No Direction Home

This humble blog was started to document our travels around the country during the summer of 2006, We have opted to continue updating it due to the requests from family & friends. Enjoy!

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Wilhelmina Davis

Wilhelmina Davis

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I was trying to recall when I first met Mrs. Davis, the exact moment escapes me, though it was somewhere in the neighborhood of forty years ago. I remember hearing stories about her long before we actually met, she had a reputation among neighborhood kids as being fiercely protective of her five kids and was something of an intimidating presence. When I did eventually encounter her, I quickly learned that the reputation was based on fact, but it also only was a small part of who she actually was and thankfully, I was able to have the privilege of getting to know her and learn this for myself.

At first though, I was pretty intimidated, I immediately had the feeling that she was sizing me up to determine if I was suitable to be a friend to her children. I quickly saw what happened to those she saw as unsuitable as she was very open about her judgment on those who did not pass the muster and they did not come around much.  At the time what seemed to be random and capricious was in retrospect spot on as her judge of character was impeccable and now I know how truly fortunate I was to make it in to the inner circle.

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Not only did I make a lifelong friendship with the Davis siblings, but I was allowed into the larger Davis clan almost as a family member, because once you were in, you were in and it was an almost magical and wonderful experience of the sort of commitment to what is really important in life. I remember as a teenager thinking some of the upbringing that the Davis kids has was strange and unusual – I mean not having a television during the 80s in itself was a foreign concept to me. Over time however, as I was included in more and more Davis family gatherings, I came to if not understand completely certainly respect their way of life and the values which they held dear.

Mr. & Mrs. Davis were unique among any of the parents of my friends in that they not only included their children’s friends in their gatherings they actually listened to us as something as equals. I had no prior experience in the long fascinating discussions held at the Davis house where my opinion, even as a fourteen or fifteen year old kid, was considered, discussed and held as valuable as the opinions of these two obviously brilliant people. This focus on intellect and real family value was something that I found nowhere else and why during the years since, I would stop by to see Mrs. Davis even when none of her kids were around.

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I learned so much over the years during my interactions with Mrs. Davis and her family and my long friendship with each of them has given me the perspective of time and hopefully maturity to see what an amazing parent and person Mrs. Davis was.  Far from the intimidating presence she was initially she became a true friend and role model to me.

If you did not have the pleasure of knowing her well, you need to look no further than her five amazing children and many grandchildren to see the impact she and her husband have had. Finer people you will
never encounter. The fact that they have each created lives with wonderful spouses (and not a single hint of divorce- which speaks volumes itself in this day and age) and raised amazing families is a testament to the influence and love that Wilhelmina Davis brought to her family.

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To my great shame, I still have trouble naming and identifying which grandchild belongs with who, it is just overwhelming to me , seeing them all as a group, but I have no trouble when speaking to any of them directly identifying that they are a member of the Davis clan. The maturity, intelligence, politeness and good nature that emanates from Mrs. Davis is easily evident. As much as she loved her own children, I know that Mrs. Davis probably loved her many grandchildren more than anything in the world. Her face would just light up when speaking of them and I know that I will certainly miss receiving her annual holiday card where my wife and I would marvel at the ever growing family.

Somehow I know that the loss of the matriarch will not impact the bond of this family and that they will honor her legacy by remaining close and getting together. I just hope one of them remembers to keep taking that annual photo in her memory and sending it out.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Zoo Atlanta

April 28, 2014

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Zoo Atlanta

Our flight back to Key West was not until later in the evening, so Kathy and I had a day to spend in Atlanta and after sharing a goodbye breakfast with Dakota at the hotel restaurant, we decided that since we had been to Atlanta on multiple occasions and had never visited Zoo Atlanta that we would head there to check it out and to see the rare twin Panda Bear cubs that were born there recently.

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The Zoo is located in Grant Park and is somewhat small compared to some major city zoos that we have visited. The good news is that despite the small size the animal areas all seem pretty decent sized and adequate for the animals habitat. There are just fewer animals than in some zoos.

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What they lack in quantity, they certainly make up for in quality, especially in certain areas such as the Primate exhibit, which features large numbers of great apes, chimps, gorillas, orangutans and other monkeys in large expansive areas with wonderful viewing areas where the public can get extremely close views of the primates. It is a pretty spectacular display.

