Boldly Go, Leonard

I never met Leonard Nimoy. I am quite certain he never once heard of me, nor knew I even existed. And yet today, when I learned of his passing, I wept. Sitting at my desk in a office full of people, I was openly sobbing at the deep, painful sense of loss that pretty much wrecked me for the entire day. I would imagine that Nimoy wouldn’t have wanted me to do that. I believe firmly, though, that he knew it would happen, and had learned to accept that with the grace and dignity that he brought to everything he did.

In truth, the only thing I know Nimoy for is Spock. When he died, Spock died. No mistake, Zachary Quinto has done a fantastic job making the role his own, but just as Moses will always be Charleton Heston and Rooster Cogburn will always be John Wayne, Spock will always be Leonard Nimoy. I ache knowing that I will never again see him on screen. I hurt knowing that a vital part of the culture that I based my life on is gone. It points the way to my own mortality and reminds me in its insidious way that I am not ready for my demise yet.

 

Spock was the perfect combination of intelligence, reason and logic, tinged with just enough humanity to make it matter. He was always calm, cool and collected, yet able to make the right choice not just because of his brain, but because of his reasoned analysis of human emotions. When he died at the end of Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan, he did so because his sacrifice was necessary, because doing the right thing sometimes meant giving more than you could. There have been few better deaths in Science Fiction cinema.

John Siegel and I got into a fight once, back in 5th grade. A real throw-down brawl that ended with me on top of him, holding his arms pinned at his side, trying to stay there like a cowboy riding a riled up bull for all he’s worth. “Don’t make me get violent,” I said, calmly, it being the only thing I could think of to say, but it worked. Johnny relented, I let him up, and we became best friends. He later told me that the thing that scared him the most was how I hadn’t shown any emotion during the fight. Like a boxer intent on a task, I had just worked methodically for an advantage and victory. He said I reminded him of Spock. The comparison stuck, and many friends through the years noted the similarity.

Which is why, I think, Nimoy’s death hurt harder than others. It wasn’t just that he was Spock. It was that I was Spock too, and when he died, I died too.

Nimoy carefully crafted the character of Spock in later renditions of his character. In the television series he was a science officer and a nerd. In the films he became a philosopher. When Star Trek: The Next Generation came, he had transitioned into an ambassador for peace. With the new movie reboots he was carefully positioned as a mentor. As Nimoy matured, Spock did too. The wisdom he gathered on earth found a place in the stars traveled to by the starship Enterprise.

At the end of Star Trek 2, Spock put a part of his soul into Dr. McCoy, who later used that to bring Spock back to us, because the universe still needed that wisdom. I believe that Leonard Nimoy put a piece of himself in all of us who loved him and loved his green-blooded Vulcan. As long as we remember him, remember to always try to balance rationality with emotion, remember that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, he will always be right here with us.

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Live long, and prosper.

Peace, and long life.

And boldly go where none of us have gone before.

 

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The Road Trip That Wasn’t: Day 67, 2/19/2015, New Orleans

Oh no!

We missed Mardi Gras!

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It’s not a long drive from Baton Rouge to New Orleans. Just about an hour and a half on the battlewagon of RoadTrippers everyone: ye olde I10. Unfortunately, when I planned the trip, I’d just presumed we’d miss Mardi Gras, thinking it was later in the year. To find out we were two days too late makes one go “Ahhhhhhhhh, dangit.”

Still, we had a lot of great stuff planned for the next few days, the first being hanging out with my parents, who had already been in town for Mardi Gras and now awaited us because today’s Mom’s birthday! I wasn’t as surprised to find that they’d gone to one of the best Krew parades in the entire festivities, but that my mom had collected something like 1000 bead necklaces! (Pervs, it was a black tie parade. This particular set of floats awards all women with beads, not just the randy ones.)

Mom and Guys with Beads

The kids loved seeing Grandma and Grandpa, and everybody shared their adventure stories. “We saw petrified dinosaurs!” “We went on a New Orleans Cruise!” “We hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon!” “I got beads!” “We saw petroglyphs!” “We got fell out a window!” Then we packed into Dad’s Trailblazer (that thing has enough miles on it to have done my road trip 5 times over) and went out to dinner.

We picked Brennan’s Red Fish Grill. Ralph Brennan is one of the most famous restauranteers in New Orleans, and owns a half-dozen or so classy joints all over town. We had a lot of fun, shelled out a ton of money, and gave mom a party almost as worthy as one more night of Mardi Gras.

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Fat, fed and happy, Mom and Dad dropped us off at our RV, and we said our good byes. We’ll see them again in a few weeks when the Road Trip takes us by their home. We tucked the kids into bed and then sat up and talked about our next few days’ itinerary. New Orleans is an energetic powderkeg of fun, even when it’s not partying its brains out.  Happy birthday, Mom! See you again next month!

