RESUMING MASONIC TRAVELS
To be a Freemason is to be a traveler. The words have long been synonymous.
For obvious (and understandable) reasons, COVID-19 and the subsequent travel restrictions resulting therefrom limited the ability for masonic travel.
If their was a silver lining to these limitations, it was the extent to which Freemasons (finally) embraced on-line forums, leading to an increase in virtual education, visitation, and voting.
I (for example), virtually visited Brethren and Lodges in Seattle (WA), St. Louis (MO), Los Angeles (CA), and Edmonton (AB), attended Masonic events in Virginia, and vote during my Grand Lodge’s annual communication, all from my laptop (and all “pants optional”).
While Freemasonry should be commended for embracing on-line forums, this embrace must augment and not replace in-person travel and visitation. A Freemason’s career is greatly enhanced by travel and visitation; without it, a Freemason’s growth within and without the craft will be severely limited.
With that in mind, and being protected by a full vaccination (which every Mason should get), I was beyond excited to spend the month of July 2021 resuming Masonic travel. I wanted to share some experiences from these travels below, if for no other reason than to encourage other Freemasons (or anyone reading) to get vaccinated so as to travel safely and confidently.
If you want to review pictures from my travels, check out my Instagram pages. Aside from my main page, I also have pages which feature both the exteriors and interiors of the beautiful Masonic Temples I had the pleasure of visiting. I also do my best to keep my social media accounts updated!
Also, click on the links in this story to see the interviews and videos of/from these travels and my interviews with some amazing masons and people!
Part 1 — Missouri
My travels began in St. Louis, MO. I had traveled to St. Louis once, briefly, but I was beyond happy to return.
I was beyond happy to return because, this time, I could connect with Freemasons I had met through virtual forums; one of whom was so kind as to host me for the week (after an “interesting” experience at a local Motel 6…).
In St. Louis, I had the opportunity to visit the gorgeous St. Louis Scottish Rite Cathedral, attend some excellent Masonic education, and attend a third degree. It was amazing to return to a physical Lodge meeting after 18 months of only virtual gatherings-and to wear my gold-rimmed apron for the first time (in honour of Harmony Lodge’s-my Lodge’s-100th anniversary).
I cannot thank enough my kind host Bro. Shawn (and his family) for welcoming me into his home, and for taking me to so many Masonic events and locations. I also loved the opportunity to explore his hometown of Hillsboro, MO (a beautiful town with awesome people).
Part 2 — Tennessee
From St. Louis, I next traveled to Nashville, TN. Once again, I had the pleasure of visiting Nashville previously (and even touring its Masonic Grand Lodge) but this visit was extra special due to my ability to connect with Tennessee Masons I met through virtual forums.
Not only did I connect with these Masons, but one of them once again kindly opened his home to me. I cannot thank Bro. Neville (of Pioneer Coaches) enough for allowing me to stay with him-and for taking me to the amazing Franklyn, TN Masonic Temple-a historical treasure and a beautiful building.
Tennessee was a Masonic stop, but it was also a chance to partake in my second love-professional wrestling. My trip to Tennessee coincided with Impact Wrestling’s Slammiversary, along with two TV Tapings. These events were extra special, as they marked the first time in over a year the return of a live audience to Impact Wrestling. The audience was amazing, as were all of the wrestlers, crew, staff, and the amazing venue of Skyway Studios. I was honoured to attend these events and amazed by the excellent work done by all… and the enthusiasm of the crowd.
Part 3 — Texas
After Tennessee, I had the pleasure of traveling to somewhere I had never been (but always wanted to go)…Texas.
The historical connections between Texas and Freemasonry run very deep (to the Alamo and beyond) and I was so pleased to visit the great state of Texas and, more importantly, my Masonic Brethren therein.
In Texas, I had the pleasure of visiting the Fort Worth Masonic Temple, two Masonic Installations at two beautiful Masonic Temples, and the Dallas Scottish Rite Cathedral.
Every Mason (and everyone) in Texas was truly welcoming. The installations were beautifully facilitated by the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Texas, M. W. Bro. Curry.
However, perhaps my biggest Texas highlight visiting the Texas Masonic Retirement Center. This Center was a beautiful home for retired/aged Masons and their families/widows, and is a credit to Freemasonry within Texas.
Once again, while in Texas, I had the chance to partake in my second love, professional wrestling, when I had the chance to attend AEW’s Fyter Fest: amazing crowd; amazing performances; amazing night.
Texas is a beautiful State-but I had one more stop that is near and dear to my heart.
Part 5 — Illinois
I ended my trip in Illinois, more particularly, Glenview, Illinois. Glenview is located just north of Chicago, it is a place I have had the pleasure of visiting numerous times throughout the years, and a place to which I always look forward to returning.
My time in Glenivew included a double-first degree at the Glenview Masonic Temple, an interview with a most-distinguished 52 year Mason (and friend), visiting the Skokie Masonic Center, and reconnecting with amazing Masonic Brethren!
It also meant reconnecting with my favourite parts of Glenview: breakfast at Elly’s Pancake House; visiting the Grove Nature Preserve, visiting Flick Park, visiting the awesome Grandpa’s Place Open Mic (Grandpa’s Place also has an amazing Juke Box), even relaxing at the Glenview Public Library.
My last day in Illinois was spent at one of my favourite events-the awesome Flashback Horror Convention (allowing me to partake in my third love-horror movies).
Flashback horror weekend is something which I try to visit every year (pandemic notwithstanding) and I was so happy to return (even for one day) and see old friends (and meet Kane Hodder)!
It is impossible to overstate the importance of travel in a masonic career. With that in mind, it is also impossible to overstate the value of getting vaccinated, following local health-guidelines, and getting tested so that we can ALL resume travelling.
Thank you so much to everyone who helped me during my travels, whether it be by providing me with a place to stay, transportation to and from events, (in more than one case) buying me a meal, or simply welcoming me into your Lodge or Temple with open arms. Thank you also to my friend W. Bro. Michel for taking care of my cat while I was away!
Thank you also to everyone who sat down to speak with me for the Square & Compass Podcast, the information you provided was illuminating for myself and (I am sure) my listeners.
I love to travel, and I loved this trip, and I cannot wait to do it again!