A Touch of Fall in the Air

October 19, 2007

Arrived back in St. Louis Wednesday around noon. Tailwind from southern Missouri saved a few gallons of gas and saved me a fee minutes on the road. Fall is definitely in the air in-spite of the unusually warm weather of late. Leaves are mellowing and the changing angle of the afternoon light is noticeable. Last night’s winds cleared the skies and cooled the air to chilly. Very nice.

I’m only in STL for a few days for errands and some paring down of the belongings in the storage pods. Keeping my books, a few pieces of art, and my cookware are the priority. The rest can go in the closest dumpster. Am hoping to be settled into a new cave by November and want to decorate from square one.

Still job hunting but have some nibbles that I hope (at least one) will pan out. I’ve made a number of good contacts at St. Luke’s and MD Anderson in Houston. Cardiology and oncology are now my preferred areas of interest. HIV/AIDS is a field now more appropriate for folks quite unlike me demographically. I had the pleasure of spending the past weekend before hitting the road at the Candlelighters Camp for Kids with Cancer. I’ll have some photos to post and a separate entry on the experience. Very different from my past experiences with HIV/AIDS camp in terms of both facility and approach. High end and very professional. Texas-sized as well.

Got to run. Much more later.

New photo link: http://picasaweb.google.com/jtholste/Fall2007SelectedPhotos

PS: National Public Radio is “pledge-driving” this week. Hope you’ve made your investment wherever you are to this priceless resource.


A Small Northern Detour

October 10, 2007

Hey all!

As promised, the travel blog is back! I’ll be hitting the road on Monday the 15th of October for a swing through south Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Missouri. I hope to stop in Baton Rouge and Memphis with a long rest stop at Lake Charles LA and Jackson MS. With luck and good weather I should land in STL in time for dinner (late!) on the 17th. Lady P has graciously offered accommodations. Hopefully her three Russian Hounds will welcome me with open paws ūüėČ

Before I can head out I have a few chores and commitments to attend to. I’m still job hunting and doctor shopping (haven’t scheduled the neuro people yet but I won’t get to the surgery until I get back to Houston at the end of the month). In support of the employment search I’ll be volunteering this weekend with the Candlelighters Camp for Kids with cancer and their families. Lots of classy people on the board of this organization and I suspect I’ll be drafted as a long term volunteer type. It will be good to be back, socially speaking, especially from the perspective of a volunteer. No staff duties or responsibilities! I’m really looking forward to being able to complain and whine without having to do anything about my gripes ūüėČ

Pictures, lots of pictures, are pending. Houston, NASA, soccer, a MoveOn.Org protest on the 4th, and all of the new travel pix will start to appear Sunday. Do check in on Monday evening for the first day’s road recap from Baton Rouge!

Coming Back…Soon!

October 7, 2007

Sorry for the long absence. Blog will get re-energized this week as…we’re going back on the road! Watch this space for details!

Not Dead Yet

August 12, 2007


This blog’s not dead yet although it is going through a bit of a re-evaluation as to focus. I’ve been snugly, and quite warmly, entrenched in Sugar Land TX for about a week now. The road trip, mile-wise, seems to have reached a hiatus but something tells me it’s not over yet. Texas may not even be the final stop but it certainly is a great place for recuperating from the road weariness of a week ago.

Houston deserves its own selection of photos and I’ll be about that later this week. The weather is a steady 98-100 degrees and a shade cooler than St. Louis. No rain for a week. The last showers here greeted my arrival on the Katy Freeway. This is something of a quandry to the locals as the rain load this year, especially during the last three months, has been extraordinary. Daily deluges followed by swimming humidity. The master of the house here had to turn on the watering system this morning to compensate. This should all change as soon as the mistress of the house returns in a week or so. She seems to bring the weather with her.

No arrangements yet for my back surgery. I need to attend to that on Monday. Am a bit reluctant to finally accept that reality. Easier to think about getting a job (not) than planning for the knife. Looks like it will be into September before I can get either the back or the job finalized. Maybe this is the time when I should start that novel I’ve always thought was in the cards for me. Probably not. I need to go now and make the weighty decision of the day…beef and broccoli or cashew chicken for dinner.

