Journeying with My Father

In the midst of such dark and omnipresent stories from around the world, I want to share some very pleasant and uplifting thoughts.

Recently, on Veteran’s Day, I wrote about my father and the men he served with in Guadalcanal during WWII. Their unit was CASU 11, an acronym for Carrier Aircraft Service Unit. To my great surprise, not long after writing that article, I heard from a man whose father also served in the same unit. Not only that, he sent me pictures of my father and his buddies during their time overseas. I had met many of these men as seniors, but had never seen my father nor them as young men during their duty on the island. What a wonderful gift that brought tears to my eyes. This is one of the photos of my father.


Just recently I heard from another man whose father also served in CASU 11 during that time and he also had great information and photos to share. The three of us are now in contact and learning more about our father’s service and experiences. I know our fathers and their buddies would be very pleased.

If you read my last blog, you know my wife Trisha and I recently returned from a wonderful travel adventure to Australia. Every day, and more so when I’m given the chance to do something special such as traveling to a foreign land, I give thanks to my late father and mother for their efforts in providing for our family. My father worked both days and nights for thirteen years to establish his business. I was thirteen when we took our first vacation, a trip to my aunt’s house in the northwest. While in Australia, I wondered each day what my father would think about such an adventure, and I often silently thanked him for providing me the opportunity of education and confidence to pursue my dreams.

For those who travel, you know one of the best things about it is the opportunity to meet people from all over the world. This last trip was no exception and we met several wonderful folks. In one such instance, as my wife and I were walking around the Circle Quay toward the Sydney Opera House, we stopped to sit on a bench and take in the sights. In just a moment an Australian couple named Chris and Kathryn sat down next to us and a conversation ensued. They were a very charming and energetic couple and we seemed to have much in common. At one point, Chris began to tell us about his father. It was as if he was describing my father. He then expressed his gratitude for all his father had done to give him opportunity to live such a wonderful life. He was expressing the very thoughts I have always carried about my father.

As we said good-bye, we exchanged emails and learning about a poem Chris wrote about his father, I asked for permission to share it with the readers of my blog. He graciously accepted. I know many of you will appreciate and relate to his eloquent words.


Journeying with My Father


I wish my Father, now long gone, was on this journey with me,

to show him all the sights which I am privileged to see.

As a young man he departed his birth land, on a great adventure,

and settled here, as a dedicated Australian, until his life was over,

never, even after 41 years, returning to his town of origin,

nor fully exploring his adopted land within.


I feel sad for my Father because he missed the opportunity

to travel about, with his wife, in this contrasting country.

He saw only some parts of it before he settled down

to spend his life working hard for us, in a new hometown.

No matter how difficult it was to raise all his progeny,

this Dad kept striving to be better, so he could help his family.


My Father would love to see the crocodiles and birds,

describing them with his flourishing style and descriptive words.

He would explain to all of us, these wonderful sights we saw

because he would have read and learned of them some time before,

using his inquisitive mind that searched for what was good

until he knew what to say concisely, as only he could.


I would show my Father all the gaps and gorges

that are fractured by, then carry, the water of the rivers.

He would marvel at the coastline that is sculptured by the ocean,

and look across these seas to remember his immigration,

giving him closure to his wandering journey,

and allowing his curiosity to appreciate this country.


He searched for meaning, St Paul his favourite, by doing lots of reading,

and encapsulated what he learned in cryptic little sayings.

His best, I often heard, and one I try to live by too

was, “Duty before Pleasure,” which I agree is wise and true.

So to show my Dad these sights I’ve seen, and have him hear each sound

would help him be effusive to his children gathered round.


When I think it’s only me who is seeing all there is,

he would no doubt remind me with these wise words of his,

“I see with your eyes now because you are my son

who has done his duty, as I tried, and now our pleasure can come.

In your leisure I live my time afresh, seeing you as a man,

and I rest in peace journeying with you, as now I can.”


Chris T Relf


Back From Down Under 2

Three years ago with our good friends, my wife Trisha and I ventured down under. We flew from San Francisco to Auckland, New Zealand, rented a car and headed off for a week-long road trip experiencing the sights and culture of this picturesque country. At the end of the week we boarded a ship, visited other cities in NZ, and then sailed to Tasmania and Australia. When we arrived in Sydney we learned my mother had become ill and we returned home. Earlier this month, my wife and I flew back to Sydney to complete our adventure. For the benefit of those thinking of traveling to Australia, I thought I would share some of the highlights of our trip  and offer some recommendations.

