Tag Archives: Travel

Strikes and Gutters

Hi y’all!  Here I am again barely getting a chance to write some random thoughts about the things that have been going on in my life.  Holy smokes, what a crazy time it’s been for me lately too.  It seems like nearly half a lifetime since I’ve gotten the chance to jot down my thoughts, so I apologize for the randomness of this blog.  Actually, this blog has always been random, so I suppose I should apologize for the randomness of it all.  Ha!  Anyway, I don’t even know where I left off last sometime last month, so I’ll just pick up my life story from sometime this month.

The biggest thing I can say that’s been going on is my ongoing struggle with these mood swings of mine.  I know the cause of them by the way, but damn it sucks to have them!  I’m happy and content some days, ready to break down and cry the next.  It’s amazing what the influence of other people’s energy can do to your soul.  My soul happens to take the energy of people around me and convert it to my own and sometimes in the very negative.

Lately, it’s been due to a woman who I am (I should say was to be honest) romantically involved with.  For some insane and completely stupid reason, I keep trying to have this thing survive even though it’s on life support and brain dead.  Stupidly, I keep holding out hope for a miracle and that she’ll come to her senses and at least reciprocate my actions towards her, but so far nothing.  Honestly, I’m positive that she’s moved on from me and when I confronted her on it, she of course turned it around on me and made me the bad person, but I had the proof I needed in her words and from what I saw on social media.  It felt like I got punched by a life-sized boxing glove, but with the slightly positive things in my life that have been going on, I deflected it and only let it completely destroy me for a short time.  Spoiler alert, she again refused to let me go on with my life and I’m still stuck.  UGH.  I should just shut up about it until something more concrete happens, but just know that it’s the worst thing that has happened to me in probably 9-10 years, since the other bane of my romantic existence “Lady Voldemort” was in my life.

Now, in more happy news, things in my non-romantic personal life are pretty damn gangbusters.  My band, Searchlight Needles (look us up!), is gigging semi-regularly and we’re having fun AND getting paid doing it!  We actually have another show this Saturday night that I’m pretty excited about.  Now if only we could actually slow down just a bit in order to write some new music, we’d be going somewhere!  In time, I suppose!  Also, in a related topic, I came to a realization this past Saturday night.  One of our band friends were having a show at a bar close to where I was at that night and this band loves to bring up their fellow musician friends to play a few songs with them.  4/5ths of my band was there, so 3 of us went up there and played a song with the booked band’s guitarist and when people wanted another song, said guitarist pulled a rabbit out of his hat and was able to play this second song with us.  It was such a good feeling to play music with somebody new and still have it sound great!  The best part was when I thought we were done; I was asked to stay on the drums and play with another guest guitarist/vocalist and the booked band’s bassist.  We played 3 songs.  Two Johnny Cash classics and Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb”.  I wasn’t sure what to expect as I had never even met this dude who was going to sing and play guitar, but this guy blew me away.  He was so talented.  The Johnny Cash tunes were great, and he played some awesome solos, but man, when we got to “Comfortably Numb”, he took things to another level.  I locked in with the bass player, dude sang his heart out, and played a 4+ minute solo and I was just in heaven.  I hadn’t felt so alive playing drums (even though they weren’t my drums) in such the longest time.  All I have to do is think about it and go back to that time and holy SMOKES!  It’s hard to describe the feeling.  It’s like excitement mixed in love, joy, a sprinkle of anxiety, and ecstasy all together.  The bar was packed and the majority of them were engaged and enjoying the performance and that just made all those feelings come rushing up to the surface.  It was then that I realized that playing music is what I should be doing with my life.  It’s my purpose.  It’s what God put me here on earth to do.  Nothing, aside from going to confession and Mass, makes me happier.  No offense to family and friends, but that’s the truth.  Playing music with people who are at least as talented as I am makes me the happiest.  I need more of that feeling in my life, so I hope to push the guys in my band to play more music.

