Month: June 2015

“Too much time on my hands, It’s ticking away with my sanity…” Written by Tommy Shaw (Styx)

The clock clicks ever slowly when one anticipates a major change.

The clock clicks ever slowly when one anticipates a major change.

A wise friend once told me that only boring people get bored. I always agreed with that statement until now, because right now I am so utterly bored and I do not believe it is because I am boring. I have been planning my Epic Journey on and off for approximately 37 years. I have wished and wanted for this trip, anything to get out of the rut my life so conveniently fit into right from the start.

During the last few months it looked like the dream might come true and planning began. The exhilaration from this trip finally happening has been amazing. Then one thing by another has tried to rain on the parade that is my journey; financial setbacks, illness, self-doubt…you name it. I am trying to stay positive, which is not in my nature. I always felt it was easier to be a pessimist and never be disappointed, then to be an optimist and always be disappointed. Let’s face it…life very rarely works out like you imagine it will. How many dreams have you had that have had to be re-thought, picked apart, or just plain forgotten? Me, I have had plenty.

Now I am less than a month from my projected “Launch Date” for my trip and I am still working out some things. There may be a slight delay, but it looks like it is still a “GO.” The problem now is the waiting to-go part. My new-found sense of adventure has taken over my ability to continue doing the mundane things in life like laundry, cooking, cleaning and dishes. I am so completely bored with it all. I could just scream. I know I have some romantic notion that everything having to do with my Epic Journey is going to somehow be exciting and new. That is totally unrealistic and I logically know it. But my heart is feeling something different.

I feel like I have too much time on my hands, yet I am still working, trying to sell off my gift shop inventory, preparing for the trip, trying to keep up with the minimum in housework and just get through each day. Please do not get me wrong, my life is not horrible. It has just been the absolute same for a long, long time. The same type of work, the same house, the same sort of life and I am ready for a change. The only thing I do not want to change is my husband, he is awesome; everything else is fair game to alter!

I suppose this is what a mid-life crisis feels like? I never dreamed that I would go through a mid-life crisis. That was always someone else’s issue. But here I am at almost 53 years old and I am ready for the epic change. I probably never mentioned that during this trip, I hope to find a new place for Mike and me to live.   We want, maybe, a Tiny Home or some sort of downsized lifestyle that will allow us to explore some dreams we have while we are still physically able (not too old).

I am banking on a lot of things to come out of this one journey. Maybe I am expecting too much. I am sure I am not thinking about the hours of monotonous driving during this trip, only concentrating on the fun and excitement. I have romanticized how fun it will actually be to sleep and live in the back of my SUV day after day. No, I am sure I am overthinking this trip and all I will walk away from it with. But this is my first intentional foray into optimism. I guess if that is where my mid-life crisis takes me, I could be doing worse.

As far as having too much time on my hands, I have decided that travel creates that feeling inside the traveler. For if it was not for the longing for change, no one would have ever left home. No discovery of new lands, no inquiries into other cultures, no new discoveries would have been discovered. Boredom, now as I see it, is the very reason for travel. My soul has reached its current level of mediocrity and it must now move on to another phase or chapter in order to remain. So for now, I will look at my boredom as a gift, the gift that is making this trip actually happen. I may have too much time on my hands right now, but it will not be that way for long.

“Money, so they say, is the root of all evil today.” Written by Roger Waters (Pink Floyd)

The contents of my wallet.

The contents of my wallet.

