On some of my trips I can travel pretty light, but there have been some where I felt like a mule carrying the things I had to take. One trip I had to pack for three different seasons; professional settings, youth settings. Well, you get the idea. I was going to be gone for quite a while, of course, I had to basically take my office with me too. I had a lot of baggage! When I arrived, someone from the area met me at the gate and they said those magic words, "Let me help you with your bags." I did.
One of the cities that symbolizes the charm of the Old South for me is Charleston, South Carolina. When you go down to the harbor and hire a carriage ride to go to the old part of the city, you feel like you're suddenly back in like "Gone With the Wind" or something. These antebellum homes and mansions are classic. I thought it was great that this historic part of the city had been so well preserved over the years, until the carriage driver told me what really happened. These old buildings had actually deteriorated terribly over the years and the area had become pretty shabby until some people took an interest in financing a renewal.
The Lewis and Clark Expedition! They were that bold group of explorers that Thomas Jefferson sent to explore the largely uncharted Louisiana Purchase. The expedition was under the leadership of Captains Lewis and Clark, and it faced blazing heat and bone-chilling cold. They had some close calls with vicious animals, they were attacked by insects, they had the prospect of massacre by many Indian tribes whose land they were crossing, there were perilous passages, and even the death of one of their own. After a year and a half of paying a really high price, Captain William Clark stood one day in the bow of his boat, pointed west up the Columbia River, and shouted, "Ocean in view!" Later he wrote in his journal: "Ocean in view! O joy! Great joy in camp! For we are in view of the ocean, this great Pacific Ocean which we had been so long anxious to see!"
It was one of those primitive science experiments that a lot of boys try. OK, it's a sunny winter day. You lay out a board on the ground - this is what I did anyway. Now you can leave it there all day with the sun beating down on it. It won't even get warm. Oh, but now the exciting part of the experiment. Yep! You take a piece of glass and you focus the sun's rays on one spot on that board. Same sun, same board - very different result. Eventually, that board starts to get hot - and you've got smoke - maybe even a fire going there. Amazing, huh?
My son and I were waiting in front of a restaurant and we saw this dad desperately trying to keep his impatient two-year-old occupied. Good luck! What's that word we sometimes use to describe the "two-year-olds"? "Terrible twos"? Yeah, well, there's something in a little child that wants freedom, and will go for it at the first opportunity. This kid was no exception. As soon as his dad let go for a moment, he started chugging down the sidewalk. Dad started after him, of course, pretending he was having a hard time catching the little guy. Well, you knew he wasn't. My son just watched in amusement and he said to me, "It's so funny watching a kid trying to get away from his father. You know he's going to lose."
Now when you go food shopping it isn't as simple as it used to be. But that's a good thing, because you have to take time to read the labels. You don't just grab and run. Now, you think about it, we can find out now what's really in that cereal or those cookies or whatever. We're starting to realize more that what we eat has a lot to do with how healthy we are. And maybe how long we live. There's a lot of damaging ingredients hidden in some of that food, like for example, fat grams! Before we buy something, we've got to know about the fat grams in it and a whole lot of other things. I mean, who needs that stuff keeping your blood from your heart? Now, we smart shoppers, who want to live a little longer, realize the damage that those ingredients can do; some of that stuff that's hiding in the food, so we don't just buy the good-looking food because it looks good. Uh! Uh! First, we check for what's in that product that could do damage!
I've never been in a storm at sea and that's fine! I've heard the stories. You remember the ship, some years ago, that was making this transatlantic voyage from Liverpool to New York. One night, at a time when most of the passengers were asleep, the ship was hit by this "mega" Atlantic storm. The wind and the waves were so violent at one point they actually tipped the ship almost on its side, and down below, the passengers were thrown out of their beds. They're freaking out! I mean, this is a rude awakening! Now in this one cabin, a little girl was thrown out of her bed like everybody else and her mother was already awake from the intensity of the storm. But there was one thing different about this particular passenger. See, her daddy was the captain! While she was all bleary eyed, she asked her mom the only thing she really wanted to know about the situation, "Is daddy on deck?" Her mom said, "Well yes he is, honey." The little girl's response was right to the point, "Then I'm going back to bed."
Man, our family loves the ocean! We love to walk the beach and, you know, if my wife had had a head start on me, I could figure out which way she went - oh, I would kid her about being a little paddle-footed - she'd leave behind footprints that made a slight "V" in the sand. Of course, when the tide started coming in you could forget all the footprints any of us left that day! When the waves finish giving the beach a bath, you can't even tell anyone walked there today. Notice when they want to commemorate the careers of those Hollywood stars, they have them put their footprints in cement in the sidewalk, not in sand at the beach.
Our grandson couldn't wait to tell me back then. His Grandma had bought a little kit for him called the "Magic Garden." Together, they put together these little plastic pieces that formed the frame for an outdoor scene that had a mountain as its backdrop. Then Grandma helped our grandson pour the liquid from the kit over the crystals that were hiding in the designated areas of that frame. The next day our grandson came to our house to see what had happened. When he stopped by my office to tell me, his eyes got big and his hands were in motion to try to explain to me what he had seen, "It grow!" And he had this kind of sense of wonderment. He was right. The trees had sprouted full pink foliage overnight, colorful flowers and bushes had bloomed, and as our grandson said, "Mountain grow snow." Well, sure enough, the mountain had filled in with a cover of snow. Wow! So, what had been last night's plain plastic frame had suddenly exploded into this fully blooming, Technicolor show!
They were just a young fire-fighting crew, assigned to work on a relatively small brush fire in Washington State. No one could have imagined what was about to happen. Seemingly timid fires suddenly roared to life and then they were out of control. In the end, 14 firefighters had to pin their hopes on those tinfoil shelters designed to be the last line of protection in their firetrap. Ultimately, four young firefighters died in the fire that day. They had tried to escape the fire by heading for a nearby road. Apparently, their superiors had not advised them that it was a dead-end road.