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Ciao, Camino! It’s been belissimo. Really.

Now is the time.

Goodbye, my Camino Frances.

I may not return, especially alone.

If you’ve followed this blog, you know how I love ❤️ Spain 🇪🇸 and, at this moment, detest my Divided States 🇺🇸 of America. So happy to have four weeks away from the man who shall not be named.

Regardless, it’s about time to fly home to the D.S.A. and my loved ones.

Really loved ones.

Many post about the post-Camino blues and readjusting to their normal lives. Back to normal responsibilities and cares that don’t involve 20-40kms walking 🚶 per day.

I admit that I did had a bit of that after my first Camino. My first European experience was special and rather emotional with my two daughters.

Not as much this time. Just as special, just much less emotional. Except for happiness. Very happy few weeks here with everyone. I love this world 🌎 even more now.

Moving on…

I have a wonderful, gorgeous, and super successful wife, partner, mom, and sales pro supporting me and wanting me home. Two boys that miss me too. Two girls out on their own adventures. And a great life and belissimo hometown to return to in no time.

This last week began in Samos and its Monastery from the 6th century. I made a couple of friends from France 🇫🇷 and Boston/San Diego and they made my lunch and my evening walk joys.

This was and is a lovely town of Samos.

Off to Sarria and just passing through. Too overcrowded. Roughly 60% of Camino pilgrims start there. 5 days to Santiago for that piece of Compostela paper. To each his own Camino.

I filled up my APOC credential and I am now using the Espana credential that I bought for €2 at the Samos Monasterio. Lots of room for stamps.

This last week, as well as parts of the last four weeks from Burgos to Santiago, have been my long goodbye. I know the end of a very good thing when I experience it. Like a sweet beach town with nothing but locals in business turning over to chains and big $$$ business interests. That’s when I need to move on. The magic is gone.

Our Camino now smells of ample Euros. What was €5-7 is now €8-11. Habaticions to ordinary pilgrim meals, the smell of money 💰 is in the Camino air. BTW. Check out the number of BMWs and Mercedes in very strange Camino places. One huge BMW parked on the lot/sidewalk of the newest Albergue in Tríacastela. Not a pilgrim, I’m guessing.

Standard “sandwich ” signage everywhere for sugary desserts and carbon copy pilgrim menus. Hamburgers and pizzas??? I came here to escape America. Not eat more of it.

Please understand.

I love Spain 🇪🇸!!! Her countryside. Her authentic food and her vino tinto. Her happier people. Her rare villager who will smile and offer “Buen Camino!!!” …those 3 older folks…one sweet woman in her gown with a cane, one cigar chomping man on the road, and one beret wearing man sitting under a tree in his backyard….three brief joys and my heart and mind were lifted as I responded “Gracias!!!” to each “Buen Camino!!!!!” each of those three offered right when I needed it. All too rare moments this time on my Camino.

I will indeed miss the cool daily walks on uncertain paths and the sights, sounds, and smells of rural Spain. No doubt there. But, as I’ve shared with many, one can make one’s own Camino everyday, anywhere. Just walk.

Walk through any wooded park. Walk through fields. Walk around any small town or village, if they still exist.

Just walk. And think.

No phone. No tunes. No distractions. Just walk and listen to the natural 🌎 world including your own footsteps. Easy to do in rural Spain. Little traffic. Mostly people on foot. Locals and pilgrims alike. Just walking.

Outside the old to ancient towns and villages, there are a million+ calm and beautiful places to walk by and through…..excluding the tissue strewn areas where grown men and women squat and literally dump on their Camino. 💩 Yuck.

I’ll never understand that level of disrespect for such a special, historic Way of St. James. Tissues used to wipe off the disrespect are all up and down the Camino and don’t think that the locals haven’t noticed. Hence, the lack of “Buen Camino” in the air. More Camino magic lost on me.

Back to the beauty of my last week here in Spain.

Beauty is everywhere here.

My walks alone. Walks with others. Just walking.

Jeremy, an actor from California, was another joy to walk and chat with. We only learned our names hours later at the top of Sarria. Funny. Hours after meeting in the Tríacastela dark. I had a flashlight for us to see our way.

