Monday Chat

In addition to my blog schedule, I would like to occasionally chat with you on Mondays. This allows me to talk about anything I want to talk about, and it gives you the opportunity to hear directly from me. A chat is a conversation. If you would like to talk back to me, you may use the form on the opening page of the blog or email me at

Today, I would like to tell you about my start and a goal I have in mind. It didn’t    take me too long after arriving in Panama to get this blog started – exactly 1 month. I gave a preview to the readers of Tidings, my former church’s newsletter. If you are not a reader of Tidings and would like to read that preview, contact me and I will send it to you.

As of today, I have 15 followers, including 2 people I don’t know; they found me on the Internet. I would like to double that number by the end of the year. You can help me do that by sending followers my way. I know that among my friends there has been some confusion about subscribing to my blog. This is something only followers can do, as the request must come from their computer. Can you help me achieve my goal? I’ll keep you informed about the progress. Thanks!

Go West Young Man

[I believe that most of you are interested in my current situation. To get there more quickly, I am going to send two blog entries per week.]

John Greenleaf Whittier would not have been pleased with me. I continued heading east until I reached the Atlantic. Filled to the gunnels with all my belongings, I left New York state in a small Opal station wagon. This time, I really avoided the Interstate because my license plate had expired a month earlier and I was determined to get out of the state without getting caught. No such luck. I got caught and had to mail a check back to the state’s coffers.

Marsh Chapel, Boston University
Marsh Chapel, Boston University

I arrived in Boston to go to grad school (Boston University). I had only a few dollars in my pocket and no other funds. Brazenly, I got in the registration line not having any idea how I was going to pay for my enrollment. While in line, I noticed people leaving another line with a check in their hands, so I quickly got into that line. When I was asked how much money I needed, I confidently said I needed the full amount for the year. I received full tuition, room and board, and spent the next several years paying it back. So much for the third degree, literally.

One of the faculty got word of an organist-choir director position 40 miles outside Boston. I grabbed it as it had a good organ, and I didn’t have to compete with all the competent Boston organists. I remember one very snowy, stormy day when I pushed my car out those 40 miles only to find that the local parishioners wouldn’t leave their doorsteps. So much for fair weather Christians.

I also took a part-time job with a publishing company. They produced a magazine about this new thing called a computer. Their computer was taller than a refrigerator and had to be installed in a climate-controlled room. One of my jobs was to track computer installations in Russia. I can’t imagine how I got that information but track them I did. I doubt that anyone tracks computers anywhere today.

Portland Head

After a couple of years, I took that Opal and drove north, this time to Portland, Maine. I spent 7 years getting acquainted with the coast line, loving the salt air, the salt box homes, all the while salting away an income. I worked as Minister of Music and the Arts at Maine’s unofficial UCC “cathedral” and at Maine’s official Episcopal cathedral. The Opal got me around the state playing recitals and performing on Portland’s City Hall organ, the second largest in the world when it was installed. Eventually, that Opal would no longer go in reverse. I had driven it into the ground. What now?

The Days of the Skylark

After graduating from high school (Mankato) and college (St. Olaf) in Minnesota, most everyone I knew headed west. No, not me. I headed east. My adventures began when I purchased a Buick Skylark, a little car that would hold all my belongings. I headed off to seminary (Colgate Rochester) in Rochester, New York and found I could do that trip in 2 long days of driving. By then, the Interstates were created for expediency. I recall how a 12-hour trip was very tiring. I would shift my left leg to the gas pedal and stick my right leg straight out to the passenger side. That brought some relief.

I often left Rochester on the Ridge Road headed to Niagara Falls. Then I would jump the border and travel across Canada, coming down to Detroit and on to Chicago. I hated driving around Chicago due to the traffic and toll booths. I don’t remember the exact cost of the tolls, but once I got behind someone who deposited all pennies into the hopper. My travel time was sure delayed that day.

That little Skylark got me through numerous long-distance trips. Once, I got caught in a flood and drove through water over my headlights. When I got to high ground, I heard such a screeching sound that I was sure I had ruined the car. I left it parked along the street and ran home in the rain. I arranged for a tow truck to retrieve it the next day. When they did, they discovered that I had been pulling a smashed up garbage can under my car. The universal joint was wet, but the car still ran. However, all good things must come to an end. The Skylark and I departed each other some five years later.

What is to come? Stick with me.

Once Upon a Time

You must take care not to pick up a bug when you travel. However, to travel means you already have a bug – the travel bug. I think mine must have begun when I was a child.

The Travel Bug - Posts | Facebook

Every summer, my family traveled from Minnesota to either Denver or Seattle. That was the beginning of my travel bug, whether I realized it or not. My mother’s family lived all around us, so we saw them frequently. My father’s family, however, all went west, so we traveled the blue highways before there were Interstate highways.

Most of the stops along the way were either in the middle of Nebraska or in Eastern Idaho. We would scan the roadsides for motels; there was never a need for reservations. Our goal was to spend less than $30.00 for the night. We did travel east once, though I hardly remember it.

My mother traveled all year long – on maps. I think I inherited the map bug, as I have always done the same. When I got older, I scouted out my own trips, studying the maps so intensely that, by the time to trip started, I could travel without a map.

Let me begin my travel sketches here. Please join me for the ride.