Pictures from God's country

I got back Thursday night from a most enjoyable and relaxing holiday spent with my family driving across Pennsylvania and upstate New York. We all had a wonderful time, there were many laughs and great memories made along the way.

Here are a few pictures from that trip:

The view over the Allegheny River at Mt. Washington

Exhibit at the Phipps Conservatory

More plants at the Phipps Conservatory

Moonrise over Tunkhannock, about 30 miles west of Scranton

Outside a petrol station in Afton, NY

Standing on the shore of Lake George

Dropping off my parents at the airport and saying goodbye to them on the last night of their visit was very difficult for me; as anyone who reads my writing can see, I am extremely close to my family and I love nothing in the world more than spending time with them.

And as the march of time takes its inevitable toll, the fact is that my parents will find it ever harder to make these trips out to the US and spend time with their children. It is a very long way from the old country to here, and every trip takes an ever higher toll- especially on my father, who is now in his mid-sixties.

It is very difficult for me to think of my parents as "old". I know, intellectually, that my parents are getting to an age where they will and must slow down. But it is quite another thing to know this emotionally. I have lived my entire life knowing that my parents are simply there for me. The thought of not having them- especially my father- is too awful for me to contemplate.

Yet, sooner or later, it will happen. One day I will rise to greet a new day knowing that my mother or father- or both- are no longer here on this Earth. That makes every moment that I spend with them all the more precious and important. And it makes the lessons and principles that they have taught me all the more valuable.

This trip also reinforced the fact that I need to do more traveling on my own, which is something that I have quite neglected to do for many years. This is because I actually hate traveling by myself; despite my extremely introverted nature, I find it much better to travel with company, so that there is someone around with whom to share some of these great experiences and memories.

That is why I started taking trips on my own, for the first time in very many years, earlier this year. I started small, taking a flight down to Austin, Texas, and then renting a car, to visit some dear old friends there and in San Antonio. Soon I will be off again to another, rather more exotic, destination. And early next year I will likely be off to the Great Frozen North to visit the Canoeheads for the first time in several years.

After that... who knows? I've had my eye on another trip to London for a long while, and perhaps after that, it might be time to finally visit Scandinavia, in the form of a trip to Iceland.

Or I might just decide to go east, and see what all the fuss about Ukrainian women is all about. (Actually, I know perfectly well what it is about; Eastern European women have a turbocharged femininity that Western women simply cannot compete with. Unfortunately, that same femininity comes at a truly fearful price.)

No matter what, though, I know that taking these trips will be good for me, for they will forge the experiences that make us better as individual men.

As our friend, the Gentleman Adventurer, likes to point out, the modern man has traveled. (And despite my words above, I assuredly have, all over the world.)

He, of course, would know.

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