What I love most about my Camino, and travel anywhere , is the unknown that turns into a discovery. A wonderful discovery. Sarria is too big and busy. Barbadelo offered a resort and farmhouse. I wanted more. Delicious menu and belissimo company for the evening. Si. Every night!

Is there a country spot that’s peaceful and smells of fresh air? Yes, there is.

Milano de Marzan.

Her owner looks very young, but acts like a mom to this middle Age pilgrim. Kinda funny. She did not appreciate my efficiency for vino tinto consumption in very remote regions of Spain 🇪🇸. Fair enough. She grew on me.

I chose to miss out on the Barbadelo resort for a farmhouse that wasn’t attended until 1pm. It was 11am. I moved on, with my trusty guide book, and found my paradise for one night. It was more magic.

Once the usual cleaning and laundry was hung, I went for …what else???…another walk. Met several peregrinos along The Way and offered all Buen Camino! with gusto. Most were happy.

God was watching and caring.

I arrived home that night to an almost full room of Italians. I had just slept with a small room of Italians the night before. No bueno.

This group was different. Young to my age. Maybe older. Who knows??? Very friendly. Not detached like the albergue before. They were and are very sweet at dinner and beyond….

I won’t forget our belissimo time together that night and the brief morning walk together too. More than belissimo.

Made my way to Portomarin and very familiar sights. Small river town, but not as small as the Gonzar ahead that we enjoyed before. This town did not smell of cow 🐮 and had more dining and sleeping options.

However, “Completo. Completo. Completo….” was all I heard until I ventured off my Brierley guidebook grid and found a small, family bar albergue with two bunks, four beds and that’s where I settled, washed, and cleaned early.

Sometimes, you just take what you can get for 10€.

Later, to be joined by one BASQUE biker 🚵 and two other Spaniards. There’s a difference… Basque is not Spain 🇪🇸, even though the Basque territory straddles Spain and France 🇫🇷. Watch “The Way”. It explains.

All 3 gents are very nice, very fit, and probably very curious about this large fellow that is not from around here. I understand.

Fine healthy meal, churchside!

y

Belissimo siesta. Bueno tour around Portomarin.

No cow smell. All good that night.

Tomorrow is another day….

What began as a short 4 hour day turned into an almost 7 hour day covering about 27kms. About my maximum. The nice cafe owner 10km back advised me that his albergue was Completo or full with reservations tonight. One group. A growing Camino issue that goes against the history and spirit, in my opinion. So, I kept walking. I’m pretty well trained these days. Another 10k came and went with beauty…

Until, after offering “Ciao!!” to my Italian ladies, I found my next albergue paradise. First one there again….

Casa Domingo was recommended by a friend of the owners at the Ant sculpture albergue that was Completo. I made it. I rested. I napped. I ate. And I loved Casa Domingo…

After I inhaled my super burger for only 4€, I chatted with the owners who live in the distant farmhouse. They own 8 albergues. Guess where I’m staying tomorrow night?

But, another dinner with a lovely Italian family of 4 and my bunkmate, a German….

The 21 yr old daughter was my family interpreter. They were a joy.

We chatted in the yard all afternoon and after siesta while it rained at dinner. All belissimo. Italians are very curious about America.

I tossed and turned a bit that night, let most bump and thump their way out by 6 and I finally rose to get ready to walk at sunrise.

Other than my classic sunrise 🌅, grande croissant 🥐, and those ancient Roman bridges…all that’s left to show before today’s siesta is the most beautiful young couple in the 🌎!!!!

That photo cannot begin to describe how beautiful these two new “friends” from Madrid are!!! Then, add their curiosity, their youth, their spirits, and their collective energy….so beautiful to spend seconds with them everyday and a good hour with them today!!! They will be missed, as we had to say buenos Dias and Buen Camino to Marta & Danny one last time….

Goodbyes sadden me.

A few family updates and a short siesta later. I’m back. Ready for dinner. Menu sounded so limited and bland, but I am stuck in this one kitchen town. So I thought!

First, my sweet server gives me choices.

Insalata, por favor…..ehhhhh…no tuna. Jamon??? Si, she says. Grilled steak???? Si!!!!

The best grilled meat, fried potato, and fresh insalata with Jamon I’ve ever had…no dressing needed Perfecto!!!!

