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Friday, November 27, 2015

My favorite holiday

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I hope all my readers out there had a good one. This year my lovely wife and I were invited to spend the holiday with my son-in-law's family. It was great. Good food, great conversation and everyone got along. That's no mean feat these days and one I do not take for granted.

Believe me, had people decided to take offense with other people there it would have been easy to do. However, everyone remained civil. We could use a lot more of that attitude out there in the wider world. Personally, I'm thankful that civility and good will can prevail in this day and age.

The best part of the holiday is that there's only so much commercialization that one can do with it. After the grocery shopping is done, that's pretty much it. Now wonder there's such a push for everyone to go shopping on Black Friday. Christmas is the big money maker for retailers and they want everyone to dive in with a bang. However, Black Friday shopping has taken a slight downturn. Maybe no one has all that much money to spend. Perhaps we are better shoppers and realize most of those “deals” are really not worth it. If there are a few dollars to be saved is it worth suffering the Black Friday craziness to get it?

I don't think so.

Avoid the shopping rush. Celebrate national left over day. Nothing like a nice turkey, stuffing, cranberry, and gravy sandwich. Sure beats shopping.


Thursday, November 26, 2015

Travel Mobs

There are a lot of great places to travel. Information about trips and destinations has never been more easily accessible. With a little research it's possible to get more than enough information to plan most trips.

At one time the intrepid traveler would be lucky if the destination bore any resemblance at all to the published guidebooks. Now it's possible, in the comfort of one's own home, to call up pretty decent satellite photos on a vast array of electronic platforms. We've also got great maps, charts and GPS navigation.

In spite of that people pay outrageous fees to attend seminars and to hire guides. One time some family members and I went for a short hike. There's a spectacular view from cliffs about a two hour hike from the road in northern NH. The trail is pretty much a straight shot from the parking area to the top.

We were enjoying the view when a good sized crew of people joined us on top. After talking to them for a while it became clear that they were all part of group from Boston. They had paid a significant fee for a guide to take them on that hike -that 2 hour straight shot up the hill hike. Maybe it's because I've never had much money to throw away, but that seemed crazy to me. Anyone who could not follow a wide straight trail for a couple hours probably had no business in the woods in the first place.

Then there was the time when a favorite canoeing spot was featured in a premier glossy outdoors magazine. The author pointed out how underutilized that section of the river was. For the next few years that river was nothing but underutilized. Eventually the crowds went off to new places recommended by the magazines.

Now I dread opening up sailing magazines. They are putting on expensive seminars and guiding trips for places I've been and places I want to go to. That has the effect of overwhelming some of the more fragile places. It's one thing if a place is visited by individuals and small groups over the course of the year. It's something else when everyone shows up at the same time. Vegetation bounces back if a few people hike over it. When hundreds do in a few days, it gets wiped out. A few people can ease into an anchorage and view wildlife. Many people and all they can see is each other. It's not the total number of people so much as the fact that they are all there on the same day.

What is it with people that they feel they need to be led around by the hand? Some may think it's safer to travel in groups, but often it isn't. As an individual I can decide the conditions aren't very good so the trip gets postponed a few days or weeks. No problem. However, a scheduled trip is a scheduled trip. It would take a hurricane to make they cancel and have to send all the checks back. A large group brings problems of their own.

There are many many organized trips guiding people all over the planet. Woe be it to the individual traveler who follows in their wake. By the time he gets there the locals are sick of tourists, prices are higher, and some of the good stuff is ruined. Locals will interact differently with a few travelers and you can really experience the area. A large group has its own dynamic where they mostly experience each other.

For me, there's two big issues at play here. One is the high price of these services, the other is that you are traveling in a mob. Those articles about guided trips are very useful to me. I can find out when those big guided trips are and can then avoid them.


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Dismal public transportation

There's a whole lot of logistics concerning my trip south early next month. One of the problems is what am I going to do with the car? Leaving it at my stepmom's could be worked out, but my boat is 170 miles away from her place. Florida is big. Like most of the US it doesn't have much of a public transportation system either.

Right now I'll most likely just look for a reasonably secure storage place for my car near where my boat is currently located. (Ft. Myers.)

For a while I thought I'd found a good solution. Why not rent a car, drive it one way, then rent another one when it's time to come back? Weekly rates on cars are pretty reasonable, right? Indeed they are, unless you intend on dropping off a car somewhere else rather than at the place you rented it from. Holy smokes do they charge for that little service! I've purchased second hand cars for less.

Anyone else remember when cheap bus service went to just about any little podunk town in the country? It wasn't the fastest way to travel, but it got you anywhere you wanted to go for a reasonable fee. Now there are many gaps in the system. Many of the places I'd want to travel to or from have no bus service at all.