Slouching Toward…Sugar Land

August 5, 2007

This is a really short update. Made it to Texas via West Memphis, AR and Texarkana, TX/AR (not quite sure which side of the tracks I was on but the hotel was the low point of the housing accommodations for this voyage ;-(

I’m swamped with details of both medical and financial concerns that will take a few days of actually paying attention to adult things to clear up. New wrinkle in the mix of things is the need to have back surgery sometime in the next 30-60 days. I may try to return to St. Louis for that “minor” procedure.

I have pictures to post and will get to those later today. This week I also hope to do a review of Houston for all who have not had the pleasure of meeting the Lone State State.

Hope everyone is staying cool and comfortable. Make like a dog and hang out on the porch in the shade! Mint julips optional.

The Fruits of Colonialism

July 26, 2007

Happy Thursday! I’m getting sadly close to the end of my stay in the cabin in the pines of Medford Lakes. Am thinking of offering terms for long term maintenance of this place to keep a spot in the rotation of guests!

More pictures posted today. Mostly from my quick trip to Colonial (and commercial) Wiliamsburg. I visited here in the mid-70’s as a high school student taking part on the first iteration of the Bicentennial Debates to commemorate the Bicentennial. Great experience and a real ego boost if I recall. Spent a week touring at the cost of one debate a day or so. Had just come from three days of hectic debating at Emory University in Atlanta with my partner. We didn’t make the cut at Emery¬†but we were¬†happy, if I recall correctly,¬†to get an early flight into Patrick Henry airport for the Williamsburg event. The tournament was almost like a vacation senior year. We even had a rare Virginia snow storm to great us on the first day. Memory recollects a spontaneous snow ball fight involving myself, my partner Al (totally out of character for him as the smart one) and the “ladies” from Sr. Brendan’s High School in NYC. Must have been good for us as we made the cut and checked out in the semi-finals (Sorry I can’t recall the team that mastered us. My memory tries to scrub those “insignificant” details ;-).

Ah…Glory Days! Anyway, my revisit to Williamsburg wasn’t as debatable. Beautiful day and a great walk down Duke of Glouchester Avenue. The area is equally divided between the excellent restorations of the old colonial town and the new, matching architecture of the commercial section. Big souvenir season as a result of the 400th anniversary of Jamestown. Nice crowd by not unbearably huge. Lots of moms/dads and kids checking out the College of William and Mary for admission in 2008. The College is woven through the historical district and is very unique as a result. A complete contrast to WU or SLU for about the same price (or less).

The photos were limited as I chose to “go cheap” and skip the admission ticket (priced at over $20) as I was only planning on an hour or two “in the past.” Didn’t have access to the interior exhibits but the Courthouse and the Colonial Legislature were clearly favorites with visitors.

A special note on pictures: As a rule (and with a careful exception or two for narrative purposes), I have chosen not to show real people, especially kids, or identifiable locations in the photo collection. Privacy is a value worth being protective of and the net has was too many pictures of young kids as it is (my apologies to nieces and nephews for reducing their Google “hit score.”). I did make an exception in the collection in showing both my brother’s “platantion” in Virgina and my sister’s lake home in Indianapolis. Both homes are as special¬†as the owners and are wonderful in their own ways. I’m also quite proud of my sibs as they all have done well for themselves and their children in spite of beginnings that were nothing short of true trauma and challenge. “Dysfunctional” just doesn’t get it. !Bravos, Mis Hermano and Hermanas!

As I wind down my days in the Pines I find myself “pushing paper” for personal reasons this week. Medical forms, health insurance payments, annuity transfers, unemployment “this and that,” and another attempt at working out a “non-working” working personal budget. On Saturday I head for Pittsburgh for a one night stop over with my sister Gerri followed by a one night stay with my sister Mary in Indianapolis. All this stopping to make it to St. Louis on the 30th for multiple doctor visits and record collecting. My thanks to Larry for access to his coach for a night ot two. After¬†getting what will hopefully be a good report from my physicians (excluding the back and nerve issues). My heart, troublesome bugger than it is, will get a good listen from the good doctor Klearman before she heads off to greater glory on the left coast with Genentech. Sadly this is probably a case of a dysfunction health care system driving out an exceptional provider. Today’s political message: if any of us wants good health care, we better fix the system NOW.