Then St. James tarta and a mysterious shot. Looked harmless.

Goodnight, sweet Saint James.

Another 20km done today in rain. A 4 hour slog was enough for me and The Way Pensión I booked in Brea allowed me in 2.5 hours early. Being soaked may have helped. The pool is perfect for kids and polar bear challengers.

Hoping for the sun to make an appearance soon or sometime tomorrow. Then on to Santiago on Thursday.

I recall a pretty industrial landscape between here and Santiago de Compestella. Not going to bore anyone with those sights.

Not going to selfie the historic Cathedral either. Plenty of those out there.

I’m just going to end my almost three year fascination & Love affair with Frances this way.

The Way. My Way.

My Love, you know who you are.

Our way from now on.

Gracias for following along.

Find your Camino where your heart is…just be there, walk long walks, and think about your Way everywhere and everyday.

Finally…..

Buen Camino!

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God. Again. And again.

I found God in several places and faces this morning. It was pretty easy.

El sol. The sun. It rises everyday, everywhere in our solar system. And there it went again today.

Spain 🇪🇸 takes beautiful photos when the sol makes her 14 hour, daily appearance. God certainly makes great things happen here. Our sun ☀️ is at the top of my list, since Earth depends on it.

Lots of pilgrims leaving or passing through Foncebadon at sunrise, which was tempered by descending winds with thick clouds off Mount Irago.

I walked alone. A bike or two passed by. That was it.

2.5km later of beautiful vistas to the east, I arrive at El Cruz de Ferro. Half dozen pilgrims there taking turns for photos. I took these:

Then, I placed and arranged our prayer stones for our family loved ones on a spot with flowers for now and protected from the 300,000+ pairs of feet that go up and down that pile of stones below the revered Iron Cross.

God was on and is in the cross. Great to be back there and to pray one long prayer this Camino. 2 years has made a big difference, it seems.

The vistas. Oh, those Godly vistas. Scientists have spent a century or two trying to understand how another tiny blue marble hasn’t revealed itself. Only one with the ideal relationship with its sun. Hmmm. To me, I see God smiling down upon this.

I hear God in every greeting, every hola, Buen Camino, and buenos dias. That’s real social media of human nature. No iphone needed. No translations required. One language for all. God’s Camino works very well.

Then, I was eerily all alone again. God’s dark side came through with heavy clouds and cold winds swept over the other side of the mountain.

Then, burnt landscape showed up…surrounded by new growth that is thriving.

The Old Testament darkness was replaced by a bright light and my New Testament light, warmth, and green growth. Just in God’s time.

God just kept the wonder coming. One view. One memory. One after another.

As I rounded another Camino corner, I found my town for this night. Acebo.

I was met with “Completo” early and wondered if Molinaseca was ready for me. This very historic town is beautiful but maybe not for me.

When I reach the last stop, flags waving from many countries…well, I had to ask. Popped in. Young lady explained that the Albergue dorm is available for €10 and dinner for the same. Not sure to stay or go, I hear a beautiful English accent from the dining area. Sweet family of 4 sitting there finishing breakfast. They asked all questions and I answered. They were a joy, with two girls that were our girls age back when we took them to B&B’s and the like. We talked for a while and then we were interrupted.

Young German fellow yelled “Brad” and we were reunited. 3 Germans, one man + two young ladies, are here. We dined together day’s ago.

R&R for two days. Nice place. We all leave tomorrow, but they will leave me.

My heart ❤️ is in Molinaseca in any Camino. My perfecto Espana village for picnics, chilly water, sun, and lots of food options. The Camino provides…

Back to my Albergue, the two girls from England told me that the pool was freezing cold. I believe it.

Fair warning. I took my vino tinto and a chaise lounge and parked myself under the furthest thatch umbrella. Nature took its course and I siesta’d for two hours.

Up and rested, I headed back up into Acebo. Not much going on, but the B&B gal spoke exceptional English and my vino tinto & plate of charcuterie came out to my patio seating. It was over an hour in a garden well spent.

God’s creations were many right in my face.

I paid my €11 and ventured north. Lots of laundry to go with peregrinos hanging out. Made it to the top and the town intro sign and turned around to head home.

