Elvis and a Classic Mustang

Yesterday found me hiding from the heat in the movie theater. My cousin Sherrie and I took in a matinee showing of “Elvis” and enjoyed two hours and 39 minutes of escapism from this crazy world we call home.

The movie was excellent and gets two thumbs up from me. Tom Hanks was great as Colonel Tom Parker and Austin Butler made an exceptional King of Rock and Roll. In all, it’s a fresh take on a heartbreaking story and would both watch it again and recommend it.

We found this classic Mustang parked next to us after the movie.

Notice the front plate. Always on my mind.

It was shiny and immaculate.

Spotting classic cars out in the wild is one of my favorite things and this one was the perfect end to my Elvis experience!

The Open Road

There is little that thrills me more than a road trip.

I found myself driving in the golden light just before sunset last night. There’s something freeing about that hour of the day when the temperature falls with the sun and the traffic thins. I rolled down the winds, turned up the music and cruised toward home.

I also made a mental note that I must do this more often.

This scene is from State Route 668, not far from Logan, Ohio. This road is curvy but it’s well worth the views.

So what are you waiting for? Better get out there and go for a ride!

Fresh Eyes At Cedar Falls

Last night, I revisited a trail I’ve hiked countless times. While it’s a heavily populated tourist area here in the Hocking Hills, most of the visitors were gone by the time I arrived after work. It was blissfully quiet.

I did encounter a woman who stopped for a moment to gush about the magnificence of the area. She had studied at nearby Ohio University but hadn’t been back since graduation fifteen years ago. I envied her fresh perspective and told her so. Everything was new and beautiful for her while it’s just another walk in the woods for me some days.

This particular trail is one of my favorites because there are areas where the dirt path turns to boulders that you must scurry over or through.

This trail parallels a beautiful stream.

A chipmunk stopped to say hi. This photo is not sharp but it was the best I could do with my unreliable phone.

This is a favorite spot on the trail. It’s a little steep for a short chick but I make do.

The views really are magnificent.

There’s a waterfall too.

I’m grateful to have these park trails so close to home and should probably try harder to appreciate them. But isn’t that human nature? We often don’t appreciate what we have and too often take for granted the things we value most.

I’ll try to do better.

Rained Out

Last night’s plan was to walk the bike path in Athens with my cousin. Unfortunately, another round of thunderstorms rumbled through the region, dumping buckets of water as colorful lightening streaked across the angry sky.

In short, we didn’t walk. Instead, we put on our walking clothes and went out for Mexican. We had a terrific dinner and a relaxing time catching up. Then we went to the neighborhood big box store “to walk.” This is code for “we looked at plants and hair care products.”

Don’t judge.

The bad news is that today’s plan to show you pictures from the bike path fell through.

It just goes to show that we can plan all we like but there are plenty of obstacles to cause us to slow down or change course – for better or worse.

Did I need the exercise? You betcha. Did I need chips and salsa? Not really.

All the same, it was great fun catching up with another single gal and having someone to laugh with. We should do that more often.

I regret nothing.

Meanwhile, here are pretty flowers to brighten your day.

Happy Thursday, friends. Enjoy!!

The Longest Day

It’s a pity that the longest day of the year is also usually one of the hottest. I spent my work day worshiping the central air but ultimately decided to brave the elements and enjoy an early evening hike.

John Muir said “And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.”

It was that kind of day.

I donned my best sun hat and headed to my closest trail for a four mile trek along a mostly shaded path. I walked alone but was never lonely as I was in the company of dragonflies, squirrels and birds.

It was somewhere along this trail that I managed to shut off the work day and allow my mind to wander to my surroundings. Sometimes I wonder if I didn’t miss my calling. I once had a chance to be a park ranger but passed on the opportunity in favor of clinging to the known and comfortable.

Maybe that was a mistake. Then again, maybe not. That’s one of those questions that cannot be answered but I trust that things have worked out for the best.

Here’s another question that cannot be answered. Do we think fairies live in this tree? I’m leaning toward yes!

Whether or not I chose the right career path is irrelevant. The good news is I can still enjoy an evening on a different kind of path and marvel in the freedom of feet on the trail and head in the clouds.

Isn’t that one of the things that make life great?

Crossing Paths

Earlier this year, a very large metal object destroyed one of my car tires. I was in need of tires anyway and found myself sitting in the waiting room of the only tire shop in the area with four of my required tires in stock.

What could have been a mundane two hour wait turned out to be one of the most interesting experiences of my life.

I had brought some work to do so I simply nodded and smiled toward the other person in the waiting room – an elderly man who was fiddling with his phone. I settled into my work until he struck up a conversation, something or other about patience, waiting and how his career had kept him busy.

Being me, I couldn’t resist asking what he did and was delighted at the stories that followed.

