March 25, 2020

Campfire Talk

I do want to get back to the Big Switcheroo series of posts from last spring’s travels from the northeast to the Florida Keys and back, but the miscellaneous collection of items I’ve wanted to mention in “Reflections” has been growing.  Today’s edition of Campfire Talk will allow me to share a few comments with you before I get back to the series.  Heads up!  This is a long post with no photos, so it’s time to get a refill of whatever it is that you’re drinking and settle in.  Here we go . . .

March 16, 2020

Investments - A Different Perspective

I’ve never ridden an actual roller coaster in my life.  While I generally don’t get carsick (unless I’m trying to read on a bumpy, twisty road), I do get seasick on a cruise ship in open water or if I need to use the head in the cabin of our 21’ power boat while we’re underway.  I know enough about whatever inner ear issue I have to understand that any enjoyment I may get from an amusement park ride is not worth the dizziness and nausea that will accompany it.  However, this past week, I’ve been on a virtual roller coaster that has more speed, twists and heart-stopping vertical drops than any other roller coaster in the world.  Yup, I’m invested in the stock market.

I know there are plenty of other riders on this coaster that are experiencing the same highs, lows and frightening lurches along the way, hoping that the wild and nightmarish ride will end before we lose our lunch – or much more of our financial security.  As long term investors, Alan and I have always chosen to ride out the wild times.  Our assets are diversified and allocated properly in reference to our ages and our risk tolerance, and we’re fortunate in that we have more than one income stream.  I may be optimistic, but I truly believe that the market will rebound sooner rather than later once the threats from COVID-19 have bottomed out, although it might take a while to get back to the lofty levels we’ve seen in recent times.  So, while our stocks and bonds are embroiled in the volatility that has defined the markets of late, let’s check on my other “investments.”

March 06, 2020

What the Heck is the Folkston Funnel?!

This post represents another installment in The Big Switcheroo series – tales from last spring’s epic journey from the northeast to the Florida Keys and back – involving family, friends and an extraordinary range of adventures.  Having just overnighted at Twin Oaks RV Park in Elko, Georgia, Alan and I were on our way to Crooked River State Park in St. Mary’s, Georgia.  This post details our adventure in between the two.

My Dad was a trackman and a machine operator with the old Penn Central Transportation Company which was better known as the Penn Central Railroad or, simply, the Penn Central.  The Penn Central ran through more than a dozen states in the east and mid-west, carrying freight to cities far and wide.  My father always said that “the railroads are the backbone of the country,” and he backed his belief with the purchase of Penn Central stock.  Unfortunately, Dad was a better trackman than he was an investor and, following mergers with several railroads in the late 1960’s, Penn Central filed for bankruptcy in 1970.  Despite the financial predicament of the Penn Central, my father’s belief in the railroad system never wavered.  Having crisscrossed the United States six times, so far, and having seen the number of active freight trains along the way “from Kalamazoo to Timbuctoo” and further down the track, I’d have to say that most people give no thought to and remain unaware of the great volume of products moved by the rail lines and the trucking industry on a daily basis.  But, when Alan and I are out there logging several hundred miles a day, we do see – and appreciate.  I don’t think my Dad was wrong.

Although I wouldn’t consider myself an aficionado, trains were always intriguing to me and important to our family as they provided employment for my father until the day he retired.  So, what does all this have to do with the Folkston Funnel?  I’m getting to that; please be patient.  Regular readers probably know that I consider trip planning an Olympic sport and take it quite seriously.  When I was scrutinizing travel guides and reading articles in preparation for our trip down the east coast of the United States to Florida, I stumbled upon what, to me, was an obscure little gem called “the Folkston Funnel.”  Once I learned what the Funnel was, I knew we had to add it to our itinerary.