What do I smell???? I enter an Albergue and follow my nose …I take a left into la cucina. There he is. Older. Wiser. Been doing this a while…I push the stringed beads aside…no door is without loud beads. I take a left, enter his cucina , and I say “Hola!” He says the same and cuts short mi espanol. “American ?” He says. Si. Turns out that this tiny Albergue has a chef from N. California and his name is Walter. Can’t make this up.

He’s a joy. We chat. He cooks. Smells divine. I tell him where I’m from and pardon myself when a peregrino needs his attention. Anyway, I have my own peregrino dinner for €10 to attend. Off I go.

If my first course is any indication. Well. Perfecto. It is an insalata work of art.

Everyone else is late or, in 🇪🇸 , perfectly on time. I nibble on my queso & Jamon as long as I think is appropot. Bon apetit, Bradley.

Others made it. All sat and kept to themselves…for a while.

Americans are rare around here. My “look” was discussed again. How do Italians and English and Germans at our table avoid their look? They were more fun to chat with as dinner proceeded.

My young Germans stopped by one last time. It was sweet. Snapped last photo for my memory. Very sweet and curious peregrinos.

Night is falling en Spain 🇪🇸!

God saying “goodnight, my child “

Buenos noches, my God.

Camino stories..

I love stories.

Not fiction. Real stories.

Real people doing what they do and not afraid to share it.

Walking every day across the north of Spain certainly offers a lot of stories, given generously or slipped in maybe by accident. Maybe not.

Two tough gals from Germany 🇩🇪, over fresh paella, made my first communal dinner this year much more interesting and entertaining …

I text my daughter about her German experience and both women were so cool 😎 about it. They knew exactly where she had lived and served outside of Munich.

I’m not quite half-way through this Camino and I cannot possibly transfer the conversational interaction between myself and around two dozen or so other pilgrims. Mostly Italian this time, then French, German, Spanish, English, Argentinian and Hungarian…as seen here….love them all……

Just 2 happy Americans and they were married, thank God.

This is the greatest place in the world to really find out what other cultures think of our American culture AND their own. Same the other way around. What this Americano thinks about Espana and the man who’s name shall not be mentioned. Abundant honesty is here on the Camino, since we may never see one another again. Or will we????. Walls come down that way.

Perfecto! This IS the wonderful space to escape America and all of her current dysfunction right now.

A deserted island 🌴 would work well too, but Spain 🇪🇸 has varied scenery, sweet people, delicious tapas, pulpo, vino tinto, and cervesas. They keep you going after a long half-day of walking 20-30km and afternoon siesta.

And dinner. Sweet peregrino dinner with Italians all..

I will really miss mi amigos , Nicoletta & Filippo , dos kind & sweet people. I ❤️ them. My Love and I have our Italian friends when we sail their way. Jump on our catamaran, you two lovely friends!!!!

A little more than two weeks and I will walk or limp into Santiago and get my next Compostela in Santiago.

Then back to Madrid and fly home.

The Camino is at home too. Trails resemble the peace and the chaos of regular American lives. Cars rule the day. Schedules rule the lives. Nature is slowly paved over. Progress is profit over peace. All very American.

I prefer any alternative to that.

Pura Vida in Costa Rica 🇨🇷?

Not Costa Rica, but you get my Good Life, Pura Vida point, no?

Spain 🇪🇸 & Italy 🇮🇹 have a very similar way of embracing life.

And those kinds of cultures tend to allow people to live longer and show their future generations what really living well is. Pura Vida, si.

Gracias, amigos. Thanks, new friends for lifelong memories and valued education about a bigger world 🌎 than our little America.

Buenos noches,

Cliche’ Alert: “The Camino provides”

….but, if you allow it, the cliche' becomes true.

After a very relaxing afternoon and restful night at La Morena, an oasis of its own, we hit the trail at 7am and sunrise for another day. Their last day on their Camino.

Another beautiful Camino morning for all who are up to enjoy it.

Our morning went on with searches for breakfast and allowed us fresh zumo de naranjara , as Brierley's book was no so bueno.