Speaking of things that make me happy, camping season is coming right around the corner.  The season here in the southwest, or at least in the west Texas / southern New Mexico area is from April to October.  We (the band) didn’t really give ourselves the chance to head out last year and even though I could have gone by myself as I have before, it didn’t happen last year and now I’m dying to head out.  I stepped my game up with this year’s income tax return and bought a new tent, new air mattress (since my older one has some sort of small leak from where I assume is in the seams), and a brand-new camping chair.  I had my eye on the tent I bought for years.  There is nothing wrong with the tent I still have now, mind you, but this one that I got now is slightly larger and incorporates “dark room technology”.  That means that it’s dark in that tent all the time and is also supposedly cooler during the day too.  The only downside is that I’ve read from more than one review that the thing leaks in rainstorms.  Not good.  No bother though, I went out and purchased some seam sealer and I’m going to hope for the best.  Besides, the only things I keep in my tent when I camp are my air mattress, sometimes an extra blanket, whatever it is that I’m carrying my clothes in, my portable air pump in case I might need to reinflate said mattress, and hanging from the top, my fan/light combo.  It’s not like rain will completely flood the tent (in theory), so I’ll just put everything in a spot to keep it all dry if the seams leak and the sealer doesn’t do its job either.  I’m already happy with my purchase.  If I remember correctly, my old tent is 8×8 and the new one is 10×10, so I’m sure I’ll notice those extra two feet of comfort and darkness now, and that’s what matters the most to me.  As far as the new chair goes, I realized during my last camping trip that my chair started to hurt me with it’s support points on my thighs, so sitting for long periods of time wasn’t going to work out with the current chair I have.  It’s good for short bursts, but if I’m going to have a bit of a lounge act like we tend to do while camping, I’d have to invest in another chair.  Sure enough, I decided to buy a zero-gravity reclining lounger chair that has no points that can hurt any part of my legs (in theory).  I’ve had my eye on these new style chairs for a while now too but just never had the guts to just buy one until now too!  I figured the heck with it!  It felt awesome when I sat in one before, our next camping trip is coming up in 2 short months, why roll the dice and hope to not hurt sitting down and relaxing when I can just recline and relax instead?  So, heck yeah!  That’s what I plan to do.  Now, I just gotta get over to my dad’s house some weekend soon to pitch the new tent, seal the seams and pull out my camping gear to run an inventory and test the worthiness of it all so that I can be ready for when we head out.  I really hope that this is not the only trip we make this year.  Even if it’s the only one the band makes together, I’m planning on going out at least a few more times, even if it’s by myself.  I’m excited!

Well, there it is my friends.  A quick look into what’s going on with me right now.  A big time low being combated by two big time highs.  And that’s what really matters too.  We gotta find the highs to suppress the lows.  Take care of yourselves!  May God grant me the strength to assemble my brain’s thoughts into more words to share with you all!  I’ve been bad with that lately.

First Post of 2020

Hello all and a very happy new year to you.  Man, last post I felt pretty damn defeated, y’all.  I’m not going to lie.  I was at a very low point.  Oddly enough, the friend that I mentioned who was sick of hearing my rants actually sought me out for a conversation.  Funny thing about it is that we seem to talk in circles sometimes regarding my point of view in life.  I said what I tell everybody who wants to know, that I’m just burnt out and I really just need time away and alone.  If I could just sit in my very dimly lit flat for 6 days only opening the door to throw trash out, I’d be happy.  It’s what I think that I need.  Over the holidays, I got a little taste of it, but by no means enough.  I feel better, though.  That’s the good thing.  I think my body just needs a good break and I need to really prioritize giving it that.  Today, even, coming back to work I feel exhausted.  All I did yesterday on my holiday day off was sit on the couch and rest.  I was so exhausted that I even passed out for a good half hour and I hardly even drank the night before!  I got food drunk on pizza and buffalo chicken bites, and I ended up downing a bottle of champagne and a shot of bourbon.  The shot was only had because my dear friends in Salt Lake City called me at 11:30ish and had me on the phone and wanted to do a shot with me.  They asked if I was having a sober night, to which I said I pretty much was, but was going to have champagne at midnight, but then I decided to have a shot with them.  Why not, right?!  Point is, I wasn’t hungover yesterday with the amount of booze that I had.  I was just and still am tired.  My next shot at rest is going to be Sunday because my band is doing a show tomorrow night at a bar, and I’m hoping to use Saturday to clean, do laundry, and go to confession.  Knowing the way I clean and stuff, this is going to be an all-day event.

