Welcome to ThisTrip Travel Blog
Here we go!  It is May 1st 2008

Preliminary musings:

About writingGood writing takes work. People aren't born with it.  It's a talent that requires a special set of skills.  Passion for a subject can fuel it. I am just a journeyman in this old craft. I slowly work my way towards a mastery of writing.  My life long love of travel makes honing my writing skills a pleasure.  It is a vicarious way to feed my long time addiction.  Yes, I am addicted to travel. I admit it. Who offers a 12 step program for travel addicts?  Where are the public meetings inviting guidance from the Higher Power?  Am I here to write an outline for treatment for "Friends of Tom"?  Let's call it "All Roads Lead to Elvis."   That title just oozes commercial appeal, and as you will come to learn, it is proving to be true. 

Perhaps I should skip the writing and just get on my knees to ask my Higher Power to lead me to one more surprising travel destination.   The fact that I'd consider that - after admitting to my travel addiction, what does that say?  Thanks for allowing me to share some of the travel experiences I've accumulated in pursuit of my personal scenic journey to kingdom come.

                                                                 Tom Nocera
                                                                    Safety Harbor
                                                                  May 2, 2008

More preliminary musings:

About Blogging Blogging is to writers today much like canvas once was to painters.   It was during my most recent trip, that I heard a story about why painters first used canvas.

For millenia painting was done directly on walls and ceilings, ranging from caves to palaces.  That early "media" was rife with disadvantages. The lack of portability of a work of art was a big one.  So was finding wall space.  A poor artist, likely in Amsterdam, found that the worn sails in the old seaport could be had cheaply, and would provided a suitable surface for practice, rather than painting on slabs of wood, or walls. 

So poverty proved to be the "father" of invention.

Speaking, of Amsterdam!  Those who have visited Amsterdam know it has an ambiance which is unique in all the world. Many years ago it just happened to be my very first overseas destination.  Imagine the impact of Amsterdam as your introduction to international travel?  It remains from all reports one of the most active, most exciting gateways to Europe.

Time to put that city on my "bucket list" of places I must pay a return visit to.

There are many, many places that you only really need to visit once to experience fully.  A variation of:  "Been there, done that, and have a magnet on the fridge to prove it." 

Yet, Amsterdam is such an open, culturally captivating city - one with a magnetism and charm all its own. Like you find with the greatest of cities: New York and San Francisco, Amsterdam ranks as one of those special places on this planet which compels your return.   

                                                                 Tom Nocera
                                                                    Safety Harbor                       
May 3rd, 2008

Patience, as you approach the end of my "preliminary" musings:

About how I see this unfolding:  Mission statement:  I will strive to write something of interest, but not widely known about the places I've been - making recommendations and sharing a few of my personal photos - as bandwidth at this hosting site will allow. 

There is no advertising posted here for now.  If Federated Media proves to be as wisely managed as I believe they are, well, you could be viewing targeted ads here in the weeks ahead.  We will see what the future holds.
So, how will this undertaking generate money?  Does everything have to generate a cash flow?  For now, it does not have to.  I can "carry" it.

But, be open to the possibility that one day you may stop by to see where I've been writing about, or where I am currently traveling to, and should you see an advertisement appear in the margins, don't think that I have "sold out".  Paid advertising should not disrupt our conversation. 

There will be no riffraff clutter, or hodgepodge of solicitations allowed.  You may find hyperlinks to places (or with offers) - or maybe a link you see is something I have freely provided -like the ones posted yesterday -  which help me make a quick mental connection to places to find "what is new there?"

So, with the musings now winding down, I can begin.  And for the beginning I have decided to share the recollections of my last extended trip - five weeks in western Tennessee.  Time which allowed me to really get to know the area.  In particular my focus was on the "River City" of Memphis and of Jackson, a wholesome college town with claims on the legendary railroad hero, Casey Jones.  These are two distinctly interesting American places separated by just under 70 miles of scenic Interstate highway. 

This is where I was blessed to be sent for most of this year's mild February before being blanketed by snows from the lion's roar in early March.  The reason for my being there, as with all of my travels of the past several years, is the fulfillment of a commitment I made to provide useful service to my country.

