Life ripples

Water view at one of Grand Teton’s glacier lakes – Jenny Lake

Who can see real beauty beneath?

We behold clear view obscured by uneven ripples.

How can we see beneath the surface,

Not knowing what lies underneath?

Yet we see beauty while trying to understand,

Not knowing full the image – is it danger or is it safe?

Only when we wait for calm to form

Will we know true intent of what’s inside.

Then we focus on what is there that we did not know;

There is calm, some rocks, but still there is growth

We look up to the splendor that wasn’t there,

When we saw what was below.

We couldn’t see while looking below,

Even the ripples made us sad.

But when we lift our eyes above,

Leaving behind that we could not see

To embrace the beauty, that was there all along.

But we chose to look below, blurs made us sigh

Til we choose – looking above,

Seeing heights and grandeur unfold. 

More than meets the eye,

When we work to understand, even though we were told.

Grand Teton National Park mountains and glacier lake

Don’t be distracted by the surface with stress and ripples,

Choose beauty and joy beyond where we are, and what will be.

Blessings along the Way!

Ron

Travel Weather Check

Clouds and sunset at Laramie, Wyoming

How do you prepare for travel?  Sure, we pack the right clothes, determine the route, lodging, fuel and other important factors that make the trip successful.  Did you check for weather?

During my recent trip to the Midwest states of the U.S., I thought more in-depth about the weather.  During the first half of 2019 the U.S. has encountered numerous wildfires, floods and tornadic systems. 

How do you know if a beautiful sunset could quickly change to severe weather?

I’m from the southeastern U.S. and we have these events as well, including hurricanes; however, I have not encountered the tornado types and flash floods that arise in the western side of the country. 

We heard of the floods through Mississippi, Arkansas and Kansas, Iowa, Missouri and throughout the region.  I kept aware while traveling through these areas, mostly by checking the respective state’s 511 system, WAZE and local radio stations.  The primary highways were open, but some secondary roads were listed as closed.   

One of the state roads we needed to take in Arkansas was closed and there were no signs of a detour.  The GPS took us down some back roads, including a dirt road, and we finally ended up on the other side of the road damage.  I was questioning where the GPS was right though because it has diverted me at times for no reason. 

Traveling along the Missouri River in Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri and Kansas presented some problems.  Some of the major routes were closed but the Interstate 29 we wanted to travel had recently opened.  Here is an example of the 511 reports this week.  https://lb.511ia.org/ialb/roadreports/route.jsf?route=19%3A4&textOnly=false&current=true

There was a stretch of more than 50 miles where all exits were closed.  Imagine the impact to the farm community as well as the businesses that couldn’t receive customers. 

We saw many areas where water had been over the Interstate itself, and it still was not receding quickly.  There were also signs of damage to farm equipment and property.  At times I could not tell where a lake was because of the flooded plains.  It looked like continuous lakes. 

One of the major concerns I had was the possibility of encountering a major tornado that we hear about on the news many times.  These Midwest systems are much larger than ones in coastal areas.  I kept a keen watch for cloud formations and kept the radio on when I saw suspicious clouds and kept aware of potential areas to take cover in event a tornado formed quickly.  

Just look at these clouds as we arrived in Laramie, Wyoming.  I didn’t let my guard down and made sure my phone was on during the night in case an alarm was sent out.

There aren’t many places to shelter when one is driving in the open terrain.  That’s where radio information is invaluable and can tell us the direction of the system.  It’s also good to know your directions too.  Do you have a compass?

I had already decided if I was stuck in the open terrain and had no place to shelter, I would stop somewhere with a ravine, ditch or depression in the ground to minimize flying debris.  I also brought extra rain gear and coats to cover up while lying in a low area if needed.  Of course, you always have to consider the potential for flash flooding in these areas as well. 

Remember!  Highway overpasses are NOT tornado shelters and should be avoided.  They can create high winds funneling through that can bring debris and/or sweep you away. 

