Liquidambar styraciflua

I could travel the world and never see anything more lovely than a sweet gum in the fall (do click on the photo). This raises the question of why I should travel the world. I am far from opposing such expeditions, yet it seems to me that most of them are inspired by nothing more noble than the desire to escape obliviousness at home by imagining oneself to have experienced something abroad.

A relative was here recently. He had driven 5,300 miles in two weeks and planned to complete the final third of his journey in one week. He explained that it's sometimes possible to see two national parks in a single day if one takes a business-like approach (i.e. treat them as a prostitute to be done with rather than as a lover to romance). His own scheme was to pick a park’s most celebrated feature—which the federal government would have conveniently situated near a commodious parking lot—take a snapshot of it, and drive on to the next park. He had already bagged Rushmore, Yellowstone, and Crater Lake, and had his sites set on Yosemite, Sequoia, the Grand Canyon, and, last but not least, heaven. I’ve heard that, despite its extreme heat and various other inconveniences, hell does have a first-rate postal service, so I’m hoping Earl will send me a snapshot of Yahweh to go alongside his other trophies.


Reuben said...


The Blog Fodder said...

Some people travel because they might learn something. Others deliberately do NOT travel for the same reason.

Your relative seems to have managed to both travel and not learn anything.

I recall hearing about two young guys on a round-the-world tour who could tell of every bar and bordello they had visited.

Zuzana said...

For me, the best about traveling is to return home.;)
I have few recollections of great trips, but these are such due to the traveling companions or things that went badly wrong and can be remembered with amusement today.
I have seen lovely places, but as you say, incredible beauty lies just outside my own windows.
I could never travel the way your friend does.;)
Love the image.;)
Have a great weekend,

Marion said...

Snow, that is a magnificent photo. We seldom see much red here, mostly yellows. Thanks for sharing.

I have a brother named Earl who lives in Arkansas. He catches hell ever since that tv show, "My Name is Earl" came on. Let me know if you get that photo.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, Snow.



ellen abbott said...

I have a sweet gum in my yard at the city house. It's leaves are generally mottled red, orange, yellow and purple. I can't think of a worse way to visit the national parks and all their beauty.

Putz said...

i really do think spending weeks in national parks is over rated><>my boy spends 3 weeks at caineville near moab and tears up the environs with his motorcycles and then complains that the casual visitor who drops a food wrapper is the devil incarnate<>i feel the less us humans have to do with destroying nature, the better

Snowbrush said...

Blog Fodder said: "I recall hearing about two young guys on a round-the-world tour who could tell of every bar and bordello they had visited."

It was what you call a "theme vacation," eh? Peggy has a sister who loves to travel, and she also loves to eat, so she has all these photos of restaurants AND the food she ordered.

I think of travel as like books or television. There are great books and great shows, and there's also trash, When people prefer the Yosemite gift shop over Yosemite itself, I think they're choosing trash. I don't mean to put down gift shops, but...well, how many trinkets does one really need?

Yes, Ellen, sweet gums take on many colors. I prefer them to maples any day. Their only serious competition is from gingkoes.

Zuzana, Peggy and I used to live to travel. We--especially I--were unhappy where we lived, and didn't much like our jobs (we were teachers), so traveling gave us a much needed escape. We could literally be gone for two months and still feel depressed at the thought of coming home. Now, I rarely even leave Oregon. In fact, I haven't left Oregon in years except for a brief trip to northern California, and I'm actually ambivalent about traveling again. Now that our dogs are old, and one of them is dying of cancer, Peggy is gungho about hitting the road. I don't actually know how I feel about that. My greatest love is nature, specifically the natural world near home, so I don't even know where I would want to go. Maybe Death Valley. Maybe southern Utah.

rhymeswithplague said...

There is about as much evidence that Earl is the relative in question as there is that hell has a first-rate postal service.

I know Earl's kids: Billy Earl, Bobby Earl, Sammy Earl, Tommy Earl, Tammy Earline, Earl Jr., and Willie Joe. Willie Joe has a different last name than the others. Theirs is Prickley but his is Snodgrass. Opal Snodgrass's husband, Big Jim, had gone out of town to a NASCAR race when Willie Joe was conceived.

I have way too much spare time on my hands.

Snowbrush said...

Well, Rhymes, you don't know Houston Earl, although you might like him very well if you did.

Snowbrush said...

P.S. to Rhymes. As for the amenities offered in hell, surely you will agree that I'm in a better position to have knowledge of them than you. You see, hell is like a combat zone in that letters from home (or heaven in this case) become awfully important to keep up the morale of the damned souls.

All Consuming said...

