawaii.

We heard “aloha”s and “mahalo”s in plenty in person this week; after a whirlwind confluence of events and sudden planning, we visited Hawaii ourselves – my mom, my big brother Joe, and Michael and the boys and I.

It was a wonderful visit. In a lot of ways Honolulu looks like Los Angeles, only with cleaner air and slightly more jungly vegetation. On our first full day we drove to the north shore to swim. In Hawaii, drivers drive in a slllllooow . . . leeeeeisurely fashion, unsettling to visitors from Los Angeles. John chased chickens under the trees, and a little child in swimming trunks, all of about four years old himself, warned us, “Hey, your baby is getting away!”

We swam; we had lots of meals together with family; we rested under rustling palm trees by a peaceful lagoon; we said Mass for Dad, and asked for help from St. Monica for children who stand on airline seats and repeatedly push the stewardess call button even when threatened with a personal Armageddon; we sat on the balcony of the Ilikai Hotel after the children had gone to sleep, watching old episodes of Hawaii 5-0. It was lovely.

Mass and masses of family

      “Those who are late for breakfast and late in breaking camp are not worthy of the kingdom of God.”

So rumbled my brother the punctual monsignor, as we arrived for Mass on Sunday at Lake Maria State Park, the site of our family reunion, and discovered that we were not the only late ones.  A lovely part of visiting my family up north is getting to participate sometimes at Masses celebrated by my brother and attended by lots of siblings and nieces and nephews.

Msgr. Joe vesting in the "holy of holies," which baby John seemed determined to push over.  My sister's generous interpretation was that he was afire to approach the altar of the Lord.

Msgr. Joe getting ready in the “holy of holies,” which baby John seemed determined either to enter or push over. My sister Jacinta’s generous interpretation was that baby John was on fire to approach the altar of the Lord.

The congregation

Some of the congregation

Msgr. Joe threatened to make the foregoing the theme of his homily, but he was just teasing. He spoke on Elijah and Elisha and answering God’s call in one’s life.  It was a good homily; but I liked his of two weeks before even better, when the gospel reading was about Mary Magdalene, where among other things he said:

      “Notice Jesus’ words to her.  He didn’t say, ‘Go, and mourn what you have done.’ He said, ‘Go in peace’ . . .”
      “He delights in us; he delights in forgiving us.”

Live and let live

The boys and I have now been almost one week in Minnesota.  The land is so beautiful, and the skies.  Homer spoke of the “wine-dark sea” – two evenings ago I saw wine-dark hills in the distance, blue and purple; and in the middle and foreground, a gently undulating sea of green.

My sister and her husband and their children live in a white many-gabled house with green shutters.  There are woods behind, and a grove and pond before, and sometimes the only sound is the wind in trees.

The effect on me of the benignity of my sister, her family, their home, and the land became clear to me a couple of days ago.  I plucked from my shirtfront the fifth of the six ticks my sons and I have collected together since we’ve arrived.  Instead of my usual reaction, which is to regard a tick something like this:

I don't like wood ticks very much.

I don’t like wood ticks very much.

I looked at it’s wiggling legs and considered that here was a creature just tryin’ to make livin’ and doin’ the best it can.

Don't take this wrong, but please feel free to ramble on sooner than later.

Don’t take this wrong, but please feel free to ramble on sooner than later.

Right now I am in the Twin Cities with my sister Bernadette and her husband Mike.  Their house is an island of peace of another kind.  I’ll write more on both places later.

Adventures in Colorado

Here are some highlights from our Colorado trip so far:

Saturday, June 1
We arrived at the cabin in the Rocky Mountains.  The cabin is very pretty, made of pine logs without and pine boards within.  My northerly-dwelling relatives might be amused at how elated the Louisiana and California cousins were about sledding on a 10′ by 6′ patch of snow they found in the woods.

I thought these were birch at first, but they are aspen.  There are many in the woods around the cabin.

I thought these were birch at first, but they are aspen. There are many in the woods around the cabin.

Sunday, June 2
A number of us went to Mass in a tiny church in a tiny town.  It had a simple interior with a lot of light, and a stained glass window of the Holy Spirit behind the altar.  After Mass we had lunch at a little cafe, then got groceries to bring to the cabin.

Monday, June 3
It was our 7th wedding anniversary.  Michael and I spent the day together in Breckenridge. The city was not what I expected, after seeing the rows of new-looking, many-storied chalet-style buildings from the highway.  As we walked around visiting this place and that, beside the tourist-style stores full of t-shirts and magnets, everything seemed just a little dated and a little worn, but well-kept; and the general feel was of slow-paced friendliness.  We are here in “mud season,” when tourism is low, so maybe things look a little different at the peak times.

Tuesday, June 4
On this day we drove to Cañon City to ride the Royal Gorge Route Railway.  The train went at a slow, ambling pace through the gorge.  Some of the views were spectacular.  The children loved riding on the train.

Tuesday night I discovered that the Louisiana folk were not familiar with Pictionary.  Since a lot of them have a goodly bit of drawing talent, and a lot of creativity, it was fun to introduce them to the game.

Here are some Pictionary drawings by Michael.   Can you guess what they are?

Here are some Pictionary drawings by Michael. Can you guess what they are?

Wednesday, June 5
We went range-shooting in the woods, the two oldest cousins, Michael, my father-in-law, and I.  Hunting is forbidden, but range-shooting is not.  We went in the morning, through the woods to a site my father-in-law had scouted out.  The morning was gorgeous, and after so long in southern California I don’t remember the last time I saw breath hanging in the air, as it did this morning.  I went willingly – I was glad to have this chance to handle the weapons, to learn about them, and how they are used.  I would rather that than simply be afraid.   But I felt nauseated, for a time, as we walked through the trees, thinking about guns and shooting.  The hearing protection gear enabled me to hear the blood pumping in my head, and I thought about soldiers, as I waited for the report from a weapon that can easily sever soul and body.

We shot a Ruger 22 and a Colt 45.  It was a good challenge to aim and hit the target.  I’d like to do it again.

Thursday, June 6
Today Michael and my father-in-law and I set off to attempt to hike to the summit of a 14,000 foot peak.  We made it pretty well above the tree line – my father-in-law estimates that we may have gotten to 13,000 feet.  However, at that point the trails were covered in snow, and the mountain face with lots of loose rock, and we had no climbing gear, so we turned back.  The views were gorgeous and ever-changing; Michael said it was like walking in a painting.  We saw a mule deer, three wolves (away on a hillside) and a little speckled partridge.

This is a ridge between Mt. Sheridan and Mt. Sherman.

This is Mt. Sheridan to the left, and a ridge that connects it to Mt. Sherman to the right.

One more full day to go, then we take off for the great white north.  Well, for Fargo, anyway.