After attending my last “physical” encounter with the good Lady Klearman, I’ll be back to Indy for a few days to finally get the mass of job applications pooled and posted. My sister and her husband have been very tolerant of my comings and goings. This should be the last “fly by” until the holidays as I will be headed south after a August 8th appointment with the pain doctor. I am ever hopeful that this will be the LAST visit with this particular specialty. Fry that last nerve bundle and be done with it! I’m prepared for cane walking and other incoveniences related to ablating nerves. Chronic nasty pain is (oops, whining again here)…a pain.

After a successful treatment in STL, I’m headed for Little Rock for some interviews at Heifer International (I may have mentioned this…don’t you hate it when bloggers repeat themselves!) and perhaps a little hot spring treatment. Need to find the good, former Sara Adamson for some employment advise. Sara…if you’re reading…drop me a note.

The title of this entry had something to do with possible ramblings on the contributions and costs of colonialism. The topic is currently under some active discussion in academic circles. Looks like I’ll have to save my contribution to the topic for later.

Leaving America’s Hometown

June 4, 2007

That’s what the signs all say in Hannibal, MO: “America’s Hometown.” I suppose that’s right as far as you can take it which, honestly, may not be that far. The signal strength on the Victorian era vibe was good, even excellent at times. A goodly mix of kitsch and capitalism along with clean streets in the tourist areas. Something did seem a bit amiss.

Saturday, post storm, was hot and humid and called out for time on the river.¬† I had no expectations of great food but I did want a real ride on the Mighty Miss so I plunked down $37.50 for a dinner cruise on the Mark Twain Riverboat. The Twain, parked for many years at the St. Louis wharf, moved north a few years back when gambling took over the riverfront,¬†and gained greatly from the change of venue. With the cruise departure set for 6:30 pm I had some time and a serious need to beat the humidity. I did what any kid in Tom’s day would have done; grabbed a candle and headed for the caves.

The Mark Twain Cave, with an entrance at the back of the well stocked gift shop, was worth the $17 entry fee. I safely avoided the souvenirs and sat through the 10 minute introductory video to cave geology. Shocking news! Here in the heartland of America, home of all that is true and inerrant and just so, was a cave that claims to be over 100 million years old! Cohabiting even with dinosaurs and thousands of fossilized genera. North America’s own rift valley with eons of evidence of…well, let’s leave that discussion for another day.

The real finding as far as I was concerned was the temperature. 52 degrees and, wimp that I am, I had followed the recommendations and brought (and wore) a sweater. Lots of cave lore, retellings of the Tom and Becky travails amid bats and an angry Injun Joe, and more rock jokes that “Rock School.” And, if you believe the telling, over 250,000 signatures¬† (including 250 by an S. Clemens) on the walls, a “real” ghost of Injun Joe, treasure, 99.9% pure water, and yet another hiding place of the outlaw Jesse James!

The caving took an hour, give or take, and I still had time for a quick shower using the replacement towels fom a discount chain that I will not name (Honest, I couldn’t find a Target, Penny’s, or rag shop anywhere…and I looked). The Mark Twain departed right on time, the weather was perfect, the food more than passable, and my fellow passengers…wow, what a weird freakin’ lot. I new that Illinois was big on veterans groups and POW/MIA chapters but…at least 5 chapters were on this ride along with me and 25 tellers from US Bank. I sat with the band, chatted with a Democrat from Iowa, and stayed off the top deck with the drunks and 55 year olds with pony tails and tattoos.

We docked right on the minute at 8:30 and, after I short walk around town, I headed for my little pup tent and a petty decent nights sleep.¬† The next morning I figured out what was amiss with the town. I got up early to catch breakfast and walk the riverfront in the cool of the morning. I came across the “world famous” statue of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn at the foot of Cardiff Lighthouse. While the town has more Mark Twain “this” and Tom Sawyer “that” to satisfy an insatiable tourista, there are few mentions of Huck. Tom, of course, was the romantic ideal of adventure and the true talents of Americans for guile and good times. Huck was no romantic but a pragmatic son of an alcoholic who grappled with the twin sins of 19th century America; slavery and class-ism. He, more so than Tom, was the best we had to offer.¬† Not exactly good for business or the business of nostalgia.

I’m for building Huck his own statue. Anybody up for a capital campaign? More later. Got to go and check out of my lavish B&B recovery lodging! Great rooms and hot cookies at bedtime!