Travel Feed

Somewhere in the Middle East, Late 50's

If you recognize this scene, leave a comment and tell me what you know 😊

        It is so much like me to post something and then write about a completely different topic, but this time I’m doing it because I really don’t know much about this picture. I know that my father took this shot somewhere in the Middle East during the late 50’s. He worked and lived there, and all that I know about this part of his life is that he enjoyed the experience. I can’t remember much about my father, but I can remember some of the most important things that he told me. I asked him why he traveled so much, and he told me that he was a gypsy. He said that most gypsies travel by road, but he liked flying. I remember thinking about him flying on his planes as I rode down the highway in my grandmother’s big Buick with my hands out the window, watching our shadow race along beside us.

        Whenever someone would ask me “what” I was, I would proudly tell them, “I am a gypsy.” I started to dress a bit Bohemian as a kid, but then I took the thing to the next level when I dropped college for long distance trucking. I lived out of my truck just like a gypsy for decades, and I finished school in between because I knew I didn’t want to live on the road forever. I wanted to be able to experience people from all over the world without having to continuously travel. I wanted to stay home in Texas. Now that I live in the most diverse place in the United States, I am able to work with people from every corner of the world, and I think my father would be happy with my decisions.

            When I look at this picture, I am struck by how the little boy is marching behind the line of soldiers. We know that our actions and our traditions impact our children, and this picture is a representation of that. Just as my father influenced me with his open mind and love of travel, the little boy in the picture is following what he knows. I hope his life is a happy one.

John Eckert Sr. (somewhere in the Middle East)


A Few Exciting Ideas for the New Year: Kicking Resolutions, Making Goals and Studying Travel Journals (It's all about me 🥂🎹😃✏️📓🎓🔱)

        I am just happy to report that after a short drought, I now have another A in my grad studies. I worked hard last semester studying the sublime and how it is used in Victorian literature. The sublime was not a topic in my class, but I think it should have been. I am so excited about next semester, and I look forward to pushing those boundaries again (my way of saying that I'm not happy with the usual course of study because I need to get out of the box).

        I am thinking about taking two courses, and if I do that, I will be set for my research piece next fall. I want to analyze travel journals and road stories because they are so vital to the human experience. For example, I recently visited with a man that had journeyed to America via several foreign countries, and then lived around the North American continent. That kind of story would be interesting to analyze against a working-class person’s experience of living and traveling in different states. How do they compare linguistically and structurally? What is important about the narrative itself? What about the use of confessional and memoir? Uprooting yourself and moving into a strange culture, or traveling for work, is an experience that creates wisdom and versatility (more organic and useful than simply vacationing). Does the white-collar experience somehow mirror the blue-collar experience? What difference does the level of education make? If these experiences and insights from moving and traveling are shared across economic, racial, ethnic, and educational levels, can they be used to create dialogue and understanding?

            I am also excited about the goals I am setting for myself this year. I plan on purchasing a nice travel trailer. I don’t want a cheap one; I want an Airstream. I can use my Airstream to work on my research, and I can also use it to teach in areas where housing is unaffordable or unattainable. Unaffordable and unattainable could be a problem in Houston if we have another big flood. I don’t even think we really need another big flood because we are already experiencing some housing shortages and spiking rents.

            One of my previous classmates writes a blog and in his New Year’s post he focused on not making resolutions. I think he is on the right track, but goals are a bit different. A resolution admits to some weakness. By acknowledging your weakness to others in the traditional New Year’s kind of way, you give it additional power over your daily life. I already critique myself enough, so I’m going to pass on resolution and set goals instead. I think kicking the resolution is a smart idea.

Jason Walker's blog address:

Happy 2018 Everyone!

Cover of my new planner by Tools4Wisdom


This planner is full of well-organized goal-setting pages in different formats

Commuting in Houston: A Tale of Bitter Revenge

The hours I spent on California freeways, hot smoggy days steaming up and down 95 on the Eastern Seaboard, traversing the slippery, winding mountains gracing the chilly skies of British Columbia, and plowing the snow in South Dakota was not preparation enough for my Houston, Texas, morning commute.