We finally found a crusty couple who opened up their bar fashionably late, seemed to be irritated by pilgrims, but actually had real food that was not commercially wrapped in plastic. More zumo and croissant pour moi. It was delicious and came with a healthy serving of disgust. Buen Camino.

Hours later, we made it through our walk, very personal conversations, and fine vistas to reach the ceremonial mid-point of the Camino. For Jen & Ron, it was time to stop, for now, stay the night in Sahugan, train back to Madrid, and fly home to Massachusetts.

I've never met a happy, American couple on the Camino like them. Americans are rare anyway. We are typically solo and have reasons to be here alone. Jen and Ron had been here before. Time only allowed them their St Jean to Sahagún Camino over two weeks, as they still have careers back home….and a sweet beagle and two grown kids too.

We hugged, exchanged phone numbers, and settled up the €3 each for beers and ample, free tapas that we inhaled quite nicely on Sahagún's Plaza Mayor. And off I went…

My Camino continues for a couple of more hours and I pass a young lady that seems to be grinding out each step and an Italian couple who is about done like me.

Another small village awaits to provide a nice bed and lots of delicious food and conversation over vino tinto . First, at check-in, the nice Italian couple walks in and kindly offers me Italian and Spanish lessons about requests for non-peregrino menu options….nice effort. Hot shower and clean clothes later, and I'm outside with all cafe tables occupied. Very nice German couple that I had exchanged pleasantries with over days had a seat at their table. I asked. They obliged with smiles. Lovely, lovely couple. After an hour or so, they had to go and meet a bike delivery van to help speed up their Camino to fit their German life back home. Peddling to Astorga tomorrow. Not moments after they left, a young girl leaves her table and her parents as well. I recognize them from the last few towns too and ask to join them. Another sweet couple from France and their 3 teenage kids, with two other families, totaling 14 on their walking Camino. Lots of stories there. We talked about family, politics, and other cultural things until their sleeping kids arose and joined us for tapas and cola drinks.

A young man sitting beside alone finally chimed in when I was inspired to whip out my jaunty, Cockney accent to make a point "there guvnah!" He is a philosophy graduate from London, who's father is Indian and mother is Nordic. Handsome chap with a wealth of conversation. Thus, he must join me for dinner.

He reminded me of that fellow in "Lion" and the "Marigold" hotel movies. Young, smart, global, and fairly seasoned for a man of 25.

We both shunned the peregrino menu and ordered the grilled steak and chips (double insalata for me, no chips). Delicious slab of beef was devoured by each of us. €9 each with a shared bottle of vino tinto. Like our long, very personal conversation, that meal was a joy and nourishing beyond food.

We settled up at the bar, since no one auto-presents the check here…take your time in Espana….and we said our good nights.

That was one remarkable, global day that will never be repeated. I love that.

Most of us shall meet again. No doubt.

Buen Camino.

Boobs, Bubba, & wrestling

As this school year began, I ran into an old acquaintance and he was nice enough to introduce me to his wife. The intro was unique, but not unexpected. “Brad’s the one that would write letters to the Editor…or you used to…”. So true. Like pressed khakis, dress clothes, crowded parties, wine coolers, bleached jeans, and relying on anyone for financial advice, I’ve given up on productive politics and the hacks & puppeteers who manage thier every move. Public and private airing of opinion has zero impact without a checkbook whipped out for results desired.

I’ve learned this cynical truth in various forms from a majority of elected “leaders”.  The sad reality is local, regional, and, most disappointing, nationwide with our Congress, which is primarily comprised of bullies or lemmings.  Clean house again next year and a new crop of each will emerge. The historic tradition of compromise & reconciliation is dead. The Gipper & Tip must be rolling over these days.  Reagan offered amnesty to 3 million illegal aliens, sense he was a realistic person and bigger  leader. This White House & Congress set up epic annual battles with unrealistic budgets, trillion $+ annual deficits, and inevitable debt-ceiling wrestling matches.  Today’s politics is more like a sport. Winners, losers, and fans cheering on each sideline. But, a football analogy would be too kind.

Today’s politics here in our hometown, in our state house, and in DC resembles professional wrestling more than any sport. Neckties replace masks. Nice suits replace tights. Past that, its the very same egos, testosterone fueled angst, and an endless search for ultimate domination in our politics. Not results. Not greater good. Not sacrafice of any sort. Just re-election. That’s the perpetual goal of most elected officials.

