Thursday, December 08, 2016

PEACE during this holiday season!!

Pacific Coast Highway Revisited

“And as time goes by
Oh it's funny how time can make you realize
We're running out of it” – Zac Brown Band

It’s been nine months since I left Alaska and started the “recalculation” of my life and what I thought about it at that time.  With any change it starts a process of evaluation in one’s self and in the things within your universe surrounding yourself.
Mt. Hood Oregon

As time has passed by, so have things, people, mental orientations, passions and moments.   Some have devolved and then evolved into something greater.  Originally, I started this blog, “Where’s the Flamingo” to share the experiences as I traveled and also bring with it a slightly humorous effect with Placido Flamingo and his experiences along the road, my road sometimes called Life’s Highway. 
Mt. Washington, British Columbia

But, as I have traveled, a more fulfilling purpose has evolved.  So now it isn’t just the experiences I have seen along the way, it is now more of those experiences that feed the longing of a soul for peace through expression.  I’ve never been one to just focus singularly on things, things get old.  They disintegrate. However, experiences are something that can remain.  We can reach back and pull them forward, as the mind allows, and re-live them over and over again.
Yukon, Canada

Over these years, these experiences have been so rich and full of the living experience.  But sometimes the constant day to day existence of life’s experiences can, at times, dull the pure exhilaration of those initial moments of discovery.  Not unique to me, but the complexity of life can at times, make this happen.  Then, it becomes time to purposefully pull these experiences forward as a reminder of the type of life that doesn’t just happen, but one that we can create.
And so, moving beyond the limitations of a singular focus to bring those previous moments back to life . . . I answer my souls longing to move beyond the immediacy of frustration, pain, misunderstanding or the occasional shallowness of the human judgement to that which is greater . . . the nature of things!
Redwood Forrests, Hwy 1 California

It is said that, “when I was a child I spoke, reasoned, and thought as a child, but when I grew up I put away childish things.”  As this child, I remember adults saying things such as “that person needs to find themselves”; I couldn’t relate as a child and would ponder, “Why does a person need to find themselves when they are right there with their self . . . Ahh . . . how life can teach you many things?  It is also said; travel until you find yourself . . . so here I am . . .
Mountain Lake, Canada

A few months ago, life allowed me to experience California Highway 1 also called the Pacific Coast Highway which meanders along the Coast of California by the ocean or just onshore along the magnificent redwood trees.  It’s twists and turns, elevation changes are much like life in that it is constantly changing bringing with it new surprises, vistas, or tragedy.  Its reputation, of course, supersedes what some would call the unique experience.   In reality cannot be captured properly by a camera or other device, it has to be seen with your own eyes to be understood the great beauty there.  Much like Alaska its beauty is far reaching.  Everywhere one looks you must make multiple stops along the way to take it all in.  It is beyond such, to experience it is to sit on the edge of the great beyond.
McWay Falls, Big Sur California

This picture is worth clicking on . . . beyond the sight of it, what do you feel in the longing of your soul?  We go to the mountains, to the beach . . . we visit sites, we cherish our sights . . . all of these are lovely indeed.  But why do we love it . . . yes it stimulates the senses . . . peace can come with it . . . we can see the water and it is beautiful . . . hear the waves and the waterfall . . . smell the saltiness in the water . . . whether it is sunny outside or not it is the same . . . we can feel the sand and the water . . . sometimes we can even taste it all.
Big Sur, California

But, we become more aware of something else . . . being right there within or so close to this huge mass . . . this mass that covers 3/4ths of the earth . . . the ocean,
Pebble Beach

that gives us balance . . . if you open your soul . . .and become aware of how its longing connects you to what you are experiencing . . . can you feel the power, this magnetism . . . the force that in many ways balances the earth . . . can you feel it inside of yourself . . . even if that level of awareness is not yet developed . . . can you feel inside of yourself where it is supposed to connect . . . and how that connection draws you in to becoming even more connected, through various modes, to what is permanent, solid and real . . . and in becoming aware of that experience . . . we realize what is insignificant.
The Lone Cypress, Pebble Beach California

Can we use that feeling . . . that awareness to assess the other things to which we are connected . . . can we use it to improve the quality of our relations with people, with our environment . . . or most importantly . . . with ourselves . . . what is our very real solid experience and what are we projecting on to ourselves and others?

