Category Archives: travel

Fidel

I looked up into the thick Havana air at the brightly-lit poster on the wall of an old, stone government building.

Viva Fidel 80

The old revolutionary was somewhere in this town in a compound contemplating his retirement announcement, which would happen just a few days later on my last day in Cuba.

The old man didn’t really even make it out for his 80th birthday celebration, and his thin and frail image on television barely registered in a country where his black-bearded and green fatigues image is as ubiquitous as the Cuban flag.  Continue reading Fidel

evitcepsreP yM gnignahC

Changing your evitcepsrep is all about exposing yourself to new views
Changing your evitcepsrep is all about exposing yourself to new views
It’s been a challenge to change my perspective this week.

I’ve been coming at this from one angle since all hell broke loose on Tuesday night.

Finding the negatives lying around on the floor, picking them up, weighing them, and then moving on to the next one.  Continue reading evitcepsreP yM gnignahC

The Costs of Coming Home

Eight-Year SojournTurns out you can come home again.

But it will cost you.

What it will cost you is a matter of what you put in to the decision to leave home in the first place.

Did you leave home out of fear? Fear that you’d never amount to anything there. Was it too small to contain you? Constantly running to the edges of town like a Bruce Springsteen song. Was it wanderlust? The kind of wanderlust seeing all the home towns on earth can’t cover.  Continue reading The Costs of Coming Home

Hambling in Reno

IMG_9698Hambling only because my iPhone corrected gamboling to hambling, so this post is hambling in Reno.

I’m not much of a gambler. But don’t get me wrong, I’d dearly love to be.

There’s something about slouching over the craps table casually doling out chips on those ciphers on the felted floors of the table.

Or the way the roulette players never seem stressed, at least not like the black jack players.  Continue reading Hambling in Reno

Getting off auto pilot

I love that feeling of turning onto a road I’ve never driven before. That moment when the familiar gives way to the unknown.
When your eyes fill up with brand-new views, and you have to work harder for every moment.
There is no auto pilot here.
When pulling off Highway 90 onto 18 in Madison, you can feel the transition more than just the four and five lines giving way to two lanes. You can feel it in the increasing number of pickup trucks, combines, clotheslines, Chevy Caprice police cruisers and supper clubs.

Continue reading Getting off auto pilot

Eating Fiji: They killed a goat for me

Peppers, curry powder, ginger, fenugreek and cloves are among the flavorings in Fijian goat curry
Peppers, curry powder, ginger, fenugreek and cloves are among the flavorings in Fijian goat curry

Food is a serious thing in the South Pacific.

It is labor, nourishment, hospitality and worship all wrapped up together with every other part of the distinctive cultures in the islands.

Food is gathered and pounded and wrapped up in leaves and cooked in underground ovens. And increasingly bought from store shelves and microwaved on countertops.

Food is simple, essentially what grows on the limited terrain and in the tropical climate, and yet it’s complex and strong, like an alloy comprised of different metals.

When I think of Fiji, I can taste the green coconuts I would pick up and drink from a hole in the husk on a hot afternoon.

Continue reading Eating Fiji: They killed a goat for me

Craft Beer in the Southeastern United States

Southeastern Craft Beer Road Trip
Southeastern Craft Beer Road Trip

I didn’t start out planning to do a Southeastern United States craft beer tour.

It just happened to turn out that way.

I’ve become a bit disillusioned by craft beer in the two and a half years since I moved to Chicago.

From hoarding to overnight lines for new releases to subpar beer pushed out as aging liquid and everything in between, the craft beer world doesn’t represent the community spirit that I have come to know in places like Oregon, Montana and Alaska. Small breweries bent on craft and who cater to their immediate audience are what represent the trueness of the profession or art form to me.

Continue reading Craft Beer in the Southeastern United States

Sunrise on Water

Just after sunrise at Cocoa Beach, Florida
Just after sunrise at Cocoa Beach, Florida

We didn’t stay more than a half hour.

But it will go down in our memories like it was hours and hours.

I couldn’t figure out the pay-by-phone system on the parking meters in the tiny lot at the 1st street access to Cocoa Beach.

So my son and I wandered down to the water’s edge to catch the sunrise with the specter of a parking ticket hanging over my head.

We arrived exactly seven minutes before it was scheduled to appear, according to the weather app on my phone.

The sun was set to rise from the cold Northern Atlantic Ocean horizon at 7:12 a.m. on Christmas Day 2014.

And I damn-well wanted to be there to witness it.

Continue reading Sunrise on Water

Savannah on my mind

She always finds her Tardis
She always finds her Tardis

Gabrielle and I approached the breakfast buffet at the Comfort Inn in Columbia, South Carolina, trepidatiously.

That is to say we’ve been there before.

That moment when you walk into the foyer of whatever cheap hotel occupies every single exit from here to Modesto, and you discover that it looks like it’s been pillaged by Viking raiders.

The tables were covered in the viscera of yogurts and bananas, whose skeletons and skins bulged in a heap atop the trash can like a pile of bodies ready for the pyre.

Sloppy paper notes indicated the orange juice, waffles and sausages were gone. Forever.

So we made up toast with jam, salvaged the rest of the Fruit Loops and drank apple-juice colored water and headed to the pool, where I taught her my secret skills of playing the mouth trumpet in an echoe-y room.

“You’re really good at that dad,” she said.

“I know,” I replied. “I want you to put that on my grave stone.”

She just looked sideways at me and continued to swim.

Continue reading Savannah on my mind

Asheville, The Art of War and Cheryl Strayed

IMG_7658I started writing this from the Chili’s across from the Comfort Inn we’re staying at in Dentsville, South Carolina tonight.

The kids are staring at me after I just scolded them for replying to the waitress with their typical “ya,” or barely discernible grunt meant to infer  that yes, they would indeed like fries with their burger.

“This is the South, where people are polite, and when they ask you if you want fries with your burger, you say yes please,” I told them.

They replied with those barely discernible grunts meant to infer that they indeed understood what I was saying.

After a long evening with Jon in Cincinnati, I was up early, as is my usual habit. I showered, dressed and sat in bed for a while waiting to wake my sleeping wife and kids.

Continue reading Asheville, The Art of War and Cheryl Strayed