Our federal government hit the mat yesterday and each opponent is blaming the other for throwing the good fight. Sad, but typical.

It’s no wonder why so many other countries look so much more healthy & positive for frustrated Americans and ex-pats.  After a year of research, I’ve realized that there are far more healthy places to call home someday.

This week has proven again why a few banana republics offer greater economic & political stability than our birthright of a country.

Where are our Gippers & Tip O’Neils of today…dead and long gone, it seems. Cheers.

Brad

Smart column. Smart writer.

Everybody’s Liberal. Everybody’s Conservative: A New Psychopolitical Theory to Muddle the Results » Metro Pulse http://www.metropulse.com/news/2012/nov/07/everybodys-liberal-everybodys-conservative-new-psy/#

2000 redux. No joke. Sad.

Is this 2012 or 2000? Twelve years wasted by two guys I voted for. I gave up today. No vote. That’s my privilege. My passport is ready…

I’m proud of the fact that I’ve pretty much stopped watching all cable news shows and all the minions that derive from those shows.  I’ve even enjoyed  my own personal ban on watching the political conventions over the summer and presidential debates this fall.  It may just be that I’m tired of the “take our country back” thing.  Are Americans really trying to take this country back from something evil or are we trying to take this country back in time?  It’s another rhetorical question. 

However, I’m going to give the rhetoric a shot.  I won’t give evil any credibility in this blog.  No evil  people rule our country right now. Just people. That’s all. Just human beings. Flawed as they may be.  Thus, let’s take a look at taking America back in time, to a much better time and place.

I can only assume that we want to look at the last 100 years or so and not prior to that. I think that the indoor plumbing, less disease, really good life spans, & lower infant mortality century is probably the best place to start.

Do we want to take America back to the horse and buggy era?  Probably not. Henry Ford knew what he was doing.  What about the Roaring Twenties with that fun, free loving, drinking, just do what feels right time…in other words, the 1990’s.  Both decades experienced great economic times, great fun and faux wealth generated, and a huge bubble that was about to pop in a very big way.  Shall we go there again?  How about the thirty’s and forty’s with the Great Depression and World War 2?  We call those folks the greatest generation for good reason. No joking there. Do we possibly want to take America back to those significant challenges? 

Hey, the 1950’s! That was a time of peace and prosperity the likes we will probably never know again!  Oh, but, let’s think about our children huddled under their school desks trying to fend off a nuclear holocaust.  really?  The Cold War probably did make people shiver just a bit.  No thanks.

Oh, but those swingin’ early JFK 1960’s…love songs and cigarettes and booze…you know, the Rat Pack thing.  classic.  The kind of era that leads to fantastic liver disease, hearty melanoma, lung cancer, and, worst of all, an excess of ex-wives to torture us. No thanks.

Baby Boomer alert!   Do you remember that America of the late 1960’s & early 1970’s and, really, all through the depressing 1970’s?  Failure of real leadership was all around us, plus high interest rates, gas lines, plus terrible economic conditions…and….disco.  Need I go on?   

The next decade was my favorite. Actually, it still is my favorite…if looking backwards is healthy. Ronald Reagan was the grandfather I never had. He was a hero to me as a child and still is as a middle age man today.  That very decade may never be repeated, since we just don’t have any leader right now who can bring opposing sides together for a consensus and actually move America forward in a constructive and fiscally responsible way. 

Much like the 1920’s, the 1990’s came with huge growth, explosion of faux wealth, and then a big ol’ bubble that just had to pop!  But, enough about Monica Lewinsky. Let’s talk about the 2000’s.

“Help is on the way!” That was the sign that was in my yard through the 2000 election process and even through those 42 days or so I remember into December, as we couldn’t figure out who our next  president would be….yikes, what a decade that followed.  Past justifiably blowing up a country that attacked us, we went into a war that really wasn’t necessary. And we’ve lost thousands, if not tens of thousands of lives, in the process of senseless war.  Is that the America we want to take back?

Now, here we are. Hope & Change, part deux.  Re-elect Prez No Hope …or…elect Prez No Change.  That is our choice, it seems.

