Tag Archives: travel

A Toyota Odyssey

100_0339Back of the Queue

Is there something you’ve always wanted to do, but never got around to starting (an activity, a hobby, or anything else, really)? Tell us about it — and tell us about what’s keeping you from doing it.

At present I’m looking for a small Toyota motorhome. The dream is for my wife and I to travel a couple of months.

Not possessing tremendous cash flow, (I don’t even know what the words means other than I have none to speak of) I’m looking for a real bargain. There is a fear with buying something old and worn. I worry about things such as the transmission, the motor, and leakage in the unit.

In addition I’ve always wanted to drive through the Yukon and into Canada’s Northwest Territories. I’ve held that dream for 20 years.


Filed under Essays

There’s Nothing There & Professor Hamilton’s Advice To Writers


Daily Prompt: The Happy Wanderer

What’s your travel style? Are you itinerary and schedule driven, needing to have every step mapped out in advance or are you content to arrive without a plan and let happenstance be your guide?

When it comes to travel I’m of the opinion that half the fun is getting there and that leaves the other half for there and getting back home. I can drive any place and have more fun with the travel rather than the destination.

A few years ago some friends from Ohio visited us (in Idaho). “How can you stand it? There’s nothing here! There’s miles of nothing upon nothing.”

Six months later another friend visited, took the same route. “That was one of the best drives I’ve ever had. You could see forever.”

I’ve been to a few places and less than impressed once I got there, but the best part of the trip is being able to share it with someone. My travels are time well- spent with my favorite traveling companion, my wife. I love looking next to me in the car as I drive and seeing nothing or gorgeous scenery stream by, but it mean nothing without seeing my wife in the foreground.

Today’s short story is about writing advice. I hope you enjoy it.

Professor Hamilton’s Advice To Writers

Professor Hamilton stood before his last class of the semester.

Hamilton himself was moderately successful as a writer. While a professor he’d slowed down his production, but wrote three novels in the last ten years and a nonfiction work on writing.

Professor Hamilton smiled at his class. “Fifty-two students this semester, some serious, some not, most who are serious show promise. And those who don’t show promise, don’t give up. If you don’t you will likely succeed where those who show the most promise don’t?”

“This is the last day of class,” Hamilton said. “What is it you want to hear? Any questions?”

“How long did you write before you published your first novel?”

Hamilton grinned. “Forever, or so it seemed. I wrote for ten years. Finally I wrote something good. Than I wrote a couple of things good. And then I was able to sell all my bad stuff.” He chuckled. “Somebody had to pay for all those years. I had people to pay back.”

The class laughed.

“Another question,” Hamilton said delighting at the opportunity.

“What was the best writing advice you ever received?”

“It was all good,” Hamilton said seriously. “Of course, you can’t use all of it, because some of it is conflicting. So here it is: find your own voice, write your own story, write it honestly, if not sure about grammar make it a quote, bad spelling justifies the existence of proof readers and now days we have spell-checks, and don’t try to be fancy; write simple.”

“Another question,” Hamilton beckoned.

“How much do you take the advice of editors?”

“Listen to them,” Hamilton said. “Then listen to yourself. You are the author. That word eventually becomes authority. Think of it this way; if you write 500 pages and edit it yourself to 400, the editor will edit it down to 300. If you started with 300 hundred they will whittle it down to 200. If you hand them something less than 200 they’ll say that’s not enough. Write your best. Keep a little in there for the editor to feel good about himself, but if you are sure of something stick to your guns. Remember, editors are jealous of your ideas.”

“Any more questions,” Hamilton said.

That seemed to be all the class had.

“Write good stuff,” Hamilton said. He waved and winked.

The class stood and applauded.

Hamilton stopped and held his hands up to quiet the students.

“There’s one more thing,” Hamilton said. “Some of you will write and sell. Likely my words will go unheeded. Careful what you write. Your writing may awaken demons in people or make goodness arise. When I was young my mother had me read nothing but good. That’s why I always tell my students to write good stuff. Don’t allow your minds to wander into the perverse and call it creativity. Write a story that is good rather than one that will titillate. Write about virtue, character, principle, and goodness. Your work influences people. If you have that special gift to write well, write about good.”

Hamilton nodded politely and exited the side door.


Filed under Daily Prompt, Short Stories

The Idyllic Place & The Daily Prompt


Daily Prompt: Always Something There to Remind Me

A song comes on the radio and instantly, you’re transported to a different time and place. Which song(s) bring back memories for you and why? Be sure to mention the song, and describe the memory it evokes.