Hateful and rude is simply an understatement, signal lights mean nothing, and the white alpha males flex their muscles in big pickups. After a few short weeks, I am sick of it all. Today I fired up my two seater, hit the streets at 5:30 am, and turned the Bose speakers up all the way loud: alternative rock, hip hop, and a couple of classic hits. Yesterday morning I was run off the road in my granny Toyota, after a mile of desperately blinking my left signal..."let me over please!" No one gave me an inch; I am sick of the rudeness.

Where are the cops? Not on my route. What has happened to driver education? What about simple human decency?

Almost everyday someone is killed in a car wreck in Houston. We have so many hit and runs most of them never make the news. Maybe Annise Parker, our honorable mayor, should begin a campaign of roadway kindness. Maybe she should provide a public service message explaining how our freeways are a bloodbath, and how our citizens are becoming heartless and cruel behind the wheel.

In the meantime, drive carefully and be courteous on the road.


No Mention of Fatal Wreck in Sealy News

The Sealy News has not reported on the deaths of mom, Katherin Addison, and her young son, Kendall, even though the men who caused their fatalities live in Sealy, and the accident was a mere 7 miles away. There is no mention in the online Breaking News section. This fatal wreck happened Thursday morning and it is now Sunday. The Sealy News is instead still featuring a story about a San Felipe woman being murdered in her Houston apartment. However, we know the online edition was updated Thursday. If you look at the obituaries, they were updated on Friday the 13th announcing the death of Donald L. Chilton of Sealy.

Other small papers in the area are carrying this story, and the Sealy News could have updated their online edition. As most of us know, the Houston Chronicle, along with the major networks, have followed the story up to Cody Parchman's firing from the Katy Police Department.

My personal condolences to all of the families and friends of Katherin and Kendall. On the morning of this accident, I was heading into Katy before the sunrise. The crash investigators had erected a light over the site, and I could see the white pickup the two Sealy men had been driving. The entire front end of this pickup was completely bashed in. That afternoon when I returned to Sealy, I saw the burned area alongside the concrete barricade. This made me cry.

Because I am an older mom with a son the same age as Kendall, and because my Vince and I have found ourselves in dangerous predicaments, I truly grieve for this unnecessary loss of life. Kendall, by all accounts, was a sweet and fairminded young man with unlimited potential. Because the night was cold, and they were alone in the car against the traffic barricade, Katherin probably did not order him to wait in the ditch. If she was in a  panic, it may never have occurred to her that someone would come along and bash into their vehicle.

 Please get out of your vehicle if you are stranded alongside of the road. Do not try to change a tire on the white line.

 In typical fashion, the Sealy News has chosen to look the other way. Whenever one of Sealy's better citizens are caught with the proverbial pants around the knees, the Sealy paper becomes muted, foggy, and uninformative on the subject. However, if it were me drunken and flying down I-10, and if it were me who had killed a devoted mother and her son, then it would have been online the next morning.

If it had been me, or even one of my friends, who had been found in possession of some 57.000 pornographic images of children while working as a Texas educator, if it were me who stold money from the Clerk's office, if it were me....then the Sealy News would carefully follow the story, and carefully detail each twist and turn.

I can hardly wait for the next edition of the Sealy News. My money says they say absolutely nothing about this terrible wreck. If they do, then I still would not put them in line for any journalistic award. They have had numerous opportunities to report on the community in an accurate fashion. They consistently remain a biased, uninformative, and predictable rag.

 Katherin and Kendall have family in the Sealy community...yet, there is still nothing in the carefully controlled Sealy News on this very sad Sunday morning. No update to the online edition...nothing.






Midland Texas Tonight: an open and prosperous town!