It was interesting that tornados hit some of the areas just before and after our visits.  For instance, a tornado (I think EF-3) traveled just north of Laramie a couple of days ago.   https://laramielive.com/tags/tornado/

I compared the clouds we saw to the clouds in these tornadic systems.  They looked the same to me, except our clouds apparently lacked strong wind circulation. 

So, when you travel – don’t forget to check weather and know the conditions in the area that could lead to dangerous weather.

Don’t do like the example of storm chasers in this video clip as they chased the tornado near Laramie.   Safe travels. 

More information is available at https://www.weather.gov/ama/severesafetytips. 

Blessings along the Way!

Ron

2 Doors Down

How about some excellent food while in Cheyenne, Wyoming?  The 2 Doors Down restaurant in downtown has a local hospitality combined with atmosphere and taste that rivals any five-star eatery. 

We sampled some of the popular items such as the burger, hotdogs and onion rings.  Delicious. 

Oh!  Try the cinnamon rolls too.  They are popular and mouth-watering. 

Management at 2 Doors Down says they are serious about making burgers just the way we like it.  Any burger on the menu can be made with “hand-cut, never frozen, specially seasoned beef, grilled or breaded chicken breast, tender salmon fillet, or a surprisingly tasty, carnivore-approved 100% vegetarian burger.”

The serving team takes pride in checking on the tables for anything needed. 

More information is available on their website at http://www.2doorsdown.net/, including why they are called 2 Doors Down. 

Sanford’s Grub & Pub is across the street from 2 Doors Down. They caught my attention with this truck bed hanging from the entrance. I’m sure it’s a great place to enjoy as well.

Blessings along the Way!

Ron

Journey west

Example of conveniences developed for western travelers. (Display at Wyoming Welcome Center)

Can you imagine the journey west as the pioneers and settlers traveled thousands of miles from the eastern U.S. to explore the west, looking for further freedom to claim land, pursue their dreams and establish homes with families?

Native American lives were impacted greatly as the frontier was being explored by those seeking better lives. Let’s not forget their struggles and desires to live peacefully and pursue their dreams as well.

Tipi at the Wyoming Welcome Center

Imagine the hardships, rocky terrain, streams, wildlife and challenges along the way. Many lost their lives. Many fell short of their dreams. Many arrived. Many fulfilled their dreams.

Persevere!

Blessings along the Way!

Ron

I Remember

Memorial Day in the United States is Monday.  Many are enjoying friends and family during the long weekend.  Merchants have sales going on.  I saw some fireworks for sale in a grocery store a couple of days ago.  I heard two sports radio talents talking about going to the beach, relaxing, cooking out and other activities.  At least they did mention to remember those serving in the military.   So, what is Memorial Day and how should we celebrate, or should we?

Memorial Day is not Veterans Day.  It’s not the Fourth of July.  It’s not Labor Day and other typical holidays. 

Photo of Civil War image

Memorial Day is an American holiday, observed on the last Monday of May, honoring those who died while serving in the U.S. military.  It was originally known as Decoration Day, originating years after the Civil War, which ended in 1865 and claimed more lives than any conflict in U.S. history.  Memorial Day became an official federal holiday in 1971.  https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/memorial-day-history

By the late 1860s, Americans in various towns and cities had begun holding springtime tributes to the countless fallen soldiers, decorating their graves with flowers and reciting prayers.

St. Augustine National Cemetery

During World War I the United States found itself embroiled in another major conflict. The time of remembrance was then changed to remember American military personnel who died in all wars. 

Memorial Day continued to be observed on May 30 for decades until Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act in 1968, creating Memorial Day as the last Monday in May, which established Memorial Day as a federal holiday that enabled a three-day weekend for federal employees. 

Service members, veterans and their families know there is a big difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day. While Veterans Day, Nov. 11, is a day set aside to celebrate all veterans, Memorial Day is a somber holiday dedicated to honor military fallen, with a special focus on those killed during military service or through enemy contact. https://www.military.com/memorial-day

Both holidays often include parades, ceremonies and celebrations. But although Memorial Day also traditionally marks the beginning of summer with picnics and parties, many in the military community believe that at least a portion of it should be set aside to mourn and honor the fallen.

