Day 105 – Frustrations of a tech savvy blogger

Written 11 September 2021

I’m in Wichita, Kansas, USA as I write this.

I’m a bit frustrated. I’ve been trying to consider those of you who like images (photos), but for about a month now my image software (Olympus Workspace) won’t import the images from either my Olympus TG-3 camera, OR from copies of the photos on my Google Pixel 5. Both of them worked just fine until then. But now – just the message “Failed to import file(s).” results on importing from either device, or from any drive on my computer. Forums, tech support, etc. do not yield a solution, so being able to put images into my posts is harder than it was and needs to be. It is possible, but this just shouldn’t happen. I’ve searched and tried everything I can think of to find a solution, and I’m pretty good at uncovering stuff using the internet. But “no joy” on this problem as yet.

Yes, I’m looking at alternatives to the current software, but I need time and unplanned attention to make that choice. I really don’t like dealing with technical issues when I’m trying to look inwards, write outwards about it, and fundamentally assess where I’m going in life from here. Sigh…

It forced me to face something I’ve known for some time. I don’t tend to take pictures much – I’m very much more “inner experience” driven, and I know that doesn’t translate well for some people I care about a lot that clearly like the images. (Mike, Tim, and others particularly). But my desire to include images is holding me back.

From the beginning this blog was intended as my “outreach” trying to develop some writing skills and willingness to share my thoughts and feelings. I have zero interest in “monetizing” this blog to get money from it. It was also to help keep my friends in touch with my travels, and images are definitely desirable for that objective. But …

The result is that you may see, almost certainly will see, more text and fewer images for a while, at least. I hope I can write in a way that you still want to read, but if you require the images I won’t have those on the site as much for at least a while. At least I’ve decided that now instead of continuing to delay posting until I can “fix this problem”. Sheesh.

Sorry –

On a “news” note, I’ve found that crossing international borders is difficult, but the requirements are so changeable on short notice (due to COVID requirements from varying countries) that I’m giving up the idea of the international jaunting about envisioned in May when I left Namibia. I’m not sure what I’m going to do for a while until the COVID/travel situation eases up a bit. It is possible – but the time and energy it takes to anticipate details and change plans (and the cost of COVID tests!) simply doesn’t make it very attractive when the entire reason for me travelling was to meet lots of people and have time to think, ponder, and talk.

For instance, on the trip on the Canadian train from Vancouver to Toronto we were not permitted to be outside of our rooms (I had a one-person room) if we weren’t in the dining car for scheduled meal appointments, and we could not sit at the same table with anyone outside of the immediate group we shared a room with. It was like being in solitary confinement in a nice cell with an interesting view of Canada passing by. The Observation car, and the Lounge car, were literally closed. I’m still glad I made the trip, but it certainly didn’t meet the primary objectives of the travel – meet new people.

Getting back into the USA from Toronto, even as a US citizen, was actually harder than getting into Canada! More on that in a later blog. I don’t want to just bitch – I’m glad I’m doing this trip and never expected it to be “according to plan” – travel isn’t like that – but the Delta variant is really mucking things up.

More to come, not so many images, and I’ll do what I can to make this blog worth reading.


Day 099 – Too busy experiencing to write about it

There will be a future post with photos of my train trip from Vancouver to Toronto, and a bit of Toronto, but this post is really a brief explanation.

This afternoon I was having a coffee at café in downtown Toronto thinking about how much I was looking forward to sitting down and writing about the thoughts and feelings of the past week or so, particularly the last couple of days. What with one thing or another to do, all of them very valuable or necessary to my trip, it’s now almost 21:00 and I’m not in “shape” to write much. If I did, I’d be forcing myself to meet some kind of self-imposed deadline or promise.

The entire purpose of this trip was to give myself time to just be, to meet new people and experience new things, and to write about my inner and outer journeys in a way that a reader would want to keep reading the next post. While I’m well aware of the interest of people following this blog to see the images/photographs, and in the descriptions of what’s going on with me, I am (once again) putting the value of the personal experience ahead of the obligation to photograph, report or tell. I’m sorry about that – genuinely – for the sake of you, the readers.

Today I experienced a stranger/pharmacist going out of his way to help me get a COVID test in time for my flight on Tuesday because he recognized that (1) I had thought ahead, and it hadn’t worked because his own company’s systems failed, and (2) when he told me (after I called) that there was no way to get my test today I didn’t “panic” or get insistent. I did what he asked and it didn’t work. In short I was nice to him and didn’t blame him or make sure he understood how much this would cost me if I didn’t get the test. So – he was extremely helpful, generous with his time, and went out of his way on a VERY busy day for him so my test has been completed purely thanks to him. Another lesson in the practical value of just being nice to each other. I am very grateful to him.