Money is my least favorite subject to talk about. As I have grown older, I find that I am starting to detest money and all it stands for. When I was younger, I wanted everything I saw. I would see something shiny and pretty and I knew it would be the one thing that would absolutely make me happy. When it did not make me totally filled with ecstasy, I would go looking for the next shiny and pretty thing. I was born with an unhealthy relationship to money. I acquired many useless and senseless items in my life. In turn, I became a small cog in a really big economic machine that relied on me, and those like me, to run up large amounts of debt that could never be paid off and then the big machine charged, us cogs, horrendous interest rates just to be sure we never left our place in the big machine. I could not leave a job because how would I pay the multitude of credit cards and bank loans I had. I was trapped in debtor’s prison and the prison looked a lot like my overpriced house. Oh, I know some of you out there are thinking, “It’s your own fault.” You are absolutely correct. I take the hit because I squandered away everything I ever made so I could have instant gratification that actually only lasted an instant. I could blame my bad habits on all sorts of things, but when it comes down to it….the choices were all mine. I am not trying to “get out” of anything. So why am I saying all this? I am now almost 53 years old and I want off the Merry-Go-Round. I want to get rid of all the junk and live on as little as is necessary. Guess what I am finding though? Lots of people are in the same boat and they are not spending their money on buying anything, let alone my old, used junk. So I worked year after year to acquire THINGS and now I cannot even give them away. It is a reality that hit me in the face today when I was trying to sell some very nice art that I owned. No one wants it and no one needs it. I have retired the idea of making money on selling the stuff, retired the idea of breaking even, and I have come to realize that I will lose money. Okay, I deserve that. I get it. But in retrospect, I realize that I am the kind of person who could fall into a bucket of money and still come out broke. I have tried several of my own businesses, worked two jobs at a time, and lots of other seemingly pointless tasks to try to get off this ridiculous carnival ride I am on and none of them have worked. Please do not misunderstand me. I am not looking for pity. The mistakes are all mine, they are some of the only worthy things I own. But I hope the younger generation rethinks the idea of the American Dream being new cars, big homes, fancy clothes, etc. I realize now that the American Dream should be about freedom. Think about what life would be like without debt…You could work where and when you wanted. You could live a life most people only daydream about. You could sleep at night not worrying about the bills. You would have choices, being in debt takes those choices away. Think about the real freedom you would have before you buy the shiny, pretty bobble that in just a few years will have little or no value. I sound bitter, do I not? I really do not mean to. I wish beyond all that I hold sacred, I would have understood and lived knowing that the LOVE of money is truly the root of all evil. Jesus knew what He was talking about, even though I thought He was wrong. I want to take the time on my Epic Journey to consider the minimum amount I need to live on. I think I am going to find that I need a whole lot less than I think. I hope this trip teaches me that I do not need to ride the carnival ride any longer and that I can get off and live a life of freedom. Everyone says that if you do what you love, the money will come. I still do not know how that works, but I am going to give it one last ditch effort. If it does not work this time, who knows what will happen. But if, for once in my life, I make a right money decision, I just might be able to experience freedom for the first time in my life. I wish you all freedom from debt. It is a terrible burden. If you are not in debt now, PLEASE stay that way and use your finances wisely. If you are in debt and being held ransom, I pray for you to find a way out of it. I am sorry this post is somewhat off-topic, but it was heavy on my heart and maybe someone out there needed to hear my pathetic story (which I hope has a victorious ending!). Yes, we need money to live, but we do not need to live for money. Good luck to you all!! Thank you for listening!!

Life Lessons Learned From a Life in Retail

The front of our, now closed, gift shop.

The front of our, now closed, gift shop.

For the last year, my husband and I have run a small gift shop. Our items were not high-end, more cutesy than practical and we kept pricing affordable. A lot of our inventory was made in China. As we went along, we tried for more products made in the United States but found most people did not want to pay the higher price for the US-made items. Lesson learned.

In the year we ran the shop, we never were really busy. In our life we decided to downsize and get rid of unnecessary items. We learned that more and more people were doing the same. Many people came into the shop and liked it but never bought anything. The reason cited was they had enough useless stuff as it was and did not need more. Ours is not the only life overflowing with stuff and chaos caused by that stuff. Lesson Learned.

