Summer traveling for fun

My View from Here comes from many locations this week, as my wife, daughter and I just returned from a whirlwind trip that was part recreation and part occupation. It seems that’s the way all our trips are anymore. We never really just go somewhere and relax and do tourist things. In fact, the last time we did that may have been 10 years ago.

However, with that being said, I always seem to have a good time and the “work” related stuff I do is actually fun. Plus, there’s always something sport related, as well.

As we left Tulsa, we stopped to see a dear friend of ours who was in concert that Sunday evening at a church in Arkansas. When we arrived, the music pastor asked if I brought my trumpet and invited me to play a couple songs during the concert. That was a nice surprise and it went quite well.

While in North Carolina, as I wrote last week, I played the National Anthem before the Charlotte Knights game, in front of more than 7,000 fans, and then the following week I played the National Anthem at a Kannapolis Intimidators game in front of about 300 fans. The games were both on a Wednesday night, and that may explain the small crowd at Kannapolis.

Both experiences were great. I was thrilled to even be invited to play the anthem in an area where nobody knows who I am, and my selection was based solely on the audition recording I sent them. As it turned out, I played a different arrangement than the audition, because I found a really awesome version of The Star Spangled Banner as performed by Arturo Sandoval that I memorized before going on the trip.

I also had the opportunity to speak at the China Grove Rotary Club meeting. I spoke about going from “Common, ordinary, simple citizen to SuperHuman.” Yeah, it’s a bit tongue in cheek, but they enjoyed hearing about my experience on the television show SuperHuman, which aired on FOX television in January, and they liked the stories about my travels with the Harlem Globetrotters.

For part of the trip, I left my wife and daughter at my in-laws and went to the Atlanta area to attend the Christian Comedians Association conference. After telling this to people they expect you to be funny. I learned a lot from some really great comedians, but I have a long way to go. I’ve never seen myself as someone who does stand-up comedy, but rather I think I’m witty and interject humor in everything I do, especially when I speak in front of church congregations or business people.

On my way to the conference, I stopped to visit an old friend – Matthew “Showbiz” Jackson – and his wife. He was one of the top showmen with the Harlem Globetrotters for 20 years. A serious car accident a couple years ago could have left him totally paralyzed, but he has made a miraculous recovery and only has minor effects of the injuries. Jackson told me all about his grueling recovery and those that helped him get through it. He believes his faith in God and prayers of many friends and family helped him get to the point he is today; back in the gym working out and shooting baskets again.

Jackson was raised by his grandparents, however, he had a desire to achieve something far greater than what the streets of Savannah, Georgia, could offer. He excelled in basketball both in high school and college (Savannah State Univ.) and signed with the Harlem Globetrotters in 1987. Jackson traveled to more than 100 countries while with the Globetrotters. His many television appearances include Good Morning America, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, numerous ESPN live broadcasts, and he appeared in commercials or advertisements for Wheaties, Adiddas, Western Union, Campbell’s Soup, Reebok, Denny’s, the Hershey company, Burger King, FUBU, American Airlines and Kraft Miracle Whip.

He’s currently in the process of finishing his autobiography, so I’m sure you’ll hear more about my good friend down the road.

If you’ve been reading my column for any length of time, you know that not only do I enjoy traveling, but I also like to try new restaurants along the way. I really try to avoid the chain restaurants as much as possible and eat at the local joints, whenever we can. We had the opportunity to try many new places during this trip, including a popular hot chicken restaurant in Nashville. If you’re interested in reading more about my travels and some great eateries, check out my blog at; http://jeffstravelspree.blogspot.com.