Boxes Of Photographs.

This is a follow up post, of sorts. A little while back I wrote a post about travel photos and wrapped philosophic about what happens to them when you return from vacation. This is an adjacent take to that post. A bit more, present day.
Since returning from the middle east, I have found that I need to reestablish the general level of comfort that I am used to. When traveling from an extended period, one of your primary money drains, at least at an adult age, will be what to do with your residence. This was the topic of an early blog post. Some people find it a good idea to keep their homes and rent them, some sell them and plan to find another later. People living in apartments really need to address how to handle their possession, but still have the issue of unburdening themselves from leases.
Having struck a bargain with a friend for rental of his house, I have handled the where-to-live issue. This prompted a languid trudge over to my storage unit (where all my possessions live) to retrieve the most essential items. I needed a bed and a few pans for cooking. I confess that my cooking is minimal, mostly coming from frozen pizzas and microwave burritos, but you never know when you’re going to want some soup or something, plus I can’t exist without a coffee pot. I pulled out my grandmother’s dinning room table, so I could utilize it as a writing table. It’s the right size. And, almost as an afterthought, a grabbed a large plastic tote labeled pictures. It might be nice to have a picture or two on the walls.
I have numerous totes marked either pictures or photo albums, so I wasn’t sure what was in it, when I grabbed it. I simply assumed that there would be something cool. It turned out to be a good thought. The one I grabbed was almost completely travel photos. There was one of me at the pyramids in Giza, and another from Machu Picchu. I found the catacombs of Paris, the Cysteine Chapel, and Stonehenge. Street scenes from Lisbon, and Dublin, as well as the gardens of the Louvre. There was even me running with the bulls in Pamplona.
I scattered the pictures over walls, wherever a nail was left behind, and filled a couple of empty shelves with frames. As I walk around now, I find that the pictures have two profound effects. The first one is that they make me happy. Sometimes, I sit and just look at the ones from Pamplona and remember the crazy 24-hour street party that is the Festival. Other times, when I am having a bit of writer’s block, I look over at the picture of the Eiffel Tower. It was taken from the park in mid-summer, and really is Paris. Second, and much more real, they make me want to travel. I have places to see, and parts of the map that I haven’t been to. These pictures remind me not to rest too long. Life isn’t lived at a writing table, not even a nice one like grandmas. Life is lived out in the world. It’s a good thing that there is already something in the works for next summer, or the pictures would give me the itch to do something foolish. They can be powerful motivation.
The pictures also have one final power. They remind me of the people that I’ve met along the way. Random people that cross your path and give you something to keep. I spend half of my trip through Egypt partying with this group of Australians. I have completely lost touch with them over the years, but the memory of joking and drinking the night away as we waited for the sun rise over the Nile is permanently locked in my memory. (The pictures of the sunrise did not capture the majesty of the event.)
I guess the question wrapped up in all of this, if there is one, is what do you do with your travel pictures? Do you print them out and display them? Are they topics of conversation when people come to visit? Do they motivate you to travel more? Do they remind you of how good things are on the rainy slow days? I find my travel pictures do all of those things. I would suggest that you print out a few and scatter them about. So many people live in computers any more, that I think we all forget that we also live on the planet. And the planet has a lot of awesome history, and cool people in it. That’s just my two cents.
As a side note, my pictures aren’t super fancy or anything. I’m not a professional photographer, and I don’t do a lot of Kodak processing. I print most of my pictures off my printer, using photo paper. It works, and they look like photos. To me, that’s what counts. It’s the image, not the quality of the image. But, that’s just me. You do you.

Now, you get out there and take some pictures. Go make some memories.

Advertisements

Kilts, Cabers, and Klans.

Though I admit at the outset of this post that I only travelled across town, and it is a small town, I like to find new experiences in unexpected places. And, I would classify new experiences as one of the primary reasons for travel. So, here we go …

Yesterday, in the midst of cold weather and overcast skies, I joined friends for a trip to the local Scottish Festival. And, even though I’m not Scottish, (all of the family crest research episodes have come back as English) I did have a very good time.

The 57th Scottish Gathering and Highland Games was held in Salado, Texas, from 9 through 11 November. As a casual observer, I’d say the event could be broken down into about four distinct activities, which seemed to offer something interesting for every person who stopped.