Some customers came in just to talk. They must not have had anyone to listen to them and as a shopkeeper you are a captive audience. I heard about operations, illnesses, deaths, financial woes, and a variety of heartaches. It is surprising how many people opened up to a complete stranger. My heart broke for them as we shared stories. Many tears were shared in our little shop and many a hug was given. Everyone has a story. Lesson learned.

As the reality of my Epic Journey started to take form, I talked about it more to my customers. I found that most women were absolutely excited about it. Many told me stories of travels during their youth, others told about travels they wished for but never lived. Traveling seemed to be a common denominator among many of my women customers. Countless women wished they could go with me and longed for their own Epic Journey. Travel, or the thought of travel, touches many lives. Lesson learned.

Many customers came back or friended me on Facebook. We still “talk” even though we may have only met once or twice. I never would have believed that connections could be made in such a short time, but I was absolutely, incredibly wrong. Some people just cross your path and you feel as if you have known them all your life. That still amazes me. I love the women (some men too) who wandered into our shop with no real intent but left as people who touched my life and, hopefully, I touched theirs too. I have learned that we are not all just separate beings meant to be alone in this world, we all long for those connections and they can appear in the most unusual places.

Thank you to everyone who has contacted me through the shop, through this blog or any number of other ways. Thank you for letting this shy, scared person know it is okay to open her heart. Thank you for sharing your life with me even if only for a short time. You have forever touched my soul and changed me. Lesson learned.

Blog Shout Out: Thank you to Holly at Ginger Lilly Designs (gingerlillydesigns.etsy.com) for stopping in our shop and allowing me to wear your beautiful handmade necklace. Holly, you told me to take this on my trip with me and know that someone was thinking about you. You have touched me. Thank you!

My reminder that someone has touched my life.

My reminder that someone has touched my life.

“It’s Only Rock and Roll, But I Like It” — Part II / The Soundtrack of My Trip!

My FAVORITE album of all time!!

My FAVORITE album of all time!!

As many of you know from reading my posts, my upcoming Epic Journey is about a few things: (1) Reconnecting with God and my spiritual side, (2) Finding peace in my life, (3) Learning to live on less – downsizing, (4) Meeting new people and experiencing the mysterious reasons why our paths have crossed and (5) Sharing about local businesses I find. Plus whatever happens along the way.

All that seems so serious and life-changing, but it should be fun too!! I hope to see sights like the biggest ball of yarn or anything that is off the beaten path. I hope to learn to quit stressing and learn to have fun again. It has been a really long time.

One of my favorite parts of planning the trip is what my Road Music is going to be!! I know I have to eat, sleep, bathe and stuff like that. But music is going to be my constant companion and I have some great music on my Kindle which I plan to enjoy on the way.

My favorite list of Road Music includes:

  •  “Sultans of Swing” by Dire Straits
  • “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd
  • “Long Black Road” by Electric Light Orchestra
  • “Bye Bye Love” by The Cars
  • Anything by Bad Company (my favorite!!)
  • Almost anything by AC/DC
  • “Fool for the City” by Foghat
  • “Lawyers, Guns and Money” by Warren Zevon (hopefully, I won’t need the first two!)
  • “No One Like You” by The Scorpions
  • “Keys to the Highway” by B.B. King and Eric Clapton
  • “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” by Blue Oyster Cult
  • “Life is a Highway” by Tom Cochrane
  • “Can’t You See” by The Marshall Tucker Band
  • “Midnight Rider” and “Jessica” by The Allman Brothers Band
  • “Long, Long Way from Home” by Foreigner

I know it is like a playlist from Best of the 70s, but that is the best music for hitting the road, in my opinion. That is when I got the travel bug (in my teens), so I associate the music of the time with getting in the car and just going somewhere else.

Music has always been a huge part of my life. It kept me company on dark and lonely nights. It has helped me through the difficult times and it has been there for the triumphs. There is no way I can leave it behind on this trip.

