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!

Friday, April 20, 2018

This Is What Democracy Looks Like

April 20, 2018

*photo NASKW

*photo Mark Hedden

*photo Mike Freas

This Is What Democracy Looks Like

It is a very rare occurrence when a sitting US President visits our island community, in fact it has not happened since 1962 when President John F. Kennedy visited just after the Cuban Missile crisis. When it was announced that President Donald J. Trump would be making a short visit to Key West for a tour and meeting at JIATF (Joint Interagency Task Force South), people in the community were understandably abuzz.

JFK in Key West, 1962

Almost immediately on facebook, groups of supporters and of protesters began mobilizing to arrange to line the route that the Presidential motorcade would take from the landing site of Air Force One at the Naval Air Station Key West, a few miles up US One, through Key West to JIATF headquarters located near downtown Key West. Debates sprung up as well with supporters very excited about the prospect of greeting the President and perhaps catching a glimpse of the man and those opposed to him arguing that he was not welcome here and that they would protest the man and his policies if given the chance.

President Trump waves as passing Key West City Hall * photo by Virginia Wark

I have never used my blog or facebook page to promote my political opinion and I don’t wish to start now. Anyone who knows me well, is probably aware that I am no fan of the current President and that both his policies and behaviors are almost universally against what I stand for and that I am very strong in my beliefs. However, I have a good number of friends who are on the opposite side of the political spectrum and I try my best to respect and honor their opinions. There is too much personal acrimony in our political process these days and that in itself is one of the things I find most disconcerting.

* photo Mark Hedden

While I have some Trump supporting friends, the majority of my friends are not supporters at all, in fact many of my closest friends are well, well to the left and many of them helped organize the resistance and the protests of Trump’s visit. Some people were of course angry at this and urged them not to protest and for those in support of the President to get out and show their support. There was a fear in some quarters that there could potentially be ugly scenes playing themselves out on the streets of our community and some were urging caution and restraint.

For myself, as much as I supported the message of the protesters, I also felt a bit of the excitement of those Trump supporters. In fact I was looking forward to getting to see the Presidential motorcade pass by and happy and a little jealous for my many friends who had the opportunity to meet and greet President Trump. I know a lot of city officials like Mayor Cates and his wife Cheryl and also the local press covering the visit and I felt they were pretty lucky to have the opportunity. As much as I dislike the man holding the office, I still strongly believe that everyone should always respect the office and a visit by a President, any President is an honor and should be treated as such. I had the good fortune to meet the first President Bush when he came to Islamorada and presented the organization I was working for, Reef Relief, a Point of Light Award and though I did not much care for his policies either, it really was an honor.

Mayor Cates and Cheryl.

Though I was a little apprehensive about what might happen, I have to admit I was very pleasantly surprised at how well the citizens of Key West behaved overall. Literally thousands turned out to watch the motorcade and I think supporters of the President (or at least Patriotic citizens who felt as I do) outnumbered those protesting overall, though in the area where I watched the vast majority were anti-Trump, because I watched from Key West City Hall where one of the protests was organized.

* photo Virginia Wark

While most of those I saw and photographed were protesters, due to my location, I made it a point to try and meet and photograph Trump supporters as well.  I wanted to see what they had to say and why they felt it important to be there. It was ironic to me how what they said mirrored what some of my protester friends were saying. The protesters liked to chant, “This Is What Democracy Looks Like” which I honestly felt was an appropriate phrase for the entire experience.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders * photo by Mark Hedden

I don’t know if I have ever been prouder of the island community that I live in, these people who took the time to line the streets to greet our President, whatever their political feelings, were demonstrating their Democratic right, this was indeed what Democracy looks like and it was thrilling to see, all of it. These weren’t angry nameless internet trolls, one-sided talking heads featured every night on the local media, but real people, who though they may disagree vehemently about their political beliefs, share far more in common than in that opposition. Love of Country, love of community, concern about our future and an activist mentality that made me so proud to be a Key West citizen.

