What's New?: Roger's Infrequent Blog (Online Since 1998)
December 22-26, 2012:We drove straight through to Baltimore, a little over 700 miles each way, for Christmas. This was our 9th trip to Baltimore to visit Linda's sister, going back to 1992, but the first one in six years. And it has been about ten years since Roger visited Fell's Point and Bolton Hill, so it was about time to do that. There are a lot of impressive Georgian and Victorian houses in these districts, and a super historical ledger to go with them. Coming back, we got slowed down by a snow and freezing rain front that was going northeasterly. We averaged about 30 mph for the first four hours, but we made it back to Tullahoma in about 14-hours. All-in-all, it was a good trip.
November 23, 2012: Well, it's Thanksgiving Holiday. We've been raking a lot of leaves, eating a lot of food, and I've finally finished my travelogue from
our trip to Germany & England last summer. Check it out. I haven't had many Blog postings this year, and 2012 is almost over.
Why? Well, let's just say facebook has become my defacto blog. I was afraid it would happen. What a shame.
August 18, 2012: Today, I took my black mountain bike to Sewanee, for the first time this year, and rode 12.36 miles; a loop from Lake
Chesterton to Dobson Point and back, via the Parallel trail, past Bushy Lake and Audubon Lake. It was an amazing ride, as usual.
July 29, 2012: We had a great trip to Germany & England, June 25 - July 17. I'm way behind on writing a travelogue, but I'll get around to it. Untill
then have a look at my trip photos at Flickr. We've been catching
up on a lot of things, plus remodeling Reanna's room. I just mowed the lawn this weekend, for heaven's sake, and the Olympics has started! So much to do, so
little time, I tell you.
June 16, 2012: We went on a wonderful trip to Washington DC, last weekend, with Reanna's Girl Scout troop 2163 for the 100th anniversary of Girl Scouts. We went with 26 people from Tullahoma and Winchester. There were something like 250,000 Girl Scouts there. We also went to many major sights, such as the Capitol building,the monuments on the Mall, museums, Arlington Cemetery, Ford's Theatre, and more, and I got to rent a bicycle. Fun, fun. We got to meet Tennessee Senator Bob Corker, too. To be a little bit critical, I have to say that I could see some symptoms of our crumbling infastructure with bumpy streets and sidewalks. The dome on the Jefferson Memorial looked a bit dirty in day light. The Metro is a wonderful thing, but it didn't look as clean as I remembered it in 2004. Plus, its design is a bit monotonous (the same everywhere) and not nearly as atractive as Metros I've seen in London and Berlin in recent years. All-in-all, I did not detect as much of the divisiveness in Washington that I have seen in the media. That was a pleasant surprise. More than anything I wanted the trip to be enjoyable and inspiring for the girls and for the adults who had not been to DC before, and I think it accomplished that goal. We do have a great capital, with much history and educational attractions, as well as political power. I never got to go there until I was in my 30s, and I believe this was my eighth visit. It is odd and unusual that so many people do not and can not go to their national capital. I guess that's one of the things that makes America unique compaired to most other countries!
May 9, 2012: A really strange thing happened today. I've been reading the new book, Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid that Sparked the Civil War, by Tony Horwitz, and I'm near the end of the book when John Brown gets executed by hanging. On the day of his hanging, they asked him what he wanted put on his tombstone, and he said: "John Brown born on May 9, 1800 was executed at Charlestown, Va, on December 2d, 1859." Today is May 9, his birthday! How freaky is that?
April 14, 2012: Well, contrary to the way this blog looks, we really have been busy lately. This Spring has been much warmer than usual and we have been
doing a lot of things. Most recently, Reanna's middle school chorus performed a two-night showing of a musical based on School House Rock, the Saturday morning educational cartoon featured on ABC for a number of years. This was very good, and really brought back some memories of the cartoon series for me. It shows how everything comes back around for a modern twist. Well, almost everything. The show the kids put on was very entertaining, and gave me a shot in the arm with their youthfull enthusiasm.
March 10-11, 2012: Linda, Reanna and I went to Sevierville, TN for a big two-day Cheer competition. Teams came from AL, GA, KY, NC, Ohio, SC, and TN. It was pretty big! Cheer Storm performed at a very high level, we thought, and Reanna was at her best, but the competitiveness was tight, and very, very
close. They placed 5th out of six. This happened to coincide with Daylight saving time, which made it hard to get a good amount of sleep. We ate once at the
Bull Fish Restaurant, and made a quick, quick shopping spree at Tanger Outlet.
March 3, 2012: Today, Reanna and I went hiking--for the first time in ages--since it was a sunny, mild day. We went to the Fiery Gizzard Trail,
near Tracy City. It was beautiful! We hadn't been there since November 2009. We hiked about four miles, total, and got as far as the "Fruit Bowl"--a pile of
huge boulders, where the trail descends a rock stairway into their midst. We ate snacks and climbed the boulders, beside the stream. It was great. The trail is
very rocky and you feel like you have hiked a lot further than you have, but it was not muddy, eventhough it rained yesterday.