So, anyway, the thought popped in my head about trying to get back into the groove of things now that all the crazy days off are behind us.  I think I’m mentally ready to do the gym from Wednesday-Saturday.  Monday, I’m reserving for bowling, as I’ve recently really picked up the sport as a weekly activity, and Tuesday I spend with my grandparents, which leaves me Wednesday through Sunday with nothing really on my plate with obligations.  I think I can pull this off.  I don’t want to call it a New Year resolution, nor am I going to treat it that way, it’s going to be a “get back to a routine” kinda thing.  There’s no vanity involved in my gym work either.  I’m not looking to impress anybody, I’m just trying to counteract all the bad food I enjoy with some cardio.  Hahaha!

Speaking of getting back to habits and stuff, I want to really try to get myself back to traveling to the places I love this year.  I missed out on Las Vegas for the first time in a few years, and my little dream of escaping to Oceanside, California escaped me too.  I don’t want to let that happen this year.  I don’t even want or need to go for an extended period of time either.  A perfect amount of time out of my domicile is 4-5 days including travel to and from.  That’s really all I need.  2-3 days at one of those places and I’m good to go.  Well, come to think of it, I’m really hoping to seriously make it out to Las Vegas in December to ring in my 40th birthday, so there’s that to look forward to, but a quick 4-day trip to Oceanside would be cool at some point before then too!  We’ll see!

I hope this year brings all of us more happy days than sad days!  Talk again soon, amigos.

I’m Going Through Changes…

Greetings y’all!  What an incredible journey I’ve been having since the last weekend of 2018!  I will tell y’all that my life has been almost completely turned around to a new normal.  I can’t deny it, either.  It feels great.  It’s even odd enough to say that, but it does.  I think my brother (from another mother) who lives in Salt Lake City told me the best way about it too; “Well, dude, you were due for a change.  I don’t wanna sound like a dick about it, but your life had gotten pretty stagnant.  I’m happy for you, dude!”  Hmmm… maybe he’s right!  I mean, I have traveled more in the past 3 months than I have in the past 5 years, and east of all things!  I mean, before about 3 or 4 years ago I had never really been anywhere else here in Texas for any more than a quick stop or some specific thing to do.  I went to Houston 10 years ago for WWE’s WrestleMania 25 for a weekend, but we didn’t venture out much aside from going to the area where the event was being held.  I also went to the DFW area a few years ago to visit one of my band members for a weekend, then again to his new place in Bryan but it was more for a working/band trip, so I didn’t really see much then either.  Well, this year, already, I’ve gone to Houston and explored parts of that wonderful city again, and I got to drive through San Antonio for the first time in 20 years!  Just this past weekend, I was back in Bryan/College Station where I got to see a bit more of the town.  I’ve also gotten to know Interstate 10 from the state line in my hometown of Anthony, Texas all the way through to Houston, Texas.  Before this year, I hadn’t even driven it past the exit to highway 280 right after Junction, Texas that takes you into Fredericksburg, Johnson City, and Austin.  My two trips (and one more scheduled coming up in two weeks) have been really eye opening to me.  I’m wondering why it is that I didn’t want to head east before.  I mean, I can tell you why really.  It’s because my favorite Major League Baseball team is the Arizona Diamondbacks (who are based in Phoenix, Arizona), and the place I visit at least annually is Las Vegas, Nevada.  Both of those places are west of me and I’ve always felt comfortable in my familiar desert climate.  Say what you will about things, but nothing beats the sunsets here in the desert southwest.  The way things are heading, I might be heading east permanently, so I gotta take in as many of these sunsets as I can while I can still remember to!

