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!


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.

Road Weary

July 24, 2007

To all-

I think I have a touch of road weariness. Sleep is a bit more difficult at night (rather easy in the middle of the day when chores call), motivation for a variety of tasks swings widely, and I feel like my posterior has grown 2 inches at least in girth from all the hours behind the wheel. This is probably just about where I should be psychologically speaking. The adventure has lost some luster and the reality of being jobless and somewhat homeless is seeping in through the cracks in the windows and doors of my pleasant illusions about life on the road. But…I have gotten a recent boast to my mood. My god daughter and her Mom made their arrival at the cabin in the pines yesterday for a short summer residence while they review eastern colleges. The god daughter will be college bound next September and it only seems like 17 years worth of seconds since she was born ūüėČ

Mom is carrying on with her business while traveling. I’m embarassed to admit that I haven’t made much progress on my own business of finding a path, a vocation, or at least a steady source of income. A new route has engaged my interest based in part on my own brother’s experience with the miltary health system. I’ve always been drawn to social causes and social services; old folks, not for profits, people with HIV/AIDS, drunks and druggies, and various flavors of whacko. Taking the civil service exam and working in the Veterans Administration system may just be a way to balance my complete disagreement with the Bush/Cheney/ghost of Rumsfeld war on everything with my growing concern for the thousands of Vets who will most certainly be left to their own resources after either a change of Administration or the end of the Presidential campaign (when the vets cease to be a political football to be played with in debates of dubious value). Leaving these real heroes to the general indifference of some bureacrats or low-ball bid social work contractors will amount to just another failure in current policy. Thoughts and suggestions would be appreciated.

Enough introspection. Travel-wise I’m back in New Jersey after a four day stay with my brother on his farm in southern Virginia. Horses, dogs (Blue, Casey, and Maggie), cats, goats, ducks, chickens, Bob the Turkey, and a reptile with no known human name. No painful encounters with any of the animals. My last visit, about 18 months ago, was not so painless. I had gone to Virginia to help my brother recover from a bit of surgery (featuring mutliple screw-ups, infections, and much pain) and to give his wife some relief before she did what the doctors had failed to do. Bailey, a great dane that pesonifies the “great” part in terms of size but who was totally affectionate in an insistent kind of way, took exception to my bending over to fetch up some¬†“medical waste” from my brother’s morning toilet. I suppose my rump reminded him of one of the deer in the area that had escaped his grasp the day before. He did not miss this time and gave me a chomp on the left glut that still aches on the proverbial rainy day. After the inital shock and cascade of profanities, I reteated to the powder room to discover that no skin was broken but the ultimate bruise would cover most of my lower left side (it did). After quite a number of deep breaths and promises to myself that I would have this dog shot, I emerged to find my brother frantically explaining by phone my predicament to his wife and the possible need to fulfill my promise. Bailey, however, was servile, contrite, and just a bit confused by all the commotion. It would seem that his little “love bite” had been misinterpreted. Such is the nature of inter-species communications I suppose. I recovered. My brother did too. Bailey was not shot but, sadly, due to a quirk of his breed, died six months later from an intestinal blockage.

Enough storytelling. The trip to Virginia included stops at both Jamestown (a one day trip with my brother which will be a special memory for me as the two of us just “don’t do that sort of thing”) and Williamsburg. The Jamestown photos are posted and I’ll be working on the Williamsburg captions later today. Both days were perfect for touring. Not too much sun, a breeze on the river, and lower than usual humidities for the Tidewater/Cheasapeake area. The round trip mileage, including a nice detour on the way home to Smithfield, Virginia, came close to 800 miles. So far this voyage I’ve put over 3200 miles on the Focus. It’s running great and will be getting a well deserved oil change before I head back west at the end of this week.

Side note on Smithfield, Virginia: While taking the long way around local route 10 in Virginia to get to Surrey for the ferry to Jamestown, I got a quick tour of the late colonial period town of Smithfield. Better know for it’s processed and packaged meats and nitrites, the Smithfield meat packing facilities reside on a road that I’ve been trying to avoid most of my life. ROUTE 666, the legendary “highway to hell,” courses right down the middle of this, I’m sure, “good christian” town. I can just imagine the Sunday sermons at the local baptist or methodist church.

Enough…finally. More, of course, later.

More Catching Up!

July 23, 2007

Sorry for the brevity of this post (or, perhaps, not). Just a note to say that there are new pictures on-line from Jamestown with photos from Williamsburg to follow tomorrow. Am still recovering from the long drives to and from Carrsville VA. Had a great time with my brother and his family. Lots of little kids and animals. But that’s what farms are for!

 Photos at: http://picasaweb.google.com/jtholste

Catch Up Time

July 17, 2007

To all:

My apologies for the short absence. Recovering from my trip to Silver Spring and Washington, DC took a bit more time than I anticipated. This is primarily due to the sluggishness of a muggy summer setting in compounded by my own search for motivation. I’ll spare everyone the internal dialogue and get on with the travelogue!