Make sure you have a Visa. Having previously visited on a cruise ship, we forgot the cruise line had then arranged our Visas. In making our own arrangements this time, we neglected this important detail. While you can quickly acquire one via your smart phone, in my case they inexplicably imposed a 12-hour hold. It took some quick work by one of the airline customer relations people to help overcome this obstacle. The lesson here is, always check to see if the country you are visiting requires a Visa.

Be prepared for the long flight. Some travelers we observe on long flights (Sydney is nearly 15 hours from the west coast), have way too much stuff with them. It’s a parade of neck rolls, back rolls, water bottles, etc. We try to keep it simple and orderly. All passengers are provided with pillows, blankets, headsets, and plenty to eat and drink. The one thing we do carry are noise canceling headsets. These cut out all engine and passenger noises. Just relax, watch a movie or two, and get some rest. Get up and stretch every so often and you’ll be fine. Some make such a big deal about the long flight, it’s almost as though they talk themselves into being miserable.

Sydney, Australia


Sydney is one of the most iconic cities of the world. For both citizens and travelers, one of the best things about this city is how easy it is to get around. There are taxis, buses, trains, and more types of ferries than you can imagine.

Hotel Recommendation:

Sydney Harbour Bed & Breakfast




–  Perfect Location at the top of The Rocks

– Quaint traditional brick building

– Very clean and well-appointed

– Great staff (Owners James and Linda are quite welcoming)

– Delicious breakfast

– Garden patio to enjoy breakfast and converse with fellow travelers

– Easily arranged car service to and from airport for a reasonable fee


–   No lift (but staff is always ready to carry your bags)

Things To Do:

It would be impossible to list everything of interest to do in Sydney.   There are parks, museums, art galleries, fine restaurants, wildlife areas, aquariums, etc. We tried to see as much as possible, but here are a few of our favorites:

The Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb

Trisha and John Parker Sydney Harbour Bridge

Trisha and John Parker
Sydney Harbour Bridge

Please understand, this adventure takes three hours and with the practice climb involves nearly 1,500 steps. We loved it and the view from the top of the bridge is so spectacular we could have stayed up there for hours.

Trisha and John Parker Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb

Trisha and John Parker
Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb


Sydney Opera House Tour

Perhaps the most recognized structure in the world, the Sydney Opera House is a true work of art. There are several tours and programs available. It’s not to be missed.

Trisha and John Parker Sydney Opera House

Trisha and John Parker
Sydney Opera House

Sydney Skywalk

The Sydney Skywalk takes you to the top of Sydney and the view in incomparable. The tower is the second tallest structure in the southern hemisphere. There is an observation level, and for a little more money you can go up another level and walk around the outside of the structure. Be prepared, two of the large areas you will walk on are glass. It’s quite a thrill.

Trisha and John Parker Sydney Skywalk

Trisha and John Parker
Sydney Skywalk

 The Sydney Harbours

While no visitor should miss the main harbour area of Sydney known as the Circle Quay surrounded by the bridge and opera house, we also spent time and enjoyed Darling Harbour. It’s filled with shops, restaurants, an IMAX theater, and much more. Don’t miss Saturday night with an outstanding fireworks display. I should also add the biggest surprise about Sydney is the great food. We never had a bad meal. Here is my wife Trisha enjoying some great treats at Darling Harbour.

Trisha Parker Darling Harbour

Trisha Parker
Darling Harbour

 Manly Beach

One of the most beautiful places to visit in the Sydney area is Manly Beach that is easily reached by ferry. On weekends, I suggest you take the Fast Ferry because locals will be using their yearly passes on the other ferries with their families and the lines are quite long.

Trisha and John Parke Manly Beach, Australia

Trisha and John Parke
Manly Beach, Australia

John Parker Manly Beach, Australia

John Parker
Manly Beach, Australia

After our stay in Sydney, we caught a flight to Cairns, Australia. It’s a very slow-paced area compared to Sydney and is the place where you can take boats out to The Great Barrier Reef. Our boat trip was two hours out to the reef but well worth it. My wife Trisha, an average swimmer at best, discovered a new passion – snorkeling. I couldn’t get her out of the water. It was just as magnificent as we had heard. Well worth your time for a visit.