When the song Penny Lane by The Beatles is played I immediately think about sitting at a kitchen table in an upstairs apartment in Shirley, Massachusetts the winter of 66/67. I sat and listened to that song one morning back then. My wife had just prepared breakfast. We were, in a sense living on Penny Lane – we were living on pennies.

Each line of that song reminds me of different aspects of that small New England town, but most importantly of two married kids struggling with meager and cruel realities and only the hope was that things would somehow improve.

Here is my short story for the day:

  The Idyllic Place

Luke and his family moved in the valley about the same time Ken and his family did. They lived a mile apart. They always said that’s close enough for anybody to live, especially good friends. Ken always said, “Fences don’t make good neighbors; distance does.”

That’s not to say the families didn’t get together now an then, they did and it was always healthy, happy, and good.

Luke and Ken hunted together. It was as much for safety as it was companionship and friendship. The knew how far and how close to get.

It was fall and they sat on a warm rock overlooking one of their favorite hunting grounds. It was a place where elk seemed to graze in the sweet grass and nibble on the wild black berries.

“I’ve been thinking about moving on,” Ken said.

“Ya don’t like it here?” Luke said.

“Monotony,” Ken said.

“What monotony?” Luke said. “Everyday there’s something new. Every few months the seasons change. We got a river to explore and fish. And what is it they say you never cross the same river twice. You never track a deer or elk the same way twice. We ski in the winter, swim in the summer, plant in the spring, harvest and can in the fall. Are you getting soft on us?” Luke gave Ken a friendly nudge.

“I want to go to the open sea,” Ken said. “Sell everything and buy a sailboat. Me and the family just sail from one point to another. Experience…”

“Ken,” Luke said. “I’ve been to sea. It’s the boat and water – all the time. Think about it.”

Ken closed his eyes. A good two minutes passed and he opened them.

“Well,” Luke said. “How did you like it?”

“My family talked me into coming back,” Ken said. “A shark bit my leg off, we got caught in a hurricane, sprung a leak, were adrift in a life raft for two months with nothing to eat.” Ken jumped up immediately.

“What’s wrong!” Luke said.

“We were about to eat our youngest,” Ken said. “I’m going back to the cabin the make sure we didn’t.”

Luke looked at Ken strangely.

“What?” Ken exclaimed. “You want for me to make my trip all idyllic?”



Filed under Daily Prompt, Short Stories

The Travels of Zack


(This has nothing to do with today’s prompt unless Zack left home because Mom made him do dishes. Enjoy my story.)

Zack worked every job that came his way for three summers. He saved every dime. He was now 18 and straddled a new 1980 Harley Roadster. He took one last look of home and throttled down the empty country road with the sun to his back.

He had enough cash to last few months of sleeping under stars and bridges, but beyond that he had nothing particular in mind.

Twenty years and two engines later Zack pulled up to the same farm house on the same lonely road. He wondered how much had changed and how much stayed the same. One thing was certain; much had happened in the intervening years and his return home was by no means going to be less eventful than his twenty year adventure.

Zack walked through the door as if he just left yesterday. The aroma of home cooking filled the air. His mother stood at the stove in the kitchen.

“Hey, Mom,” Zack said. “I went out for a ride and just got home.”

She quickly dropped the spoon in a pan of soup on the stove and rushed to the doorway between the kitchen and dinning room. She looked at Zack with longing eyes and a puckered face, “Where have you been, my son?”



Filed under Daily Prompt, Short Stories

Blind Leading The Blind

thMM8UE808Paul found himself in Cutler, Maine. At the home of Martin Harvey, the world renowned writer of several best selling travel books.

It was a cozy home, a little larger than a cottage. A butler met Paul at the door. He informed him of his appointment. The butler said he was expected and directed him to small room just off the entrance.

“Mr. Martin has been detained for a moment,” the butler said. “He’ll be with you shortly. He said to have a chair and make yourself at home. There is coffee on the table. If you’d like something else I’ll get it for you.” He extended his arm to a small table beneath a window where there was a pot, cups, cream and sugar.

“No that’s fine,” Paul said. The butler smiled politely and left quietly.

Just beyond the window waves crashed against the rocks and gulls swooped and perched. In the distance a sailboat bobbed as it raced to the open sea.

The room was covered with pictures of people in a multitude of locations around the world; what you might expect of a world traveler and travel writer. Curious objects rested on shelves; shells, carvings, trinkets, paintings, and drawings, all with a local flavor. Paul imagined each one having it’s own particular story… or legend.

Martin Harvey entered the room moments later from another door to the room.