I am sure I will cry when I hear “Tiny Dancer” by Elton John (I always do). I am sure when “Freebird” by Lynyard skynyrd comes on I will have to watch my speed (I tend to drive faster to Skynyrd). I know when I hear “Carry on My Wayward Son” by Kansas I will think of Dean and Sam Winchester as I always do. I guess I hardly ever listen to music for listening sake, it is usually tied to a memory for me. I do not know if that is normal, but it is for me.

So here is to the soundtrack of my life and the soundtrack of my journey. The music will make the trip better even if I cry occasionally!!

A really cool car that has nothing to do with this article!!

A really cool car that has nothing to do with this article!!

Failure or Indirect Success?

My new mantra!

My new mantra!

Many people who did great things failed time and time again before they reached their goals. It is well documented that Edison, Ford and more all lived with their failures and then triumphed. So why I am I here today feeling bad about all my failures in life? I guess because I feel like the failures outweigh the triumphs right now.

  • I failed my way out of high school
  • My first marriage failed
  • I received my Associate Degree but failed to finish my Bachelor’s
  • I failed owning my own online bookstore
  • My failed radio show career
  • I have failed miserably at knitting, crocheting, painting, and many other crafts

The list actually goes on…and on. Well, you get the point. Why do I bring it up today? Because a year ago I opened a little gift shop and just about everything went wrong from the start. I thought I would have be able to work another job, run the shop and keep up with all the other things life threw at me. I was wrong and the gift shop always suffered. Today I have to try to close it down and sell off the inventory. It is a sad day because I know in my heart I never gave it the attention it needed. During these times of questioning, the entire failure list always shows up again like an old friend saying “Hey, I’m here! Look at me!” It is hard to ignore the past. As I look forward to my upcoming Epic Journey, I worry that I will fail there also. I am expecting to do many new things and to learn a lot from all I experience. Then my mind starts thinking that I am too shy to meet new people every day, I am too weak to handle the grueling driving schedule, I am too soft to sleep in the car and eat rations and a myriad of other possible failure points.   Then I start to cease up with horror and fear that I am just wasting the money and time and that I should just stay home. A new part of my personality has started to emerge, one I think that comes only with age. This new part of me says that the only reason I failed so much is because I tried so much. Sure things could have come out differently, but those experiences made me who I am today; the person who is planning on taking an Epic Journey of self-awareness and awareness of others. What is the worst thing that can happen? I came back home with my tail between my legs. At least, I should have some really interesting stories! On the other hand, what if this is my success and I find a way a new, healthier way to live (I am trying to cut out all the extra stress in my life). What if I do, as many travelers say, come back changed? What if I see the world and it opens my eyes to all the wonder and amazement I have missed? History shows that I may fail on this Epic Journey, but I also think I am ready for a win (it has been a while). Maybe this will be my Thomas Edison or Henry Ford moment.   I will give it my best and shot and see what happens. No matter what it should be an interesting ride!! Thank you for joining me on this journey.

Destination: Erie, Pennsylvania

In an attempt to pump up my driving stamina, Mike planned a day trip for me to drive, destination unknown, using only our new GPS. This way I would have to rely on the GPS to get me where we were going to. It was a great plan because generally, I only drive about 10 miles a day back and forth from work. As the trip date advances, I need to be able to handle long driving days.

As we started out on my mystery tour, we drove past a fun little diner in Geneva. Mary’s Diner was right there at 666 E. Main Street. Neither of us had ever seen this place before, so we made a detour for a light dinner. It has the look and feel of an old diner with stainless steel everywhere and red booths. Destiny was our server and she helped us make good meal decisions. We had a ball while we were there.

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I have such a love for the old-style diners. That is going to be one of my big searches on my trip. To find as many of them as I can and write about them. I do not want to lose that bit of Americana to all the big chain restaurants. I love diners and I want to support them as much as I can.

