New Presentation in development

A Futuristic Look Through Ancient Lenses:  A Symposium on Ancient Greece
A Futuristic Look Through Ancient Lenses:
A Symposium on Ancient Greece

The laws of the heart are fickle. Why we love one place over another is  wholly individualistic. What tugs at one heart, doesn’t another. Perhaps this lends credit to the thought that there is no perfection in the world.  Perhaps we need to see past the labels, look beyond the obvious and accept places for what they are. Look for how it changes you, how it awakens your
spirit and sets it free.

We are all reluctant to face new challenges for fear of the unknown and other nuances only our self can explain. “We balk at the threshold of adventure (Vogler).” We fear the potential of influence that landscapes could have on our journey through life. We are afraid of the connections that they might create. And yet as a writer, I find my greatest muse in its diversity of textures, illumination and voice. I find myself through travel
as I find connections with other cultures and traversing the landscape.

We are souls living in a dynamic world; a soul in transformation just as the tourist landscape. The concept of a hero’s journey as ascribed by Joseph Campbell and adapted for us in the Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler, can be applicable to the traveler’s life. This presentation will examine how ancient Greece influenced the concept of the journey through the textures of landscape, illumination of culture and voices of its ancient literature.
This dynamic development sets the stage for the development of modern tourism.

I will be presenting The Tourism Journey and the Search for the Authentic at our A Futuristic Look Through Ancient Lenses: A Symposium on Ancient Greece.  The Exhibit runs from October 7th-November 7th.  Looking forward to this.  My kids will attend during their class period for credit.  This should be fun.

Poem: Home

Sun on the grass
Sun on the grass

I gave you a quote earlier from a poem I wrote back in 1987.  Thought I post the whole thing.  This is copyrighted, published in 1993.

These emerald walls that tower above
And kiss an azure sky
I remember
They are my home

On the ferry
One the ferry to Isle of Lewis

Now I am just a passer-by
With conflicting emotions of continued
In torment do I always linger and delay
In leaving
My most favored hills

Conemaugh Gap, Johnstown, PA
Conemaugh Gap, Johnstown, PA

Under the lush canopies
That crowns my beloved path
I find my way home
To the places of my present
And my past

Glencoe Pass Pan
Pan of Glencoe Pass, Highlands of Scotland
Air Travel, Pittsburgh, PA
Flying home to Pennsylvania

Just as I have found my way
I leave my soul behind
Forever to haunt and play
Knowing that already my heart
Is buried deep beneath this clay

Sligachan Glen
Sligachan Glen, Isle of Skye

Whichever path I find
That may lead me back this way
To the home that will and always be
The one in which I wish to stay

©Home, 1993

Our Social Fabric…

I love the Budweiser’s commercials and especially, when in my Introduction to Hospitality and Tourism, we start our module on Food and Beverage Management.  Now I have other disciplines in my class, notably this semester consumer affairs and merchandising, even two students from psychology and one from journalism.  I try to draw parallels and inter-relationships between the historical development of beverage management (okay, brewing) with marketing, shifts in social thoughts and patterns and the development of new technology.  These areas are all vital because the needs and wants of society were changing.  Brewing was part of our social fabric and still is.  The local tavern or pub, even restaurant is at the heart of community.  Maybe not as much as in Europe and other countries, but it still remains a strong social center.  These symbolic representations also promote our own mythology (factual and fictional–just think Santa Claus with Cocoa Cola).

So I thought I’d share one of my favorite ads, one of many that I will use to discuss sales, marketing and hospitality within several of my classes.

Today is just one of those days

Loch Duich
Wide open spaces, Loch Duich

I need my wide open spaces today. The morning didn’t start out too grand. First, I almost overslept. Second, I went to a local fast food store for my morning ice tea and oatmeal, asking for extra ice and I get three pieces. And the oatmeal, they forgot to add enough water. How hard is it to make something? How hard is it listen to a customer and make the meal properly? I mean, it’s right there on the slip of the receipt? If you still have dry cereal at the bottom of the cup as you stir in the hot water, shouldn’t that tell you something? (I really want to rant…). Then I get to work and my ice tea topples to the ground from its perch as I fished out my keys. I admit that one is my fault.