I want to go a litter further though.  Yes, Memorial Day was established for those who bore the weight of battle to the last degree, but what about those who came back changed to the degree they felt there was no reason for them to continue living?

Don’t these military members experience a certain death, whether physical injury like loss of limb, traumatic brain injury and mental health challenges?  While they may be here physically, mentally some may be elsewhere, or think there is no need to continue living – but yes, there is a need and a reason. 

We owe our support and gratitude to those who served – going when and where the nation needed them.

I know the U.S. Veterans Administration (VA) is doing a great work and is constantly working on behalf of our veterans.  One of their studies can be found at https://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/docs/2016suicidedatareport.pdf.  And, I realize the national suicide rate continues to climb with our general population.  Let’s continue getting to the root cause though and never abandon our pursuit to not loose one life. 

Each life is precious, deserving the best care and support possible.  I recall a personal situation where one Soldier returned from combat.  His mother noticed a change in behavior, how he was more quiet and secluded, as well as not sleeping well.  This behavior had changed from the son she knew before deployment. 

The mother notified the unit the Soldier deployed with.  The unit made an appointment with the VA and he received medication.  The mother called weeks later.  She mentioned her son had stopped taking his medication and was missing for over a week.  He was later found by law enforcement. Full military funeral honors were given to honor this fallen Solder. 

There are so many factors related to the mental health of those serving in stressful situations, and encountering things the human brain has difficulty comprehending.  Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a common term we’ve head for years now.  Stress can lead to deep mental health concerns if not managed.  

I personally think the “disorder” terminology should be discarded.  Let’s deal with the post-traumatic stress, or even depression – helping the person with his or her individual behavior, concerns and providing all that can be provided within our medical achievements.

With proper recognition of symptoms, showing care, effective individual treatment and being a caring community, we can curtail the loss of life. 

Still, may we continue remembering those who have passed from our presence – giving their all in the line-of-duty. 

How do other countries remember those who died fighting for their freedoms, or who have experienced the burden of conflict?  Is freedom even important that one would die trying to gain it, or keep it? 

Let’s never forget those who sacrificed so much, and their families who long to celebrate with their loved one if he or she was here.

I have had the solemn honor of meeting with family members when they first learned of their military member’s death.  I still see the pain and the sorrow.  I tried to comfort and help families the best I could during some of their darkest moments. 

I’ve had the solemn honor of rendering military honors with firing salutes, folding the U.S. flag for presentation, and presenting the flag of the United States of America to the closest next-of-kin, softly speaking these words:  “On behalf of the President of the United States, the United States Army (or Air Force) and a grateful nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one’s honorable and faithful service.

I will always remember these special moments.  I have a special affection for these Families who remain to carry on the remembrance of their Soldiers. 

So, Memorial Day 20l9, let’s take a few minutes to at least remember and show respect. 

We can still celebrate because that is one of the reasons our brothers and sisters fought so valiantly, to their last breath, to gain and maintain these freedoms we enjoy.  Let’s also include those who are still with us today, and not let them become a statistic too. 

I will remember!

Blessings along the Way!

Ron

Ice capade

Slide in an ice sculpture display in Florida

I hope the frigid cold has subsided in the northern U.S. and Canada. I was thinking about those impacted by the extreme weather.

It makes one wonder when the cold becomes a serious detriment, and when people embrace it for enjoyment. We never want conditions that threaten life or present hazards though.

Polar vortex from the north,

Moves throughout the land;

Sweeping away the warmth,

Creating fears within.

The rain, the ice stop our tracks.

What else can we do?

In the north where the cold winds blow,

The people huddle, around the warm glow.

But what about those who brave the cold,

Slipping and sliding on the ice?

When is it a burden for us all,

Compared to the fun of sliding, skating and other things nice?

Let’s have some of it begs the south,

But don’t stay too long.

We look for the snow and the wintry path.

We’ll bundle and risk the fall,

Riding, walking, sliding on the colorful ice. 

Blessings along the Way!

Ron

Did you miss the national parks?

National Archives in Washington, D.C.

Timing is everything. 