I do believe that I will take door number 3, Monty!  (1970’s game show reference, y’all).  I simply choose not to vote for either guy. I know. I know. Many men and women have died for my right to vote. However, I see any sacrifice on my behalf as simply offering me the ability to not vote, if I so choose.   That, my friends, is real freedom. 

I have no desire to take America back from anyone, anything, nor any ideal that we imagine was better than where we are today.  I just have a remarkable desire for my kids to grow up happy and healthy…and for anyone, who wants to find their new America,  wherever that be… in Central America, South America, or the America we all know here in North America…to each his or her own.

Rest assured, there’s no taking back of America in any way, shape, or form.  America is always a work in progress. 236 years of remarkable performance, lacking, succeeding, starving, thriving, and whatever else you want to throw at it… and here we are.  No one leader can possibly fix what ails us, as a nation. There are hundreds needed to seek consensus in Washington DC. There are thousands more in state capitals all across America. And millions of Citizens who can make real things happen for real change. It’s not about 1 guy in the White House.  

This first Tuesday in November, 2012, will have no effect on the destiny of America. The Destiny of  America is determined by its people. And its people can find its own America in its own little home towns or somewhere in some country of Central America or whatever America you wanna make wherever you want to make it.  Horace Greeley said “Go West, young man”, way back in the day. But, today, it’s go wherever life takes you, young man. Go find your freedom, wherever it maybe. Go find your success, wherever it maybe. Go find your love, life, and pursuit of happiness for your family wherever it may be, young and not so. 

Let’s not take America back to anything. Let’s just take our own America, whatever that may be, to a much better place.

God’s speed. God’s speed, to you all…wherever He may lead you.

p.s. timely link. Heady read @NYTIMES :

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2012/10/14/opinion/sunday/the-self-destruction-of-the-1-percent.xml

Emancipation….no, really….

Emancipation. That word has almost a singular meaning to most  Americans. You know. That part of our history that we don’t want to think about. That part where President Lincoln emancipated a group of people that shoulda been free to begin with.  This week, that word took on a totally new meaning for me.  A new meaning that almost motivates this guy to drive all the way to a particular state capital and kiss a particular old governor on the lips….but, I digress. 

We really should be free. This country was billed as the “land of the free”.  This week, according to our current vice president, we are headed back to slavery in one form or another if the wrong guy is elected to the White House.  Politics is a really funny thing sometimes. 

To what extent it can be controlled, the election is not about tax returns, who’s better in the White House, who’s more American, etc…this election is truly about who’s facing reality and who’s not. 

Politicians are quick to condemn those who don’t live within their means over the last few years yet will not to face the fact that the government has not lived within its means for 15 years.  Typical politics and hypocrisy go hand in hand right off the fiscal cliff that everyone’s talking about today. 

Mitt Romney doesn’t have to release his tax returns to prove what kind of successful businessman or shrewd ROI guy he is. We all know that. We also know the real hope and change is really hard to come by. So the President has no credibility with his record of little change and very little hope.

In the words of Joe Biden himself, we need to “unchain!!!” America in more ways than one and believe in people to do what they can do to make their lives better… better for their family, better for the community, and better for the country, as a whole.  

As individuals in this country, we need to unchain ourselves from stuff. Stuff.  You never own stuff. Stuff owns you.  That is a fact. 

If we can eventually elect the right people who actually balance rugged individualism with a level of government  only for the most basic safety nets & promises fulfilled… well, we will have a future for this country that’s promising, hopeful, and delivers real change we really need.

That’s the emancipation that every man, woman, child, and business needs in this country very soon.  Alas, I think we’re 4 to 8 years away before any reality check really hits Washington DC. That’s why Panama, Ecuador, Uruguay, and Belize seem so darn attractive to me. 

As for this election in 2012, I’m not holding my breath and you shouldn’t either.  

Find your own emancipation! 

Bedwetters unite! Brilliant.

“The Bedwetter Caucus” via WSJ editorial page today

“That didn’t take long. Much as we predicted last week, the Republican Party’s Bedwetter Caucus has emerged on schedule to explain why Mitt Romney can’t possibly win the election with Paul Ryan on the ticket.