We were (not) in New Orleans, Louisiana on 2/19. Can you guess where we’ll (not) be on 2/26? There’s a $5 bounty for the first person to guess. All you gotta do is comment below with your guess before midnight tonight. Winner announced when the 2/26 post goes live.

(The Road Trip That Never Was is a fictional account of a year-long road trip I am (not) taking across America. Follow my nomadic journey by subscribing to the email feed on the top right. It’s fun, fast and free!)

 

 

 

 

 

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The Road Trip That Wasn’t: Day 66, 2/18/2015, Baton Rouge

Well, I wanted to have this post start with Garth Brooks’ song “Calling Baton Rogue” but it seems like his record company didn’t like it being on Youtube, so I can’t. Sorry Garth. Sorry, Internet. So instead, here’s a picture of an alligator sunning himself on a log.

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That’s right. Today we’re headed to bayou country: Louisiana. I’ve never been here before, so this is all new to me. If I get anything wrong (since this is an imaginary road trip), PLEASE let me know, in email (clary.david@gmail.com) or comments below. Our first stop? The capital of Louisiana, Baton Rogue.

Just a five hour drive from Galveston, we made our way across the southern edge of the United States east on — you guessed it! — good ole I10. It was definitely much, much colder than we’d had in a long time. The winter in the Southwest had spoiled us somewhat. Today didn’t promise to get much beyond the low 50s… and it didn’t. But, it was dry at least.

When we pulled into town, the first thing we looked for was the Capitol building, as we do in every state capital we’re visiting on this trip (see them all here). BAM! For the first time ever, we saw not a fancy traditional dome, or Southwestern-syle building, but a freaking French Castle. I’m serious! I expected Bobby Jindal to strut out of this building muttering “What is Count Richelieu plotting, and where are my Musketeers?”

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Haha, just kidding, kind of. That was the Capitol Building for Louisiana until the 1930s, when the new one was built, and it looks more like a traditional Federal Building than anything else to me:

mc22[1]There’s a penthouse on the top floor where Zuul hangs out during Mardi Gras.

 Boy, Baton Rouge has had its share of political hijinks too. The governor was assassinated here in the 30s. The Senate building was blown up in the 70s. And, of course, now that I’m in the South — for much of the next several months, I’ll be travelling through areas with actual battlegrounds, where men bled and died in huge numbers to make America what it is today. When we saw the Alamo a few days ago, that marked the beginning of this part of the American History lessons for Stephen.

We fueled up the RV, refilled the propance, and did all our grocery shopping while we were here. Tomorrow we’re in New Orleans in a very swank RV park. The wife doesn’t want to spend any time doing mundane things: it’s Mardi Gras!!! So we took care of all our business here. Tomorrow is almost my mom’s birthday, and she said she’s going to meet us there, so that should be a lot of fun! I hope I see you there tomorrow too! Please add your email address over there on the right and you can get notified every time a new entry is posted.

We were (not) in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on 2/18. Can you guess where we’ll (not) be on 2/25? There’s a $5 bounty for the first person to guess. All you gotta do is comment below with your guess before midnight tonight. Winner announced when the 2/25 post goes live.

(The Road Trip That Never Was is a fictional account of a year-long road trip I am (not) taking across America. Follow my nomadic journey by subscribing to the email feed on the top right. It’s fun, fast and free!)

 

 

 

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The Road Trip That Wasn’t: Day 65, 2/17/2015, Galveston

When I planned my first beach day ever in Texas, I didn’t stop to think what the weather might be like in February. I figured, “Hey, any day in Texas is a good day, right?” So we drove 250 miles southeast from Austin, through Houston and straight through to Galveston. I hadn’t even thought about Galveston as a beach town until last spring when I was at Tech Ed (a big Microsoft conference) in Houston last spring. Turns out, it’s a pretty cool town, for a waypoint between two capitals.

The constant drizzle we had made actual beach time out of the question, but that didn’t keep us from going to Pleasure Island! Er, I suppose it’s Pleasure Pier, which is just as good. Apparently there was a boardwalk style set of attractions here much like Santa Cruz or Coney Island. In 2012, the entire thing was rebuilt and relaunched, and boy is it a bunch of fun!

Stephen’s favorite ride was the Iron Shark. A mighty thrilling roller coaster packed into a chunk of the boardwalk, it’s an intimidating piece of steel and engineering. Arwen loved the carousel and wanted to ride it all day.

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We thought about going to the nearby Shlitterbahn, a very nice waterpark, but most of it is closed in winter, so we decided we’d have to come back someday to see it. It sounds like a really cool place, even though the name seems prone to just grotesque mispronunciation.