Lately, I have been a regular visitor to the Midland, Odessa, and San Angelo, Texas, area. Oilfield equipment trucks fill the roadways, people are busy and productive. There is lots of work here, and obvious prosperity. But the best thing about this area is the people. Everyone is friendly, hospitable, and helpful. I have yet to be treated rudely, or with suspicion.

In Midland you don't see any abandoned businesses, or vacant rundown houses. Places are open late, and the American dream is still alive.

It's just too bad that more Texas communities aren't more open and friendly. If you live in a place where ignorance and cronyism reign supreme, then you probably get the point.

 Do you live in a place where nosy women and men stare at you rudely, without shame (I was raised different)? Do you see lots of abandoned property and laid off workers? Are you constantly questioned about your personal life, and do you feel imposed upon?

If this is your life, then you are probably living in a community that strives against growth and prosperity...a place where being born there is more important than the contribution you can make to the community good.

This kind of territorialism is rather ethnocentric, however, it is usually just rooted in simple ignorance and a lack of grace.

Last night I laid over in San Angelo. I was treated with kindness and professionalism by the local people. I used several services in town, and I questioned some of the business owners and employees about their origins. One business owner was a proud atheist. I know a couple of places in Texas where you simply would not admit that fact to anyone. On the wall he had a picture of a gay male couple with a sign underneath that said, "P~~~~ off the world, one person at a time." I found that picture extremely funny since this place is a thriving business with ranchers, truckers, and travelers running through all day long. Only in an educated community could one expect such a level of tolerance and support from the population. I was impressed, because the people around San Angelo obviously know that only with love, and understanding, can a community truly thrive and prosper.

Compare this with suspicion and nosiness found in less educated and informed areas; the quality of life is lower for everyone. Places like that sort of die is sad.

I am not an atheist, nor am I a gay person, but I love people from all walks of life. There is something to be learned, and something to enjoy, in every race, ethnic origin, and religious background. All of us are important; we all count to each other, and to God.


No Time to Write

My life is just a blur of highway and work. I have one of the lowest quality existences known to humanity. I feel overwhelmed today, and angry, at all the lies I have been told. I am disgusted with the people who have lied about me. I am frustrated because I have no time to write.

I am irritated with Typepad and Google. Typepad for the service I have not received, and Google for messing up my email account.

When I want to start a new paragraph these days, my cursor gets I have to keep pushing the enter key until suddenly the cursor drops about 15 lines, and then I have to backspace it into place. I am SICK of that. It is a Typepad issue, I want them to fix it.

I am in a Starbuck's Coffee shack thinking of the long day ahead...a day in which I will run for free. I have hundreds of miles to cover.

With no time to write, I can't organize my thoughts, nothing is in perspective, and valuable ideas just slip away.

If not for the wretched and jealous small minded hateful bitches around me, I could be doing something else. I could be home at night, with time to write, enjoying my child, in a real home. Maybe soon...

Trucking: the onions are making me cry!

Today we are in Stockton, California, enjoying the cool weather. I drove out here from Utah over the weekend, stopping in Nevada for a night with the slot machines, breathing cigarette smoke, and sleeping peacefully until Sunday morning. We woke up to a hot breakfast, a friendly waitress, and coffee steaming out of an old chipped cup.

At the local discount store, I bought my son a jacket for one buck, sweat pants for two, and a microwave chicken dinner. We headed over to Donner's Pass and I told him the story about settlers cannabalizing each other, and my own nightmares at Gold Run. The snow was still deep around Tahoe, and the chilly rain followed us into Sacramento.

We are waiting on onions and cherries now...sitting in the driveway, listening to the weed eater. The sun is finally shining, and our gloomy weekend is over. Soon, we will be back in hot, steamy, Houston chatting about how wonderful and cool it was "up northwest."

Until then my child will read his books on the KIndle, play his little Nintendo game, and watch his movies on the flat screen. Everyday we take a nice walk, eat one restaurant dinner, and think about the days ahead when camp starts, then school, then fall break, then Christmas....

