Friday, July 14, 2006

Heading for Bigfoot Country

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Tomorrow morning my son Wesley and I are taking off for a two week jaunt to Northern California....and....apparently in just the nick of time since it is going to be between 104-108 over the next four days. It should be in the mid sixties in all the places we camp over the next two weeks. All of our trip will be spent on the Northern California coast and Redwood National Park. Wesley and I love the North Coast of California. This will be about our ninth or tenth trip to this area and I never get tired of spending some quality time in a part of the state that doesn't seem like California. North of San Francisco is so different than the rest of the state. Alot of small towns, rolling hills, magnificient forests, and people who just live by a different drum beat. I'ts like a time warp traveling through such towns as Garberville, Mendocino, Fort Bragg, Willits, Cresent City, Ukiah. Bigfoot and Hobbit country I like to call it.....I do have some mixed emotions on this trip. It will only Wesley and I. I look forward to some serious father and son bonding time but I also am going to miss my other son Paul and my girlfriend Lynn. Last summer we all travelled together to Oregon and had such a great time but this year our schedules and individual interests just didn't work out. It's kind of sad. This will be the first summer in 16 years I won't be spending my vacation with my son Paul. Paul, actually didn't want to go this year because he didn't want to be gone so long from his friends. As a parent it's hard when our children begin to want to spend more time with their peers/friends but I need to accept and respect this part of the maturation cycle of growing up.....But....I do look forward to spending time with Wesley. Wesley loves the outdoors and we are goind to have a great time hangin out, riding bikes, hiking, and catching some of the upcoming flicks coming out at the theatre in the next couple of weeks. I'm looking forward to Lady in the Water, Monster House, and Miami Vice and hope to see all three films while I am on vacation....Also, do hope to catch up on my sleep and reading while on vacation. It is very difficult for me to get good sleep in Bakersfield because it is so hot in the summer but that will change Sunday when we enter country where the tempertatures will be 40 plus degrees intend to get some serious reading done. I'm taking about five books with me and I should get plenty of quality reading done since I won't have any distractions. I've been reading some books on archetypes lately....Jungian stuff....find it fascinating and stimulating and hope to post some thoughts when I get back......anyway....Hope the world doesn't blow itself up while I am gone. Am really concerned by the recent events in the Middle East and just hope and pray that all sides will seek out peaceful solutions to their problems and things don't escalate. Am not particularly optimistic because all sides "seem" entrenched in their own perspective and belief that they are on the ritht side which generally doesn't bode well for transformative resolutions......I'll post a few pics when I get back and hope the rest of you don't get burn't out or two depressed by the happenings in the world while I am gone.....

Mendocino: First Stop on the Bilbo Express

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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Back from Vacation

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Just got back from the first leg of my vacation to Lake Tahoe and Mammoth Lakes with my girlfriend Lynn. We spent the first five days at Tahoe and the last three in the Mammoth Lakes area. Tahoe was a bit hectic with the crowds, Casinos, and all. There is alot to do in the Tahoe area. We went on a boat ride, vistited a Viking Castle, spent the day at Virginia City, bicycled, saw the Pirates of the Caribbean, and the firework extravaganza on the Fourth of July. I can't really say what my favorite activity was and confess I am a bit jaded when it comes to vacations and travelling. I have travelled alot over the years and it really doesn't matter much anymore what I do. I just like being in cooler weather and doing things at my own pace and rhythm. So much of our lives is dictated/ controlled by others or time schedules and I cherish anytime I can do what I want, when I want. My friend Seth met up with Lynn and I in Mammoth. We didn't do much in Mammoth because Seth was hammered after hiking 20 miles while climbing 13,000 foot Banner Peak. Seth is a hiking/climbing machine who loves the mountains as much as I do. The highlight of the Mammoth trip was the bear that came through the camp during the morning we broke camp. I got within ten feet of him in an effort to take a picture but some guy scared the bear away before I could get a picture of him on the table about to grab a couple of wine bottles and some other snacks the guy left on the table. I have seen my fair share of bears over the years and am not really afraid of them unless it be a Grizzly bear or a mother with cubs. Most bears are probably more afraid of you than you are of them and all you have to do is holler, wave your hands, and generally they head off into the forest. There is still a significant amount of snow in the mountains and I always find it strange to run across large amounts of snow in the middle of the summer. I have even come across frozen lakes as late as the middle of August in the Sierra's of California. Most people don't realize that the Sierra Nevada mountains of California get an incredible amount of snow some years. Mammoth Mountain recieved over 50 feet of snow this year. That's right, 50 feet, which translates into over 600 inches......We spent the last day in Yosemite National Park. Yosemite is on the way home from Mammoth. We spent most of the day in the "high country" of Yosemite and very little time in Yosemite Valley. Most tourists only visit the valley and are unaware of some of the other incredible sights outside the valley. The Valley is spectacular but is also "very" crowded anytime during the spring or summer......Anyway.....I am back now for a couple of days before I head out on the second leg of my vacation with my son Wesley who finishes summer school at the end of the week. Wesley and I are going up north to the coast of California and Redwood National Park. We might even head up the Oregon Coast for a day or two. I love the north coast of California. The weather is cool, there aren't too many tourists and it's primitive for the most part which is what I really appreciate from time to time. We will be gone for two and half weeks before I come back to start work during the first week of August...Bummer...Oh well.....I can't complain because most people hardly get much time off for vacation......

