New Orleans – Day 953 –

Those of you who read New Orleans - Wistful in the Extreme, almost two years ago saw a picture of a father conflicted between feelings of great sadness at the loss of his darlin' baby girl and great pride in the charter, courage and skill that caused her to go.  Much has changed for both of them in the interim.  For the father, that would be me, only three things in my life are unchanged.  Those are the love of my children, faith in God and pleasure in writing.  For her, the child, the skeleton of her world remains the same.  She is still a ... [Read More]

Copper Mt., Colorado – Skiing – B.T.S.T. – Day 4

Teasing, among men, always carries two messages.  One is, "you are loved. we care about you enough to think of you and talk of you."  The other is, "you are breaking the group norms.  be cautious.  reel it in just a bit."  But along that continuum the message is never exactly the same.  Some is almost all love. "Is not my little toe-head the most wonderful rascal."  Some is almost all warning.  "And then the dumb son-of-a-bitch screamed at the waiter."  And each group carries its own standards and rituals for conveying them.  The B.T.S.T. is no different.  We have the J.T. Award. In the beginning ... [Read More]

Copper Mt., Colorada – Skiing – B.T.S.T. – Day 3

I skied better today than I have ever skied in my life.  That is, I admit, more a testimonial to the fact that the technology of ski equipment is improving more rapidly than my prowess is deteriorating. I was 19 when I first skied.  It was Douglas Island, Alaska. The American Legion used a Catapillar to pull a sled up the mountain from the end of the road.  The first sled up in the morning carried an engineer whose job it was to go into the warming hut and fire up a diesel engine which powered a rope tow a few hundred yards up the mountain.  ... [Read More]

Copper Mountain, Colorada – Skiing – B.T.S.T. – Day 2

There are certain advantages in traveling with a large group to a resort and they all come under the rubric of business trying harder to get money in larger blocks than smaller.  Copper Mountain is no exception.  For buying lodging and 3 day ski passes for 33 we received a couple of perks.  The first, and you skiers will appreciate this, was a special, and never crowded, lift line called "Secret Access".  That is, we got to jump the line and ski right onto the chair in front of all those hard working souls who paid just as much as we did for their lift ticket.  The second, was ... [Read More]

Copper Mt., Colorado – Skiing – B.T.S.T. – Day 1

When men gather in twos and threes the conversations are often thoughtful, intellectual, and even loving and gentle.  As the size of the group grows conversation coursens.  In fours and fives laughter is more frequent, volume increases as does the attempt to dominate.  Men starts peeing on one another's bushes.  And in any group of ten or more men conversation becomes positively adolescent - tits, farts and belching are the steady fare.  And it does not matter if the group is blue-collar or rocket scientists, it is so.  Clerics may be the exception - may. What is it about men that craves, even requires, this atavistic ... [Read More]

New Zealand – Day 6 & 7

Lillie is my most devoted reader.  I know only two things about her - her name and that she always has a word of encouragement or kindness for me.  On Day 1 of my "report from Middle Earth" Lillie made a suggestion.  She said something to the effect of, "It's beautiful.  I'd like to see more pictures."  Ok, Lillie, this post is for you. Our last two days in New Zealand were devoted to travel.  Our flight home left from Christchurch and rather than fly back we decide to see the wonder of South Island and the Southern Alps.  So early on the morning of Day ... [Read More]

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Sam Foster
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New Zealand – Days 4 & 5

Day 4 - Today's adventure was River Surfing.  This sport originated here and has not made its way to the US in any commercial sense.  I will explain that later. The Kawarua River makes its way to the Pacific from Lake Wakatipu by first running through the Kawarua Gorge. To extreme sport enthusiasts the Kawarua Gorge is most famous for the Nevis Bridge bungy jump, the world's tallest at 305' - twice the fall of "The Ledge" which Aurora and I jumped yesterday.  Our destination was a bit further down the Gorge to a stretch of 5 kilometers sprinkled with rapids rated from 1 to 3.  Rapids ... [Read More]

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Sam Foster
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Petrified Forest Temptations

Last May authorities arrested one Danny Garcia for lopping burls off old growth redwood trees in Redwoods National Park. The burls were massive, measuring 115 cubic feet. That’s big! It’s also big business. The knobby burls are in demand by carvers who turn them into much sought after decorative items such as table tops and garden gnomes. Apparently Danny didn’t see the sign that greets visitors to most National Parks exhorting them under penalty of law to “Take nothing but photographs and leave nothing but footprints.” Fortunately for nature and humanity, Danny is one of those small percentile deviants who see no problem in killing a bear ... [Read More]

Queenstown, New Zealand – January 1, 2015 – Day 3

When I was met at the Queentown Airport with a door etched with the phrase, "Embrace the Fear" I thought it was more quaint than instructive.  For old men our fears have formed into our character.  That is we have either conquered them or given into them and stopped trying.  Queenstown had more in store from me than I could have imagined. Queenstown is located next to glacial fed Lake Wakatipu in an alpine landscape.  It's entire existence is based on people coming from all over the world to leave money.  They trade money for experience.  The experiences they come to get are "cheap thrills".  Aurora ... [Read More]

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Sam Foster
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Burano: “Let’s Paint the Town”

I live in Scottsdale. We have seven partners in the International Sister Cities program and one of them isn’t Burano, Italy. It should be because we have one major thing in common – the local government regulates what color you can paint your house. It’s true. Here in Scottsdale if the city doesn’t tell you what colors you can use the HOAs will. A whispered joke is that building applications should read: “And what shade of brown do you plan to paint your residence?” That’s because Scottsdale is snugly situated in the Sonoran Desert and, in true Frank Lloyd Wright fashion, we try to “blend into ... [Read More]