Along with my travel and my new found appreciation for what lies east of El Paso, I’ve also fully embraced my new lifestyle change.  I have kept losing pounds each passing week and I’m ramping up my confidence that I can continue to get to my goal weight, which I should hit sometime in November.  I’m really looking forward to that AND looking forward to seeing a better version of me in the mirror!  I’ve even started to eat way healthier than I was previously, and I am getting compliments at least weekly from my coworkers about how great of a job I’m doing.  It feels awesome to know that finally, for once, things are heading in the direction they should be when it comes to my health.  Speaking of my health, on Tuesday, I’m finally going to have a sleep study done to hopefully help fix my problem with sleep apnea and snoring.  Hardly anybody understands, but I am super excited about this too.  The more changes, the better I say!

Have a great weekend y’all!  Stay safe out there in this wild planet of ours!

Witness to (hopefully) Accidental Prejudice

I’m back!!!  A little later than I wanted to be, but that’s because life has had me tightly in its grips as of late.  There’s been a lot on my mind too, actually, but due to the respect that have for other parties involved in why there’s things on my mind, I’m going to try my best to keep those to myself.  I know that part is unhealthy, actually, because writing is my outlet and my main outlet to release those pent up emotions, but I can’t disrespect other people much on here, or anywhere else for that matter, which means that I have to find another outlet when other people in my real life destabilize my emotions.  Anyway, I’m going to try and make a quick observation here on something that affected me last week that I just can’t shake.

So, this thing happened to me last Monday in Boerne, Texas as I was going to prepare for the final 513 mile trek westward back to El Paso, Texas from my trip to Houston, Texas.  In case y’all didn’t know, Texas is a gigantic state.  LOL.  Driving to and from Houston takes 10 hours each way and it’s that short now because a lot of the time, the speed limit is now 80mph and just about 75mph everywhere else.  Before, when the speed limit was 65mph, you could expect a 12 hour drive and all within this one great state.  How crazy is that, right?  Anyway, on my way back from Houston, I had strategically set up my fueling stop in Boerne because according to my calculations ( in which I did not factor extreme wind blowing eastward and thus creating more friction for my truck to move through), I’d have more than enough fuel to drive the entire 7 hour trip on that one tank.  I wasn’t hungry waking up and didn’t get hungry until about 40 minutes into my drive back home, so by the time I hit Boerne (which is on the western edge of the greater San Antonio metroplex) I was starving.  I filled my gas tank up to the maximum amount it would let me and noticed a Whataburger (a Texas staple and tradition) across the freeway.  Of course I had to go.  Not that any one of the 25+ locations in El Paso wouldn’t fill my Whataburger cravings, but why have a more national chain restaurant’s food when Texas’ own would do, right?!  So, I got over there, ordered my food, got my soda, and sat down.  Naturally, I just looked around at everybody just curious as to the crowd that hangs out at that place.  After surveying the crowd a bit, I noticed two very young teenagers, no older than 18 I’d say.  One was wearing a trucker hat with some sort of company name on it and the other had a black trucker hat with these words visible as they were printed in white; “Build Wall” I could only assume that the word “the” was in cursive and another color I couldn’t see very well in between the words “build” and “wall”, but I will tell you that it just hurt me to see that.  Now, I know some of you may have conservative views on things.  Don’t get upset, I do as well on most things, but in this instance and the reason the phrase “build the wall” is now popular, I don’t agree with at all.  It’s actually as offensive as a racial slur/term to me because in all honesty it is.  The people wearing these hats or t-shirts or shouting it out either in real life or on their social media platforms have no idea about how life really is along the border.