Hobbs New Mexico: Waiting on the Wind

Today we are in Hobbs, New Mexico, waiting for the wind to calm so we can go over to Texas and begin reloading tomorrow. The gusts are in the sixties, and the dirt is thick in the air, but life goes on in Hobbs with weathered tired faces, stringy flying hair, and shopping carts blowing around the Walmart parking lot.

The night before last, after a day of looking at the destruction in Joplin, I had a nightmare reeling for hours, continually looping, slow motion and chilling. A woman with penciled, arched, blackened eyebrows was staring at me from a dark velvet chair; yesterday I was stressed and couldn't get anything to go right, my mind would see her again, and again. I can see her now. She seems to represent the collective judgment of my neighbors and acquaintances, their misquided and filthy thoughts, illogical and ignorant; I have no use for their talk, ever so thin, without imagination.

Maybe the sharp dark woman is simply the weather girl, evil and merciless, pillaging the country with her tornadoes, wind, fire, drought, and floods. The warning in her arched brows is howling in the wind, around the corners of my truck, while my little boy watches his movies, and eats his dinner.

Tornadoes hit Oklahoma today bouncing vehicles off of Interstate 40, while my son and I battled our own wind in New Mexico. I thought of my dream, I studied her angry face, and I wished we were home with our car, and a beach towel, playing in the sand, watching the dog chase hermit crabs. Maybe soon.

The Wind from Mexico

Right this minute I am sitting in the Petro Stopping Center at exit 37 in El Paso, Texas. The wind is blowing from the south, and the dirt is blowing up from Mexico, just a few minutes from here. I didn't take a shower yet, it wouldn't make any sense.

El Paso gets most of its wind from across the line where so many poor souls have been murdered. It's possible after a walk across the parking lot that you are indeed wearing someone's heart on your sleeve; but, it seems like nothing can be done to stop the violence. The handsome border patrol guys across the room are trying to do something, but they aren't sure what. The Sheriff's patrol in the back room talk shop, but none of their days are normal anymore. Local law enforcement, and the general public, has this horrible cloud hanging over their heads.

Recently, I read a story in the news (The Houston Chronicle frequently features pieces on border violence) about a young kidnapped man in a car trunk texting his family. Suffering and afraid, a victim of senseless and heartless cruelty, he was probably hungry, uncomfortable and praying for his life to be saved. I think he was later identified in a morgue, one of 70 or 80 bodies stored in a refrigerated trailer. 

Down here on I-10, us truckers live with the mountains, the mysterious desert, and the wind. I turn my radio onto Fox, PBS, CNN, MSNBC, and I hear "Libya, Libya, Libya, Syria, Syria, Syria," an endless chant of repititious news, but very little about the Mexican wind, the dust, or our neighbors, the tortured dead. When you consider the enormity of this problem, the lack of interest is perplexing.

We are not doing enough to help. We are not saving ourselves.


The Good Friday Load: The Petro Cashier

Today I stood in line beside a tall thin man and we gossiped together about the cashier working in the Petro. We wondered why he was tending a fuel desk, so strangely official and bankerish. Bald and polite, he is well known for his friendly chuckle, miscounted change, and pump mix ups. Speculating, we pondered his past while standing in line; we fabricated a story for our banker-like cashier, placing him at a mortgage desk at the now vanquished Washington Mutual. We watched patiently as he fumbled one exchange after another, until finally my turn arrived, and the room was suddenly quiet.

Well known for my sometimes outrageously rude comments, my cashier stood in suspense while I slowly rolled my request off my tongue. You could see the sweat bead up on his brow.

Peaceful and polite, I quietly said, "Pump nine please, just the ticket."

Obviously relieved, he printed up my invoice and handed it over the desk with a broad smile.

 Tomorrow is Good Friday, and I am feeling beautiful about a new spring. I think our banker is going to make it at Petro.