Headin’ Home

After a long and fun week, I’m heading back to good ol’ South Carolina today.

I’ll be back to the usual schedule of posting next week; thanks to everyone’s patience with the truncated posts this week.

Happy Trails!


Midweek Magic Update

It’s been three long, full days, and yours portly is dragging, but having fun.  I’m way behind on the old blog, but that’s to be expected.  Our days have been longer than I expected—a good thing!—but it’s left me worn out in the evenings.

I have a guest post that I’d hoped to post today, but I’ll be postponing that until Friday so I can do justice to the introduction; after all, I have a reputation to uphold.

Next week I’ll be posting lots of pictures, but here’s one for the road:

Tyler and Darth Vader

Happy Wednesday!



I’m a patient man (sort of—impatience seems to be one of the fiery Scotch-Irish traits that runs through my otherwise English ancestry), but I’ve learned that waiting in lines is a major test of one’s patience.

I usually am threading a fifteen-minute-or-less needle throughout my day, so that everything hinges on the ability of myself (easy) and other people (questionable) to do their jobs efficiently, or at least in a timely manner.  I’m blessed in that God usually has an Eye out for me, and I’ve managed to pull off some spectacular feats of scheduling derring-do.

That said, I’m growing increasingly aware of the blasé attitude that is even more pervasive in the service industry, an industry that attracts either hyper-scrupulous worker bees or hyper-lazy minimum wage slaves.  There doesn’t seem to be much in-between.  Unfortunately, the wage slaves seems to be winning the day.

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On the Road Today

This morning I am hitting the road to visit a gigantic humanoid mouse and his other anthropomorphic pals.  This’ll be my niece and nephews’ first trip to Disney World, and we’re all eager to get down there.

I’ll be posting as usual while I am down there, but posts may be a tad shorter than usual.

I’ll also resume my SubscribeStar Saturday series on my trip to Arizona as soon as possible.



SubscribeStar Saturday: Christmas Break Travels, Part III: The Shirt in Prescott

Today’s post is a SubscribeStar Saturday exclusive.  To read the full post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.  For a full rundown of everything your subscription gets, click here.

On our way back from visiting the Grand Canyon, my brother and I stopped in Prescott, Arizona.  Despite it’s spelling, “Prescott” is pronounced almost like “press kit.”  For my Central Savannah River Area readers, it’s akin to Martinez, Georgia, which is not pronounced like a Mexican’s surname, but as “Martin-ez.”

Anyway, Prescott is an Old West town—it used to be the territorial capital of Arizona, from 1864-1867—that has now turned into something like a yuppie outdoor shopping mall.  That sounds facetious, yes, but it’s actually a pretty cool little town.  The entire town square was bedecked in Christmas lights, and as it was unseasonably cold for Arizona in late December, it actually felt like Christmas in a cowboy town.

Prescott really plays up its heritage as a bustling town of the Old West:  Western wear stores line the main shopping area, and bars and restaurants play up the legendary Western folk heroes and villains who frequented the establishments (or the spots where those establishments now stand).

It was in one of those Western wear stores that I came face to face with sartorial destiny.

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Ponty’s Pen: Road Trips in the USA

Every now and then we get something for Christmas that really sparks our imaginations, allowing them to run—or, in this case, drive—wildly to other lands.  For a young Portly, it was receiving a copy of Sid Meier’s Civilization II from my aunt one Christmas.  That game opened up vast new worlds and incredible historical “what-ifs,” and was partially responsible for my decision to study and teach history for a living.

For Ponty, it’s an annual copy of Fodor’s Best Road Trips in the USA.

Travel guides have always been one of my favorite genres, too.  Sure, travelogues are more engaging and adventurous, but travel guides let us learn about places without a great deal of authorial embellishment.  We get the basics about an area, and then can put ourselves immediately into those places, imagining visiting the great sites and destinations—or the backwater burgs and forgotten byways—of the world.

Ponty captures that spirit of adventure and fun in this touching, personal, and engaging little piece about his imaginary—and, let us hope, someday real!—travels around the United States.