February 18, 2012: Today, Reanna had Girl Scout cookie sales booth, so I went out to the Mountain Bike Trail at AEDC for the first time this year, and had a wonderful 5.5 mile ride on the trail. The weather has been very mild, though wet, but the trail wasn't as muddy as I expected. I didn't get a bit of mud
on my clothes, and it was just the right amount of difficulty that I was looking for.
February 4, 2012: Today, Reanna had a Cheer competition in Birmingham, AL, a mere three-hour drive to our south. It was in the big, BJCC Arena, downtown. Reanna's team got 5th out of 7. During the break I walked around downtown for over an hour. B'ham has a mixture of old and new buildings, and a lot of
Civil Rights History. B'ham is the biggest city in Alabama, and it only got established a few years after the Civil War! It's well worth having a look around, and I wish I could spend a couple of days taking it all in, but as usual, we only had a brief time there, and then it was back to home, etc.
January 28, 2012: Today, Reanna had a Cheer competition in Nashville, at Municipal Auditorium. She's on the junior's teams this year and they got 4th out of 7 teams. There were teams from as far away as Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, and Alabama. During a two-hour break in the action, Linda and I walked up to the Tennessee State Library & Archives, on 7th Avenue, where I used to work, 1988-1990. It was the first time I have been inside of the building since late 1992. Wow, that's almost 20-years ago! Anyway, I talked to a couple of current staff members there and got up to speed, a little bit, about things there, and looked around. It was very nostalgic. Next, we walked across Legislative Plaza and observed the Occupy Nashville "tent city." It was pretty quiet there, and not much was going on. I think people were trying to stay warm. After the competition, we went to visit my sister and her family in south Nashville.
January 7, 2012: Well, we are a week into 2012. Yesterday, we got our new roof, compliments of State Farm Insurance, due to the freak hail storm back
in October. State Farm doesn't like to comply very easily. There's been dozens of other houses done around the neighborhood way before ours, and State Farm is still contesting some items on our contractor's list. Oh, well...
December 24-28, 2011: Not many posts this month. Been too busy, and nothing very exciting or out of the ordinary has happened. Until, we finally got to go
on a trip. Last year at this time, we didn't get to go anywhere because I had cataract surgery. That was a real bummer--but necessary--and I'm glad I have
very satisfactory sight in my left eye! But this year we wanted to go somewhere, and preliminary plans were to go Baltimore, but things didn't work out in that
direction so we went to visit Linda's sister Angie, in Hamilton, Ontario. So, it was back to Canada for the first time in six-long-years. The weather reports
looked pretty good, so I had no hesitation what-so-ever in driving the nearly 800 miles up north on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, respectively. Everything went
fine and we got to see Angie's new place, and her daughters, and her workplace. She lives close to Hamilton's escarpment, and I went for a walk along the viewing
sidewalk and could see all the way to Toronto with my binoculars! Linda and I also walked down the Wentworth Stairs and back up, which used to be an incline railway (1895-1936). This was beautiful and a lot of people use these stairs as an excersize workout!
On the way back, we encountered a snow storm leaving Hamilton, and we only went 75-miles in the first two-hours, but then, it turned into mist and it was smoother
sailing across the border at Detroit, and we spent the night in Bowling Green, OH. The next day, the traffic was very crowded all the way down I-75, to Cincinnati.
It seemed that all of the holiday traffic was converging at Cincinnati the same time we were coming through. I decided I wanted to see a little of downtown "Cincy"
and we pulled off the Interstate, drove to the riverfront, and Reanna and I went into the Underground Railroad Museum (only had time to see the gift
shop, however), and then we drove across the amazingly old looking John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge (1866) and wandered around Covington and Newport, south of the Ohio River, which had lots of fine 19th and early 20th Century architecture. Later, passing through Louisville, KY, the traffic was thick again, and
I wished we could stop and look around downtown (lots of nice old houses everywhere), and lastly, Nashville's traffic was crammed on I-65/24, but we made it
back home just fine. Great whirlwind trip to CANADA and some big cities to our north!!!
December 2-3, 2011: Friday night was the Tullahoma Christmas Parade. Reanna's Girl Scouts were in it, as usual, but this time Linda got to go for the first time, and she walked behind the GS float. Saturday, I took my bike to Shelbyville, TN and did a "ride around" the square, old town, and saw, up close, the old high school, where my mom went to HS, and the old, old high school, where my grandmother (mom's mom) went to HS. People were already finding places to occupy/sit for the Shelbyville Christmas Parade this evening, and I clocked 9.3 miles.
November 19, 2011: November is flying by! Lots of work, bad weather, and leaf raking. I finally got to go cycling for the first time in a while and rode
13.4 miles today--all in Tullahoma.