Trisha and John Parker The Great Barrier Reef

Trisha and John Parker
The Great Barrier Reef

Australia 2015 082


Australia 2015 095

Australia 2015 097

From Cairns you can also enjoy their beautiful rainforest. We took the train through the mountains to Kuranda, enjoyed Barron Falls, met some fellow travelers, had some fun looking around, and took a gondola (the world’s second longest) back across and down the mountain.

Trisha and John Parker Barron Falls

Trisha and John Parker
Barron Falls

Australia 2015 160


John Parker Kuranda

John Parker

Trisha and John Parker Kuranda, Australia

Trisha and John Parker
Kuranda, Australia

We enjoyed our adventure, loved the people, and basically understand better why they say, “No worries.”

John Parker

John Parker

After watching the State of the Union address last year, I posted a few pictures for laughs. Although it was very juvenile, it got a really great response. Here is this year’s contribution, just for laughs. Given the news of the day, I believe we could use them.

State of the Union:

Behind the Scenes

biggest man



viet nam






peck 2


mr burns

ear rings

James Taylor



 kidding me



kickin in

burrito again

not good



I told Joe



not again








John Parker

John Parker


Thomas Jefferson  wisely warned in the The Federalist Papers that a nation of sheep will soon have a government of wolves. More specifically he wrote:

“I am convinced that those societies (as the Indians) which live without government enjoy in their general mass an infinitely greater degree of happiness than those who live under the European governments. Among the former, public opinion is in the place of law, & restrains morals as powerfully as laws ever did anywhere. Among the latter, under pretence of governing they have divided their nations into two classes, wolves & sheep. I do not exaggerate.”

Decades later noted journalist Edward R. Murrow was quoted as saying, “A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves.”

Recently, with the new year upon us, I found a page on the official U.S. Government website that lists the most popular New Year’s resolutions and posts a phone number that will get you the government help you need to achieve your goals.

Knowing this will make signing my tax form even more difficult this year.

Sexy Trisha Parker

I received some great responses to my “Sexy Trisha Parker” post in the last blog. For those who didn’t see it, I told the story of sitting with my wife one evening when I Googled her name. I then clicked on “images” and several appeared. I teasingly said I should have checked “sexy Trisha Parker.” When I did just that, several more pictures of her appeared under that label. While she was a bit embarrassed, she thought it was funny and fun that Google Images would have her listed that way. I told her if Google could do it, I could also do it.

Trisha and I wish you all a very, very Happy New Year!!!!!

Sexy Trisha Parker

Sexy Trisha Parker

John Parker

John Parker

Writing a blog about the joys and challenges of retired life is a very personal endeavor due to the fact I’m experiencing this phase of life contemporarily with the majority of my readers. While I try to vary the subject matter from practical matters of finance and wellness to travel and humor, there are aspects of retired life and aging that cannot be glossed over or made easier to accept.

Specifically, the loss of a loved one, at any phase of life is the most difficult reality of the human condition. As we become seniors, losing loved ones becomes more frequent but no less heart wrenching. These are times that try one’s faith and call upon the love of family and friends to navigate the storms of sorrow.

Each of the last few years has cost me deeply in the loss of loved ones. At times I have become sad, often angry, and then in time I  realize each of them has been a indispensable part of my life. I give in to acceptance they are no longer here in body, but forever in my mind and heart. To those loved ones I say “Thank you.” You have made my life richer and fuller.

Speaking of a richer and fuller life, more than a half century ago I met the love of my life. This week we will celebrate another anniversary together and each day I realize I am a very, very lucky man. For all of her wonderful qualities, I once Googled her name and then for fun while she was sitting beside me, I added the word “sexy.” Several pictures of her then appeared in the “images” section. I knew I’ve always thought she was sexy, but having Google picking up on it was very interesting, especially being a senior. Anyway, happy anniversary Trisha, I love you.

Sexy Trisha Parker

Sexy Trisha Parker

Merry Senior Christmas

With the holidays upon us and gift giving on our minds, I thought it would be the perfect time to share a list of those businesses that offer discounts to seniors. I’ve mentioned before my wife Trisha saves us countless dollars each year by shopping for bargains and frequenting those businesses that offer discounts. The list here is from a website called

If you save a few dollars this year by using the list, well, Merry Christmas!

