Tuesday, September 25, 2012

There's a lot of shrugging going on

A 30,000-foot view -- looking for Galt's Gulch in Colorado

My journey into 'Atlas Shrugged' by Ayn Rand continues.

I'm at the 850-page mark with just a couple hundred pages to go.

It's been a topsy-turvy ride, with twists right and left. I keep trying to figure out how the book is actually going to end.

Maybe the last two main characters will stay in the real world and fight for what they feel is right. But then they may go to that hidden valley in Colorado (sometimes referred to as Galt's Gulch) and live life to the fullest without the interference of those who want to direct everyone's life.

I know the choice I would make in their situation. -- Or do I?

The book pits capitalists who strive to create and build, against those who want to control people and direct the businesses that capitalists own.

There is a great tug o war.

Personally, and I guess for a lot of travelers, I like what capitalists and entrepreneurs have developed. Whether some like it or not, they have made the world smaller.

Capitalist-developed cruise ships drop anchor at Cozumel, Mexico
Just 100 years ago (think the Titanic which sank in 1912), seeing the world as a vacationer was nearly an impossibility except for those with extremes amount of money. Traveling around the world  took time. A cruise ship back then would have been prohibitively expensive for most everyone.

Capitalists and entrepreneurs saw that people wanted to travel and nowadays, there are so many ships on the seas, competition keeps the prices low. And over the years navigational devices have been developed to make cruising even safer (but there's always the human element).

Don't want to cruise? 

What about flying?

Thanks to capitalists, it doesn't take 80 days to  circumnavigate the globe.  An around-the-world airline ticket runs between $2,500 and $4,000, depending on one's itinerary and you can take up to a year or as little time as you want.

And for those who prefer to be landlocked, Henry Ford came up with the answer for every man's dream of travel.

There's also the development of high-speed rail.

If any of the aforementioned had never been developed, we would not have known what we were missing.  But they are there, and we can blame the capitalists for it.

Now its back to those last 200 pages.

Next post: Oct. 2, 2012

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Sometimes, travel takes the form of a book

A bridge played a big role in 'Atlas Shrugged'

I went on a different journey this past week.

I picked up a copy of "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand from the library.

I told my wife I would have to read about a pound and a half of book each week to finish it up in three weeks. 

Notice, I didn't say pages.

Capitalists like in novel, built this city - San Francisco's TransAmerica building

The book is a good exercise in reading and carrying it from place to place, finding a location with good light, is a good physical exercise. The 35th anniversary edition comes in right at five pounds.

I am not much into reading fiction. I like to read travel stories, investment articles and "end of the world" tomes.

But the book has been talked about recently, what with all that is going on in the world. And it is almost as though one is reading of current day-to-day activities.

From Friday to Monday night, I spent more time reading the book than on my computer surfing the internet. That is saying a lot. 

I had gotten an idea of what the book was about, and maybe how it would end.

But I didn't jump to the last page to check it out.

 Novel's protagonist ran railroad company, but not like this one

I'm surprised that I have devoted so much time to it. But it is good read. Good characters, good dialogue and an exceptionally good story line.

It seems that through the first 300 pages, the main characters in the book were thrown a "curve" about every 20 pages or so. They didn't see the curve coming (like in baseball) and weren't always able to hit it and get on base.

But they persevered and tried to make the best out of a bad situation.

The book has the full gamut of capitalists and progressives and other worldly types.

I am surprised that what I am reading, that was written more than 50 years ago, mirrors things that are happening today.

Human nature never changes. The same types of people in the book are the same types who are walking the streets today. And it will always be that way.

But I digress, I've spent enough time on this post. I've got to get back to reading the last 700 or 800 pages before my time is up.

Next post: Sept. 25, 2012

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Yesterday, once more

Biloxi location

A line from an old Karen Carpenter song describes a restaurant finally rebuilt following Hurricane Katrina. 

"Yesterday once more."

That's the way I would like to describe the feeling I have of the new McElroy's Seafood Restaurant in Biloxi, Ms.

Before Hurricane Katrina in 2007, we visited McElroy's (also was referred to as McElroy's Harbor House) on Biloxi's waterfront next to the small craft harbor almost each week for breakfast. And a lot of times we made it there for supper on Friday nights.

That routine covered about a 20-25 year span and ended with the appearance of Hurricane Katrina in 2007 and the washing away of the building.

The owners, a few years following the hurricane, decided to open their restaurant in our hometown of Ocean Springs. That facility overlooks Fort Bayou.

And we made it there almost each week. And also sometimes at night.

Biloxi location sits high above water

Over the years, there was talk of rebuilding the Biloxi restaurant. And now it has come to pass. To protect it from the annual storms, it has been built high off the ground (the restaurant sits at about at the third-floor level of other buildings.)  Stairs and an elevator are available..

Overlooking Biloxi's small craft harbor

Occasional sailboat makes its way out to Gulf

The Biloxi site still offers a beautiful view with shrimp boats, sailboats, dolphins and seabirds often making an appearance.

My basic order over the years at McElroy's has been one egg, sunny side up, a cup of grits and a biscuit and of course coffee. But lately, I have changed my order which now includes eggs, grits, bacon and coffee. 

And their order of bacon beats just about anybody's anywhere. There are three really good-size slices. Their grits are the best.
Eggs, bacon, grits, coffee - what else? Maybe a biscuit

Wifey likes oatmeal or an egg and toast and sometimes hot tea.

Its great that the Biloxi location has reopened. There is a feeling of nostalgia. I think about  our past visits and over the years having taken our children who now take their children.

The new restaurant wasn't fancied up. It's like home, once more.

Next post: Sept. 18, 2012

Ocean Springs location

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Well, its almost time to think about it

Gatlinburg with a little snow on the mountains

It's that time of year again, when those who don't have to handle the work, look forward to the event.

And, those who do, can't believe that it is only about 16 weeks and a few days until Christmas.

The summer heat's not gone yet, the vegetables are dying on the vine, but hey, what a great time lies ahead.

New Orleans' Fulton Street turned into Christmas Wonderland

We have already started making plans to experience the holidays. On previous occasions we have journeyed to Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, GA., and Bellingrath Gardens outside Mobile, AL.

Christmasy Callaway Gardens

On our first Callaway Gardens trip about five years ago, we managed to also do the "drive through" for the Christmas decorations at Lake Lanier north of Atlanta.

This year we plan to be in Gatlinburg on Dec. 7 for their annual Christmas parade which, chamber officials say, draws as many as 80,000 hardy souls.

Bellingrath Gardens beauty

Its going to be a wild fall, what with a nine-day trip planned to the West Coast. That will be followed by a Halloween outing with four of our grands to Six Flags over Georgia.

Next comes a holiday dance recital by one of our grandkids in New Orleans where maybe we'll experience a Miracle on Fulton Street again.

And who knows, we could also make a pre-Thanksgiving trip, either a cruise, or another visit to the Great Smoky Mountains.

Ho, ho, ho

As I have said before, when the temperature rises, my interest declines. Well, with the temperatures expected to start dropping as we head into the Fall, my interest in travel increases.

Hey, is that Bing Crosby I hear singing in the background.

Next post: Sept. 11, 2012