H2O

I'M NOT MUCH OF A STRAW GUY ANYWAY. I don’t say that to tout any virtue on my part, but simply to say that if drink businesses follow Starbucks and say “No” to plastic straws; it won’t affect my beverage consumption.

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I don’t drink soft drinks, and if I have a malt or shake I want it to be so thick a straw is useless. I always order water at a restaurant and drinking water through a straw just doesn’t feel right. Coffee? Yes, please; in a cup, black and hot. I don’t need a “coffee beverage” that is iced and laced with caramel, pumpkin spice, soy, cinammon or a drizzle of anything. So, a drink sans straw is fine with me.

That said, I love this movement toward a plastic-straw-free world. Although I do not literally hug trees, I do believe we are to be stewards of this big ball we all inhabit together. And if the trend is to the mindless mindset of sychophants like Scott Pruitt (may he find happiness in working at his wife’s Chik-fil-a), we must be evermore diligent caretakers.

We travel and camp, although someone said recently, “You guys don’t camp. You “glamp”. According to the Urban Dictionary, “GLAMP: To camp in style, comfort, and/or luxury while still experiencing the great outdoors.”

When you travel in a trailer you hook up to water whereever water is available—to fill the tanks, shower, shave, make coffee, drink, wash dishes, etc. You want your coffee to taste excellent. So, we drag along fresh ground coffee and a pour over kit. The one variable outside our control is the quality of the water.

UNTIL NOW!

We used to haul gallons of water around that we bought in plastic jugs at the grocery store. It was a hassle, expensive and we had to haul the empty jugs back home to put in our recycle bin. Because unlike Scott Pruitt, we care about the earth.

Then I found out about the Berkey Water Filter system.

GAME CHANGED!

This thing works so beautifully in our Airstream that we now bring it home with us and use it every single day. At first the Berkey seems really expensive, until you figure the cost of bottled water and the fact that the Berkey’s filters last for years.

Recently we were in Tulsa on a very-very-very hot day. We were headed to a really hip new bakery that had been recommended to us called Antionette’s. Visit soon.

As soon as we walked in I was glad we were there. The coffee smelled wonderful and I quickly noticed pecan bars in the glass display case. But first, I was thirsty. Did I mention that it was really really hot outside? So hot, that if Scotty-P had been there, and if I had heard him scoff at climate change I would have been tempted to imagine hypothetically smacking that smug smile off his face. Hot weather will do that crap to an otherwise mild and reasonable tempermant.

Then I saw it on a table with a stack of gleaming water glasses—a Berkey Water System Urn, all shiny with beads of condensation on the outside, each one announcing cool wet, fresh, clear, filtered water.

GET ONE TODAY

We have the Travel Berkey, because, well, we travel. It makes a gallon and a half of water with each filling. And, by the way, you can fill them with tap water, the hose at the RV park, or even water from a stream or lake.

Sometimes if we have company over, I wish we had the Big Berkey, but the Travel size suits us 91.7% of the time.

I’m including a link to our model available from Amazon. I like this set up because it includes a stainless steel spigot which I highly recommend. So click, buy, and add water. In a few minutes, draw you a glass of wonderful water, straw optional.

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Road Questions

ONE OF THE THINGS ABOUT TRAVELING IN AN AIRSTREAM—people want to ask you about traveling in an Airstream. For people like My Amazing-Missus this is all fine and dandy. She genuinely enjoys visiting with others and they with her. Me too; on a case-by-case basis.

airstreaming in red rock canyon state park, hinton, oklahoma

airstreaming in red rock canyon state park, hinton, oklahoma

Recently we were camped in a beautiful park on a beautiful day. I looked outside and no one was around. So, I decided to lubricate the gaskets around the Airstream’s windows. A car pulled up and a gentleman got out. I’m guessing he was a bit older than me. He started with the most oft-asked questions of the Airstream-curious:

1.) Are they still making these?
2.) How long is this? (Remind me to tell you that joke I made up in the category of “does size matter?”)
3.) How much does something like this cost (if you don’t mind me asking)?

He looked familiar. Turns out we were acquaintances years ago. I had heard that his lovely wife had been diagnosed with dementia and is now in a nursing home.

He told me that years ago the two of them had dreamed of having an Airstream and seeing the country. That’s why he had stopped to take a look at ours—just to reminisce a bit.

He asked if we were traveling full-time. I told him not yet, that I was still working. He said, “Go to work Monday and tell them you’re retiring. Don’t delay. You never know what tomorrow holds.”