Senior Discounts

Applebee’s: 15% off with Golden Apple Card (60+)
Arby’s: 10% off (55+)
Backyard Burger: free drink with purchase
Ben & Jerry’s: 10% off (60+)
Bennigan’s: discount varies by location (60+)
Bob’s Big Boy: discount varies by location (60+)
Boston Market: 10% off (65+)
Burger King: 10% off (60+) plus additional discounts on coffee and soft drinks
Bubba Gump Shrimp Co: 10% off for AARP Members
Carrabba’s Italian Grill: 20% off on Wednesdays to AARP Members
Chick-Fil-A: 10% off or free small drink or coffee (55+)
Chili’s: 10% off (55+)
CiCi’s Pizza: 10% off (60+)
Denny’s: 10% off, 20% off for AARP members (55+)
Dunkin’ Donuts:  AARP members receive a free donut with the purchase of a large hot coffee (at participating restaurants)
Einstein’s Bagels: 10% off baker’s dozen of bagels (60+)
Fuddrucker’s: 10% off any senior platter (55+)
Gatti’s Pizza: 10% off (60+)
Golden Corral: 10% off (60+)
Hardee’s: $0.33 beverages everyday (65+)
IHOP: 10% off (55+)
Jack in the Box: up to 20% off (55+)
KFC: Free small drink with any meal (55+)
Krispy Kreme: 10% off (50+)
Long John Silver’s: Various discounts at locations (55+)
McDonald’s: discounts on coffee everyday (55+)
Mrs. Fields: 10% off at participating locations (60+)
Outback Steakhouse: 15% off AARP members for meals Monday through Thursday (alcohol excluded)
Papa John’s: 25% off (55+) for online orders. Enter the code “AARP25″ when placing your order
Shoney’s: 10% off Sonic: 10% off or free beverage (60+)
Steak ‘n Shake: 10% off every Monday & Tuesday (50+)
Subway: 10% off (60+)
Sweet Tomatoes: 10% off (62+)
Taco Bell: 5% off; free beverages for seniors (65+)
TCBY: 10% off (55+)
Tea Room Cafe: 10% off (50+)
Village Inn: 10% off (60+)
Waffle House: 10% off every Monday (60+)
Wendy’s: 10% off (55+)
White Castle: 10% off (62+)

Best Retail and Apparel Discounts For Seniors:

Banana Republic: 10% off (50+)
Bealls: 20% off first Tuesday of each month (50+)
Belk’s: 15% off first Tuesday of every month (55+)
Bon-Ton Department Stores: 15% off on senior discount days (55+)
C.J. Banks: 10% off every Wednesday (60+)
Clarks: 10% off (62+)
Dress Barn: 10% off (55+)
Goodwill: 10% off one day a week (date varies by location)
Hallmark: 10% off one day a week (date varies by location)
Kohl’s: 15% off (60+)
Modell’s Sporting Goods: 10% off
Rite Aid: 10% off on Tuesdays & 10% off prescriptions
Ross Stores: 10% off every Tuesday (55+)
The Salvation Army Thrift Stores: Up to 50% off (55+)
Stein Mart: 20% off red dot/clearance items first Monday of every month (55+)

Best Airline Discounts For Seniors:

American Airlines: Various discounts for 65 and up (call before booking for discount)
Continental Airlines: No initiation fee for Continental Presidents Club & special fares for select destinations
Southwest Airlines: Various discounts for ages 65 and up (call before booking for discount)
United Airlines: Various discounts for ages 65 and up (call before booking for discount)
U.S. Airways: Various discounts for ages 65 and up (call before booking for discount)

Best Car Rental Discounts For Seniors:

Alamo Car Rental: Up to 25% off for AARP members
Avis: Up to 25% off for AARP members Best Western: 10% off (55+)
Budget Rental Cars: 10% off; up to 20% off for AARP members (50+)
Dollar Rent-A-Car: 10% off (50+)
Enterprise Rent-A-Car: 5% off for AARP members
Hertz: Up to 25% off for AARP members Holiday Inn: 10%-30% off depending on location (62+)
National Rent-A-Car: Up to 30% off for AARP members

Best Activities & Entertainment Discounts For Seniors:

AMC Theaters: Up to 30% off (55+)
Bally Total Fitness: Up to $100 off memberships (62+)
U.S. National Parks: $10 lifetime pass; 50% off additional services including camping (62+)
Regal Cinemas: 30% off Ripley’s Believe it or Not: @ off one-day ticket (55+)
SeaWorld Orlando, FL: $3 off one-day tickets (50+)

Best Cell Phone Discounts For Seniors:

AT&T: Special Senior Nation 200 Plan $29.99/month (65+)
Jitterbug: $10/month cell phone service (50+)
Verizon Wireless: Verizon Nationwide 65 Plus Plan $29.99/month (65+)

Best Hair Cut Discounts For Seniors:

Great Clips: $3 off hair cuts (65+)
Super Cuts: $2 off haircuts (60+)


John Parker

John Parker


I hope you all had a very enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday.