Magnificent photo. I've travelled to far lands and it's very hard work. I still treasure the experiences I had, it seemed to power up my creativity. Now however, it'd such hard work that I'm likely to focus any journeys on visiting people and make the most of their surroundings whilst there. I need to kill a few birds with one stone I guess hahaha. I'd love to visit you and Peggy, and also Marion in Canada too. And you live in such beautiful places as well, what a bonus. Don't worry, I'm not inviting myself to stay heheh, but I like to think the journey is possible.Guess we'll have to see about that one.

Matawheeze said...

I miss the Liquidambar trees that lined the streets of my husband's hometown of Palo Alto, CA. We used to make bouquets of the fall leaves. Up here I find the same joy in the flame colors of the Vine Maples.

My traveling days are over and my jaunts never very far from home. There are always new sights and sounds right here, wherever that happens to be!

The Tusk said...

I once read about a man who went to,
well maybe you've heard of Dante Alligheiri, I don't think he has a Facebook page or a MySpace account. I'm not sure you can even reach hime email. I did read a poem he wrote about an adventure he took. It was quite a long poem, and his description of getting down there was passing through a certain set of outer rings first. Maybe you don't want to go all the way there, or maybe you don't have to go all the way there to get a sense of the place.. Anyway I would never tell you to go there, it's taken so rhetorically as an afront to ones own self, that it is antagonstically demeaning, and acoustically deflamatory. How is that for a jumble of words. Not many people would substitute sounds like defamation for something else, entirely. When I first started writing from James Branch Cabel for your sleep Apnea, the idea was to put you to sleep from reading. I thought you might like the story of a man who went to hell to retrieve his wife whom the Devil whom had taken her as a favor in return for a good turn. I think he might have been happy leaving her there, but her family taunted him to retrieve her. So off he went, It's a humorous undertaking.

An eye opener to many of the worlds of religions. I recommend this read for you. Alas, I fear for you the book itself may only be found electronically, which is why I originally was retyping the parts I thought that might interest you. As I have been to busy as of late to post for you in this sense, I feel I have failed you. I will try again to highlight an underground passage and bring it forth for your perusal.

Most of my travels are found in book reading, they take me many places.

your friend the Tusk.

Anonymous said...

Was he on a quest to put the most mileage into one photo? Some people travel to see, hear, smell and soak up a different view. Some people travel so they can say they did. Bragging rights?

Personally, I have a great fear of traveling and the only time I can fully relax and take a breath is once I'm safely home.

Tourist traps and souvenir shops, the bane of anyone traveling with children. And why would one travel WITH children?

While the adults think they are giving the curtain climbers "memories", I've seen too many children wandering aimlessly, whining incessantly, and staring at a gum wrapper on the ground.

Well, glad I got THAT off my chest!

Love the photo Snow. You see beauty and take a photo. Your friend only sees a photo opportunity.

Snowbrush said...

All Consuming, I wondered if you have sweet gums in England, although I would guess that it's too cold up your way for them to survive. If you do, you would know them by their balls which are like sycamore balls (oops, sycamores go by the name of plane tree in England). However, the bark isn't at all scaly like on plane trees. Instead, it's furrowed and gray, and not so hard but what you couldn't easily dent it with a fingernail. Yes, of course, you are welcome to come, and you are welcome to stay with us too.

The Tusk said: "When I first started writing from James Branch Cabel for your sleep Apnea, the idea was to put you to sleep from reading."

My friend, I appreciate your thoughtfulness, but are you confusing sleep apnea with insomnia? The two are very different conditions.

Dana said: "Some people travel so they can say they did. Bragging rights?"

Earl isn't prone to brag. I think that, despite his many virtues, he's simply superficial. When Peggy and I first started traveling, I too wanted to rush from place to place, but it was more a case of youthful exuberance, even of expecting the next place to be somehow better than the place I was in; whereas Early had previously been everywhere he went on this trip, and he spent no more time then than he did now. As he put it to me: "When a person sees a waterfall, there's no point standing there for five hours staring at it. Once you've seen it, it's time to move on." I was reminded of what Ronald Reagan said about preserving old growth forests: "Once a person has seen one big tree, how many more does he need to see."

Matawheeze said: "I miss the Liquidambar trees that lined the streets of my husband's hometown of Palo Alto, CA."

I hadn't thought about you not having them where you are. Here in Eugene, they do quite well where planted (although they don't reach the size that they did in the South where they're native), but I NEVER see them in the woods.

Joe Todd said...

Love travel, and have have found some amazing places close to home.Charon always waits patiently by the river Styx..LOL

Snowbrush said...

I know that you travel extensively--in Ohio--Joe. I think the state should pay you for your photographs and writing because you've got to be one of its best boosters.

Kay Dennison said...

I like to take my time visiting such place. I don't go just to say that I was there; I go to experience and appreciate them.