Mammoth Lakes Pics

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Lake Tahoe Pics

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Viking Castle

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Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Monday, July 03, 2006

Well, I am just minutes away from the beginning of my five week vacation. My girlfriend Lynn and I will be heading to Lake Tahoe in a few minutes for five days and than we will head over to Mammoth Lakes for another four days before I head home next week. When I get back I will pick up my son Wesley and we will head up north for two and a half weeks to God's country, the north coast and Redwood National Park. I am really looking forward to going to Lake Tahoe tomorrow because Lynn and I hope to catch the firework show over the Lake tomorrow night. It should be stupendous. Normally I am not a big Fourth of July kind of guy because I hate all the crowds and all but tomorrow I will suck it up because I anticipate that the firework displays over Lake Tahoe will be worth the hassle of feeling crowded. ....Earlier today I was contemplating why I spend so much time each summer camping and away from home and here are some reasons why I love camping and am willing to put my body in harm's way of mother nature.....

Reasons I love camping and travelling

1. I go camping because I can. I am a teacher and I have the summers off.

2. It's therapeutic and cheaper than seeing a shrink. The average "good" shrink goes for about 100 dollars an hour. If I spent the entire day seeing a shrink it would cost between 800 to 1000 dollars. I can do an entire day of camping for less than 50 dollars. What a bargain!

3. Camping stimulates my something everyone needs. The smell of fresh pine needles, the sound of rushing water, the sight of a snow covered mountain peak, and the exposure to clean, cool air is good for one's soul.

4. I'ts slows me down. When I am at home I find it difficult to relax and chill. The phone rings, the internet is constantly beckoning me, or the television seeks my audience...but....when I am camping I can naturally slow down because I don't have all the distractions, gadgets, or other people needing or seeking my attention.

5. It's a great bonding experience. If you really want to get to know someone take them camping. Sleeping in the same tent, sitting and staring at the campfire, or going hiking or fishing are the kind of things that creates the type of memories that will last a lifetime.

6. I need an escape. That's right....I "need" an escape. Escapism gets too much bad press in my opinion. Everyone has their own coping/escape strategies and I just wish folks would own up to them. So what is it that I am trying to escape?....For starters, the city of Bakersfield and it's hellish summer weather and terrible air quality, the hustle and bustle of living in the city, the boredom of doing the daily routines, and the ongoing responsibilties of daily life. Sometimes you just need to get away from of it for your sanity and the sanity of others......well, that's all I have time for now and it's now time to get in the car and head down the highway. I'll be back next Wednesday for a few days before I head out again, so, in the meantime I hope everyone stays out of trouble and enjoys the fruits of summer......

Blast from my Past: Phil Keaggy

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Last night while attending Mass with my girlfriend Lynn I received an unexpected blast from the past surprise. During communion the congregation sang John Michael Talbot's song Holy is his Name. Normally I am not one who wallows or engages in nostalgia but I confess this particular song triggered some deep emotions that have been kept under wraps for years. The song brought back some powerful and wonderful memories from my days in Bible College back in the late 1970's. I have many fond memories of this time in my life just hangin out with the other students listening to the likes of John Michael Talbot, Phil Keaggy, The Second Chapter of Acts, Keith Green and Chuck Girard/Love Song. I haven't listened to explicitly Christian music for many years running now but I still have a soft spot for the Christian oldies but goodies of the late seventies and early eighties....The sweet emotional rush spilled over into this morning and I found myself making a trip to Barnes and Nobles and Borders in search of some of my favorites. By the time my search was over I walked away with three new C.D.'s which I intend to listen to tomorrow as I travel to Lake Tahoe. I picked up Phil Keaggy's History Makers/Greatest Hits from the 80's and 90's, Keaggy's Acoustic hits, and John Michael Talbot's Library of 35 favorite songs.... I have always appreciated Talbot's unique sound and Keaggy's incredible talent. I also appreciate that Keaggy's music has less Christian jargon and is more "earthly sounding" than most Christian music I am familiar with and Talbot is just on a different wave length than everyone else. If you like listening to the psalms/scripture put to music or a sound that instantly puts one in a meditative mood than Talbot is the man....I look forward to listening to my new C.D.'s over the next week and just maybe my trip down memory lane will be just what the doctor ordered......

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Two Big Thumbs Up For......