First, there was an area in which representatives from each of the recognized klans were all located. I found this area definitely interesting. Many of the klan’s booth areas hosted historical information with maps and individual klan tartan colors. Others showed historic swords and items that their individual klan produced (think whiskey). All of the different representatives were happy to sit and tell stories and provide information.

Second, there was your standard craft fair area with numerous tents selling every end of Scottish oriented paraphernalia. There were t-shirts, kilts, crafts, jewelry, books, swords, knifes, and the like. I enjoyed this area quite well, and made several turns around the tents.

Third section, I would classify as entertainment. This was broken into two different sections; the dancing and the bagpipes. The dancing section consisted of competitions between groups of young men and women performing traditional dances, and was quite entertaining. The second section was the band competition. Performing groups consisted of drum and bagpipe, and ranged from school band groups to adult performance groups. The band area collected most of the spectators and everyone was obviously entertained.

The fourth section, and collector of most all the remaining spectators, was the area where the Highland Games were contested. Sturdy men and women decked out in klan colored kilts and fashionable competition t-shirts competed in the various events. I stayed to watch sections of the bail toss, the hammer throw, and the caber toss. It was spirited and enjoyable to be sure.

Though the weather wasn’t the best, it didn’t seem to dampen the spirits of anyone that showed up. The center of small town Salado was full and parking was definitely at a premium. I parked toward the end of town, by the local craft beer brewery, Barrow Brewing Company. After a solid turn around the festival, I walked back to the brewery for a beer and some heat. It will sound bad, but 45 degrees in Texas is damned cold! I like the summer heat of the desert much more than the winter cold of the high desert plans.

If you happen by a Scottish Festival, I say stop in and take a look around. I think you will find something enjoyable as you make your way through it. Wether it be the people, the scenery, or the spectacle, there is a little something for everyone.

One end of the klan representatives area.

One of the bands warming up before competition time.

the tossing of the caber.

Wether it’s down the street of on another continent, I say get out there and see what there is to see. Enjoy the ride!

Going Home.

Having come back to America from the Middle East, there was a requirement to head back home and see mom and dad. I utilized the initial couple weeks being back in the USA to handle the things that need to be handle after a year abroad. There was finding an apartment, rifling through loads of mail, miscellaneous doctor visits and the like. Having the necessary items in the bag, it was time to leave Texas for the unwelcoming fall weather in upstate New York.

I decided to fly, as opposed to driving, because I had a bunch of AA frequent flyer miles that were about to expire. I bought the remaining needed miles and ended up with a completely reasonable plane ticket. After that, I shopped around until I found a decent rate on a rental car. It ended up being booked from Hertz through Travelocity. Parking my truck at the long term in Austin is cheap. And, I also stay at the same motel in Potsdam every time, Northern Family Motel. It has great rates and is owned by a high school friend.

Being back in my hometown after a significant time has been an interesting affair. Spending time with mom and dad is great. They have been enjoying the time. After that, the stay has turned into a scavenger hunt of tracking down friends I haven’t seen in some time and catching up.

Small town food hasn’t changed, and I have been making my way through all of the small town hotspots. I think I’m gaining weight! The food in small town America is sturdy and sticks to your bones. Its meat and potatoes, washed down with beer around this place.

Small town America in the fall is as far removed from the deserts of the Middle East as one can possibly be. 100 degree sunny days of uniform brown have been replaced by 40 degree rainy days of half-emptied trees of dulled fall leaves. Brown sand handed off to green grass. The chatter of numerous languages replaced by quiet conversations in one language.

I always enjoy being up in the New York Adirondack mountains, but I must admit that the hotter Texas weather is more to my liking. I’m sure that my thermostat will adjust after some time. For now, I’m just going to wear warm clothes and complain. I can’t complain for long though, there are still more people to track down before I have to go get back on a plane.

Making my way through O’Hare airport in Chicago.

The heavy-duty breakfast. It sticks to you ribs.

There is no pizza better than East Coast pizza. Its just a fact, but I might be a little bias.

Now, get out there and explore the roads you already know well. You will enjoy the ride. Go. Enjoy.