While there were a few four-lettered curses lobbed at the motorcade, the behavior on both sides, at least that I witnessed was overall pretty congenial. In some areas Trump supporters mingled with their protesting neighbors and I saw more good natured ribbing than the hatefulness that has been depicted on TV. Maybe that is just the nature of our island community, where diversity is accepted more than just tolerated and we all have to learn to live together on this small island. If so the rest of the nation could learn a lesson, that you can disagree yet still be respectful, that you can advocate your position without demonizing those who believe differently and that you can love your neighbors in spite of your differences. President Trump thanks Key West

Special recognition to those friends and photographers whose photos I have used in this blog, Mark Hedden, Mayor Craig Cates, Virginia Wark, Gwen Filosa, Rob O’Neal ,Mike Freas and any others I may have missed.

Take It Easy

April 5, 2018

Take It Easy

On our second day of travel from Phoenix to Colorado, we continued to mosey along, taking it easy, as we stopped repeatedly to check out places along the way. Our first stop was a short distance down the highway from where we spent the night in Flagstaff, the small town of Winslow, Arizona. Made forever famous by the Eagles song,”Take It Easy”, Winslow has capitalized on this as much as anyplace I have ever seen.

The song, originally written by Jackson Browne and Glenn Frey, it became the very first single ever released by the Eagles. The brief mention of Winslow, in the line, “Well I’m standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona and such a fine sight to see, it’s a girl my lord in a flatbed ford, slowing down to take a look at me.” Has become the small town’s claim to fame and right there on a corner in the center of town is a statue of a man standing on the corner and of course a flatbed ford parked on the corner.


The entire small business section of town is focused on this corner with gift shops, diners and the like all along Main Street (Route 66) near the famous corner. Sadly the rest of the town is in pretty rough shape, with boarded up businesses and abandoned property dominating the landscape. But it was still kind of cool to join the mass of tourists stopping by the corner to check it out.

Farther down the highway, we stopped again. This time to visit the Petrified Forest National Park and the Painted Desert National Monument. These National Park areas are located in Northeastern Arizona and feature incredible examples of desert ecosystems. The Petrified Forest National Park is named for its large deposits of petrified wood, covering about 230 square miles (600 square kilometers), encompassing semi-desert shrub steppe as well as highly eroded and colorful badlands.

Just to the North of Petrified Forest is the Painted Desert National Monument. The monument is a desert of badlands in the Four Corners area running from near the east end of the Grand Canyon National Park southeast into the Petrified Forest National Park. The Painted Desert is known for its brilliant and varied colors that not only include the more common red rock, but even shades of lavender.

The Painted Desert was named by an expedition under Francisco Vázquez de Coronado on his 1540 quest to find the Seven Cities of Cibola, which he located some forty miles east of The Petrified Forest National Park. Finding the cities were not made of gold, Coronado sent an expedition to find the Colorado River to resupply him. Passing through the wonderland of colors, they named the area "El Desierto Pintado" - The Painted Desert.

We drove first through the Painted Desert area and then South into the Petrified Forest. There was so much interesting stuff to see including Pronghorns, which I had never seen in the wild as well as a large selection of beautiful and well preserved petroglyphs, some ancient ruins and of course the fossilized wood that gives the park its name. Seeing huge petrified tree trunks that are not basically tree shaped rocks is fascinating.

After our trek through the parks, it was back on the highway toward Albuquerque, where we experienced something that I have never even come close to seeing before. Suddenly traffic was backed up to a near stop along the interstate, not so unusual, we assumed there was an accident ahead. We were startled to find that while the weather seemed fine, we were driving along slowly down to a single lane and suddenly we were in a wet snow that had obviously just fallen yet there was already about four inches on the ground. All along the interstate we jackknifed tractor trailers, cars spun off the road and a few seriously damaged vehicles. In less than a mile the snow was gone and traffic was back to normal. The weird micro-blizzard was less than a mile yet caused immense havoc.

In Albuquerque, there was one place that I really wanted to visit, The Unser Racing Museum. The wonderful museum that focuses on the careers of the racing Unser family from Albuquerque, specifically focusing in the careers of Al Unser Sr. and Al Unser Jr.  The Unser’s have a long family history in racing and a raft of accomplishments that would make any racer envious. With nine Indy 500 wins and hundreds of other major racing victories and championships the museum is an amazing legacy to generations of racers all in the same family.

The museum features an amazing selection of the racing vehicles that the Unser’s have driven over the years including cars from the Indy 500, the Pikes Peak hill climb, Nascar, Sprints and midgets and more. Perhaps the most interesting part of the museum was the trophy room filled with literally thousands of trophies from multiple lifetimes of successful racing.