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Earlier today I returned a video at my local video store and was informed that all videos over two years old were free to rent for the next three days. Since these kind of freebee's don't come around too often I decided to take them up on their promotional offer. After scanning out the video's I decided to rent a film called, The House of Sand and Fog. The film came out in 2003 and while it was on my radar screen from the beginning I never got around to seeing it until tonight. What an incredible film. Although the plot is a bit far fetched and there is no particular deep moral or philosophical meaning the film is well worth the time spent sitting in front of the tube. Some critics found the plot too incredible to believe but personally I found the film gripping, intense as it gets, and the acting by Ben Kingsley and Jennifer Connelly was worthy of Oscar nomination. Not sure if they were nominated back in 2004 but if they weren't they sure deserved to be. The sountrack was very good and so was the cinematographic scenes of the fog rolling across the Bay area hills where I believe the film was probably filmed. I also liked that the film didn't remind me of anything else I had seen in recent memory which is always a big plus for me because I can't stand formula's and the continual rehash/sequel nonsense that has become all too common in Hollywood these days....Anyway, if you haven't seen the film yet and are looking for something that will keep your attention for a couple of hours check out "The House of Sand and Fog"......Two big thumbs and big toes up for, The House of Sand and Fog....

My hopes and dreams

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Saturday, July 01, 2006

I came across the idea for this blog entry while reading Isaiah Knows Nothing blog a couple of weeks ago and since I don't have any particular pressing personal matters at the current moment, fingers crossed, I thought I would lighten things up a bit around here before I take off for the wilderness in a couple of further ado, here are a few things I hope happen in the near future. These are not in any particular order in terms of importance. I am just writing whatever pops in my head....

1. Go to a U-2 concert

2. Travel to Europe, particularly Ireland, Switzerland, and Scotland.

3. Get more involved in helping men during their midlife years as they struggle and attempt to juggle job and family responsibilities. I'ts tough being a man at times.

4. Change my living arrangments.

5. Go on one more backpack trip before my back or knees completely go out.

6. Get through a school year without having to make major changes in my curriculum due to the ongoing education reform movement.

7. Meet Peter Jackson

8. Continue to improve my interpersonal relationships skills with family and friends

9. Make some new friends

10. Lose a about 30 pounds

11. Become content with the shoes I own so I am no longer tempted to buy new ones.

12. Visit the Eastern Sierra during the fall this year when the leaves are turning color.

13. Make contact with some old friends who I have lost contact with over the years.

14. Go to a USC football game.

15. Take my interest in photography to a new level.

16. Not become so overwhelmed when certain people push my buttons and trigger my issues.

17. Practice some of the meditative and spiritual disciplines I have been reading about for years but have yet to make time for on a regular basis.

18. Slow down and don't let myself get caught up in the drama of others

19. Don't always think of the worst case senarios

20. Be more generous with my money and less generous with my time

21. Get mad more often

22. Improve my trust in my own intuition and decission making skills

23. Do something crazy and spontaneous like getting in my car and just driving to Colorado

24. Stop worrying about how much the food costs when I go out to dinner.

25. And finally, move out of Bakersfield someday, hopefully sooner than later.....

My New Car

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I just got back from the Bay area yesterday and will be home for a couple of days before I head out to Lake Tahoe on July 4th with Lynn my girlfriend for a week. This has been a crazy summer, so far, because I have had to juggle my time with my two sons, my mom, and Lynn,one week here, one week there. Last summer we all went on vacation together but this summer I am taking three separate vacations. It's a long story. I really don't mind spending individual time with my loved ones because there are some advantages to that but it does require alot of extra driving and wear and tear on my poor car. Speaking of cars, I bought a new car yesterday. I bought a 2006 Toyota Corolla and I was very pleased with the deal I got. I actually bought the car for a lower price than was listed on the internet. I think I got a great deal because it has a manual transmission and the new cars will be arriving soon. Manual transmissions are in much less demand and thus are generally cheaper. I actually prefer driving a stick shift because you get better gas mileage and I drive alot in the mountains. I decided to buy a new car because I intend to let my two sons use my other car as soon as they get their license, hopefully, sometime later this year and I didn't want to give them a car that was totally thrashed and would break down all the time. There is nothing particularly special about the new car. It's the basic model with no bells or whistles. I wanted to buy a Honda Civic this time around but they wanted 4,000 dollars more than the car I bought. When it comes to cars I only care about how the car runs. I have had excellent luck with Japanese cars for the past fifteen years and have no intention of buying an American Car until the American car companies get their acts together. When it comes to small cars you cannot beat Honda or Toyota. I drive alot and dependency is critical to me. I have owned a couple of American cars before and I have had nothing but problems with them....anyway....Not much more to report. Am going to clean up around the house today and get ready for my trip and stay out of the heat. It's only about 100 degrees for the next few days which is bearable. When I left it was boiling and I'll be leaving before the next heat wave arrives sometime later next week...