September 2012


Nothing Like a Road Trip

Wow! Just returned from a road trip. Not exactly like Albert Brooks and his wife in Lost in America, but I think we may have touched an Indian or two.

Fact is, if you haven’t driven across parts of this beautiful country in a while, I suggest you consider doing so. We left California and spent two days driving through the beautiful deserts and mountains of Nevada and Arizona. We took our time to enjoy the wonderful scenery.

Our primary destination was Santa Fe, New Mexico and the yearly Arts Festival celebration. We were invited guests of Trisha’s aunt and uncle who live in this unique city. Also on hand were her cousin and husband, and one other cousin who was also in town for a visit. We took in the festival, including food from the numerous street vendors (my favorite was the freshly made funnel cake), and got a private walking tour of the city from Trisha’s cousin and husband. Great fun topped off by a dinner at one the best Mexican restaurants I’ve ever experienced and an incredible barbecue on our last night. 

 

After our three-day stay we set sail for a brief visit with good friends in southern Arizona. Given our time schedule, and picking up an extra hour due to the time difference, we were able to click off another item on our lengthy bucket list. We stopped at the incredible Kartchner Caverns State Park and were able to take the tour through one of the most amazing places on earth. If you haven’t heard about this place, check it out online. We didn’t have reservations, but they were kind enough to squeeze us in.

 

As anticipated, our short visit with old friends refreshed us and produced the fun and laughter (not to mention great food) that we always enjoy when together. It was then on to Phoenix. I didn’t know I was going to experience one of the most memorable moments of my life.

Let me explain. Growing up in the Los Angeles area, I naturally became a Dodger fan. As a young boy when the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles, I would listen to Dodger broadcaster Vin Scully under the covers with my transistor radio. Often, as he would begin a game-winning home run call, I would let out a yell that would send my parents running to my room. As I got older, I continued listening to and watching Vin call the games. After my military service and marriage, my wife and children all became big fans. One of our sons actually became a professional baseball player.

Well, when we got to Phoenix last week, our oldest son who travels with the Dodgers as a senior producer for Fox, invited my wife and I to dinner at Chase field and then arranged for tickets behind home plate. That was wonderful and we had a fantastic time.

Better yet, before the game, our son had us come to his hotel, the same hotel the Dodgers were staying. When we met him in the lobby, we got to see and meet several players and broadcasters. Then it happened. I saw Vin Scully approaching and our son went to him and said he would like to introduce his parents. No teenage girl meeting Justin Bieber could have felt such excitement. Not since Chris Matthews heard Barack Obama speak has anyone experienced such a thrill.

I should explain to those of you who don’t know much about the Dodgers, Vin Scully is 84. This is his sixty third year as their broadcaster. He has been in the Hall of Fame forever and ten years ago was voted the Sportscaster of the Century. He was everything I had imagined. Full of life, charming, and extraordinarily friendly. My wife is still smiling at my reaction. I’ve tried to explain that I grew up listening to Vin. I introduced my children to the same experience. I’ve spent thousands of hours in a one-way conversation for most of my life. It was my turn to tell Mr. Scully he had been a member of my family for over fifty years. At the close of our wonderful conversation, I told him about listening under covers as a child and waking up my parents. In typical fashion, being the humble man he is, Vin just smiled and said, “I put a lot of people to sleep that way.” What a day!

If that wasn’t enough, we extended our trip a couple of days in order to meet and spend time with our friend and Italian entertainer Maurizio and his lovely wife Danna in Las Vegas. If you want to have a good time, introduce an entertainer who lives in a small Italian village to Las Vegas for the first time. It was like taking a little child to the circus. Or like a grown man meeting his childhood idol.

www.TheBestofOurLives.com

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God Bless All Those Who Have Served

My flag is flying proudly this holiday weekend as we honor those who have served and those who have died in service to our country. As an Air Force veteran who served during the Viet Nam era, I have the greatest respect for every person who ever wore the uniform.

My patriotism is almost curious to me now because at the time I entered into the military, I was more interested in flying airplanes, playing guitar in a rock band, playing baseball, and chasing girls. All this with longish hair and sideburns accompanied with the requisite love beads of the day. (Fact is, I actually wore those beads under my uniform for my four years of active duty)

My true patriotism actually snuck up on me. While I was proud of my father’s Navy service in WWII, I didn’t actually understand what it meant to be patriotic and proud of my service. Through basic training, most of us spent time complaining about everything from missing our home lives to our girlfriends. Then it happened. It was time for graduation day and we put on our dress blue uniforms. We marched to the parade grounds where there were crowds of people and other flights of airmen waiting to march into place. All of a sudden, the military band struck up Stars and Stripes Forever, and off we marched. As I marched, my chest pushed out, my head raised up, and I felt a kinship to all those who had served before. 

I still feel that kinship, and although my service cannot compare to the sacrifice so many true heroes made, I still feel a strong connection. I hope every citizen takes a moment in the next few days to honor our service men and women. They deserve our appreciation.

I want to thank all of those who read my blog. I enjoy writing it and hopefully you find something useful or amusing from time-to-time. This is actually my 100th blog. I had planned to write something very upbeat and celebratory, but in the last few days: my wife and I lost a very dear friend to cancer, our lovely neighbor fell and broke her foot, another dear friend damaged her eyes in an accident requiring several procedures, and my always healthy wife twisted her back causing a pinched nerve.

But you know what? It’s called life and we need to live it as fully as possible. In our last visit with our friend who just passed away, she would not let our conversation be sympathetic. Knowing what we were thinking and perceiving the sadness in our faces, she looked at me and said, “I don’t think I’ll be driving for a couple of months.” We both smiled. Such wonderful courage and consideration for her friends and family.

Our other friends, both a bit damaged for the moment, have accepted their fates and look forward to better days. Of course my wife Trisha, even with the pain of a pinched nerve, refuses to slow down. Believe me, I’ve tried to reign her in a bit, but she’s not having it.

Into each life a little rain must fall, and sometimes it’s a monsoon. It gives us more reason to celebrate those sunny, more carefree days.

If you do enjoy my blog, please pass the link to others in your contact list. I will be making some changes in the near future and I think you will like them. Thank you.

 www.TheBestofOurLives.com