After our little diner repast, we started back on the road. Using only the GPS, I navigated through a detour, a lot of orange barrels and a few missed turns. Finally about 100 miles from home, we drive into a place I have never been to…Presque Isle State Park in Erie, Pennsylvania.

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The sun was starting to set, but we still had some daylight, the breezes off the lake were cool and refreshing and everything was green and lush. I have seen Lake Erie from several different locations and I have even been boating once or twice in my life. But the view of Lake Erie from this vantage point was like nothing I had ever seen. Mike explained that it was because of the location of the lake, and a whole lot of other things I did not understand. All I know is it was stunning.

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I am still marveling today at how the very same lake can be so different. The sky was absolutely breathtaking as the clouds formed like little balls of cotton. The beaches were beautiful and well-tended. There are two lighthouses to view along with a lot of wildlife. We saw a crane sitting on a rock just looking around.

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Families were frolicking and sportsmen were fishing. It was one of the loveliest drives I have ever taken. The 25 mile an hour posted speed limit was just the right speed for me to drive and still be able to look around. The park is open all year from 5 am until sunset – there are longer driving times in the summer.

The park consists of 3,112 acres of beautiful lush land and many beaches. Presque Isle became a state park in 1921 (according to their website). It is so well taken care of and the atmosphere is very leisurely. Honestly, I am not a great outdoors person. I do not like bugs or sand particularly. But I loved all the walking and biking paths, thinking that maybe with such wonderful scenery I might enjoy actually being outside. The jury is still out on that one.

As a day trip, there is no camping in the park but some nearby, Presque Isle is the kind of place you could easily spend an entire day. Even if you do not swim, like me, you could find a great spot and read or write or just enjoy the beautiful lake, the amazing sky and wonderful beaches. I find it hard to believe that I have lived in this area all my life and have never been to Presque Isle. It just goes to show that there are many hidden gems right in our own backyard or a slight drive from our backyard.

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A Travel Planner, I Used to Be

I used to plan trips by air or car

With Hotels and motels never too far

Passports and Visas had their place

Among the tasks, I left a trace

I sat at my desk, in a seat

Wishing for the day I would meet

New and exciting travel sights

Go places, see things, and take some bites

Different worlds never did I see

A travel planner, I used to be

I know what you are thinking…don’t quit your day job and become a poet. Believe me, I agree. But in the middle of the night, I woke up and knew I had to write a poem about a job I used to have. Sorry to have subjected you to my mid-nocturnal rant.

It is actually true, though. I worked for many years being a Travel Coordinator. I started off basically as the liaison between a real travel agent and my co-workers who traveled. As the years passed, I learned more about the business through our agent and on my own. In a few years, with the help of a great travel program with Continental (when they had a hub in Cleveland), I was actually booking air, cars, hotels and trains myself.

The start was mostly conventions in Vegas or service calls in Phoenix. Trips to Chicago or LA, I could do in my sleep. Then came the international trips to Denmark, London, Paris and all over Asia. I learned about passports and Visas and what was necessary for traveling abroad. Many of my travelers were women who traveled alone and I tried to take special precautions to make sure they were safe.

I enjoyed the work very much despite the stress. Planning travel in the winter, in the Snowbelt, was a real challenge. Flights were constantly being cancelled or changed. Weary travelers desperately wanted to get home or not miss an important sales call. When I was neck-deep in it all, I learned to thrive on the chaos. Looking back now, I see a fondness for all my travelers and my desire to travel really took off then.

My husband was a road warrior for a long time. He traveled up to 75% of the time. He went to China, Mexico, Manila, Canada, and all around the United States. I guess I lived vicariously through him at that time. As I stated in a previous post, I was the one who kept the home fires burning.

I remember clearly that my desk faced a large window that overlooked a grassy spot surrounded by trees. It was an absolutely lovely spot. I would have my favorite music playing low on my computer and I dreamed of being the one taking the trips. I wished and wished I could break out of my life and see the world. I would look at the sun-soaked landscape and feel so alone. I knew I would never get to do those exciting things I helped others do. I was sad for a very long time.