When disaster strikes, like the tornadoes that wreaked havoc across Tennessee in February - snuffing out the lives of over 30 souls, a little known, unsung corps of people are activated and mobilized by a small agency of the U.S. government.  They are dispatched on short notice to disaster areas to implement our nation's federal disaster recovery program.  I provide my communications services during those times and play a small role, but sometimes quite a visible one in what is truly an amazing team effort.

                                                                 Tom Nocera
                                                                    Safety Harbor
                                                                  May 4, 2008

Memphis, Tennessee    Although I have made connections at the sprawling Memphis Airport more than a dozen times on my way coming or going to other places, the "River City" proper has been my ultimate destination just three times.  Even on those occasions it was not downtown Memphis that was calling to me.  As my favorite song writer (Paul Simon) years ago sang, I, too, was going to Graceland.  My first visit to Graceland was long ago - Elvis and Priscilla were living there. Then, after Priscilla wisely opened its doors to the public in 1982 fostering an international tourist mecca, I have twice made the pilgrimage.  

Memphis is known for its barbeque (The Rendezvous) for Beale Street (a thriving up-river extension of Bourbon Street only with less Dixieland trumpet, and more blues guitar (B.B.King's) and for its centrally located historic grand hotel. (The Peabody Hotel) 

My first time passing through the lobby of the Peabody caught me unprepared for what I would encounter there.  I can now state without hesitation or equivocation that downtown Memphis has more to offer than I ever imagined.

The Peabody makes the claim to being world famous for its twice daily duck walk.  This is one of those tourist "must see" things which is free to those who stop by The Peabody's lobby at the appointed times.   There at 11:00 am and again at 5:00 PM the theatrical production takes place. Its culmination is the "march" of its resident ducks (I counted 5).  I caught them for their jaunt from the pool at the base of the giant flower-crowned fountain - the focal point of the hotel's grand lobby - with the assistance of a special ramp, to the red carpet, together they waddle to a reserved elevator.  The elevator takes them up in style to their roof top evening quarters.
It's a family-oriented, rather old-school, P.T. Barnum style  spectacle, with its pomp and ceremony. 

The Peabody is a "must experience" place in Memphis for another reason as well.  Ever heard of "Mr. B"?  Well, his is a story - a true living legend -  that has a beginning well over 60 years ago.  At that time the store was located on Beale Street and a high school age usher at the nearby movie theatre would stop in front of the windows to admire the stylish clothing on his way home from his job.  "Mr. B" now deep into his 80's, but still sharp as a tack, told me the story himself.

That kid from the most humble beginnings, living in a housing project, grew up to became the most famous person to ever come from Memphis.  And, my friend "Mr. B", was mighty instrumental in how that came to pass.

The story Bernard Lansky tells is about a friendship that has spanned many decades.  And it is about his trust, which grew from sensing the goodness in a young man's character, and not his talent.  Trust is what opened the way for his becoming "The Clothier to the King."  And that trust paid him back millions of dollars in business over the years from the public endorsements he received from his friend and lifelong client, Elvis Presley.

      (Some of my photos.  All taken during this most recent and  memorable visit.)  


Yes, Memphis - especially the Peabody Hotel, the people who work there, or own businesses there - like "Mr. B" or, who just happen to be there - well, you just never know who you will meet.  Maybe it goes without saying, but downtown Memphis has recently provided some wonderful memories for this traveler.  I suggest it be included on your list of places to in America to experience.  And when you go, be sure to try order the barbecue ribs at the Rendezvous - just across the street and down the alley from the Peabody.  They serve by far, the best ribs I ever had.

       Tom Nocera
                                                                    Safety Harbor
Here I am buying a sylish tie with a little help from my friend, "Mr. B" .  Bernard Lansky continues to assist customers at his store located in the lobby of the Peabody Hotel.
Ducks enjoying
life in the fountain in the cavernous lobby of the Peabody Hotel.
Photos of posters promoting Lansky's Clothing store.  Once located on Beale Street it is now located within the Peabody Hotel.

Guitars bearing the autographs of every  major rock and roller fill the walls of Bernard Lanksy's store.
                                                                  May 5, 2008

Jackson, Tennessee Pictures can be better than words alone.  Let me begin to tell you about Jackson with some of my photos.

For learning about American culture, from our homegrown Bluegrass Music to our terrrible and bloody civil war, Jackson is the perfect location. 

                                                                 Tom Nocera
                                                                    Safety Harbor