He was retired Air Force and had once overseen the mechanics who worked on all the planes that fly in and out of an Rickenbacker Airport here in Ohio. Before that, his career took him all over the world, including to a hot spot in the Middle East where he planned the air strip and all the necessary buildings and plane parking necessary for American aircraft to efficiently fly in and out.

He has been to all fifty states and all but six countries. He has lived in many. Rather than just visit, he preferred to stay for a few months, make friends and really learn the culture. His favorite place is the South of France.

His career took him all over but he had a true passion for travel so he leveraged his Air Force benefits to travel even more.

He shared with me two lessons.

1. Travel as much as you can when you’re young enough to enjoy it. He said “don’t wait till you’re old and have bad knees like me. You’ll regret it because you won’t be able to enjoy walking around and won’t have the stamina to see what’s around the block.”

2. When you get a pay increase or any kind of windfall, save as much as you can, but don’t deny yourself travel money. See lesson #1 above.

Before leaving, he looked me square in the eye and said “go see as much of the country or the rest of the world as you can. If you like to travel, and you clearly do, you’ll never regret a single dollar you spend.”

I was delighted by this exchange and was a little sad to see him go but I went back to my work and reveled in the chat with my new friend and enabler.

A few minutes passed before a Hispanic man joined me in the waiting room. We smiled and nodded and sat in silence until an elderly woman named Victoria joined us. She was watching the news on television and asked if I knew anything about the story that was playing. She had missed the beginning.

It was about issues refugees are facing at a border crossing somewhere. I knew nothing about it but the man looked up and made eye contact. So I asked him and he shared a few things that he knew about it.

This led to a conversation about how scary it would be to leave everything you know to journey far to a strange land with an uncertain future for yourself and your family. How bad is life where you live that this kind of drastic move would seem like a good idea?

I will stop here to say that he spoke great English but with an accent. He occasionally used the wrong word or tense but these mistakes were no worse than any of the botched English I’ve heard from Ohio natives.

He seemed kind and open to conversation. It’s a good thing too because Victoria and I had many questions.

We asked him how long he has been in this country, how he found Chillicothe, if people are nice, does he like it here? He answered all of our prying questions both thoughtfully and patiently. He came to America legally when he was a young man. I suspect he was a migrant farm worker for some time because he said he traveled for work at first. He is a contractor by trade and is proud of his children. His youngest was to graduate high school soon and he mentioned a son who has a good job with a prosperous local employee.

He loves Chillicothe because people treat him well. It’s safe to walk down the street and people are friendly. They wave. He has a successful business and his family is very happy.

The conversation eventually turned to Victoria, a retiree who enjoys traveling and who has found the pandemic trying. She worked for a big employer in the area until it changed hands several years ago. She was in her early sixties with one eye on retirement a little later down the road. New management forced her into early retirement because she didn’t have a college degree. Never mind she had been doing her job for over forty years and could work circles around whatever young college graduate they got to replace her for a fraction of her salary.

At first, she wasn’t happy to be retired. In fact, she was kind of bitter. But then she realized she had time to travel and to do as she pleases.

She shared that she is single and childless. “I almost married a guy once but I dodged a bullet there. He was a jerk,” she exclaimed.

She talked about her wonderful life, friends, and saving money. She also talked about traveling and doing the things that make your life full and worth living.

Life lessons from Victoria:

1.”Never let anyone make you feel bad for being single or for not having kids,” she said. “Their choices don’t have to be your choices.”

2. Travel all you can, take up hobbies, fill your time with things that will make you smarter and happier. “Say YES as much as you can. By saying yes, you’re taking action.”

And just as suddenly as she arrived and sparked an amazing conversation, she was gone. Her headlight was repaired and Victoria was off, presumably on another adventure.

The gentleman and I continued our conversation with him showing me pictures and videos of recently completed jobs. He does remodeling work like kitchens and bathrooms. He also builds porches and decks and shared a video of a simply beautiful series of decks he built at a local home.

Here’s what I learned from him.

1. Love the work you do. He loves his job because he makes people smile when they get their dream kitchen or when he helps them select just the right shower tile. There’s meaning to each project, a deadline and sense of completion. You spend a lot of time at work so it’s best to be good at your job and to find it fulfilling.

2. Don’t listen to the pundits on television who tell you what to think about immigrants. Instead, sit down and talk to someone. Learn their history and why they chose to live where they do. Are their neighbors nice to them? Is there really such a great divide in this country? This guy loves his town more than most American born people and I found that inspiring.

My two hour new set of tires gave me much food for thought and made me think about people and the lessons we learn from them. Sometimes the people we cross paths with out in the world can teach us great lessons. Sometimes the lesson is in how not to treat people. Sometimes the lessons are substantial and life changing.

The lessons I learned that day were not new to me. Save, travel, engage with people who are different than you, and never let judgement of others wreck your life – these are things I already knew.

All the same, it’s nice when life hands you a refresher course when you least expect and maybe most need to hear it.