Thanks for sending Joe over to visit me -- he and the Missus are my kind of folks.

Snowbrush said...

Kay said: "Thanks for sending Joe over to visit me -- he and the Missus are my kind of folks."

I am so glad, Kay. I gathered that you like football, whereas I don't recall Joe mentioning it, but I do know that you both appear to like Ohio. In fact, that's mostly what Joe writes about.

Robin said...

Snow, as usual, you have managed to enchant me (with the gorgeous Gum photo - I have never heard of them before) - and make me laugh - with your sarcastic view of travel.
There are some great comments here - particularly the references to Dante Allgheri and Charon! You know I am a (somewhat) good "Catholic Girl"....but, I confess that when reading "Divine Comedy", I felt the most interesting people were spending Eternity in the Inferno..... (but in the higher circles....not Circle IX)!

I think about your beautiful Baxter...and I say prayers for you, for Peggy and of course, for the adorable Baxter....

Hugs, my friend,

♥ Robin ♥

Snowbrush said...

Robin, I tried the Divine Comedy once, but couldn't get into it. I don't remember why.

The sweet gum grows naturally from Connecticut to east Texas and everywhere in-between, but it does very well here in the Willamette Valley too. You would know it by it's gum balls since the only other tree I know of that has them is the sycamore, which looks very different due to it's scaly and colorful bark (sweet gum bark is gray and furrowed).

Well, thanks for the hugs, Robin, but atheists aren't into prayers. Many of us are what you might call allergic to them. I hope you understand.

Strayer said...

I had a magnificent trip to Hawaii once, with Julie from Brownsville. I didn't want to come back and I still think about that trip like it happened today. I think about hiding out in a freighter amidst the freight, although I bet that is not as easy as it sounds, or as romantic, and sailing back to Hawaii or anywhere warm, with lava, beaches, coconuts and friendly natives. Snow, you want to go on an adventure? Short ones are good too.

Strayer said...

I would like to add, I do a lot of sight seeing with google maps, street view. I love spying into peoples backyards and visiting neighborhoods in foreign countries for nothing.

Unknown said...

That is a truly intense red!
Traveling can be so education, in so many ways.

Snowbrush said...

Strayer, did you hear of the man who decided to go on a diet after seeing himself on Google Earth? I'm serious. He was wondering what that thing was on his lawn, and realized it was him.

Strayer said: "Snow, you want to go on an adventure?"

Yes, I do, but where this time of year? It rained so hard yesterday that I didn't even take Bonnie for a walk (I wouldn't dare take Baxter out even in a sprinkle), and today, there's snow. I don't know if you read about the shots I'm supposed to take. Two drugs in each shoulder, and then one of those drugs in each shoulder again once a week for the next two weeks. These shots will run around $6,500, and they might not even work, and there's not even a guarantee that the surgeon will even get them where they need to go since doctors consider it too big a hassle to use fluoroscopes for these procedures. If they don't work, then I'm up for at least one more surgery next year because I am just miserable right now.

Strayer said...

That sounds horrible, those shots, and since they are so expensive, their aim better be good. I had a one time cortisone injection into my failing back, needled about six inches long, and they missed, hit the nerve itself, inflamed it so badly, the pain became unbearable afterwards. I would never have one again, or trust most doctors with a big huge long needle and me wide awake. My leg went numb afterwards, I couldn't walk for a week. I'm not convinced such shots, though I know yours is a different type, will be correctly aimed and not do more damage, after the fiasco I experienced.

The Tusk said...
Dearest Snow, to refuse a hug, from a natural beauty like Robin.

Truly Atheists resoond to the natural warm bosom of a friend.

The ELF project is a very interesting one. If you try this link, navigate to the left side of the screen and choose Italian translated to English by Mandlebaum. I find it to be the one I can closely relate to.

I don't know for sure, but I had three different Translations of the same POEM out in front of me reading them all simultaneously and it was the most fun thing I've ever done, better than Sex.

Circle Nine, by the way is treachory Circle, I think Robin may have been leaning toward hanging with the people in the Lower numbered circles like Lust and Greed,if she had to make the journey as an adventure or camping out trip, surely more interesting Sin stories to be had there. Not in my Opinion, though interesting, but just giving you an idea of whats to be had by the Journey.

So sorry I confused Apnea with Insomnia. I'll be more careful with my references to your calamitous conditions. I thought if I was posting to feed your hunger of reading the Bloggo of others.... I was just thinking if Utterances of Others on Blogs were to be considered a specific and different way of communicationg similar to delivereing Marshall McLuhans view of to twitter is one way of getting a message across, as being The medium is the Message. Then could our way of Blogging an utterance of another or other be considered an Utter.

Milking the almighty cow of dialogue.