October 29, 2011: Today, Reanna had her first Cheer competition of the season, and it was in Nashville. She is in junoirs this year and her team has a lot
of new people. They got 5th place, with their new routine and new uniforms. There were teams from Memphis, Louisville, Cincinnati, and some from Cookville,
Franklin and Murfreesboro, so the competition was steep. But get this, the Cheer Storm Senoirs got 1st place. My sister, Melanie and her two girls came
to watch today, for the first time.
October 22, 2011: I just want to brag about my sister, Melanie Neal, a little bit. She came down for the "Jack Dash" 7-mile run in Lynchburg today, and got 1st place in the female 40-44 year old bracket! And that was after getting 2nd place last year.
October 15, 2011: Today, Reanna cycled with me for the first time in ages. We went to Nashville, and rode in three places: Percy Warner Park, Radnor Lake, and Lipscomb University, for a total of just 7.1 miles, but it was very scenic and spaced apart so that Reanna never got too tired. I've been wanting to see these places on two wheels for a long time and I got a good sampling, today. There were plenty of people out and about enjoying the outdoors, plus, we went to Cumberland Transit, on West End, to look at their bikes and cycling equipment. Sweet!
October 8, 2011: Today, Linda and Reanna had plans with the Girl Scouts, so I took my bike to MTSU and rode around, observing the changes around the campus, and then I went to Bell Buckle, and rode around Webb School, the row of shops, and residential streets. What a beautiful day, perfect for riding, 12.3 miles.
October 1, 2011: Today, similar to my visit to Winchester last Saturday, I went to Manchester, TN to ride my bike around the older parts and admire the architecture and take in what people were doing. I rode for 15.73 miles--very similar to what I did in Winchester last Saturday. Manchester is the
county seat of Coffee County.
September 24, 2011: Today, I tried something a little different, I took my bike to Winchester, TN (the county seat of Franklin Co. to our south) and rode around the square and many of its older streets, taking pictures, and trying to imagine how the town evolved from the early 1800's to what it is today. Also, went to Gamble Sports Complex and rode around the greenway.
September 17, 2011: Today, I finally went back to Sinking Pond, and this time Reanna went with me. I have been meaning to go back there since
late summer, to see if the water has sunk. If you recall, I went there back on April 22nd, and the water level was way up to the water-line on all the trees. It was
at capacity, but true to the natural sinking ways of this pond, the water was out of sight and Reanna and I could walk all over the place, and it felt like walking on
thick mulch, but it was fairly dry. You could see the exposed roots of the trees, but there was a stark contrast between the top-side of the water-line, with
green leaves still on the limbs, and the blackoned tree trunks, and barron-looking ground below. It was freaky. I'll try to post some photos to flickr, soon.
September 15, 2011: “The number of truly common American cultural experiences is shrinking. Today there is no Uncle Miltie or Ed Sullivan—or even any 'Must See TV.' Of the top forty most watched TV shows of all time, only one was from the last decade—the 2000 Super Bowl. That may be why 'events' like Michael Jackson’s death or Tiger Woods’s infidelities have become so big in the eyes of the media . They’re bits of connective tissue. But those things plus trips to nearby ubiquitous chains like Walmart and Starbucks aren’t much of a base on which to create a living national culture.” --Dante Chinni, Our Patchwork Nation: The Surprising Truth About the Real America (2010)
September 3, 2011: "Avoid Monoculture. Travel. Read Widely. Let Experience be Your Compass." --Mark Suster
August 27, 2011: While hurricane Irene was pounding the east coast, we did Chattanooga today. Linda, Reanna, her friend Jessica and I went to Chattanooga, and they did the kids discovery center while I rode my bike around UTC. This was the first time I have ridden my bike around the UTC campus, and I feel like I know it very well now. It is more compact than I thought, but it's a pretty nice place. It is bordered by a large Confederate Cemetery on one side, a beautiful tree-lined historic residential district on another side, new student apartments on the other, and is very accessible to downtown Chatt. on the other side. We ate at Panera Bread, and then walked to the river front (the ladies walked, I biked), crossed Walnut Street Bridge and then went to the grassy sliding hill in Rennaissance Park. Instead of us all walking back to the car, I rode my bike, lickidy-split, back to the car, and drove it over to Rennaissance Park. That's the first time I have ever used my bike as a time-saver like this. It was a pretty dog-gone nice day, I'd say, and I cycled for 11.2 miles!
August 20, 2011: Today, I went with Reanna on a Girl Scout outing, a hike at Short Springs, and Machine Falls. It was hot, but shady, and the cool
air coming off the falls was very refreshing. There were three Dad's on this outing--how about that?!
