Here’s a sampling of the ones I’ve met along the way the first week of my travels around the country, in just the first 2,000 miles or so. I’ve split it all into two parts. Here’s Part 1…
(I’ll post regularly here, on typically a weekly or twice-weekly basis. For more of a daily recap, I use my Facebook page to fill in the blanks between posts with my latest informal phone pics and random thoughts, so follow my Facebook page.)
Austin, Central Texas – My Starting Point
^ There are so many pictures I could post from Austin, but I like this one of Gene, who I met briefly while staying at my friend Greg‘s place. Gene grew up on the ranches of west Texas. These days he’s a well-known fixture at Austin’s landmark country dance dives, like Don’s Depot. One could say Robert Duval looks like him. What you may not expect to learn about Gene, though, is that he earned multiple degrees and was a scientist who created one of the first complete modern geodetic topographical maps of coastal Texas. Someone like Gene provides a great picture of Austin: Established, weathered, and tough while charming, culturally aware, and tack-sharp intelligent. But in larger point…you never know just who you’re talking to. So make your conversations count.
Orange, Southeast Texas – My Birthplace
^ My childhood friend Daryl has worked in military and law enforcement capacities for many years. From working as a guard in prisons to working the streets as a cop, he’s seen a lot. He took me on a ride-along, and I asked him if he thought there were actually bad people, or just people caught in bad circumstances and established a pattern of bad decisions. “There are people who have made bad decisions and just been caught up in bad patterns,” he said. “But I can absolutely say that there are a lot of plain old thugs. And yes, there are just really bad, bad people out there who just do not care.” He is glad now that, after years of coming home from graveyard shifts with stories of terrible situations he had to help clean up, he is now working a slightly softer territory. “I’m really glad to be able to come home at night to my family, safe and sound, without a bad story.” Next time you get pulled over, remember that the Man has a life worth protecting too.
^ About one-eighth of my extended family. This is one of my sisters’ sides of the family, including her six sons. They let me and my mother stay in a vacation house with them in Destin, Florida as part of my travels. I could go on about the value of family. The beauties and challenges of a large family, and growing up as the baby boy with six older sisters. Because of my family, I have connections all over the world. And I’ll just leave it here by saying that I feel blessed and appreciative to have a family situation that far, far too many others do not. It is always nice to know there’s someone, somewhere, who will leave the light on for you, just because you’re family.
^ My friend Bryan and his wife Hilaire in Raleigh. Brian and I were good friends in Austin, and did some fun creative stuff together, from starting on a documentary to recording a song. He’s a graphic designer and Hilaire is in interior design. Their dog Churchill is probably working on tearing apart a stuffed animal right now. Brian and I have been through some similar life situations, and his life encourages me that our lives don’t have to stop just because they change direction.
^ North Carolina Tobacco, last harvest of the year.
^ This one’s not about me at the White House; it’s about the random guy who took the photo for me. I hated driving through D.C. Everything seemed hard and mean and dark. I managed to briefly park, illegally, in a bus parking spot in front of the White House, and tried taking a selfy. Then this businessman walks by, late thirties, and is about the only pinpoint of open energy that I can sense in the vicinity. We made eye contact, and I asked him to take a shot of me. He volunteered to take a few to make sure he got a good one. Sure, I ended up a little out of focus and the horizon line isn’t quite straight, but that’s not the point. Here’s to all those people who are nice enough to take photos of us at tourist spots when we don’t have long-enough arms. You never know how their day is going, or what their life is like. Thank them. So thank you, White House photographer guy, this one’s for you.
…Stay tuned for the second half and conclusion of the First 2,000 in my next post.