In case you didn’t know, El Paso, Texas (where I’ve lived the past 36 or so years) is a border city.  We’re now the 7th safest city in the United States according to Safe Wise.  Until this ranking, we’ve been 1 or 2 for the past 10 or so years.  I will tell you, from living here the majority of my life that it is a very safe city.  All of the drug violence that occurred in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico on the other side of the border only affected us twice from what I can recall.  Once, a bullet hit a building on the campus of The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) as it’s directly across from a very populated area in Juarez, and the second instance involved a stray bullet that struck a woman’s leg somewhere in downtown if I’m not mistaken.  That second one really can’t be attributed directly to the drug violence in Mexico, but the assumption was that the bullet came from over there somewhere.  That’s IT for the violence in the past God knows how many years, by the way.  Now, one could say that those were two incidents too many, but in comparison to what’s being portrayed about violent crimes here, as statistics show, we average 3.9 per 1,000 people.  That’s not really a lot.  Look again at that study as well.  Guess who’s number 6 on that list?  Yup, San Diego, California.  That’s another border city with Mexico.  Their violent crime average is 3.77 per 1,000 people.  So where’s the violence from Mexico?  Where are the rapes, beatings, and murders?  They don’t happen.  What’s the word?  Fake news.  That’s what that is.  Sure, violent crime does happen here, but it’s not because of any illegal citizens.  It’s simply American –v- American crime.  I’ll grant you that there is a language barrier, especially from downtown, into central, the lower valley, and into parts of the eastside of El Paso.  If you don’t at least understand Spanish, it would be best to be with somebody who did because there are a lot of Spanish speaking only people here, but since English is not the legal language here, it’s only frowned upon to not speak it.  I’ll be honest, it bothers me too sometimes, but it is what it is.  It’s not a criminal act.  As far as drugs go, yes, a lot of them go through the ports of entry, but those are the actual legal ports of entry that they get smuggled through.  They don’t go through gaps in the border wall, which I will also tell you that have been up here in the southern New Mexico/west Texas region for a long time already.  Nothing does, actually.  Thousands of people cross daily to and from our two cities/two countries legally via foot and vehicle traffic and we live in relative harmony.

I circle back to these two teenagers who obviously have no frame of reference as to what life is really like along the international border between the United States and Mexico.  That’s what really makes it sad to me.  There’s no reason to erect a barrier when one isn’t needed.  Sure, people do cross illegally into the United States from Mexico, but the vast majority of these people aren’t violent criminals and we’re not talking about thousands at a time all day every day.  If they do decide to try and cross, they are doing it in remote locations in Arizona where honestly they are risking their lives attempting to cross through there due to the harsh conditions and terrain.  It may happen with a larger frequency than some may be comfortable with, but we have Border Patrol agents who routinely go through that area and they do apprehend and deport the individuals they catch.  Same goes for the rest of the border between our two countries.  But a need to advertise slogans like “build the wall” insinuating that people from Latin American countries are ALL criminals and we need to erect some sort of great wall of America is just sad to me.  Hispanics, like myself, aren’t criminals just for being who we are.  Before you go barking out “Build the wall!” or putting it on your next social media post, just stop and think about what exactly you’re talking about.  Do you know the whole story?  Chances are you don’t.

Love and peace, y’all!

Seeing is Believing

Hey y’all!  I hope this blog finds you well.  As for me, things are moving along as per usual.  Ups and downs.  I’m making the gym a habit now and I’m feeling really good about it, so there’s one positive.  There’s a few negatives in there, but let’s not talk about those.  I’d probably get in trouble with some people if I did mention the downs anyway.  Which reminds me of something that I did too.  A few weeks back, I decided to disconnect my twitter auto-post thing from here on WordPress.  Since Facebook stopped allowing 3rd party posts themselves last year at some point, I removed my link from my homepage on there too.  I’ve figured that I’ve got no followers from either one of those social media outlets and I don’t think anybody there cares anyway, so I might as well make this my own little community too.  The links to my posts are still there on my twitter timeline, so if anybody really cares, they can go fishing and find links to posts there.