August 8, 2011: "A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom." --Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
August 5-7, 2011: I did a rare thing and went to my old Illinois home in Charleston and attended my 30th high school reunion this past weekend. I haven't been to one in 15-years and felt like I just had to attend this one because it's been too long already, and I haven't even been to Charleston in about 14-years. The longer I stay away from a place the more I idealize it in my mind, so I have to go back to places and check them out. I really felt the weight of
time and nostalgia on my mind as I drove all around Charleston; to all my old haunts and schools and what not. I lived in Charleston from 2nd-grade through high
school, and my parents lived there for 30-years (1970-2001), so a big chunk of my life was spent there, and I've always believed it was a good place to grow up. The town has changed quite a bit from a retail and restaurant business standpoint, and there seems to be a lot more student housing rental property than before, but everything was pretty well kept and reasonably presentable. The EIU campus was very attractive and immaculate. You can tell that student retention is a top priority. And what about my old classmates? This was a facebook inspired reunion for me, and for a lot of others, I think. Much of the buildup to the reunion was communicated via facebook, and I have been getting back in touch with old schoolmates via facebook now for a couple of years. It has been a real boon to opening doors to people who you haven't seen in ages. I felt like the passage of time has finally shaped everyone in a way that has made us more mature, approachable, and on a level playing field. I enjoyed visiting with my classmates and learned so much. It exceeded my expectations. I took my bicycle with me and rode for 12.85-miles around town, and I drove for about 850-miles round trip. On Sunday morning, I went to our old church and saw the brethren there, which was nice.
July 21, 2011: Update on Lacey, our 7 month old Yorkie puppy: it was time to get her spayed on Monday. She's recovering ok, and is still as cute as can
be. Reanna starts middle school next Wednesday, and is very excited.
July 16, 2011: Today, I took my black bike to M'boro to ride on the greenway. I usually go there once a year to ride on it, but this time, I rode
around the downtown square, first, taking in the farmers market that meets around the square on Saturday mornings, and then I went to MOAB, a really cool bicycle shop north of the square. That's where we bought Reanna's new bike last October. She, sadly, doesn't get into riding with me these days. But, then I rode around a few blocks east of the square, and then I headed to the greenway, proper. I discovered a new section of greenway--at the Old Fort Park--trailhead,
that goes south and goes under I-24, and keeps going for about 3 miles, or so, to Cason Park, a new park. M'boro is lucky to have such a great greenway, it is
one of the nice things that have occured with the population explosion they have been experiencing. Then, I retraced my route back to the old greenway,
going north, and went to the end and then back to my car. All-to-gether, I rode 24.6 miles! That's the farthest I've ever gone on a single day ride on
the odometer. Hoorrayyy! That includes some little side-trips on dirt paths, etc. It was a fun, fun ride.
July 9, 2011: Today, Reanna and I went Ziplining with our youth group, near Kingston Springs, TN. It was fantastic! I've wanted to do that
for years, and we finally got the chance. It was hard to stay turned forward, but I could usually force myself forward at the end. Everyone had a great time.
July 4, 2011: I haven't mentioned this, but a few days before we returned from Trinidad, my mom & dad had a car accident. Mom's got a cracked hip,
and is staying in the Life Care Center in Tullahoma. Everyday since our return has involved shuttling dad to and from visiting mom. It's unfortunate. Here's my
Trip travelogue so far. Photos are at Flickr. Have a look. Today, I rode to Motlow on the 12-mile loop: Hwy 130 to Motlow and back, via West Lincoln Street. I took some liberties and rode down some side dirt roads to round it out at 14.4-miles, total. That was this morning. The weather clouded up this afternoon and we got some sprinkles.
June 28, 2011: We got back from Trinidad last night. We did some new things, such as watch the leatherback turtles spawn, in Grande Riviere, and
I bicycled some. It was cloudy and rainy a lot, but we had some bad luck with sunburn. I was reminded that the sun is very potent at 11-degrees above the
May 30, 2011: Today was Memorial Day. Reanna and I went to the Tennessee Renaissance Festival, near Triune, TN. It's the first time we've
been to it in four years. Not much has changed, but it was entertaining, as usual. The people and the costumery are the best part. It was hot, especially
sitting out in the sun for the human chess, and jousting! Plus, I rode for almost 10-miles this evening on my new bicycle, south of town on the
Turkey Creek-Blue Creek backroads, and back.
May 21, 2011: Today, I took my new mountain bike to the AEDC MTB Trail and rode for 9.1 miles, which was great, and probably the
farthest I've ever been on it. The weather was great, but lots of ticks! I love the way my new bike handles the dirt. Next, I rode my bike on
Woods Reservoir dam, for the first time. Cars have been excluded from this area since 9-11, but you can ride a bike or walk. The Elk River comes
out at the spill-way and continues to Tims Ford Lake and beyond. It was an impressive sight. I finished the day with 13-miles of riding.