Is our path to living what we want to live being blocked by something that we are projecting . . . that is also something to work on . . . but, the process has started . . . and can be used.

Driving down the coastline from Oregon can be a soul touching experience, if we are open.  Very few guard rails, no separation between the sides of the cliffs and what is beneath several hundred to a few thousand feet to the water . . . It is hard to sight see without stopping to take it all into your senses.  And as we proceed, just like in life . . . we can get to a point where we at the same level as the clouds and eventually look down upon them . . . much food for thought on the foggy mornings along the drive.
Bixby Bridge, Hwy 1 California

I couldn’t by-pass this little one, and as nature goes, so can we . . . if we allow ourselves to feel and accept our feelings . . . we can evolve and grow into that place of our peace.  There are so many examples that exist along the Pacific Coast Highway.  With all the travails in our lives, what can allow us to find peace?  Compassion for others, reflecting on the value of human life – including our own are what we each search for but few really find.

Ahh . . . what would it be to experience rest like this – whether awake or sleep – the ‘peace be still’ . . . to understand the place of those things that stress us and separate us from peace . . . what is peace?  It doesn’t mean necessarily to be free from pain, regret, heart ache, dissension, loneliness, etc.  In fact, it is more aligned with allowing those feelings to exist, but being able to make peace with them.  We each have to find what our individual peace . . . is but, somehow indeed, that peace is still connected to others through compassion, empathy, understanding, forgiveness, patience . . . and the list goes on.

We can realize how small we actually are compared to the larger dynamic . . . but that requires walking the hard path . . . a friend asked me if my blog was moving more towards a spiritual base?  My reply was . . . if you read a really good book, doesn’t it add to the quality of certain things about you?  

Well, to travel the world in my time upon it and absorb the human experience of others, to experience working in an area with no running water, to see the implications firsthand of someone in an Alaskan remote village turning on a faucet or flushing a toilet the first time inside their house in their seventy years . . . of soul to soul acts of human depravity in wars (most of which are not necessary), to sit in a temple thousands of years old demonstrating human and spiritual devotion, to lend a hand when someone needs it, or receive it regardless of a language or cultural gap, to see such magnificent expressions when people focus on excellence, to learn a tango – not the steps – but the interpreted intention of expressions of the soul seeking comfort . . . well, certain things should change you . . . especially if you are simultaneously seeking to calm your soul and refine your own expressions . . . go below the surface and above the clouds . . . wishing you and myself – PEACE during this holiday season!!


Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Life Observation # 178 . . . “Time heals all wounds”

Life Observation # 178 . . .  “Time heals all wounds”

Loss is a process which has to be dealt with and no two people experience it the same way.  It is a unique experience for each of us as we look at things through various lenses and frames of mind.  The loss of someone is often painful and probably for most people more so that we may imagine.  People who say that “time heals all wounds” don’t know what they are talking about.  Time lessens the sting of loss, but the pain never completely goes away.  That doesn’t mean you won’t experience joy and happiness again; you will.  In time, you will begin enjoying the present instead of dwelling on the past.


Monday, December 05, 2016

Life Observation # 177 . . . Attitude

Since I have been on the road and didn’t have my external drive I have gotten out of sequence in my numbering of my Life Observations but now am back on track.

This expresses my thoughts exactly . . . Life Observation # 177 . . . Attitude

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.  Attitude, to me, is more important than facts.  It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do.  It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill.  It will make or break a company... a church.... a home.  

The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day.  We cannot change our past...we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable.  The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude...I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.  

And so it is with you...we are in charge of our attitudes.”  Charles R. Swindoll


Thursday, November 24, 2016

“As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.”

“As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.”

Happy Thanksgiving everyone, as I hope it is a great day for you!

Times have been a little depressing lately for many people in the country so I thought it would be great to give you a couple of laughs today.  It will only take a few minutes of your time . . . about the time it takes to have a cup of coffee so take a break and give yourself a little smile and for me every time I hear or see this it gives me a good belly laugh.

There aren't as many classic Thanksgiving episodes of TV shows as there are classic Christmas episodes.  But there are several we remember fondly, including this one. 

It's the "Turkeys Away" episode of WKRP in Cincinnati that originally aired on October 30, 1978.  Station Manager Carlson tries to come up with a special promotion for the station and, well, you'll see what happens.