Then I just “people-watched” on a café’ corner for a while and experienced nostalgia in hearing military jets pass over (an air show at the airport) while never catching more than, once, a very brief glimpse of the aircraft. I felt no desire to rush to get a better view and try to see more, or to go to the airport, it was enough to relish the memories that flowed through me as I felt grateful for having a first hand experience of being able to visualize what those pilots were seeing as they were flying. What a gift.

Literally a dozen such feelings and thoughts passed through my mind while I just sat and had a coffee after the COVID test. The woman with the old dog, the strikingly beautiful Indian woman, the old guy on the bicycle, the young asian couple with an hilariously active puppy on a leash, the couple wondering why I was taking a picture of a tree, the couple behind me wondering why I was rooting around in the bushes (my cup had blown off of the table) and us having a nice exchange and connection over the laughter, and on, and on, and on. All of it something to share.

Then back here to make a final adjustment (necessary) for my plans to return to the USA, and just as I was preparing to sit and write, a new friend I’ve made here at the BnB came up and wanted to talk. It was a sheer pleasure to spend another hour or two talking with her. She’s Japanese, and experiencing the joys and the difficulties of making decisions for herself and changing her cultural surroundings. It is tough – very tough. I have a tremendous respect for her, and find the time we spent just talking to be precisely the reason I undertook this trip. We both left this second conversation feeling enriched – and that is so valuable an experience to share.

In this BnB there are tenants from Japan, Algeria, Yemen, France, Africa (me), the USA (me), Turkey, South Korea, and I think I’ve forgotten one. I am in heaven – the mix of cultures, open minds (and the unavoidable occasional not-so-open one) are a delicious mix of experiences. It’s why I am making this trip.

And then there is technology. One of the reasons there are no images in this posting is that when one piece of software changed (not sure which of two) I can still copy the photos from my phone onto my computer, but my image processing software will no longer import them. It will take time to figure it out, and I’m sure I will, but I resent having to be technical in the midst of so much spiritual richness for my soul. Technical problem solving is an unwelcomed interruption to my musings, and relishing the experiences surrounding me.

So -know I am happy, bumping into the inevitable challenges of travel, and getting (most) of what I want to continue to get out of this trip. And it is FAR from over!

I’m considering heading back to Namibia pretty soon and laying low in my home there for 6-12 months to let this COVID situation settle out (I don’t think it will go away), so that international travel will be reasonably possible again. Or I may stay in the San Francisco area for a while and do the same thing. I’m still not sure what I’m going to do, but I do need to make some kind of a decision soon. I am so grateful to have good friends to talk over this stuff with to help me keep a perspective that is open, and useful.

One of my follower/readers messaged me recently saying “Don’t sell yourself short as a writer.” I can’t tell you how encouraging that was to hear. Thank you. Remembering that this blog is an attempt for me to show up in the world in a different way – openly and expressively – I hope you are finding it engaging and worth coming back to. I find it well worth doing, and will keep it up – at a pace that seems right to me. Thanks for being patient if you really like photographs.

And there will be images in the next posting – I promise.

I always wear a mask inside, or when people are around. Not so much in the open.

Day 089 – Oakland to Vancouver BC

27 Aug 2021

It has become clear to me that trying to synchronize posts with dates (kept sequential, of course!), travel, experiences, and thoughts is a Sisyphean task. So – I’m giving up on it. Posts will be titled with the day of my trip (not when I wrote the post) measured from 29 May 2021 – the day I left Namibia to “go travel” with one way tickets. While I will return to Namibia, I honestly don’t know when.

Getting here was really pretty pleasant after literally days of ensuring, tediously, that the COVID rules for entering Canada were strictly followed. Once I got over the panic of the original COVID testing site not being able to do the test, it was finally arranged with a new testing site two minutes before the deadline for Wed appointments. The test was done on Wed AM (for a Friday flight) and I had the (negative) results within an hour, for free! Nice start! Then my daughter took me to SFO…

At SFO waiting to check in for the flight to Vancouver.
An old volcano – not Mt. Saint Helens.
Another old volcano – again not Mt. Saint Helens.
This IS Mt. Saint Helens when erupting in 1980. Imagine both of the volcanos above looking like this! Aisch.
Vancouver before landing (obviously).
From the air just before landing in Vancouver. Note the logs in the river waiting for processing at some logging mill somewhere. I never saw it.

Landed and proceeded (slowly) through immigration, customs, health, etc. Canadian laws concerning crossing the border in this day of COVID are very stringent. I studied and prepared as much as possible, and it paid off. I cleared immigration, customs, and COVID screenings painlessly. Fortunately I was not randomly selected for post arrival testing so I walked out of the airport yesterday free to move and explore with no further travel obligations! One now-amusing event was convincing the immigrations official (who was delightful, just incredulous) that I really did come into Canada just to ride the train! She kept saying “what else will you do while you are here?”