May 7, 2011: Well, today was the long awaited day for us to go attend the Michael Feldman's Whad 'Ya Know? show at TPAC in
Nashville. It's a comedy, talk, music, quiz show on National Public Radio. I've listened to this show, countless times on Saturday mornings, when we
happen to be in the car going somewhere. I'm not necessarily a regular fan of the show, but I always find something interesting about it, if I happen
to be listening. After that, we (Dad, Reanna and I) went to meet my sister for lunch at the Baja Burrito on Thompson Lane. Then, Reanna played with
her cousins, as Dad and I drove over to Radnor Lake. I haven't been there in several years, though I've been wanting to, just haven't had the chance.
It was a beautiful, mild afternoon to walk the nearly one-mile walk along the paved side of the lake. When I started college in 1981, there was two-way
traffic on this road, but they pedestrianized it sometime in the late-80's. Today, the road is almost crumbling and eroding into the lake, but still
passable, and scenic. Loved it. We went home, and I road 8.2-miles on my bike this evening in Tullahoma. Great day.
April 30, 2011: Today was a big day. I rode for almost 19-miles today. First, I took my blue bike out to Raus, to do a little something different.
I rode a loop of 8.8-miles, from my Grandparent's farm to the Raus community, went up a rather steep Elijah Parker Road, crossing paths with some
experienced cyclers coming down (in the opposite direction). And then went up a rather steep Hilltop Road (pushing the bike, mostly), and then road to Smith's Chapel, proper, the
back way. This was fun, and exhausting, and I checked out some of my ancestor's tombstones at a cemetery at Smith's Chapel. Back at the farm, my cousin, Andy, showed me
some fallout photos and a Dishnet bill that came from the recent tornadoes in NW Alabama, particularly a place called Phil Campbell, AL. Later today, I
brought my new mountain bike home from my friend, Luke. See photos.
And, this evening I rode the new bike 10.5-miles around the country roads south of Tullahoma. This bike has shocks, and better brakes and gears.
I'm looking forward to new, exciting rides in the future with this bike.
April 23, 2011: Today, we had an Easter Egg Hunt at church for the kids. It was actually a bit too warm and a lot of the chocolate eggs melted. Bummer.
I went for a nine-mile bike ride today. It was very bright, but fairly comfortable for riding. A REALLY, REALLY strange thing happened this evening, about
a half-hour before dark. I was watching Lacey and reading in the backyard, something I haven't done for over a week. Just happened to be in the backyard
minding my own business, and all of a sudden, with a slow cracking sound that sent shivers up my spine, a huge old oak tree, literally a couple of feet
away from the fence that separates my yard from my next-door-neighbor's, which was oh, so close to the corner of her house, came crashing down to the
ground! It landed with a mighty thudd, and ripped some big limbs out of three other oak trees as it went down. I leaped to my feet as this was happening,
and I was saying "Is this thing really going to fall???" It was unbelievable. Miraculously, it landed, perfectly diagonally across the backyard and
didn't touch the house, and didn't do any electrical damage to the power lines at the back of the property. Just, amazingly, landed in the right spot. It's
going to be a big clean-up job, but thank goodness nothing was hurt. There's been lots of storms and wind this spring, and just my luck, I get to see
this huge tree fall while I'm trying to get a bit of reading in, and letting the dog get some exercise. The tree had been leaning that direction for a long
time and looked healthy. There are a lot of other huge trees around here that you could say the same thing about. Scary.
April 22, 2011: Today (Good Friday), was a day off from work, so I went to find Sinking Pond at AEDC, and I finally found it (third times a charm)!
This may not sound so incredible, but you try finding this obscure swamp in an area that has lots of side-roads, dead ends and dirt/gravel trails and see
if you can find it. Anyway, it was pretty amazing--I thought. It's an unusual ecological system to be found on a highland rim. There were a lot of mosquitoes
already flying around there, which I haven't seen around our house in Tullahoma, yet, or anywhere else. The water was pretty high--almost to the top of
the high-water-mark on the trees. From what I've heard, the water level can plummet in the summer, even in winter, but right now it's high. I've added
some photos to my Flickr account of what I saw. Check it out. Also, I went to
the AEDC Mountain Bike Trail, for the first time in about two years, and rode about six-miles, for a total of 9.99 miles today. It was a lot of fun.
check out the MTB Trail photos. This was a great day: plenty of sunshine, not too hot,
but a little windy at times.
April 9, 2011: Today, I wanted to go back to AEDC, with my bike, and find Sinking Pond, but when I got there it turned out to be a "hunting day,"
which means the whole place is reserved for hunting. Just my luck, the only Saturday of the month reserved for hunting and I go there. Oh, well, I decided
to head on up to Sewanee and ride around. Exactly one year ago, I went to Sewanee and rode on the Parallel Trail, Dotson Point Trail and some others. Today,
I didn't feel like riding so much, but I clocked 6.10 miles, which was pretty bumpy and exhausting. I saw some people riding horses on the Parallel Trail
this time, but I had Dotson Point all to my self, to enjoy the view off the mountain. Later, Reanna and I went to the grand openig of the
new Petsense store, which is where Blockbuster Video used to be. How nice it is they carry the brand of dog food that Lacey eats! Now, we don't
have to go all the way to Petco in M'boro. Later still, I went for a 4.3 mile ride, in town, at sundown.