WKRP in Cincinnati was a sitcom by Hugh Wilson who was in sales and part time disc jockey for WQXI radio in Atlanta, Georgia in the late 60’s and early 70’s.  I think a lot of the television show was based on the time period he spent in Atlanta.

The show was about the wacky characters and zany antics at a dysfunctional Top-40 station . . . was a wonderful comedy that was funny because it was rooted just enough in reality.  Back in the '70s and early '80s everyone loved WKRP because it was probably like most people’s jobs or home, people trying hard to work through the realities of everyday life.

“Turkeys Away” I think was loosely based on a WQXI promotion at Lenox Square Mall in the late 60’s where several turkeys were dropped from a helicopter over the parking lot close to the old bowling alley in the mall.  My dad who bowled there every week took us to watch the holiday promotion before his tournament started later that afternoon.  It was a combination of funny, disbelief, and horror as the turkeys hit several cars and bounced off the pavement.  It was captured so well in this timeless episode.


“As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.”

Another one of my favorites is this long ago event.

Thanksgiving is the anniversary (52nd) of a major event in American history.

This hippie guy tried to do a favor for his friends and got arrested for it.

I’m talking . . . of course . . . about Arlo Guthrie and his true-if-exaggerated tale about the Alice’s Restaurant Massacree.

On Thanksgiving 1965, Arlo Guthrie visited friend Alice Brock and her husband at their home, a church in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, and did them a favor by taking out their garbage.  The dump was closed that day, so Guthrie and a friend dropped the garbage off a cliff where other locals had previously dropped trash. Guthrie was arrested the following day, and the mark on his record miraculously kept him out of Vietnam by making him ineligible for the draft.

This slice of Americana is timeless in the fact that it is still funny after forty years and the issues during that time are still relevant today.

Thanksgiving wouldn't be Thanksgiving without listening to Arlo Guthrie's Alice's Restaurant (mp3). Regardless of how you observe it, I hope you have a happy one!

Remember, if you want to end wars and stuff, you gotta sing loud!

You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant.
You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant.
Walk right in it's around the back
Just a half a mile from the railroad track.
You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant.

Enjoy the day, give thanks for our many blessings and do something unexpected for someone you do not know as it makes our world a better place.

Peace everyone and may God Bless!


Thursday, November 10, 2016

Veterans Day 2016

Thanks to our military personnel both overseas and at home as there is danger and sacrifice on both fronts.  Thanks to you and your families . . . to those in support of our men and women all over the world.

Take a few moments and remember what principles founded this country . . . “In God We Trust”

We seemed to have moved away from those principles and slowly we are losing focus on what has kept us a great Nation. I am super proud of being an American, but we fail our veterans every day. 

Veterans are a symbol of what makes our nation great, and we must never forget all they have done to ensure our freedom.

A remembrance from a little known (American public) time in my life . . . Operation Lam Son 719

"The operation was conceived in doubt and assailed by skepticism, preceded in confusion."
Dr. Henry Kissinger speaking on Operation Lam Son 719 
The following excerpt from Newsweek, 15 March 1971, was more objective than most at the time:

“To the modern American cavalryman of the air, the plunge into Laos has been something like an old-time charge on horseback: admirably heroic, stunningly effective-and terribly costly.  For four weeks now, American helicopter pilots have flown through some of the heaviest flak in the history of the Indochinese war.  One-day alone last week, the Army admitted to losing ten aircraft to the unexpectedly heavy North Vietnamese ground fire, and there were reports from the field that the actual losses had been much worse.  As a result, the customary bravado of the American chopper pilot was beginning to wear a bit thin.  "Two weeks ago," said one gunship skipper, "I couldn't have told you how much time I had left to serve in Vietnam.  Now I know that I've got 66 days to go, and I'm counting every one." Another flier added anxiously: "The roles are reversed over there.  In Vietnam, you have to hunt for the enemy.  But in Laos, man, they hunt for you.”
Despite the risks, it was inevitable that U. S. helicopters should be deeply involved in the Laotian campaign, for more than any other artifact of war, the chopper has become the indelible symbol of the Indochina conflict. Helicopter pilots were among the first Americans killed in the war a decade ago, and, under President Nixon's Vietnamization program, they will probably be among the last to leave.  In the years between, the chopper's mobility and firepower have added a radically new dimension to warfare, and the daring young American pilots have scooped up their Silver Stars, Distinguished Flying Crosses and Air Medals by the bushel-along with Purple Hearts.  In the opinion of many military experts, the helicopter has been the difference between a humiliating U. S. defeat in Vietnam and whatever chance remains of attaining some more satisfactory outcome.”