Is this a sign, I wondered. Is he a prophet of some kind?

It’s not like we’re just sitting around. We’re out there. Seeing the sights. Seeking adventure. I’ve taken the sage wisdom of Ferris Bueller to heart:

Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. (from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off)

Remember that girl, the one from the Beatle’s song: “She was a day tripper, a Sunday driver yeah…”

For now we’re day trippers; long weekend trippers at best. But we’re moving, we’re going, so we can stop. and look around.

Remember that guy, the one from the Beatle’s song, the one they called the “nowhere man”? Funny thing. I used to see him as a sad, aimless, clueless, hopeless shell of a person. But now I feel like I sort of get him.

He's a real nowhere man
Sitting in his nowhere land
Making all his nowhere plans for nobody
Doesn't have a point of view
Knows not where he's going to
Isn't he a bit like you and me?
Nowhere man please listen
You don't know what you're missing
Nowhere man, The world is at your command
He's as blind as he can be
Just sees what he wants to see
Nowhere man, can you see me at all?

Maybe he is a bit like you and me.

Oh yeah, my joke. An old guy and his Amazing-Missus walk in to an Airstream dealer.
Walt (the rv sales guy): How can I be of assistance to you folks today?
Me: We’re thinking of buying an Airstream.
Walt: Great plan! How long do you want it?
Me: A long time. We’re planning on traveling across the country and back again.

Morphing, Again

You know how sometimes you sort of come to the realization that somehow you’ve changed; somehow. It just sort of happens gradually, sneaking up on you, like getting older, gradually, maybe you don’t even know its happening.

Then there are those times that something happens and you are changed more suddenly, like when you’re first married, or your first child is born, or you have your chest sawed open to fix an issue or two.

Last week we went on a roadtrip through the south: Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. On our trip we toured the Civil Rights Institue and museum in Birmingham. We visited the Carter Center in Atlanta, a museum and the presidential library of President Jimmy Carter. Then we toured the National Infantry Museum at Fort Benning, Georgia, with our son/soldier.

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“When I consider the small space I occupy, which I see swallowed up in the infinite immensity of spaces of which I know nothing and which know nothing of me, I take fright and am amazed to see myself here rather than there: there is no reason for me to be here rather than there, now rather than then. Who put me here?”  —Pascal, Pensees, 68


Each of these museums marked seminal moments of my coming of age. With roots in the south and being from Tulsa, Oklahoma, I grew up seeing the ugliness of racism. One of my first jobs was driving a school bus for the Tulsa Public Schools during the integration of schools. My route included picking up black children in north Tulsa before daybreak and driving them miles and miles south to the “white” schools. I hated the unfairness of it but had no better solution to offer.

I really believe Jimmy Carter meant well. I believe he had integrity and compassion. You can still see it in the way he lives his life to this day. I applaud his fairly recent commentary condemning the narrow, blind, dogmatic view of women in much of the Southern Baptist Convention.

The Infantry Museum was sublime. It was breathtaking—not necessarily in the sense of seeing something awe-inspiring, like Multnomah Falls or the Grand Canyon; more like breath-taking when you have the air knocked out of you. The message is overwhelming: the cost of war in terms of young lives is too high. The price of freedom is incomprehensible.

We saw pictures and artifacts from all the wars like World War II in which my father served; the war of my generation, the Vietnam War, a war in which my only involvement was to protest it. And now standing with my son in his army uniform, trained and willing to serve in whatever hellish movement is bubbling up now.

I am so proud of him and so grateful for his service and the service of those who have gone before and those who will take the oath next. I am also afraid.

I wish you could have been with us when he and those of his company said the Soldier’s Creed in unison at the tops of their voices:

I am an American Soldier.
I am a Warrior and a member of a team.
I serve the people of the United States and live the Army Values.
I WILL ALWAYS PLACE THE MISSION FIRST.
I WILL NEVER ACCEPT DEFEAT.
I WILL NEVER QUIT.
I WILL NEVER LEAVE A FALLEN COMRADE.
I am disciplined, physically and mentally tough, trained and proficient in my warrior tasks and drills.
I always maintain my arms, my equipment, and myself.
I am an expert and I am a professional.
I stand ready to deploy, engage, and destroy the enemies of the United States of America in close combat.
I am a guardian of freedom and the American way of life.
I am an American Soldier.

All of this has changed me somehow. This Memorial Day is different than any I’ve lived before. It is more than a day off work and an excuse to throw some burgers on the grill.

Maybe I’m still “coming of age.” Maybe there’s hope for me yet.