Anyway, today’s topic that I’ve had in my mind to speak of for the past 2 days or so is road trips!  Here’s a question for y’all… What’s your preferred method of traveling?  Plane, trains, automobiles?  (sorry, too good of a joke to pass up!)  I mean, say what you will about air travel, sure it’s the fastest way to travel as of yet, but there’s no fun it in when you get right down do it, right?  I mean, first off, you’re in a line with other people just to check in your luggage, and depending on your airline, you’re having to pay for that luggage to travel with you too on top of the cost of the ticket itself which is usually crazy expensive, then you have to deal with all of the security just to get to the gate, then you sit down in sometimes cramped quarters just to maybe see a glimpse of civilization happening 30,000 feet below you, but essentially see nothing but the general outline of the planet.  There’s no discovery of things, no exploration, it’s just sanitized bland travel.  For those with pressing needs to be from one place to another at long distances away, air travel is definitely the way to go.  Let me say, however, I’m not a hater of it, but I do love to discover things when I go to new or old places and I can’t really do that when I fly.  With that said, you can imagine what I prefer to do.  YUP!  That’s take road trips to my destinations!  Sure, I can’t always drive over to the places I’ve gone due to time constraints, but whenever possible, I drive.  There’s no phobia or any mental situation I have going on like some people have (look up John Madden and why he had a bus take him to all the NFL games he called), it’s just that I the journey to the destination is filled with so much beauty everywhere I’ve been, that I feel as though if I had done nothing but flown to these destinations, I would have missed so much along the way.

Taking a look at my google timeline, and my own memory before google started tracking where I’ve been; I’ve been in or driven through 20 of the lower 48 United States.  WOW.  Took me a minute to count to make sure, but yes!  20 states!  I’ve seen everything from sand dunes to beautiful forests, to beaches and everything in between and have loved every one of them.  I’ve also visited or at least driven by a number of national parks, forests, and monuments as well that have truly taken my breath away at times.  I even have gotten to the chance to see things along the road that have inspired movies, been in movies, etc.  For example, there is a motel in Holbrook, Arizona by the name of Wigwam Motel that was the inspiration for the traffic cone motel in the Disney/Pixar movie Cars.  Instead of traffic cones, the real things are actually large concrete teepees!  How cool is that!  The even cooler thing is that a lot of the cars that were featured in the film, well their real life counterparts at least, are parked there at the motel too!  I came across the motel 2.5 years ago when I drove my friend from South Australia over to see the Grand Canyon.  We made an incredible drive from El Paso, up through a highway in New Mexico that ran through Gila National Forest and honestly some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen, into Arizona and the large national forest area and Grand Canyon National Park.  It was an amazing drive and actually come to think of it, I need to do it again!

That was just one of my trips.  The drive from El Paso (where I’m at) to Oceanside, California that I did last July was amazing as well.  I had no idea there was such a big farming and dairy area along the southern portion of Arizona on Interstate 8, but sure enough there is!  And the scenery is so amazingly beautiful along the way.  Once you get to and pass Yuma Arizona/California it gets even more amazing.  Sand dunes as soon as you cross the border greet you into California, then just as quickly you enter canyons in between mountain ranges, then enter a mountain range itself and climb and descend mountains through national forests until before you know you it, you’ve reach the pacific ocean.  Words can’t describe the beauty.

I could go on and on about the places I’ve driven to and the things that I’ve seen, but you get the point.  I’ve experienced nearly half of the country I live in a mile at a time and I’ve loved every minute of it.  I’m getting the chance to blaze a new trail today and tomorrow as I will be on my way to the greater Houston area, driving it for the first time.  I’ve spent a weekend there 10 years ago for WWE’s WrestleMania 25 that was held at Reliant Stadium and got to stay at a hotel downtown and saw a few things along their light rail, but I flew in there and out.  I’ve had connecting flights through both airports in the city a few times as well, but never have I driven from here to there.  And actually, the furthest I’ve driven east along Interstate 10 is a turn off to highway 280 that takes you into Fredericksburg, Texas (which is an amazing and beautiful little town in the Texas Hill Country), then into the southern edge of the state capitol, Austin.  So, now tomorrow morning, I’m going to break that barrier and traverse I-10 in through San Antonio (where I’ve only actually been in for a day as well during a senior band drum ensemble competition trip to Austin) and into Houston.  I’m so excited to see it all.  I’ll say that I’m actually more excited about whom I’m going to see over in Houston, but the drive out there is almost up there with the destination and the reason to go as well.

I hope you all have a blessed and great weekend!  I’ll blog again soon!