“Please stay seated,” he said and extended his hand. “Martin Harvey and please call me Marty.”

“Paul Ridenour,” he said and shook his hand. “Paul is fine.”

He sat. his brow wrinkled. “Ridenour, Ridenour, where have I heard that name before. It’s not common.”

“We’ve never met,” Paul assured.

“Yes, I know,” Marty said. “So what brings you by? When you called it sounded important.”

“Perhaps, and likely it is nothing,” Paul said. “But it’s concerning a passage in one of your books.”

“Which one?” Marty said.

Northern Italy Adventures,” Paul said.

“Yes,” Marty said. “My fourth book. I didn’t know there were any of those around any more. What is it you want to know?”

“You describe crossing at a narrow part of the Fiumelatte River,” Paul said. “You said it was where an ancient bridge spanned the river from the days of the Roman Empire.”

“Yes…” Marty said. “You have been to that bridge?”

“No,” Paul said, “But my father told me about that bridge. He was there.”

“How did he describe it?” Marty said.

Paul said, “You could gaze into the slow moving waters and staring back are the faces of thousands of soldiers who crossed that bridge over the millenniums before you arrived. Their faces are lost and forgotten in the ages and their contributions, suffering, longing, passion, and bravery were never recorded. Their faces are in that river. It leaves you feeling expendable and your existence quite meaningless.”

“Yes,” Marty said curiously. “I recall those words.”

“My dad said those words to me two years before your book was published,” Paul said. “How could that be?”

Marty smiled. “Of course, Allen Ridenour, a private. Allen is your father.”

“Yes,” Paul said.

“He led me across that river,” Marty said. “I had taken quit a blow to the head the day before. Your father was walking me to the rear. That blow blinded me. I asked your father to look into the river and tell me what he saw. I never forgot his words.”

Paul said, “Are you still…”

Marty interrupted. “Blind? Yes. I do quite well, don‘t I?” Marty smiled proudly. “I could get around this room blindfolded.“ Marty laughed. “Few people who read my books know that I describe everything through the eyes of others.”

“Your secret is safe with me,” Paul said.

“How is your father?” Marty said. “I never saw him, a figure of speech, after that day.”

“He’s doing well,” Paul said.

“I knew that the name Ridenour was in my past,” Marty said.

“Your room is quite curious,” Paul said.

“You mean for a blind man?” Marty said.

“No offense,” Paul said. “But, yes, it is very appealing and visual.”

“I’d like to see your father again,” Marty said and smiled “A figure of speech. I owe him much.”

“I phoned him just before coming here,” Paul said. “And he said he would like to see you again; it’s a figure of speech. Blindness has overtaken him also.”

“Oh no. How sad, but it will be grand to visit with him,” Marty said. “How did your father lose his sight.”

“You don’t know,” Paul said.

“Know?” Marty said. “How could I?”

“He lost his sight the same day you did,” Paul said. “He walked you to the rear by memory. He didn’t want you to be afraid. And he could not see that river any better than you.”

(January 13: Clean slate; Explore the room you’re in as if you’re seeing it for the first time. Pretend you know nothing. What do you see? Who is the person who lives there?)

(Posted as a Daily Prompt.)

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Filed under Daily Prompt, Short Stories

Onondaga, Michigan: The Jittery Goat Travel Log – Places I’ve Been

Onondaga, Michigan

Onondaga, Michigan

While a resident of south/central Michigan the TV station I most watched was WLIX Channel 10, Lansing/Jackson/Onondaga. What! Onondaga, where’s that?

Well, it’s between Lansing and Jackson and the location WLIX’s TV tower. So I suppose to be assured of police protection and to keep high school students from draping toilet paper from the tower, WLIX agreed to name Onondaga as one of its broadcast locations.

What can be said about Onondaga?

Well, it has a really tall TV transmitting tower that seems out of place.

Likely it is one of those places that people go to be alone. I’ve heard more lonely hearts stories emanate from the bar in Onondaga than from any honky-tonk in Nashville. I’m surprised someone hasn’t written a love-lost country song from Onondaga by now.

It’s one of those out of the way places where out of the way people go to be out of the way. It’s where bikers go to be alone

It’s sort of a town that time has forgotten, but bikers will remember.

An Onondaga Conversation

I stopped at the gas station in Onondaga one day. I went inside and got a coffee. A biker pulled up next to my car while I was inside. He was a big guy, tattoos, scars, and beard. He nodded at me in a friendly way.

I thought a little conversation with my coffee would be good.

“Sure are a lot of bikers who pass through here,” I said.

“You got a problem with that?” he said.