But now I have the chance to do something really different. Although this trip has been done many times before by many other people, it has never been done by me. I have never planned such an undertaking before for something I would do.

I look back on those travel planning days and I am thankful for the knowledge I gained and the people I helped. I realize that I was not ready then to do what I am doing now. It was all part of the learning process. So here I am now, the traveler….no longer the travel planner I used to be.

Post Shout Out: Thank you to all the brave and wonderful women I worked with (you know who you are) who traveled alone. You are my inspiration and my courage. Love you all!!

What do the Numbers 9,726 and 28 Have in Common?

The route is not to scale, but it gives a general description of what the trip should look like.

The route is not to scale, but it gives a general description of what the trip should look like.

Yesterday, Mike figured out that my upcoming trip will cover approximately (give or take a side trip or two) 9,726 miles and will cover 28 different states.  I am a person who is easily overwhelmed and this to me is overwhelming.  How am I going to do this alone?  What was I thinking?  Am I crazy for taking this on for my first solo trip?

Then I realized I have a lot of people behind me, who want me to succeed.  I have my faith that God will provide and I know deep (really deep) inside I have the strength do this.  I am probably a little crazy for taking this on, but nothing worth doing is ever going to be easy.

I have spent most of my life not stepping out and trying anything different.  I have stayed on the safe course while longing for the strength to try something new.  When I did try something new, I always quickly reverted back to my safe shell.  Years pass and you realize that there are more check marks in the failure column than the success column.  I am tired of living afraid and I plan that this trip will be my “defining moment” where I stop being afraid, women up and do something scary and cool at the same time.

I have said this many times, but I could not do this without the support of friends, family and people I have not met.  The support I have received is overwhelming and I am going to do my best to add this trip to my success column.  Fear is only fear if I continue to let it be.  That is not to say that I will not keep a healthy dose of it just to stay safe, but I am talking about the unhealthy fear that makes you stop moving, tightens your chest and causes you to not breathe.  I am saying goodbye to unhealthy fear and hello to a new and improved me.

9,726 miles and 28 states….here I come!!

Thank you again for your support and love!!  I truly need it and appreciate it more than you will ever know!!

A Life of Its Own / Funny How Plans Change

When I started planning this trip about ten years ago, the concept was very different.  At that time, my Mother was starting to get sick, I was working full time and had a part-time job, was taking up to 16 credit hours at a local Weekend College program, was volunteering and was forever buried in dirty laundry and dishes that never seemed to get caught up.  My vision then was very simple:  (1) Get in the car and (2) go somewhere else.  Since we were buried in debt, I never had the funding to take that particular trip to the elusive location, somewhere else.

The responsibilities kept me from going and it is just as well.  I could not have left during that time even though it was all I could think of some days.  Fast forward about ten years and I am planning to do a real trip and I am amazed at how much actual planning it takes.  I honestly thought I would throw a few things in a backpack and go.  But this trip is taking on a life of its own.

Yesterday, Mike and I started a to-do list for the next few weeks in preparation of the launch date.  We came up with six columns of things to take care of:  Car things, Food, Camping/Sleeping, Necessities/Security, Blogging Tools and the Route.  Each column has multiple tasks and items needed.  How was I so far off the mark thinking I did not need much and that I could pack the night before and be gone down the road the next day?

So much has changed in ten years.  For example, I am ten years older (now in my 50s), now I cannot eat gluten, cannot drive in the dark, I have health issues to monitor and money is still not all that readily available (this is not a plug for donations, just a statement of fact).  So ten years later, this trip is much more complicated and a little overwhelming.