I’m glad we were able to visit some national parks in Washington, D.C. recently before the temporary U.S. Government shutdown.  Otherwise, our latest trip would resemble one a few years ago when we visited during the previous shutdown.

It was disappointing during  the shutdown a few years ago – for us and those from around the world – and equally disappointing during the latest shutdown when the public could not visit the parks under the federal government’s control. 

Smithsonian Castle in Washington, D.C.

I thought of those who looked forward to visiting the various national parks, including the pillars of democracy in D.C.  I’m sure they were disappointed again.  I thought about the employees and their families and the struggles they endured.    

Night image of the fountain at the World War II Memorial – no visitors, cold and dreary, reflecting the impact of the shutdown.

I’m glad these parks will open again this week as employees can work without having to wait for their pay.  As I looked at some of these photos they reminded me of the dark times of government when even the parks designed for enjoyment and learning were minimized, when they should be shining bright for freedom.

Washington Monument and part of the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

I’m thankful for local, national and international guests to be able to visit and learn about the United States of America, its uniqueness, its foundation and the desire to help those seeking freedom during the ages. 

May we always be open while protecting those within and without.

Blessings along the Way!

Ron

Capitol Crypt


The white stone compass star in the center marks where the city’s four quadrants meet. 

Yes, you read this correctly.  There is a place in the U.S. Capitol called the Crypt. 

For a long time the term has referenced the space below the main floor of a church or a chamber in a mausoleum.  We often think of a crypt as a place for burial, right?

Why the capitol then?  It is something different. The Crypt contains 40 smooth Doric columns of sandstone, which support the arches holding up the floor of the Rotunda,  the large, domed, circular room located in the center of the Capitol on the second floor. 

The columns are modeled on the Temple of Poseidon, which were the shortest and the strongest columns that survive from classical Greece.

The sandstone floor hosts hundreds of people visiting every day from around the world.  The white stone compass star in the center marks where the city’s four quadrants meet. 

Sandstone used in the U.S. Capitol

Around the perimeter are statues of prominent individuals from the nation’s original 13 colonies.  Display cases present exhibits and historic objects.

The Crypt was associated with a proposed interment even before it was built. After the death of President George Washington in 1799, Congress resolved to honor him in the Capitol.

A chamber for the remains of the first president and his wife was added to the plans for the center section of the building and constructed two stories below the Rotunda. Directly above the tomb, where the center of the Crypt is located, was to be placed a marble statue of Washington.

A 10-foot circular opening was left in the center of the Rotunda floor so that visitors could view it from above. However, Washington’s grave remained at Mount Vernon in accordance with his wishes, and no statue of him was ever placed in the Crypt.

Because the 10-foot opening allowed persistent drafts and dampness into the Rotunda, it was sealed in 1828.  https://www.aoc.gov/blog/how-crypt-got-its-name

George Washington truly represented our nation and its values well.  He didn’t want to become a king but simply wanted to return to his civilian life after his term was over so others could be elected president. 

Maybe our political leaders should revisit the ideals of President Washington in providing selfless service for the people. 

Blessings and love along the way,

Ron

Tru life

Work stations while enjoying a stay at Tru Hotel

It’s new, at least to me.  Have you stayed at Hilton’s Tru Hotel yet.  I had my first stay during our trip to Washington, D.C.

I don’t receive any benefit by writing about Hilton properties but their brands are my preference.  We typically stay at a Hampton Inn and Suites but the Tru Hotel was readily available and the price was right.

Tru Hotel in Sumpter, South Carolina, U.S.

I was impressed.

The open-air lobby was well-lighted and inviting with modern décor and design.  The rooms were immaculate and comfortable. 

The front desk was in the center of the lobby surrounded by snacks, breakfast bar area, work spaces, seating areas and recreation.  This stay was during the Christmas season so the tree was nicely adorned with matching colors.

The Tru Hotel we stayed in was in Sumpter, South Carolina. 

I enjoyed every aspect of our stay at Tru.  Now you have more information in case you wondered.  More details and photos are available at https://tru3.hilton.com/en/our-story/index.html.

Blessings and love along the way,

Ron