April 2, 2011: Today, Reanna had her last Cheer competition of the season, in Sevierville, TN. The Cheer Storm Lightning got 2nd place
out of three contenders. That may not sound like a lot, but this event had so many divisions. This was a big competition. There were teams from
AL, FL, GA, KY, MS, NC, TN, VA, and WV! After that, Reanna and I went
to Sam Houston's Schoolhouse, built 1794. There was a museum, with a curator,
who told us a lot about Sam Houston, and a mostly reconstructed log schoolhouse. It was very interesting and educational. Sam Houston was a great
American, and the only man to be governor of two states--TN & TX--and he was the President of the short-lived Republic of Texas. His amazing career
started at this little country schoolhouse, near Maryville, TN!
March 19, 2011: Reanna got home last night from her week-long trip to Savannah, GA with the Girl Scouts. This was her second time to Savannah
with the Girl Scouts in three years. They were even in the St. Patrick's Day Parade. That's right--in it. Today, was a beautiful spring day,
and I went on a bicycle ride--a long awaited ride--to the AEDC area, mainly to look for Sinking Pond, but I didn't actually find it. I should have
done more research on this, but I thought the map on the sign by the road was self-explanatory enough. It turns out, it wasn't. I should have driven in
my car until I was sure I'd found the right starting place, but instead, I rode my bike, and I went for miles and miles looking for it, and the road
didn't seem to reflect the map on that sign, the more I went. And, there were lots of little turn-off dirt roads, and no other signs for miles. After
researching on the Internet, tonight, I think I know where I should have gone, but I'll have to do that another day. After that, I took the bike back over to where
Camp Forest used to be, nearer to Tullahoma. I've been wanting to explore these old roads for years, and see the ruins of what is left of Camp Forest
(a big WWII Army training camp). But, after just a few minutes of cycling on these old roads, I came close to a passing National Guard truck, and figured
out they were having NG maneuvors today. Darn! I figured I wouldn't be welcome there and got out. Next, I went over to another part of Camp Forest (I've
been to before) on the other side of the highway, near the AEDC Golf Course. I didn't see any sign of National Guardsmen around, so I figured it would
be ok to continue. I ventured out into the maze of forested roads, and came upon an old barracks foundation and a brick chemney. I've always wanted to
explore these old foundations, so I did, and took some pictures. This was great! Then, I got on my bike and headed back, but unexpectedly, came right in
view of a National Guard tent at an intersection, and got the fear in my gut that they were out here after all. Before long, I heard a truck
coming near and a voice shouting. So, I ducked into the woods and hid. The truck turned a corner pretty close to me, stopped, and did a three-point
turn-around and headed back the other way. So, I then retraced my path right out of there and went back to my car and went home. I clocked 16.3 miles on
my bike today.
March 10, 2011: Here's some photos of Lacey, our new Yorkie puppy:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/rmerritt/5511829601/. Boy, the weather has been awfull lately, and we can't take her out for walks.
February 26, 2011: Today, Reanna's Cheer Storm group competed in a competition at Lipscomb University, in Nashville (my alma mater), and they
got first place. Now, there are usually a lot more teams competing in their division, but for some reason, there was only one other team today. Don't
as me why. And they came all the way from Oxford, Mississippi. This felt good after their 8th place finish in Atlanta, back on February 5th & 6th. Plus,
I squeezed a 3.3 mile bike ride in, late this afternoon.
February 16, 2011: We are now dog owners. It's been in the works for a while, and we now have a puppy for Reanna. It's a female Yorkie Terrier,
and she's cute as a button. Plus, I've replaced both tires on my bike. It was time. And now I'm looking forward to riding weather. The days are getting
January 11, 2011: Well, I thought it was about time I bumped this blog over into 2011. It's not exactly a kickoff; more of an onside kick. The
biggest happening so far is the "Monster Winter Storm" we got on the 10th. That's according to the Weather Channel. We got about six-inches
of snow in Tullahoma--not exactly monster proportions--but for around here that's pretty big. Huntsville, 50-miles to our south, got nine-inches. In
the 16 or so winters Linda and I have lived here this is one of the biggest snows. I went for three walks yesterday and admired the snow. I couldn't get
enough of it. Motlow gave us the whole day off--the first time I can remember that happening, and Tullahoma city schools are going to be off tomorrow
for the 3rd straight day! In other news: one of our cars had to have a headlight replaced. It had to be done at the dealership--that's the way they are
made now. I'm not going to mention the car brand name or the dealership, but it cost $109 to get the headlight replaced. That's the way cars are getting
today. Everything has to be done by a mechanic.