But in reality this trip is much more needed now. Before I just wanted to run away, pure and simple.  I was not expecting any life changes other than I was just going to be gone.  Now, I want to actually experience the sights this country has to offer, I want to meet new people, I want to leave my comfort zone and literally change my life.  Running away would have solved nothing and would have made already stressful situations even worse.  Today, I have a chance to become a better person and maybe leave a positive mark on others.  I have already met some incredible people and I have not left home yet.  There is a lesson out there for me, I may not be able to see it right now, but I know it is out there and I plan to learn it.

“It’s Only Rock and Roll, But I Like It”

Mick Jagger and Keith Richards may have written those words, but that statement has been a truth for me my entire life. I love mostly 70s rock as it helped carry me through my difficult teenage years. The music was always there for me and I hold a great fondness for it.

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That is why when a dear friend, Chris, invited Mike and I to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, I jumped at the chance. The museum opened in September 1995 and I have never been there. I have to admit I have heard good things and bad things about it, but I needed to see it for myself. So here it is almost 20 years after opening, I am finally going to see this place that I hope is full of Rock and Roll awe and amazement.

I have driven past the site many times and have admired the unique building design, but when you are standing just in front of it you realize the entire scope and size of the building. I felt so small standing there. It looks totally different up close and personal than when you are just driving by it.

Once we got inside, I never stopped smiling. Everyone there was incredibly friendly from the staff to my fellow visitors. You could tell that everyone there wanted to be there. That gave the place an incredible vibe.

They house an amazing amount of memorabilia, everything from sheet music, clothing, instruments, posters and many personal items from the people who made Rock and Roll. There were a lot of interactive stations, videos and news clips that were playing in various places. It would be hard to get bored because of all the different types of displays. They have really kept everything interesting.

We were lucky enough to be able to visit the Herb Ritts display. Absolutely stunning!! It seems Rock and Roll and photography are perfectly matched. His eye and his ability to create an atmosphere of comfort for his subjects combined to create some of the most appealing portraits. He has photographed Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, Bono, Melissa Etheridge, Tina Turner, Janet Jackson…well, the list goes on and on. All as beautiful art as I have ever seen. Herb Ritt is to Rock and Roll as Ansel Adams is to nature, in my humble opinion.

The visit was great. I did not see a lot of my favorite bands, but it really did not matter as much as I thought it was going to. I still enjoyed all the displays and feel it was well worth the time.

We then walked down the street and found a hidden gem. The Blazing Bistro, a “shipping container turned culinary hot spot” located behind the Rock Hall on the E. 9th Pier. The day was beautiful, albeit a bit brisk, but sunny so we decided to eat outside. We stopped here, Mike had the Caprese Grilled Cheese and I had the Interbelt Burger. We explained my upcoming trip as our lunch cooked and we learned a little bit about this bistro.

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I cannot explain the mission of this project any better than what is detailed on the website. So here is their blurb…I am COMPLETELY behind this initiative and am so thankful that we stumbled into it!!

“Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry (LMM) has launched (my words) Blazing Bistro, a brand new social enterprise to operate a high-end concession unit similar to a food truck in downtown Cleveland’s North Coast Harbor. It provides an opportunity for LMM to not only be at the center of the city’s economic revival, but also provide additional training options for graduates of its existing culinary arts training program, many of whom have experienced homelessness or incarceration during their lives. The Culinary Arts Training Program provides quality education, work experience and valuable skills training, helping students overcome troubled pasts, break down the barriers to employment and ultimately become successful in the foodservice industry. Blazing Bistro will also assist in continuing to build the reputation of LMM’s culinary program among the public, but more importantly, among restaurant owners and managers. This will have a significant and lasting effect on the successful employment rate of all of the graduates of the program.”

The food was great, the people were great and the concept is a blessing to all. You can check them out at facebook.com/blazingbistro.

We continued down the pier, run into a friend we have not seen in years and thoroughly enjoyed the day. It is a reminder to me that you can travel far or to someplace in your own backyard and you will be continually amazed. The planning of my epic trip has also opened my eyes to the wonders that are within driving distance from my home. It feels good to get out of my bubble and see what is around me.

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