Few if any were awake in my 9am class. Granted, not one of them likes math or accounting and maybe I was speaking a foreign language but seriously, RevPAR, is fun. It’s all in the book, in the notes, in the Powerpoint slides I put up. I go over problems and then its like Friday and weekend rolls around and every thing, every formula, all that we talk about is gone, just gone. *POOF*  

Today I am missing my wide open spaces.  I miss being immersed in the blues, the greens, the fresh sweet air and dynamic world.

The Beach at Culzean, looking at Arran
The Beach at Culzean, looking at Arran

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.” ― Rachel CarsonSilent Spring

Lost in Scotland
Lost in Scotland

I need reprieve from the mundane existence of my life.  I need to sit on a bed of soft, sweet grass..even soft, frigid snow and take measured breaths of this time.  I need to get lost in order to be found.

At least to save my sanity.

This just validates my belief that I am in the right industry.  I understand the need for escapism.  I understand the pull and push into the extraordinary; the need or call for adventure.  I feel it today.  It is stronger than at any other time in the past five years.  Maybe is just one of those days, challenged by everything.  Maybe it is one of those days that needs to fly by and swing the door closed on.  Let it go, quickly with as little pain a possible and breathe a sigh when it is done.

The Push and Pull of Tourism

Mapping out thoughts
Mind mapping out thoughts on social research

I enjoy teaching Introduction to Tourism and Hospitality.  Last Thursday, I was talking about customers, stakeholders motivations for travel in defining what tourism really is as we headed into discussing the hospitality sector.  I gave examples about my own motivations and asked them to keep in mind their own reasons to travel and use the tourist system.

I had one of the moments of truth of why I like Pennsylvania.  Why I loath Illinois and its flatness.  I am transformed at that demarcation line that separates one reality with another.  On the drive home, along route 70, just past Columbus, I start to hit the Appalachians.  I feel this giddy sense of home looming in the distance, tugging, pulling me to hurry.  Even though I have a standard sedan and long for something with a little more zip (like I see on BBC’s Top Gear), my car handles the new textures of the landscape pretty well.  I hit the West Virginia border and the broad smile that cracks my lips will soon turn into bouts of sporadic laughter as I hit the gorges and mountains.  I know they aren’t as severe as other places but I’m home.  I’m back in my mountains.


Pittsburgh is next and the Turnpike from New Stanton to Donegal. Fourteen miles separate me from Ligonier and it is one of those drooling moments in anticipation of the mountains that flank either side of my car that has me intoxicated to roll down the window and breathe the sweet air.  This part of western Pennsylvania reminds me of Perthshire in Scotland and that might have something to do with me ‘lang for hame.  I can take a breath as I hit crossroads that bisect over Route 30, drive past the fort and hit the center of town.  I  careen counter-clockwise around the island that holds its famous bandstand of old Ligonier and hit the road that will take me up to my mountain.  I used to take Route 30 (Lincoln Highway, which even extends into Illinois) from Greensburg but a severe rearender in ’09 limits my desire to use that route any more.  Yet, I know once I am past Latrobe, past Derry, I hit the winding roads that our ancestors used to go west.  I traveled it this past summer while at home with my mother and her gal pals to lunch at Latrobe airport.  I rolled down my window then and drank in the smell of the pine, mountain laurel, and sweet wild garlic.  I am glad to see Sleepy Hollow Restaurant being rebuilt and Idlewild Park still going strong.  But I digress.  Memories tug at your heart, I tell them.