What I was saying, was when I post it was not purely to feed your lack of sleep but to feed your desire to read something sensible that might have relevance in your day to day. I truly think the James Branch Cabel of the 1930's had what you wanted in many shapes and forms.

But if ts purely Religious knowledge you wish to ascertain, as to what I have assimilated from your list of favorite books in your profile, then ...

Well I will hold off on that for now as I feel if you still have not read Summa Theologica as a starting point, then we just simply can't proceed with your private school education.

The Tusk

Snowbrush said...

Strayer, despite the expense involved and the fact that a miss by an inch is as bad as a miss by a mile, few orthopedists use a fluoroscope to inject joints. However, injecting a nerve(?) in your back is a very different matter due to the extreme dangers involved. I have had vertebral injections in my neck (the C5 level) and, believe me, I wouldn't have considered them without a fluoroscope.

Snowbrush said...

As usual, Tusky, you straineth my brain and maketh me insane in the early morning rain when my arthritis is a pain and my joints they feel aflame.

The Tusk said: "Dearest Snow, to refuse a hug, from a natural beauty like Robin."

I never refused no hugs from no birds. It's the prayers, dear Tusky! It's the prayers that come with their implication that an ALL KNOWING, ALL POWERFUL, AND ALL GOOD deity would show compassion to someone to whom he might not have shown compassion had not a third party intervened. I'm incredulous that anyone would in their wildest dreams imagine that such a fickle deity actually does exist. If you are going to believe in god, then at least make him a respectable personage rather than the flattery-addicted rageaholic of Biblical infamy.

The Tusk said: "I'll be more careful with my references to your calamitous conditions."

At least there's that. It's bad enough to suffer from "calamitous conditions" without them being confabulated with casually calumnious consubstantiations.

"when I post it was not purely to feed your lack of sleep but to feed your desire to read something sensible that might have relevance in your day to day."

Oh, my god, what could be more relevant than expatriate Mortiz Thomsen's memoirs of WWII? Oh, the joy of reading the writing of such a person. I can scarcely contain myself. If only I could have known him!

The Tusk said: "I feel if you still have not read Summa Theologica as a starting point, then we just simply can't proceed with your private school education."

Well, if that's the way you would have it, then I'm just fucked, I suppose. Summa Theologica? Aquinas, perhaps? I had as soon read an Iranian phone book.

A Plain Observer said...

like everything else, it's a matter of personal choice. You like what you like for the reasons that you like them, other people do the same.
I can't understand why people like Football or Golf, the same people can't understand why I run.
I love to travel but dont get to do much of it.

Snowbrush said...

Just because said: "like everything else, it's a matter of personal choice."

Yet, our preferences are us. They tell the world whether we're refined or coarse; intellectual or shallow; concerned about other beings or only about our personal gratification. As Thoreau wrote: "Our every action is startlingly moral."

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

heh heh heh! You'll have to share that postcard with your readers!!!

Strayer said...

For an adventure, Snow, what about Bagby in the snow? Or any other hot spring in the snow? I've never been to any of Oregon's hot springs. They don't sound appealing in the summer. But they do in winter.

Or, let's see, let's go hand cut a Christmas tree? Um, am thinking of adventures. Trying to. I like to do almost everything or anything. Mushroom picking? Probably too late for that.

Do you by any chance know an electronics person? I need a device for trapping, an auto dialer, that will trigger and dial my cell when the trap springs. Can't be that hard to make one.

rhymeswithplague said...

"flattery-addicted rageaholic"

The following comment is said with much personal affection for you, Snow, but even at the risk of angering you it is still going to be said:

Remember that when you point a finger at someone else (in this case the not-to-be-mentioned yet seemingly-always-present-in-your-thoughts "personage of Biblical infamy"), you have three fingers pointing back at yourself.

My sincere apologies for this obviously immature retort, but I couldn't resist after reading in your more recent post your confession of how you react at the least suggestion that you're anything less than perfect).

I could add that we obviously are made in His image, but then you would probably reply that He was made in ours.

Snowbrush said...

Of course, god would have three fingers pointing back too, yet I doubt that you meant to say that the two of us are equally bad. For beings that claim perfection, it's only too easy to shoot them down. This results, in some religious camps, as a full-time job of showing why the Bible didn't really say or mean what it appears to have said or meant.

Marion said...

I'm sorry I'm so late in commenting; life has been insane just lately!

I wanted to say I had a sweet gum in my garden when I lived on the Island in Qualicum Beach. A really amazing tree. I've heard that someone up here in the Cariboo has one he totally coddles during the winter...I'm not sure exactly what he thinks he's going to do with it when it's big, heh!

I'd be exhausted if I did what your relative was doing....

Christy said...

I think I would rather take my time and enjoy life a bit more than that. But, there are people out there who thrive on the challenge.