That night we ate at Bubba Gump Shrimp — they’re not local, but I am a Landry’s Club member, so eating at their restaurants gives me discounts later lol. My biggest problem with Bubba Gump is that they’re pricier than they need to be, just for the name, and in exchange, you have to work extra hard to eat your food. I’m sorry. I’m a civilized man. I don’t want to peel open my food, rip its flesh from its carapace, and then shovel it into my mouth. It’s the 21st century. Please bring me my food shovel-ready.

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Tomorrow, on day 66 of the Road Trip That Wasn’t, I will step foot for the first time in a state I haven’t been in before. I’m very excited about that prospect, and we’ll be spending several days here, because I’ve got a side project I want to work on while we’re there. See you then!

We were (not) in Galveston, Texas on 2/17. Can you guess where we’ll (not) be on 2/24? There’s a $5 bounty for the first person to guess. All you gotta do is comment below with your guess before midnight tonight. Winner announced when the 2/24 post goes live.

(The Road Trip That Never Was is a fictional account of a year-long road trip I am (not) taking across America. Follow my nomadic journey by subscribing to the email feed on the top right. It’s fun, fast and free!)

 

 

 

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The Road Trip That Wasn’t: Day 64, 2/16/2015, San Antonio

The very first road trip I ever took as a driver was with my dad. We drove from Fresno to San Antonio, Texas, and then up to Arkansas and back. I got my first car on that trip, from Uncle JD, and then Dad and I drove convoy back home, Dad in his car, me in mine. We were in San Antonio for a convention. We went to Arkansas to drop off Grandma (60 years after the Dustbowl, and all those Arkansas farmers still migrate back and forth between their homes and the farms in the west). But other than the car, and the trip, the thing I remember most is San Antonio. Specifically, this place:

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I am a sucker for underdog stories. Vastly outnumbered men fighting for what they believe in against overwhelming odds. The 300 Spartans, the Jews at Masada, the Magificent Seven… The Alamo.

More than any other historical event, the siege of the Alamo cemented Texas’ own fight for independence indelibly with America’s a half-century earlier. In 1836, Mexican forces intent on denying Texas its own nationship attacked the Texians (they called themselves Texians back then, according to Wiki. Go figure.)  holed up at the mission in San Antonio.  The 1500+ Mexican soldiers had to face around 200 defenders, including the inventor of the scariest knife ever, Jim Bowie, and an American Congressman.

22145[1]Well, former Congressman. 

That’s right. Davy Crockett came all the way from Kentucky looking for a fight, and he found one. But even with a legendary frontiersman in their ranks, the Texians were still outnumbers almost ten to one. At the end of a 13-day stand-off, General Santa Anna launched an all-out assault, and lost more than a third of his forces overwhelming and slaying the defenders of the Alamo.

That’s the kind of story that stays with you. That’s the kind of thing that’ll make you drive across the country to see and experience for yourself. To listen for ghosts whispering, “Don’t give up. Never giver up.” To try and make contact with the ironrock foundation of man’s soul, our indomitable will to survive — and win. That’s the kind of thing that makes you make sure if you take a road trip across America, you stop in San Antonio.

What amazed Stephen most is exactly what most people think, coming to the Alamo. Holy crap it’s tiny! How in the world did they think they could defend the entire nation of Texas from this tiny little fort? Then you remember, it wasn’t a fort. It was a church. It had never been intended to wall off soldiers. It had been built to let the tired and weary in.

San Antonio has grown up a lot since I was here 30 years ago. It’s as big and vibrant a city as Portland or Seattle, and we enjoyed our stay. But the memories we’ll keep are from that little church at the heart of the city, the beating pulse of Texas, the Alamo.

We were (not) in San Antonio, Texas on 2/16. Can you guess where we’ll (not) be on 2/23? There’s a $5 bounty for the first person to guess. All you gotta do is comment below with your guess before midnight tonight. Winner announced when the 2/23 post goes live.

(The Road Trip That Never Was is a fictional account of a year-long road trip I am (not) taking across America. Follow my nomadic journey by subscribing to the email feed on the top right. It’s fun, fast and free!)

 

And if you’ve never seen or heard about the Alamo? It’s high time you did. The classic movie version stars John Wayne and a bunch of other luminaries and is an epic film. The newer version, with Billy Bob Thornton, takes a more historically accurate tone with the film. I didn’t care for how the film progresses, but the final battle, and Davy Crockett’s last scene are iconic filmmaking. You can check them out on Amazon. I sure would appreciate it. This site, and the Imaginary Road Trip stay up only through the generous patronage of readers like you.

 

 

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