Trains? I'd love to go on a long train trip someday, but they service fewer places than buses.

I don't fly. It's not that I have anything must against it, except for the silly security theater. Even before 911 I didn't have much patience for the security people. Now it's just best that I avoid flying. Besides, I've too much gear to haul around.

There's not a lot of time to figure out what to do. We are leaving to head south around December 4th. Right now we plan on taking the car and leaving it in storage somewhere in Ft. Myers. We are doing much of this by the seat of our pants. Hopefully, we'll be better organized next year.


Tuesday, November 24, 2015


My lovely wife and I will be up north in New Hampshire less than two more weeks. We have a lot to do during that time. Good thing that not a second of my precious time will be wasted doing Black Friday shopping. Live is too short for that craziness.

We've been staying in town. My daughter and her husband are renovating a house and it's far enough along to be comfortable. That's wonderful as I didn't have to bother opening up my winterized house. It can wait until spring.

My lovely wife and I took a trip up to the homestead today. It's frosty in there. Those night temperatures in the teens freeze things up nicely. We were able to drop off some items at the house and picked up a few more. Our time was limited because the power is completely shut down. It got too dark to work by 3:45 p. m.. Now you know why everyone in the North Country suffers from vitamin D shortages.

Dad's ashes have been dropped off at the local funeral home. His mortal remains will go into the ground next to mom's. It's a bit delicate deciding where to bury someone after remarriage. Personally, I feel the wishes of the living trump those of the dead. Taking dad's ashes north was plan B, only after his widow discovered he could not be placed in the Florida cemetery close to where she lives. When that fell through there was still a spot reserved for him in New Hampshire, so I drove the ashes north.

Had I followed dad's wishes, the ashes would have gone into the dumpster at the park. Dad knew his ashes weren't him. He loved going to that dumpster. The old man was really into getting rid of clutter and the dumpster was his friend. His golf cart was modified to haul cargo. It was like a little truck.

It's been great to meet up with many of the people back home. The people here are warm, but the climate is frosty. We'll be back to sunny Florida and on a boat before long. Have I mentioned that it's frosty around these parts?

I'm not sure if I've gotten soft . . . or smart.


Sunday, November 22, 2015

Internet Issues

I've been having Internet issues. It should be sorted out now.

I'll be back.


Refugee . . . nope

Recent world incidents set me off in a blog writing frenzy -which I just deleted. It's tempting to analyze what's going to happen next in the Middle East. However, there's precious little I can do about any of it so it's not one of those things I can take action on.

Some things you can prep for. Some things you can't. However, the last place you want to be is in the middle of a war zone. When things get too desperate the only thing to do is to try and leave. At that point you are a refugee and it's tough to be a refugee. You arrive at a new country after being robbed, beaten, raped or worse. Let's just say the people at the host country don't exactly get to see you at your best. You do not want to be that person.

Here's the weird thing. Most people can leave a country with a decent amount of comfort and for less money than you'd have to pay a human trafficker. Timing is everything. The trick is to leave when things still look pretty normal. Much easier to get a visa and book a flight out of a country that's not actively falling apart.

Only those willing to take a hard cold look at their situation can take of advantage of early exit. It's hard to leave everything in one's life behind -especially when life still doesn't look too bad and there's hope of everything going back to normal. Nobody wants to be Chicken Little, shouting about the sky falling. (of course, sometimes the sky really does fall.)

Worried about friends and family? If you successfully escape and establish yourself in a new area it gives the folks who come behind you a place to go.

We forget how blood awful being caught in a war zone can get. Recently I was reading about the ancient city of Merv. Almost nobody has heard of it, but at one time it was the largest city in the world. Why don't we know about it? In the 13th century the Mongols conquered it. Some historians estimate over a million people were put to death. That's a lot of heavy messy labor with a sword.

Any place can turn into a Merv. Conditions can go south quickly. The unthinkable happens. The way to avoid the unthinkable is to think about it anyway. Imagine being a citizen of Merv. Everyone must have thought things wouldn't get too bad. Some guy who hit the trail when the Mongols were just a rumor would have thought to be a nut, by a million people -who later were put to the sword.

For those of us with modest means the best way to avoid desperate measures is to keep our eyes open and act before anyone else.


Friday, November 20, 2015

Made it!

My lovely wife and I made it back to New Hampshire. We left Florida Wednesday at noon and arrived at my daughter's 39 hours later. We encountered rain all the way. It was a long slow drive, but we made it in safely.

American highways get weirder every year it seems. For example, Thursday night in Connecticut we encountered a car driving without headlights at night and in the rain. Want to make a bet that they were impaired too?

Lots to catch up on.