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There are a lot of other good exhibits to visit at the Zoo, they include the African Rain Forest exhibit, a parakeet adventure which features hundreds of the colorful birds that zoo guests are allowed to feed by hand, the African Plains, the Reptile House and the Asian Forest along with the requisite Children’s Zoo.

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Of course the Zoo is best known for its display of Giant Pandas and their successful breeding program of the Pandas. The bears were all sleeping while we were there including the two relatively new Panda cubs. The Atlanta Zoo is one of only four zoos in the United States that has Giant Pandas and it was still cool to see them, even if they were not really all that active.

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Still having a good part of the afternoon left available after the Zoo, Kathy and I headed over to check out the largest and most successful microbrewery in Atlanta, Sweetwater Brewing. Their massive brewery is open every Sunday afternoon for tours and tasting and we wanted to check it out and try some of their famous brews.

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Unlike the smaller breweries that we had visited previously in Atlanta, Three Taverns and Blue Tarp, Sweetwater is a massive and hugely successful and expanding brewery with distribution in some 30 states and an ever expanding base, much like Magic Hat or Oscar Blues and other success stories. The brewery had live music and open taps to taste about 10 of their current beer roster including their most popular 420 brand,

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We enjoyed the beer, the music and an interesting tour of their massive brewing and bottling operation. It is quite different than the small breweries we had toured on Friday, but the product was just as good or better and the sense of little guy making it big is hard to ignore.

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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Perfect Day

April 27, 2014

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Perfect Day

Sometimes in life, you are fortunate to have a day where everything just works out, where you get the pleasure of enjoying doing things that you love to do and share moments with people that you love. I think everyone experiences this sort of day every now and again and when it happens, it is something that should be treasured and enjoyed and something that makes me thankful everyday that I have the good fortune to experience every so often.

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One of those rare and wonderful days happened for me on Saturday. I figured it was going to be pretty good, after all any day you get to go see Bruce Springsteen is pretty good, but somehow everything just was perfect the entire day. It started off rather dubiously, as we overslept our free breakfast at the hotel and had to walk from our hotel located next to Centennial Park in downtown Atlanta to a nearby Waffle House.

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Now Waffle House has never been atop my must-dine list and we rarely go there, but this particular Waffle House was fantastic. The staff was excellent, the service great and it might possibly have been the most exquisite waffle that I have ever had. Even better, just as we were finishing, our friend Dakota arrived from Lake City.

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In what can only be said was a stroke of luck, my favorite NBA team, the Indiana Pacers were in town to play the Atlanta Hawks in game four of the first round of the NBA playoffs and I had scored club seats about four rows off the floor on the baseline across from the Pacers bench. Before the game we walked around Centennial Park, riding the huge sky- ferris wheel and taking the gentle ribbing from Hawks fans for sporting our Pacers gear.

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The game was spectacular, the Pacers pulling out a tight contest that went right down to the nerve-wracking wire to win 91-88 and even the best of seven series and two games each. It was so fun and exciting and I have to say the Hawks fans were about as nice as you could expect to us who were infiltrating their arena. I wish them well in the future and if they manage to pull out this series, I will be rooting for them simply because of the hospitality and friendliness of their fans.

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After a brief rest at the hotel, we were off on the short drive south to Aaron’s Lakefront Amphitheatre to see Bruce Springsteen. Neither Kathy or Dakota had been to a Springsteen show with the E-Street band and they were not disappointed. He played a typical long set of just over three hours that was a mix of rarities, hits and cool cover songs. This particular show he focused on his release the River and played a large number of songs from that record.


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It was a great, great show and the old guy has still got it displaying and energy and enthusiasm that are more like a 20 year old. He still sounds and plays amazingly well and the band, which featured guest guitarist Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine was as amazing as ever. Jake Clemons is a great fill-in for his late uncle Clarence on the sax and at once honors the big man’s legacy while creating one of his own.

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If you get the chance, go see Bruce, not just because it is a chance to see one of the iconic figures of American Rock history, but because it s just a great fun and incredibly good experience. It was just about a perfect show that completed just about a perfect day with two of the people who I love more than anything in the world.

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