On the way into Vancouver from the airport. A less-pleasant but “not a big deal” event was the Uber driver in Vancouver who I was assigned, then saw arrive at the meeting area, then got notified he had cancelled his availability – only to then notice that the fare had gone up 50% due to demand. He was very experienced, and I’m sure cancelled to take a higher fare. Oh well – I just moved over to a taxi. People …
The hallway to my hostel room. I was one of four in the room. The others were a group of three from Toronto in Vancouver for holiday. Very nice folks.
The Bar/Restaurant in the hostel. Actually it was quite nice/adequate!

This was my first hostel experience in many decades, and it’s interesting and welcome. The beds are comfortable, and the hostel was 100% full last night. I haven’t seen my three roommates at all since checking in about 19:00 last night and it’s now about 16:00 Saturday.

When I toured Western Europe on a motorcycle in the summer of 1971, and again in 1981 when crossing the USA from Connecticut to California dipping into both Canada and Mexico enroute (on a different motorcycle), I camped out most nights. On both trips, sometimes a friendly local would invite me to sleep in a spare room and take advantage of a shower (probably in self-defense), and often invited me to a meal with the family.

Somewhere in the USA between Connecticut and California in about October/November of 1981. My cycle was a Honda 900 on this trip. No hostels as explained above!

Travelogue interjection:
In one way, I think of my “real” travelling just beginning from the San Francisco area. I’m solo now, by intent for the first time. Three weeks ago I took the train to Chicago (discussed in the previous post), then was in Maize, Kansas visiting with a few members of Marilyn’s extended family for a few days, then visited with Roger and Kris, good friends for almost 30 years, who now live in, and are originally from, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Unfortunately, my high school buddy intending to go on the trip from Chicago to Seattle on a train had to cancel at the last minute so I flew to Seattle for a four day visit (in a later post) then back to the San Francisco area for some family events. Yesterday I flew from SF to Vancouver because wild fires had knocked out the train tracks heading up the coast so Amtrak cancelled my train. I’ll be in Vancouver for two days and depart here Monday on “The Canadian” train to Toronto – four days and four nights on the train.

Route for “The Canadian” train departing Monday from Vancouver. I get off in Toronto four days, and four nights, later.

Then a couple of days in Toronto, and taking trains through Niagara Falls to head back to Washington D.C. where I’ll see more friends, and then to North Carolina for a Peace Corps service friend from Namibia. After that – I’m not sure yet. Most likely (but not fully decided as yet) I’ll work my way back across the USA to end up on the west coast and put my boat back in the water to live aboard when I’m in the USA but keep my home and residence in Namibia, also. That’s the current plan.

Serendipity is often the result of the kind of coincidence that springs from planning and anticipation. A while back I purchased the ebook version of “Out of Instanbul: A Journey of Discovery Along the Silk Road” by Bernard Ollivier which I think is the perfect book to read as I start this journey. A two hour airplane ride slipped by in only minutes as the author – a journalist in his 60’s who was a journalist and teacher for over 30 years – described his inner life as he prepared for his solo trip of 3000 km walking from Istanbul to Tehran. I was moved by his writing as it related so closely to my own life at this moment, and had to share the experience. So I drafted my own inadequate prose to a new friend I’m making in Illinois and hope to meet on a trip back across the USA in mid to late September.

Note the book on my Kindle propped up on the seat table.

And therein lies the constant challenge for me: comparison. As much as I know there is ALWAYS someone that is “more” of something than I am – and there always will be for everyone – I can’t help but want my own ability to express a story or a feeling and capture a reader’s interest, and often am in awe of an author’s ability to do just that. Of course in Bernard’s case (I don’t think he’ll mind me calling him Bernard), he’s been honing that craft for many decades, he’s travelled all over the damn place, experienced the death of a beloved spouse, has memories of shared international journeys with her, and rejoiced in a close family. I don’t have those experiences – I have my own. I just hope to be able to express the depth of personal experience with a fraction of his skills, or of the skills of many “real” authors.

People often react to the number of life experiences I’ve had, but I feel it is a pale reflection of what I have been able to touch upon in yearning for a greater experience. The world, and life, have so much to offer but I live with the constant feeling of having fallen short in self-satisfaction with progress . In fairness, I am able to appreciate and cherish being able to do more, and learn more, in my 70’s. I would rather “get it” now, than never. Heile Selasse is quoted in “A man who says, ‘I have learned enough and will learn no further,’ should be considered as knowing nothing at all.” For example, I have never had the richness that comes from decades of building a relationship with a life partner, but perhaps there is still time to do what I can in the time I have left. And the deep friendships I am building with some are incredibly satisfying and challenging all at the same time. I am grateful, and fortunate and have had advantages that were not available to many, many people.

That’s MORE than enough “naval gazing” for now! Stay tuned.