The drive down to DC last week, via route 95, was the best “drive” of the trip I think. The weather was beautiful. Southern New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland present hundreds of postcard worthy scenes and the traffic, while moderately heavy, was smooth and swift. The same can not be said for the drive back. One feature that might trip up a resident of St. Louis on this drive, as it almost did to me, is the paying of tolls. Tolls for roads (NJ Turnpike), tolls for bridges (Delaware Memorial), tolls for parts of roads (Delaware Turnpike), and tolls for tunnels (Baltimore).¬† I had just enough cash (car-wide coin search included) to cover all the fees on the way down to Silver Spring. The total down came to $10.05 and $7.00 on the return trip (I skipped the Turnpikes and the Bridge and took a longer route back to Medford, NJ…it was not worth the savings!).

Baltimore presented a great stopping point for lunch and some photo opportunities. Maryland crab and a burger at the Rusty Skupper on the Inner Harbor post-lunch crowd is the way to go. Driving the scenic harbor route covered all the basic stuff like Fort McHenry and the massive harbor development in progress. A similar development effort is underway on the Wilmington, DE riverfront on a much smaller scale. If you’re a tunnel-phobe you’ll need to take the Baltimore Beltway way west to avoid the harbor crossing tunnels.

The few remaining miles to Silver Spring (see Kathryn, I can spell it consistently without the extra “s”) went quick and led to the only traffic of the day at the exit for the University of Maryland. My hosts, fellow godparent Kathryn and her husband Steve, scored a major bit of real estate luck in finding a great house in Silver Spring just minutes from the Metro and downtown Silver Spring (a ‘tres funky, artsy deco, mingling spot for a range of ages and ethnicities). I’m sure they will be able to retire on the sale of this home in a decade or two!

Annabelle and William, the kids of the house, provide enough energy to light most of Silver Spring. Boundless is perhaps the word I could use. How Steve and Kathryn keep up is a mystery to me. I did have some nice “table time” with them Friday night and Saturday morning. Steve was very helpful in letting me blather on about some grant ideas that I have and hope to run by him in a few months related to science education. No one better suited to the task as he is one of the major project managers on the upcoming (August 2008) final servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope. After the Apollo landing on the Moon, Hubble ranks in my mind as NASA’s greatest achievement. Below is a link to a recent article on www.space.com related to the mission:


I’ve included pictures from Baltimore, Silver Spring, and DC on my google picture site: http://picasaweb.google.com/jtholste

I’ll save my thoughts on DC for a separate piece as it was, in its own way, as overwhelming as NYC. Both places have a distinctive “gravity” unlike any other place I’ve been. Meanwhile, enjoy the photos and feel free to share the blog address with anyone you care to. And comments, BTW, are always welcome. Job offers too!

Baltimore to Silver Spring

July 13, 2007

Howdy Loyal Readers!

I got into Silver Spring MD with a nice stop for lunch and picture taking at the Baltimore Harbor. Photos are on the photo site on Google. I must stand corrected once again on Uncle Steve and Aunt Kathryn’s residence. It’s Silver Spring with no “s” on the end of Spring. And, in fact, there appears to only be one spring that I could find so far today ūüėČ

Heading for downtown DC in an hour or so via the METRO. Sharp contrast to the NYC subways but…I think I can handle it. Expect late night photos for weekend viewing. Heading for Carrsville VA to see my sailor brother on Saturday. Hope to hit some shore sights on the way back to Medford and the cabin.

Hope all have a great weekend!


Corrected photo site address below.


A Late Night Update

July 10, 2007

Hot day in Medford Lakes and a hotter one tomorrow. Makes for nocturnal reading, writing, and (sadly) eating. Being healthy with a little hummus and pita break. I was finally able to track down a new memory card for the camera and salvage a few photos from NYC. Unfortunately about 25 shots¬†were lost including some great ones of the Brooklyn Bridge. A good enough excuse to go back for another visit, I say! Those photos, of the Hayden Planetarium, a single selection from the celebrated Central Park, and a woman cooking was all that survived the battery flame up during my Water Taxi ride in NYC and are posted on the photo site. I suspect I am the culprit; opening and closing the camera lens to protect the lens from river spray overheated things a bit. I’ve learned my $19.95 lesson!

More travels upcoming: Beltsville Maryland and DC, southern Virginia and my brother’s tree farm, and quick visits to Baltimore and Richmond over the next week. Am looking forward to seeing friends in Beltsville. He (Steve)¬†works for NASA and she (Kathryn) is a physical therapist and my goddess daughter’s god mother. Will try to interest Steve in working on an educational grant to design a secondary education course to specifically teach evolution as a science elective rather than just as a part of a biology class (where, surprisingly, it gets low billing and is often muddled and mis-handled). Another possibility is to design in school “science academies” in climate change and space exploration. Might try to interest that famous astronomer, Jeremy Perkins, in a bit of that project!

I promise more pictures (and a little less politics) during the coming week!

Editor’s Note: I stand corrected. Uncle Steve and Aunt Kathryn no longer live in Beltsville MD. They have moved up the real estate ladder and now reside in Silver Springs. Seems they slipped out of town a few years back. This, of course, explains why my Xmas cards to them have been returned the last two years! Time to update the address book.