December 22-28, 2010: Well, this Christmas was good in some ways, but it will always be remembered, by me, at least, as the time when I had
cataract surgery. I haven't mentioned it here on this blog, but for the past year-and-a-half I had slowly, but surely, lost all useful sight
in my left eye. It was a total blur. I couldn't focus on or recognize anything. So, surgery was the answer, thankfully. However, it didn't all go
exactly as planned. On the 22nd, I was scheduled for surgery in Tullahoma. Everything was supposedly ready, I was prepped and waited, and taken to
the OR, and then the doctor said he was going to have to cancel it because he didn't have the right lense for me. He said that this sort of thing
rarely happens and apologized. The next best option was to have it on the 28th, to get it done this year, but it had to be in Chattanooga (at his
main medical facility). This was a bit disappointing, but we didn't have much choice. So, we went ahead with Christmas, which turned out quite good,
except for having to prep my eye with the drops all over again. We had two-inches of snow on Christmas Day and the day after, in Tullahoma. On the
27th, the three of us went to Nashville, to the Frist Center, where we attended the "Birth of Impressionism" exhibit, from the D'Orsay
Museum in Paris. I actually went to the D'Orsay Museum in 1991, and it was fabulous, so I really wanted to see this, and I wanted Linda and Reanna to
see it. It was wonderful, and made me forget my eye troubles for a while, even though it was a bit of a struggle to appreciate the paintings with one
eye. BTW, driving was becoming a bit of a challenge over the months, as my cataract grew worse, but I had gotten used to it. On the 28th, we went to
Chattanooga as planned, and I drove down. The clinic was on the east side of town, in the very congested Hamilton Mall area. I was a little concerned
about Linda's driving us back home, but she was up for it. The surgery went fine, I'm happy to say, except for a few uneasy moments in the prep room
when a song by the band "Third Eye Blind" was playing on the stereo system. I couldn't help think about the irony of that. After the surgery, the doctor
said, "It was a bad cataract." And that's coming from someone who has done 11,000 cataract surgeries! Then, Linda got us home in fine shape, and things
are progressing ok, so far...
December 11, 2010: Linda was on call last night and didn't work, so today, we decided to go Christmas shopping in M'boro. Yes, I know, it was
about the craziest thing imaginable considering how crowded it was. We went to Toys R Us and it was like complete Bedlam in there. You couldn't walk
two-feet without bumping into someone, or a cart! Then, we went to The Avenue, and it was raining by this time. We ate lunch at Which Wich, and then
went to Barnes & Noble. B&N was crowded, but it was a shot of serenity compared to everywhere else. I could spend hours looking around in there.
December 5, 2010: Today, was the first Cheer competition of the season for Reanna's Cheer Storm Allstars youth team, and it was in
Nashville at the convention center, and much to our surprise, they WON FIRST PLACE! And that was against five other teams in the youth division--a
pretty deep field. This competition went a little different from the usual one. This time we had a room to meet in and put our things, so, after their
program finished we all felt pretty good about how they did, but then everyone went back to the room and talked and waited for the awards ceremony, and we
didn't get to see hardly any of the competing teams (because we were second in order of appearance). Anyway, when we went back in for the awards
ceremony, we were really surprised and elated that we got first place. All their hard work and practice finally paid off! This may not have been the
biggest competition we've been to, but six teams in her division is pretty big, and BTW, our junior team got second place. How about that?
November 25-27, 2010: Well, another Thanksgiving has come and gone. It was ok. We had my mom and dad over for T'giving dinner on Thursday.
I got some raking done each day (Thurs.-Sat.) and just about have it all done. I didn't go near a shopping establishment all weekend other than a
grocery store. I did get a couple of bike rides in, just in town and around the neighborhood. I went for 7.6 miles on Thursday, and 2.2 miles on
Saturday. The weather was really nice and bright, if a little cool, in the mornings. Where has November gone?
November 20, 2010: Today was another glorious fall day, only slightly cooler than last Saturday. I spent about 2.5 hours raking the leaves today,
and rode my bicycle for 2-hours, 16.18 miles, around Tullahoma. I went to the "Outdoor Classroom" Nature Trail, near East Middle School, and had a nice
time riding through it. The grass was mowed, so it was nice. There are some nice open areas, and some tunnel-like trails through cedars, pines, and
various trees. Also, a sort of nature strip of land behind Farrar Elementary School, that parallels a creek. You have to find interesting places like this when going out-of-town
isn't convenient. On a sad note, last night I listened to the THS Wildcats on the radio. They played away, at Columbia High School, in the third round of the state
football playoffs, and got beat. They never could get anything going; nothing went well last night for them, but they had a great season, and end with a
9-4 record. I mention this because Reanna and I went to the first two-rounds of the playoffs, which THS hosted, as it happens, and I was very impressed
with their teamwork. They were a very good team. I actually went to three games this season, the only games I've been to in years.