Lam Son 719 - JAN-MARCH 1971
Lam Son 719 was a major operation of the Army of the Republic of South Vietnam, ARVN, into Laos from 30 Jan - 24 Mar 1971.  U.S. provided all of the aviation assets for this operation.  A/101 AHB "Comancheros" were one of the aviation units in this operation, along with being the sole 101st Airborne aviation unit supporting the Special Operations Group in I Corp during the month of February 1971.

The objective of Lam Son 719 was to disrupt an ongoing North Vietnamese Army supply buildup at Tchepone, Laos.  American Helicopter Units supported and provided all transportation of ARVN troops/supplies into and out of Laos during this operation.  The US Helicopter Crewman went against the heaviest anti-aircraft barrage incurred in the War.

The US helicopters that supported Lam Son 719 received fire from rocket propelled grenades, enemy tanks, mortars and small arms fire.  The US helicopters were regularly opposed by NVA 23mm, 37mm, and 57mm anti-aircraft weapons along with .51 caliber machine guns arranged to provide mutually supporting anti-aircraft fire.  The enemy opposition comprised a permanent logistical force of engineers, transportation, and anti-aircraft troops, together with elements of five divisions that included 12 North Vietnamese infantry regiments, a NVA tank regiment, an NVA artillery regiment, and 19 NVA anti-aircraft battalions.

The South Vietnamese government claimed that 13,341 NVA had been killed against 5,000 ARVN KIA/WIA.  American estimates put the ARVN losses at 10,000 which amounted to half of ARVN forces committed to the operation.

The losses to US Helicopter Forces were 65 Helicopter Crewmen KIA, 818 WIA, and 42 MIA.  618 US Helicopters were damaged, including 106 totally destroyed, from 30 Jan - 24 Mar 1971.

All Gave some . . . Some Gave All


Friday, November 04, 2016

Fall Colors

It is bittersweet that I am not in Alaska as it was so much a part of my life these last twenty years being away from Atlanta and the South.  I think that both places and the people there can take things for granted as we sometimes forget just how beautiful it can be or accept without thinking all that is going on around us.  It is those little things we see each day on the way to work or driving somewhere that is in front of us but we may be too busy to notice with all the things going on in our lives.  Making a conscious effort to pay attention or stop for a few seconds to notice the sunset, the beautiful flowers all over town or in neighbor’s yards are all things that make our day better without us realizing it or costing us anything other than time.  Slow down and enjoy things wherever you are.
Many people in Key West or living on the beach stop most days to watch the sun slowly drop below the water on the horizon getting a feeling of calm satisfaction on taking the time to stop and notice the beauty of such a simple thing.  If you are lucky you may see the “green” flash as the sun drops out of sight which is pretty neat if you are fortunate enough to see it.  Those living in the mountains or on lakes have other beautiful things to see, the loons on the lake or listening to a mountain stream making it’s wonderful sounds as it moves over the rocks or drops into pools along it way to some larger body of water.

Some of the constants from the South are how beautiful it is in the spring when all the flowers are in bloom.  Azalea bushes in shades of pink, white, and even dark purple are all over the South and are highlighted every spring in Augusta at The Masters golf tournament.  Bobby Jones had in mind a hard course layout, beautiful walks over stone bridges and each hole gave a unique look with an almost indescribable beauty as one played the course or were spectators during Masters Week.  The cherry blossoms along the many walks by monuments in Washington DC are vivid reminders of the constants in our lives in so many places here.  The monuments remind us of our heritage, traditions and resolve as our nation had begun and continues to be part of who we are as peoples from all walks of life.
Alaska has several as well; Halloween usually has snow on the ground most years with children dressed up in snowmachine suits to keep warm then covered by large costumes to go out trick or treating for candy or other items.  It always looked a little strange and funny to me as many looked like the Sta-puff man all puffed up but the kids seemed to not care and always enjoyed this unique way to spend Halloween.  Many children do not know any difference in how the rest of the country does Halloween.