I was very pleased with the numerous responses to my Veteran’s Day blog. I want to thank those of you who took the time to write me a personal response. Some of you even shared stories of your service or those of relatives. I enjoyed each and every one.

Let me share my personal favorite service story. It’s not about me, but it’s the story of my late father’s service. Dad was a Kansas farm boy who had moved to California as a teenager. Shortly after high school, while working at an aircraft plant, war broke out and he volunteered to join the Navy.

After basic training, he was sent to Idaho for additional technical training. He and twelve others were assigned to CASU 11, an acronym for Carrier Aircraft Service Unit. Most of the twelve just happened to be mid-western gentlemen.

After training they received their orders and were sent to San Francisco to ship out to Guadalcanal in the South Pacific. Most of the group had never seen the ocean before. Because they didn’t have quarters on the ship that was filled with trucks and other equipment, they built wooden quarters on the top deck. That’s all they had for the month-long cruise. Well, that and looking out for Japanese torpedoes.

Once in Guadalcanal, they searched for their unit to report. Unable to find it, they got hold of some tents, pieces of tire rubber to make hammocks, and other objects to set up their own living facility. Not exactly the Ritz, especially when the Japanese dive bombers visited at night, but it was their home for the next eighteen months. They never did find their unit which they later discovered had been relocated.

Dad and his friends worked out in the hot sun every day repairing aircraft shot up from their missions. My dad was a strapping guy with a 50” chest. While on the island, he never wore a shirt and cut up pants into comfortable shorts. Being a farm boy used to fresh fruits, eggs, meat, etc., he hated the powdered food they were served. Even the milk and eggs were powdered. Each of his buddies survived the war and when they returned home, Dad’s tan lasted over a year and he looked like Tarzan with his broad chest and 29” waist.

CASU 11 sailed under the Golden Gate and disembarked in San Francisco. Once off the ship, they all headed for the nearest coffee shop where Dad swears he ate two dozen eggs and drank several glasses of orange juice.

They were just average guys doing what their country asked in a terrible time. One more thing I’d like to share. The guys all went their separate ways and my Dad stayed in California after meeting and marrying the love of his life, my mom. More than forty years later, two weeks after retiring, Dad got a call from the DMV. They confirmed his name and asked him to stay near his phone. A few minutes later, one of his old buddies came on the line and asked, “Is this Frank?” When my dad said “yes” the man started crying. He had been searching for some time trying to find all the members of CASU 11 and had put together a reunion at the Lake of the Ozarks. My dad was the last member to be found and he and my mom caught a plane to meet the group.

Obviously, it was a great time for all of them. The bond was so strong; they continued to meet once and sometimes twice a year for the rest of their lives. They called each other weekly and made private visits to each other’s homes. When they slowed down, their children provided transportation and enjoyed the group’s visits and stories. They were humble men, but true patriots and heroes.

I’m often asked, “What does your license plate, CASU 11 stand for?” I always enjoy telling them the story.


John Parker

John Parker

Ace Tea Party

Thank You Veterans

The picture above is one of  my father shortly before his passing. I read where there was going to be a local patriotic gathering, so I put my flag into the car, asked him to go with me, and surprised him by slowly driving through the gathering while loudly playing “Proud to be an American.” He received lots of cheers and applause and after we completed our drive through the group, I asked him if he wanted to go again. He did, and the response from the crowd was even louder.

For reasons I can’t explain, this day of remembrance has been especially emotional thinking about all the wonderful veterans who have served our great country. I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to my buddies who served with me during my time in the United States Air Force, to those who served so bravely with my father in the United States Navy during WWII, and those dedicated soldiers who served alongside my grandfather in the United States Army during WWI. And thank you to every veteran of service to this country and their families who supported them.  I respect and honor each and every one of you.

One of our favorite groups my wife Trisha and I contribute to and support is The Fisher House Foundation.  We would encourage everyone interested in supporting our military to consider this organization.

Fisher House Foundation

My father during his time of service. Thanks Dad.

Dad the day before he met mom


John Parker