With that, here’s Ponty with some reflections on Christmas and road trips:

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SubscribeStar Saturday: Christmas Break Travels, Part II: Grand Canyon

Today’s post is a SubscribeStar Saturday exclusive.  To read the full post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.  For a full rundown of everything your subscription gets, click here.

As our plane took off from Indianapolis in dead silence—everyone was quiet, and the only sound was that of the jets roaring—my older brother loudly exclaimed, “my wallet!,” which elicited some stifled chuckles from yours portly, and I think I heard one other person react. Otherwise, no one bit on his hilarious joke about leaving his wallet in the airport.

After a very brief layover in Detroit, which saw us running to the next gate for our flight to Phoenix, we enjoyed a quiet flight to Phoenix. I’ve grown accustomed to airlines abusing passengers, but Delta is a great airline and my older brother has achieved a status where he gets some actual respect from the flight crew, so it was a welcome change. The snacks and soft drinks flowed freely, and I discovered that the chess app in the Delta entertainment console is impossible to beat, even on “Easy” mode—something that people who are actually good at chess have discussed at length online.

We landed in Phoenix and made it to the rental car area, where we managed to score a sweet Kia Niro, a car so laden with technology, it was difficult to figure out how to turn on the heat. Yes, despite being in Arizona, it was unseasonably cold, with temperatures comparable to those in South Carolina at the time (we arrived the evening of Monday, 19 December 2022).

Our AirBnB was a cool little duplex in downtown Phoenix, decorated in the Southwestern style. It sported an impressive fireplace, though we didn’t mess with it. The interior reminded me of smaller homes built in the 1920s, although I don’t know how old this home was. It had a cute (if tight) breakfast nook, where my brother and I were able to get some writing done during our stay, and a good, powerful shower. The host left us some coffee from a local roaster, which we tore through in a couple of days.

One of our major goals for the week was to visit Grand Canyon National Park. I’ve always wanted to see Grand Canyon, and this trip was the perfect opportunity to do so. We decided to knock out the visit—which took the entire day, as it’s roughly four hours to the north of Phoenix—on Tuesday, 20 December 2022, our first full day in Arizona.

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SubscribeStar Saturday: Christmas Break Travels, Part I

Today’s post is a SubscribeStar Saturday exclusive.  To read the full post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.  For a full rundown of everything your subscription gets, click here.

One of the perks—as I often point out—of teaching is all of the glorious break time that we get. Other than summer vacation, my favorite time break of the year is the two weeks we get at Christmas.

Sure, it’s nowhere near as decadent as the full month that college professors and students get off, but it’s just the right amount of time to unwind and refresh—and to get in some travel.

My older brother, a well-traveled college professor residing in Indianapolis, flies so frequently that he’s ascended to one of the lower tiers of godhood in the Delta Airlines rewards pantheon. One of the divine gifts his apotheosis bestows is a free companion ticket each year.

Unfortunately, the ticket was due to expire, and his hardworking attorney wife could not take time to travel anywhere with him before it expired. As such, we concocted a trip to the American Southwest for the week before Christmas.

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Arizona and Christmas Travels Preview

My (perhaps disappointed) readers will know that I fell woefully behind on posts earlier this week, delaying both my Monday Morning Movie Review of 1946’s It’s a Wonderful Life (which should be live by the time you read this post) and my Tuesday post.  My intent Tuesday was to write a bit of an overview of my travels the week before Christmas into the Christmas weekend.  Ironically, those travels, as well as family get-togethers and being a hardworking (if grumpy—from lack of rest, I promise!) uncle created delays in my writing.

That said, I want to make good on my daily posting commitment, so consider this short preview of my recent travels a make-up post for Tuesday.  After starving earlier this week for portly content, you might find yourselves soon o’er-engorged with the meaty, chubby goodness of my self-indulgent, navel-gazing posts.

Before launching into the preview, I’ll note that I’ll be dedicating the next two or three editions of SubscribeStar Saturday to more extensive overviews of my travels, complete with loads of pictures and other goodies.  If you want to read all about my adventures in Arizona and beyond, subscribe today!

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