San Diego to Bar Harbor, Maine. I went looking for America. My 6,500 mile journey took me through Small Town, USA during the Bull's Eyes year of the Great Recession.
From my two wheeled conveyance I witnessed the economic calamity from the ground up. Countless businesses were shuttered, our Nation's unemployment rate hovered in the 10% range, many homeowners found themselves suddenly homeless. As we all recall, it was hard times in the US and the rest of the World.
In the hundreds of bars, cafes, diners and General Stores I stopped at, I made it a point to speak to my fellow Americans. I asked a lot of questions and was rewarded with honest, forthright answers on how our citizens were coping in the money crisis. The overall consensus seemed to be, "Its tough, but we're all in this together."
(Read the whole story: http://www.amazon.com/s?ie=UTF8&page=1&rh=n:283155,p_27:Jeff%20Sambur/
Fast forward eight years, our Nation is now being chaotically led by someone who utilized a "Divide and Conquer" strategy to gain access to the White House. Trump rose to the top by "telling it like it is." There was no politically correct pause button. Armed with a 100 word vocabulary he verbally cheap shotted most minorities. He sidestepped his history of being crude to women. His speeches were heavy on "Bigly" promises, (now unfulfilled) "alternative facts" (lies) and daily doses of finger pointing. His rants were light on details, kindness, unity and compassion. Everything about his campaign scared the poop out of me.
Since the Inauguration, it's been a long slog of "The Apprentice" repeat episodes. This is understandable when the Billionaire President has Steve Bannon (White Supremacist) and Jared Kushner and Ivanka (Jews lacking a kosher soul) advising him. The message is bound to be muddled.
Now, I find myself waking up and checking the latest top billing "Reality TV" show. Thinking, "What the Hell is he up to today?" It seems to be a daily assault on the environment, National Monuments, health insurance, public education, our Allies and just plain sanity.
The result has been I've become more withdrawn.
I want good scandal-free Government. I want the US to cease being a Rogue Nation (similar to North Korea). I want a President who sleeps with his wife instead of punching out angry Tweets at 3:00 am. I want a return of America the Beautiful and the demise of America the Badass. I want a leader who acts Presidential instead of adversarial. I want both sides of this ideological chasm to tone down the nastiness which occasionally escalates towards violence.
I want out.
On August 22nd, I'll fly on a one-way ticket to Geneva, Switzerland. A few days later, I'll start a trans-Alps hike from Chamonix to Zermatt. After that I'll begin my third Camino de Santiago.
The reasons for my third Spanish Pilgrimage are many. The biggest is the joy I get from partaking in Happy Hour with humans from all over the World. We sit, chat, exchange ideas and information about our countries. We tell stories, lots of them. We laugh. When we are done, we hug. The Camino is truly "A River of Goodness." (Tony "The Pilgrim" Greenwood quote.) I need a vaccination of this now more than ever.
I'll be a Goodwill Ambassador. I'll make it known our current FaceTime leader's aggressive views do not represent all Americans. I'll smile, hold doors open for strangers, buy rounds and say "Por Favor!" and "Gracias!" I'll try and win over hearts and minds.
Lastly, getting back to my 2020 Presidential Campaign run, I'm still in need of a First Lady. American voters don't take candidates seriously without one. (Last bachelor President was James Buchanan in 1857). On my first two Camino's I met one kind, sweet and affectionate woman per Pilgrimage. I'm hoping for a good outcome by starting this 550 mile amble with eyes and heart wide open. Wish me luck.
So what will be the name of this European Journey? One without a finite end in time or place?
"The Hugs! Not Shoves! International Be Nice Mission." Of course.
Until then, I'll be spending my time in the mountains of Colorado. I need to whip this senior discount applicable body into shape for the rigors of the Alps and whatever comes after that. I want to be lean, but not mean. Fun loving hikers are welcome to join me along my Intrastate way.
For further readings, please check out:
I'll end this post with a verse from Simon and Garfunkle's classic: "America"
"Kathy, I'm lost", I said,
Though I knew she was sleeping.
"I'm empty and aching and
I don't know why."
Counting the cars
On the New Jersey Turnpike
They've all come
To look for America,
All come to look for America,
All come to look for America.
Maybe there are times one needs to leave your country to rediscover it.
The last two photos demonstrate the infamous "Shove" vs. the Hug.
Who do you want to see represent the US?
Have a Happy and Safe Independence Day,