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Lessons learned

As we travel on the roads of the country and the roads of life, we learn, we grow and we become more knowledgeable, more wise, more seasoned. We do this by sharing with each other of ourselves and what we have learned. Here I share some of the lessons to be learned from this adventure:

My mother loaned me her 35mm film camera for this trip. I am by nature a photographer, but the cost of film and developing limits the number and thereby the quality of pictures I can take. Any photographer takes a lot of pictures, but not all of them turn out great. Any great photographer takes lousy shots. That is how they come to be a great photographer. When shots do not turn out great, it is a waste of film and money. So I’m promising myself to buy a digital camera for my next trip. For this trip, I used my scanner to digitize my old fashioned prints. You’ve seen the better scans in this story.

For my travels, I like to have my trusty old VHS RCA video camera with me because you can take continuous footage which you can edit to look great. The VHS tapes I put in this camera are about the cost of a roll of film, if not cheaper. I use Pinnacle Studio software and hardware on my computer, which is inexpensive and, for me, ideal for video capturing and video editing. I also used it to capture still images from video, images that were used in this diary. Since you can erase and reuse videotape, there is not the cost of film developing that you would have documenting your travels with a film camera.

Johnny with video camera

It is easy to try to do too much in a 10-day vacation. During this trip, I spent lots of time driving, not enough time enjoying myself, and I certainly did not get to do all that I had anticipated, even with creative planning. As a result, I promised myself to take a longer, more extended road trip in the future.

When traveling in the northeastern states, always bring lots of change. There are many toll bridges, pikes, freeways and expressways.

While I was visiting Jennifer in Reading, MA, she let the battery on her laptop run out. She plugged the computer in and was not able to turn it back on. This created a temporary scare. She could always buy another computer. But her data is irreplaceable. Hopefully she remembered to make a backup copy of her data.

This reminds me of the most important thing to do if you have a computer and data on that computer that you do not want to lose. Back up your data, back up your data and back up your data! If you do not know how to do this, feel free to ask me for help. Our data is too precious. I’d never want to lose my travel notes, digital pictures and video and other data. Such data is priceless, worth far more than the time and cost of backing up your data. And it need not cost very much. Also, since we are always editing and creating new data, we need to back up on a regular basis.

The Internet was an invaluable tool for trip preparation. For example, it served as a genealogy research tool that enabled me to find and connect with relatives that were previously unknown to me. My newfound cousins and I communicated about our trip plans mostly by e-mail. Mapquest enabled me to enter an address print maps to locations such as motels and Jennifer’s house in Reading, MA. The Internet was my travel agent, giving me the ability to make my own airline and motel reservations and the ability to travel when and where I wanted. It also gave me a means to look up fellow travelers and potential hosts via This traveler wouldn’t know what to do without the Internet. It can be an invaluable tool for you, too. Want to know how? I will elaborate on these things and more in future diaries, so stay with us.

A writer is always writing and documenting. Throughout my life, I’ve always written, whether it is in the form of letters, diaries, e-mails or other communications. For about as long as I can remember, I had a love for taking pictures and for using video cameras and other moving picture cameras because of their ability to capture precious memories. It is fascinating to look back on this life’s record of mine to remind myself of such things as where I have come from, what I have accomplished and what I have learned. It is a great historical record of my life and the lives of those around me.

You don’t think you are a good writer or a good photographer? Don’t let that stop you from writing or taking pictures. Remember those cute pictures that you drew or stories that you wrote, that your mom saved for you when you were a kid? They were nothing that would draw crowds at a photo or art exhibit, or sell millions of copies in a bookstore. But your mother loved them just the same, if not even more. Similarly, anyone that cares will appreciate your photos and writing today. My mom did save me a number of pictures and stories that I produced during my childhood, and they provide great insight in to how I became who I am today.

Your mom didn’t save your childhood pictures and stories? Start writing and start taking pictures, if you haven’t already. Years from now, they will be precious memory keepsakes for you. They will also be precious to your family and descendants and anyone interested in our history, which is the history of this country and even the world.

And by writing and taking pictures over time, you become a better writer and photographer, a better documenter of your life and the lives around you. This is how I became the writer and photographer that I am today. And I'm still learning.

During this trip, I took along a notebook full of paper and took notes as another means to capture memories and also provide material from which the words of this diary could be drafted. I later transcribed these notes using my computer’s word processor, so that they could be more easily read and saved. And once this information was on my computer, I made a backup copy of it.

Memories can start fading as soon as they are created. So if you want to preserve these memories, whether is is for providing material for your stories or for preserving your family history, again, keep writing and keep taking pictures.

Stop and take the time to smell the roses,
Stop and take the time to fill your noses,
Stop as you stroll through life, ("pitter patter, pitter patter")
- Ringo Starr, from the song, “Stop and take the time to smell the roses”

Or, as my friends and family would say, stop and take time to smell the coffee…



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