“I’m just trying to make conversation,” I said.

“Starting a conversation is saying ‘sure is a nice day,’” he said.

“Okay,” I said. “Sure is a nice day.”

“You got a problem with that?” He said.

So if you ever go to Onondaga, Michigan start your conversation by saying, “I don’t have any problems and I don’t want any, but you guys sure have a nice TV tower just west of town. Is that why so many bikers hang-out here?”

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Filed under Places & Travel

Stony Shows The Way (My own Daily Prompt)

Daily Prompt: I Was Here

You are the first astronaut to arrive on a new, uncharted planet. Write the note that you leave to those who come after you.

Just to play along. “Ha ha, you ain’t the first.”

I’ve decided my own prompt for the day; Write about the last panhandler you saw.

Stony Shows The Way

Punta Delgada

Punta Delgada

He looked familiar. There are things forty years can’t erase. Not even a grizzled half shaven face and shabby cloths. It was Stony – Stony Callaway. It was just the way he stood, as if he were standing away from a surprise. What was he doing on a street corner panhandling?

It was years ago. It was a summer of exploration and a tumble into manhood for both of us.

We worked together, played together, and made plans. We talked about art, music, war, peace, love, the past, the present, and the future. He was going to be a lawyer and I talked about being an airline pilot.

We both wanted to desperately see and explore everything life and the world had to offer.

Strange, I thought. Neither of us did what we set out to do. Stony ended up a panhandler and I ended up selling real estate.

I turned the car around. My heart was full of charity, generosity, sympathy, and love for Stony. For that one summer we were closer than brothers and like a brother who falls on hard times I’ll be there to lift him up, help him along the way. “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.”

I parked my car in the closest parking space and made my way to him.

“Stony,” I called out. “Stony Callaway!”

He turned and smiled. That was Stony’s smile.

“Stony,” I said and embraced him. “It’s good to see you, old friend.”

“Josh Yates, you old son of a gun,” Stony smiled broadly. “You are looking good. How long has it been?”

“I think forty years,” I said.

“What are you doing?” Stony said. “You look successful. Well I never became an airline pilot and never traveled the world like I said, but years ago I got into real estate. It keeps me busy.” My smile turned to seriousness and concern. “What about you, Stony. What can I do to help.”

“Man,” Stony said. “You don’t have to do nothing. I got my law degree and I’ve been on the move ever since. I’ve been around the world four or five times. I’ve lived on the beaches of Western Africa, the deserts of Australia, the lagoons of South Sea Islands, the Andes, I spent a year in Siberia, a summer in Tuscany, a summer in the South of France, I’ve herded sheep on the Isle of Lewis, drilled wells in Canada, fished off the shores of Norway, and that hasn’t even scratched the surface. Man, I’ve done it all.”

“Is there anything I can do?” I said.

“Yeah,” Stony said. “You can stick a twenty in my cup or go with me for the winter in Punta Delgada.”

“Where is that?” I said.

“You can go home and look it up or come with me,” Stony said. “Another hundred dollars and your fair city loses its best traveled vagrant forever. I’ll have enough for a ticket.”

“How ’bout if I give you the money you need and drive you to the airport myself,” I said.

“No, Josh,” Stony said. “You drop by the house, pack your things, and come with me.”

“I can’t do that,” I said. “I’d loose everything.”

“Josh, my friend,” Stony said. “When you die you lost everything. If you’re dead and had nothing, but could come back to life would you demand everything be returned to you?”

“No,” I said. “I’d just be grateful to be alive again.”

“Do you get it now?” Stony said. “If it’s really yours it will be there when you return.”

“I’m packing,” I said.

(Stories like these leave the reader’s imagination free to write other episodes. Enjoy.)

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  30. Wish I was there… | Kate Murray
  31. Daily Prompt: I Was Here | Irregular Ventilator
  32. Daily Prompt: Don’t Land! | One Starving Activist
  33. To the Future Kings and Queens….. | Cornelison
  34. Daily Prompt: I Was Here | amateurxpress
  35. I Was Here | humblegenealogy
  36. Found & Lost | Charron’s Chatter
  37. Daily Prompt: I Was Here | Of Glass & Paper
  38. So What? (Daily Prompt: “I Was Here”) | I’m a Writer, Yes I Am
  39. Have your written your good-bye letter? | Parents Are People Too
  40. When the air fogged up | Le Drake Noir
  41. Mindful Practice | Broken Light: A Photography Collective
  42. Where you are calling from | tjbarkerseattle


Filed under Daily Prompt, Essays, Short Stories