“GOP pros fret over Paul Ryan,” reported Politico, the website with perfect Beltway pitch, on Tuesday: “In more than three dozen interviews with Republican strategists and campaign operatives—old hands and rising next-generation conservatives alike—the most common reactions to Ryan ranged from gnawing apprehension to hair-on-fire anger that Romney has practically ceded the election.”

Mr. Romney’s catastrophic blunder, it seems, is that he chose a running mate who does more than talk about reforming government. He’s really tried to do it, and this is simply not done in Presidential politics.

“I think it’s a very bold choice. And an exciting and interesting pick. It’s going to elevate the campaign into a debate over big ideas. It means Romney-Ryan can run on principles and provide some real direction and vision for the Republican Party. And probably lose. Maybe big,” said one of the “pros,” Mark McKinnon.

Since advising George W. Bush, Mr. McKinnon has moved on to co-found “No Labels,” an outfit that claims to promote the Golden Mean in politics. A better name for the group is No Principles, so it’s understandable he’d be uncomfortable with a conviction politician like Mr. Ryan. But give Mr. McKinnon credit for at least going on the record, unlike the other worry-warts.

Republicans who believe in something can console themselves in knowing that these “pros” are reflecting the Washington conventional wisdom. Nearly everyone in the Beltway thinks it’s impossible to reform entitlements like Medicare, and or even to restrain the size of government, so why would a candidate be foolish enough to try?

This crowd is good at forecasting the political future as a repetition of the past and present, but as Irving Kristol used to say, they aren’t very good at predicting the turns. We’ll see if this year is one of those turns.

Meantime, the “pros” willing to shoot their candidate in the back are one more reason that voters have contempt for the political class, and why most Republicans who don’t live in Washington are delighted with the choice of Mr. Ryan.”

A version of this article appeared August 15, 2012, on page A12 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Journal

The war to end all wars…

We watched “The War” from Ken Burns last night on PBS.  The last in the series only he could deliver.

I’ve been thinking a lot about “the greatest generation”, as Tom Brokaw would put it.  That descriptor has offended me.  Not so much anymore.   Honestly, I do think of that generation as the last great generation of America.  No other generation since has sacrificed, suffered, loved, hated, and driven America to be better than any country in the world!  None!  Google it! 

That generation fought world wars, rationed their food, did jobs they never thought they would do, lived and died for America, did things that we cannot imagine today, et cetera et cetera…

That generation also offered a better life for those living in poor houses, protected senior citizens from dying with no dignity at all,  and engineered minimal social welfare for those who needed it the most.  FDR knew what he was doing. 
It was only future generations that screwed the whole thing up. Just a few generations removed and we have a bloated social security tab, a medicare funding nightmare, and every juicy entitlement and nation-building program known under the sun…plus, half of America pays $0 and/or profits from federal taxes each year.

This is not about one President, any Congress, any election, any new law, or a half a dozen of any of those.  It’s simply about the greatest shift from a great generation long gone to the lesser generations, the generations that cannot handle it, the generations of materialism and “what’s in it for me?”

The new war is on. The war to end all wars.  Think about the last 25 years.  One entire generation ago, back in 1996, our unusual President was working with a difficult Congress to balance the budget and even create a surplus for America.  Ahhh, those were the days. 

Since then, we’ve had 2 presidents create wars, fight secret wars, do whatever they wanted to do….wars,  wars,  wars…foreign and domestic…adding trillions of dollars to our national debt that we will never, ever, recover!   Pick Prez Obama or pick Mitt this November and you’ll still have $25,000,000,000,000 in debt by the time his term is up. And, China thanks you.

It’s a new war on liberty that neither the White House, nor CNN,  nor Fox News,  nor MSNBC wants to talk about.   This extreme partisanship that’s crumbling our national infrastructure, totally annihilating any fair tax base, and bloating our entitlement programs beyond belief…the new war is now!

Who are our new generals to fight this war?  My simple, educated guess would be the GenY and latter generations.  No other generations have been victims of the me-generations, divorce epidemics, and “if it feels good, do it” mentality to realize what’s really important in life.  Maybe these generations are America’s salvation?  We shall see. 

I sincerely hope so. God’s speed, young ones. 

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