The beautiful drive down Turnagain Arm, one of two arms of Cook Inlet which is one of my favorite drives in the world, easily rivals the Pacific Coast Highway in beauty and grandeur.  The Seward Highway hugs the dramatic shorelines of Turnagain Arm, arguably one of the most beautiful stretches of highway in America. Chugach State Park's 3000-foot mountains jut up on your left from the water’s edge.  On the right, the sprawling, sometimes four-mile-wide flats of Turnagain Arm seem to stretch like a plain to the opposite shores of Cook Inlet, where mammoth sloping mountains abruptly stop their flat expanse.  Each turn reveals another scenic wonder.  Beautiful mountains line both sides of the inlet with very different looks whether it is low or high tide or you drive north or south along the water’s shoreline. 

Many times during the year there are “Bore tides” which many suffers or wind kite riders use the twenty plus miles of flowing bore tide to ride the waves from just outside Anchorage all the way down the Arm past McHugh Creek Recreation Area, Beluga Point Lookout, Windy Point, Bird Point Park, Girdwood and on down the road to Portage Valley.

Returning to the South this summer I had almost forgotten how beautiful the fall season is here with the trees especially in the mountains changing colors and blanketing the mountainsides with the vibrant colors or reds, yellows, greens and a few purples.  Colorful leaves falling in the neighborhoods have made me appreciate leaf blowers and how much I had not missed doing this needed chore every fall.  
Alaska’s version is beautiful light fluffy snowflakes falling in this almost synchronized rhythm depending on how much the wind is blowing.  These light fluffy flakes are so soothing and relax full watching the in front of the fireplace but quickly can become a pain once you are outside with a shovel or snow blower trying to remove the now heavy white beauty from your driveways or walkway around the house.  It’s the trade-off between the beauty and the work involved after a snow event but it’s all good.

Get out and enjoy this time of year with the sky so blue against all the beautiful colors. It will make your day go a little better, a little more serine and a lot more enjoyable.  This is something that all of us need on a daily basis, a calmer more enjoyable time in our lives.


Thursday, November 03, 2016

Getting uplifted with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

I wanted to go back and write more on the fall night in north Georgia seeing the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band once again.  It uplifted my spirit at the time and made the upcoming week of losing my Aunt Doris thirteen days after losing my uncle a little easier as I remembered when the music can start to heal all things.

"Circlin' Back - the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band" tour came to the Georgia Mountain Fall Festival Celebrating 50 Years of playing great music together on Saturday night, October 1, 2016. The weather was perfect with a slight crispness in the air, a slight smell of wood smoke drifting by either from the nearby local area houses or the concession but either way it gave a welcoming down home feel to the evening. Playing to a sold out crowd the attendees ranged from grandchildren to middle age and to the bulk of the crowd, the over 50-60 crowd. 

I would guess that most were like me who have followed the group since the late 60’s attending their concerts whenever and wherever they played close-by.  I have seen them in Alaska, Utah, Colorado, Georgia, the Carolinas, Florida, and Tennessee over the years.  They continue to be on my playlist as I walk on this journey called life.  They have been a great companion as well as others since music has played a major part of my life.  There are songs to build you up, comfort you, and be a friend when you needed one and so many other things.  This night was a twenty song playlist of continuous music jamming for 2.5 hours of our favorite music.

A great night with a little music which included:

You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere, Dance Little Jean, Buy for me the Rain, Tulsa Sounds Like Trouble to Me, Stand a Little Rain, My Walking Shoes, Bluegrass Instrumental, Get Back, Honky Tonkin’, Working Man (Nowhere to Go), Mr. Bojangles, Ripplin’ Waters, Bless the Broken Road, Beverly Hillbillies, Harmonica Jam, Skinny Dipping/Fishin’ in the Dark, American Dream, Jambalaya (On the Bayou), and their encore; Will the Circle Be Unbroken and The Weight.

Everyone in the crowd seemed to have a good time, the band continued their tradition of coming out after the concert to greet those staying to say how much they enjoyed the music, buy souvenirs, or just say hello.  The mood walking out to the parking lots were upbeat, people talking how much fun they had and others singing NGDB songs.

This was a much needed uplifting mood and attitude night as music heals and makes all things better, or at least it does for me.