Tag Archives: Travel

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!

Birthdays and Trips

Hello all and happy December!  Now that we’re in the full swing of things, I think it’s safe to say that we are heading towards the home stretch of this holiday season.  I’ll be honest, I’m still not fully feeling it, but not for any bad reason per se.  I mean, yeah, I’m pretty broke at the moment, but I have so many other things going on right now that I can’t even think about setting myself up in the Christmas mood.  December is typically a crazy month for me because my birthday is on the 9th, so I’m generally setting things up for that first and before I know it Christmas comes and goes after that.  This year was no exception.  Funny thing though, is that I thought it would be.  I wasn’t even feeling my birthday this year.  Go figure, right?!  I turned 38 this past Sunday, so in birthday years wise, it’s lost its significance.  When you think about it, the ages that matter (at least here in the U.S.) are 18, 21, then the 5’s and 0’s after that.  I added 37 to that thanks to Writer/Director/Comedian/Podcaster/Nerd Kevin Smith, and I celebrated that last year with a little film festival, but this year I really didn’t have much to look forward to.  I mean, yes, it was my birthday and I was looking forward to getting bombarded with wall posts on Facebook, but in reality all I wanted to do that day was stay home, watch football, and relax on my couch.  Maybe have a celebratory meal of steak or Whataburger (oh man… Whataburger… THE BEST ever!) and call it a day.  Nothing special, you know?  Just stuff that I love.  Instead, I ended up going to my dad’s house to eat a meal that although was freaking awesome, wasn’t something that I was craving.  I didn’t even get to decide whether or not I even wanted to stay home instead and have my family come to me instead.  I guess I’m just that much of a pleaser.  Oddly enough, I was actually giving more gifts than I received on my birthday too as I bought Dallas Cowboys stickers and plain white candles to make Dallas Cowboys velas (look up Raymond Orta to see the reason I do these things) for myself, my dad, and at the end of the night, I ended up buying one for a friend of mine!  Go figure.  She even said it too, “It’s your birthday and you’re still doing things for me…”  Yes, I was and no I didn’t even get a choice as to how I was going to spend my own damn birthday because that’s just who I am.  I’m always putting myself last when it comes to other people.  Even on my birthday.

In other news for the busy-ness of it all, tomorrow, I’m going to embark on an insane journey with my heterosexual lifemate.  We essentially called a bluff on moving a vehicle and some small items from a temporary home in Annapolis, Maryland back here to El Paso, Texas.  We got the “Are you guys serious?  You’d do that?”  “YES!” we replied and here we are.  We got a paid flight and a per diem to get said vehicle back here by next Monday night.  It’s going to be my first time ever in the northeast, first time ever to be able to visit our nation’s capital, and my first time ever seeing the cities we’re going to pass through along the way.  I’m super excited to experience it all.  All told, we’re going to drive over 2,100 miles in 4 days.  A crazy feat for sure, but a once in a lifetime experience for sure! I’m sure I’ll have stories to tell and a good blog to post about it too, so look for that possibly next week!

Speaking of travel, another form of travel has really taken over my interest lately.  Travel via rail.  It may be something that is still a normal way of traveling in other places, but here in the spread out southwestern part of the United States, rail travel isn’t such a big thing, especially after the dawn of the national interstate highway system and the blossoming of air travel.  Locally, we had Atchison, Topeka, & Santa Fe (better known as simply Santa Fe) Railway and Southern Pacific Railroad to service us and we had passenger train service from each, but now since the 1970s, we’ve had Amtrak (which is the consolidated national passenger railroad service), but only 2 or so trains come by a week.  Granted, you can get to just about anywhere on said trains, your options are limited on the days you’re able to go.  In any event, during my last vacation this past July/August when I went to Oceanside, California, I noticed the abundance of commuter rail travel that takes you from Oceanside down to San Diego and passenger rail that takes you up to Los Angeles available from there.  Amtrak is kinda a big deal in southern California and being a lifelong railfan, I was loving seeing all of the passenger trains go by as the rails go right along the beachfront.  Anyway, all of that got me thinking about going back to Oceanside and instead of driving, I’d take Amtrak.  Sure enough, there is an actual station in Oceanside itself, so the need to jump on the commuter train from San Diego is not needed.  The route there would take me from here, westbound stopping in a few places in New Mexico, Arizona, and a few more in California until reaching Los Angeles.  Then from L.A., I’d get on another train that goes down to San Diego and back, so I’d just get off in Oceanside.  How cool is that, right?!  Now, the travel time is 20 hours, but seriously, I think this would be the coolest thing EVER to do.  I’d still have that road trip experience without actually being worn out from the road itself, I’d be able to relax and watch shows on Netflix, read, or listen to music, and get to Oceanside ready to relax on the beach and do my thing.  You can’t beat it!  The great part is that its costs just as much or a little less than air travel or driving, so aside from the time benefits of flying, it’s the best deal.  I think I’m going to aim to do it sometime next year if I can and if not, for sure in 2020… God willing, of course.

So, here we are my friends.  We’re 2 weeks away from Christmas Day and 3 weeks away from 2019.  I’m looking forward to what lies ahead!