Band Stand Ligoneer, PA
Band Stand Ligoneer, PA

I tried to express to the students how it feels to be pulled by a destination.  How it tugs at your heart and makes you act.  I stood before them, my hands outstretched as I explained the drive under the

“lush canopies that crowned my beloved paths. …find my way home to the places of my present and my past… (Pudliner, Home, 1987).”

My hands glided one way and then another as I mimicked the drive over Route 271 or Menoher Highway (Menoher pronounced Men-ocher), visualizing it in my mind as I darted one way and then another as my tires hug the curves.   My eyes ever watchful looking for that fluff of white tail of a deer before it crashes from the foliage and ruins a perfect drive.  I hit the top of Laurel Mountain and realize I have held my breath.  We have hit close to 3,000 feet in elevation and the views are breathtaking on a ‘good’ day.  I am back in my Highlands–the Laurel Highlands and memory slips into recalling driving through Perthshire, from Pitlochry and north to Inverness.

Laurel Mountain
Winter on Laurel Mountain

I know now I am on the downward drive to Johnstown and my home atop Westmont Hill.  I love the curve at the bottom of the hill, know the line of sight, know when I have to pump the brakes ever so slightly and ease into the curve, allowing centrifugal force to pull me around the curve.  I love the rush of adrenaline, the thrill.  Even when it is winter, even when I know I have to slow to a crawl to take that curve…I cannot best explain it and sometimes, as I tell my students, you can’t.  You can’t explain entirely why people love a destination.  It just is.  But if we don’t ask the right questions, how will we know what they expect and want.

More later….

Working on….

Mind mapping the Heros Journey
Mind mapping the Heros Journey

Sorry all, been away to a conference and then the start of university had me jumping.  But it is back to the grind.

Last Spring I was asked to work and present a fifty minute lecture for our fall Ancient Lenses symposium on Greece.  I jumped at the chance, having enjoyed presenting about tourism, tourism landscapes and ancient Egypt last November.  This time though, I was given more autonomy about what I could present and have decided to examine the origins of the Hero’s journey, tourism authenticity and construction of a tourism voice or narrative.  That our unique origins of a tourism language, our narratives, originate in that quest to find ourselves or by chance in the action of tourism.  That there is multiple meanings for and derived by our undertakings.

Now this probably goes against the adage and construct of authenticity but I feel a new discourse needs to be examined with our modern times.  To understand today we must visit the past and understand the point of reality in which we find our actors.  We are all products of our three distinct sociocultural, economic and physical environments.  Our point or perspective of reality is nurtured and developed within that sphere of awareness.  We mature and broaden our view with experience.  As Campbell, illustrates, we progress from a limited awareness to a greater one within our life span.

But we should not think that it is just the tourist that has influence upon the voices and subsequent stories.  The acculturalization of individuals, contact of the new, authentic or the contrived; the very cultures they encounter, may or may not, push the tourist or host to reflection and speak of the encounter.  Today, we have the ability through modern forms of journaling to tell a good story.  The ritual of the conveyance, the “return with the elixir”, may have been more complicated.  (Was it richer though?)

Modern storytelling has its origins in ancient literature; the structure is refined and developed.  That there is an underlying current of thought, of consideration.  That at that time, though we had no modern concept of tourism, travelogues exist as stories and within actual journals.  The bedrock of Campbell’s treatise of the human mythology, the narratives is in his examination of Greek mythology, the works of Homer and other folklore.

I cannot help but see the correlation of the journey and the concept of tourism in everyday life.  We can be a tourist and travel mere feet in our own backyard to experience an awakening of spirit that is then translated into narratives.  I am, I know breaking the cardinal rule of the definition of tourism.  But definitions again stems from the tangible and intangible.  What we can measure and what we cannot.  I am an arm-chair traveller at home when I visit other’s weblogs and online journals, like their Facebook Timelines.  I see a narrative.  I read it, digest it and can be pulled into action.  I live vicariously through their journeys.  I listen to their stories just as our ancient civilizations did.

This contemplates then questions for the next step….for it has jump started thoughts about research…