After the sale of our house (May 28 post) I decided like so many have done before to take a Great American Road Trip from coast-to-coast for pleasure and repose, but more so to reconnect with my American roots (see also a recent great road trip blog in pictures by JEFFRIES BLACKERBY of The New York Times).
On my proposed trip through the flyover country of America I will explore various topics and themes that both interest me personally and hopefully a broader audience. As mentioned in my first blog (May 28 post) I will reflect on my future as an Early Boomer retiree and hopefully grow, learn, and contribute positively toward defining and promoting attainment of a more equitable and sustainable society globally as well as here in America. As one born and bred abroad of American expatriates, I honestly feel there is much about my own cultural roots I still don't understand and which when viewed from abroad on the news, e.g. CNN has often puzzled and disconcerted me, Maybe I'll get it this time and hopefully contribute to the analysis of the American experience and world view.
A KEY QUESTION FOR YOU (AND ME) TO CONSIDER:
What is it about the American experience that makes us so often appear to be insensitive to other people's misery caused by economic, racial, or social exploitation--particularly among the poor "downtrodden huddled masses" of Africa, Asia, and Latin America--that we Americans may have contributed to via our over-consumptive lifestyles and provincial views?
Comment: This is an attitude or trait in Americana I find personally troubling when I reflect on my own roots--a descendant of dissidents who fled Europe to find religious, social, and economic freedom themselves (see My Family Album). It is a question that many colleagues I've worked with in Africa and the Middle East have asked me many times to explain--and I must say I still don't have a good answer.
A RELATED QUESTION:
Has America changed or lost its way or have these negative--as well as the many positive traits in America--always been there, but are just more glaring and accentuated by the stresses of living in a globalized interconnected world?
So, after my return from three years of full time work focused on sustainable development and conservation in Africa and the Middle East (a topic of a future blog), and with over thirty years of professional part time work and travel abroad--I feel strongly the need to reconnect or rather to connect for the first time with real Americana and address the questions above.
MORE BACKGROUND AND INTRODUCTION--WHY THIS BLOG?
Under normal circumstances taking a great road trip is quintessential American behavior--part of the social and physical mobility and inbred wanderlust that Alexis de Tocqueville wrote much about in his assessment of the American character during extensive travels across early 19th Century America--discussed in his great work, Democracy in America (see some Tocqueville quotes).
Understanding better early 19th century America interests me personally because one of my ancestors (Nineveh Ford) came west to the Oregon Territory in 1843. So, over the next few weeks I will explore my own roots but also also consider how my "international career" and overseas experience may have changed me and my view of the world in ways that differs from those elements rooted in the pioneer history of the American West--my g-g-grandfather's world.
I don't claim that my BLOG will yield any new earth shattering insights or a book--though that is possible), yet I have decided that as a just returned expatriate American from such diverse places as Abu Dhabi, Rwanda, Congo, and Honduras, and, knowing from past experience the culture shock that I would face, this time I've decided to BLOG about my feelings, observations, insights as a new retiree and see if what I see and feel adds anything to the long list of those writing about their travels and what it teaches us about ourselves and our co-citizens...
OUR PLANNED ITINERARY and FIRST STOP--YERMO, CALIFORNIA and ZION NATIONAL PARK, UTAH:
So, Karen and I left our old haunts in Redlands, California (on the left coast) on June 11, 2010 with our ultimate destination New Haven Connecticut (Yale) to visit our kids--Bryan and Anya and new grandchild Celeste. There is no set itinerary or schedule, and I don't know how long this will take--all I know is I am excited and will take lots of pictures! Come back as often as you like!
For those who want to see more pictures go to my FACEBOOK page and see my PHOTO ALBUMS about this trip and other experiences abroad as well, i.e. Kenya, Rwanda, Congo and Uganda. Our "conestoga"--a simple homemade tent trailer and our old trusty Mercury Sable--at our first MUST DO STOP at Peggy Sue's 50s Diner in Yermo California
and just across the street from the Yermo Logistics Marine Base loading war equipment and machinery--a reminder that "America is at War"! Many of the guests at Peggy Sue's are veterans of past wars and it was nice to see many of them there enjoying what were probably happier memories.
Zion National Park where we spent several glorious days! (more here).
Unfortunately, how MOST tourists at Zion see it--all grouped together at the nearest "lodge" rather than exploring on bicycle or on foot the glory of the park... One of the striking images of someone just returned from abroad is clear here--most of America is now fat and out-of-shape! What does this portend for the future?