Day 070b-071: Some things are best left unsaid

7-8 August

No photos – you will thank me.

After departing the train in Chicago Union Station Saturday evening, we went to the Chinatown Hotel in that part of Chicago known as (wait for it …) Chinatown! It was a perfectly fine if basic hotel. I’d stay there again in a heartbeat. Clean, simple, polite, etc. Near public transportation, and LOTS of Chinese Restaurants and shops that would have been gangs of fun in better times. No elevators as it turned out and our rooms were on the third floor. Ordinarily I wouldn’t have cared but my travelling companion, Marilyn, isn’t fond of stairs. She turned out to be a hero, and very tired.

I won’t embellish this story. In the lobby of the hotel what had formerly been only a vague but slowly growing unease turned into full-blow active food poisoning. It was brutal. Details will be left undefined.

That night, no sleep but I memorized the way to the toilet very quickly (fortunately it was in our suite) and the path will be etched in my memory for years, as short as it was, from pure repetition.

Next day we didn’t even consider using our pre-paid tickets to the Field Museum (damn) and I essentially slept all day except for thankfully, but slowly, decreasing visits to the toilet. That, alone, is probably TMI – sorry.

Marilyn made at least six round trips up and down the 40 steps in the stairway (she counted), sometimes laden with bags for both of us, or food for herself (or for me the next day), or the need to go to the desk to do something we should have been able to do on the phone, etc. She got lost in Chinatown searching for a Sprite for me and was rescued by a really nice group of young people offering to help, then we found the next day that the Sprite was available literally across the street from the hotel.

I may – emphasis on MAY – get Marilyn to approve a written form of the stories from the Chinatown Hotel that were so entertaining to members of her family later in the week. But not right now. To hear her tell her story of getting lost, and the entire incident, is hilarious – – – now.

I do, however, have to sneak in a joke and an acknowledgement of an extraordinary person – Marilyn. We were married 45 years ago, divorced about 40 years ago, and over the years have developed a very deep and appreciative friendship. We travelled well together and she has become one of my most trusted and valued friends. She pretty much saved my life in Chicago (not literally, but it sure felt that way). Thank god she didn’t eat a hamburger on the train for lunch. If we had both been sick it would have been much, much worse.

Now the joke: I found out how to get along really well with your ex-wife – just give her your credit card and shut up. (pause).

So – to keep this brief – Saturday evening and most of Sunday were absolutely miserable for me, exhausting but quiet for her, and will be the source of entertaining stories about travel for years that come from a very dark place in my memories.

And that is enough said about being in Chicago. We delayed our flight from Sunday night to Monday morning, and arrived in Wichita on Day 072 without further incident.

Day 070 – CORN, CORN, CORN, soybeans, CORN, CORN, CORN

Written: 7 August 2021

Woke up in the morning somewhere into Nebraska.

Was asleep in Denver to the left – and we slept through almost all of Nebraska. The first town sign I saw on Friday morning (Day 70) was for Omaha, Nebraska – right against the border on the map, above. And we were then in Iowa.

And then – corn fields. Lots and lots of corn fields.

Corn fields.

Then a bit farther – more corn fields.

More corn fields.

The next stretch of travelling was interesting in that the corn fields were interrupted by a single patch of something …

Travelling through corn fields, and more corn fields, then something different in the middle, then corn again.

SOYBEANS! The scenery on this leg of the journey was incredibly diverse.


Then more corn fields.

Even more corn fields.

Lots of small towns and railroad tracks – all of which were built around and because of … corn fields.

The settlers here had some kind of hang-up on names starting with “O” (Omaha, Osceola, Ottumwa).

And now, for something completely different (thank you Monty Python)…
About 51 years ago, when I was 20, I drove cross country with three classmates to Ottumwa, Iowa, for the Antique Aircraft Association Fly In, where I got to be a passenger in some of the earliest airplanes. My favorite ride was in a Ryan PT-22 where I was a front seat passenger in an open cockpit with NO PARACHUTE! No room in the cockpit), and yes the pilot did aerobatics. I don’t know if it was the same exact airplane you see below, but it was the same design.

Back to corn…
And there were loads of railroad tracks connecting the towns so they could move corn back and forth.

Houses right against the tracks were the norm in these small towns. Note there were no fences!

Bet you thought there was going to be another picture of a corn field!!!

By this time I was in a corn stupor and missed any photos of entering Chicago. Also (as it turned out) I was on the leading edge of getting really sick with food poisoning and didn’t think much about taking photos.

On the way from Union Station to the hotel in Chinatown,

I started to feel “not so good”, and when we got to the hotel lobby, waiting around did it. Story of THAT sad episode in the next post. Let’s just say that was NOT a fun night – nor the next day. The story of that sad occurrence, one of the genre of travel stories that is always more interesting when being retold than in the moment, will be in the next post.

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