November 13, 2010: Today, Reanna and I took our bikes to Chattanooga, to continue riding, north of the river, in a westerly direction towards
Moccasin Bend. The only problem was, as it turned out, that the trail didn't continue. In other words, they haven't completed the leg to Moccasin Bend yet,
as all the maps on the signs indicate (they show it complete). There is a new park, called Renaissance Park, next to Coolidge Park, with some neat eco-landscaping, bridges
and trails, and whatnot, but the trail doesn't go very far. That was mildly disappointing, but there were still some new things to see, such as a tall
man-made hill for sliding down on, on scraps of cardboard, like a sleigh. This was tremendously fun. We also rode over to Ross's Landing and around
some of downtown Chattanooga, and found lots of things to see. We ate lunch at Panera Bread, on Market Street, and could have ridden for hours.
The weather was wonderful. Perhaps the last warm Saturday. Who knows?
October 30, 2010: Today, Reanna went to Huntsville, for a Cheer competition that she was not competing in, with a good friend, so I did something
I have been wanting to do for a long time. I took my bicycle to my grandparents' farm, at Raus, and rode all over the bulk of it. It's fairly large,
hilly, cleared of trees, except in the groves, and edges, has lots of cow paths, thorns, chippy rocks, and I rode for 6.6 miles within its borders.
It was exhillerating and exhausting at times, but very satisfying. I used to ride my motorcycle over the farm when I was younger, but now, I'm into
cycling. I took a backroad back to the farm house, via Smiths Chapel, and I practically coasted all the way down the road to my car for a total of 9.8
miles. It's a good thing I didn't go any farther because my front bike tire had suffered a very slow puncture and was losing air. But I didn't find out
about it until later after I took the bike home. The weather was cool in the morning, pleasant in the afternoon, and very bright.
October 23, 2010: Today was a busy day! We went with our church youth group to Tate Farms, a
pumpkin patch and amusement place located NE of Huntsville, AL. This was, by far, the biggest place like this we've been to. Petting zoo, farm
equipment converted into kids playground, corn cribs, and a round-hay-bale-maze, among other things, were big attractions. This was good. And then,
on our way back to Tullahoma, we passed through Lynchburg, TN, which happened to be right in the swing of its International Invitational Barbeque
Competition, which, as it turns out, is famous, and there were several thousand people there. There were acres and acres of cars, motorcycles, RVs,
and buses parked along Hwy 55 through town. It was gobsmackingly impressive. I've never been to this event, but I'm thinking next year would be an
imperative. Speaking of someone new to the event, my sister, Melanie, came down from Nashville with two friends of hers and they participated in the
5K run/walk for MS, early on Saturday morning, and (drum roll....) Melanie finished 2nd place in her age bracket on the run! Pretty impressive, I'd
say. Later, Saturday afternoon, I went for an 11-mile bike ride on the Raleigh, just for the fun of it and because the weather was good.
October 16, 2010: Today, Reanna and I went with our church youth group on a train ride from Nashville to Watertown (in Wilson County), a 90 mile
round trip. Sponsored by the Tennessee Central Railway Museum, the trip featured a train robbery, and about a two-hour
stop in Watertown, where the whole downtown welcomed all the train passengers to shop and eat lunch at their fine establishments. It was a pretty neat
excursion, all-in-all. Most of our group ate at a Mexican restaurant together, and then walked around to the shops on the square. The weather was
absolutely fantastic. The train robbery actors did their best to act lively, and did a lengthy skit later on by the tracks in Watertown that was more
like listening to random conversations at a western ghost town, but it was alright.
October 9, 2010: Today, I finally granted Reanna's request to get a new bike. She'd been complaining about her old bike for some time, and had lost
enthusiasm for riding. We went to Moab Bikes in Murfreesboro (which stands for Murfreesboro Outdoor and Bikes,
believe it or not), and found her a Hotrock brand bike, exactly the same size as her old one, but with a very good six-speed gear suspension and
hand breaks, and black tires instead of white. A much better bike. She's still not ready for the intermediate size, but when ever she starts growing,
this bike will have trade-in value. Then, we went to the M'boro Greenway and rode the whole thing. It was much easier for
Reanna than in the past. She breezed through it on her new bike! Next, we went to The Avenue shopping center and ate lunch at Which Wich
(www.whichwich.com). It's a different kind of place, and no, it doesn't have anything to do with Halloween, it has
over 50 different sandwiches to choose from. It was quite tasty. Then, we went to Barnes & Noble. What a day!
October 2, 2010: Today, Reanna and I went and rode our bikes on the Chattanooga Riverpark Greenway, something we haven't done in three years. I've
been wanting to go back and do this for a long time, for it is such a beautiful GW, paralleling the Tennessee River and stretching from the downtown
art district, through residential and industrial land, past wetland, to parkland, past Chatt. State Community College, to the Chickamauga Dam. According to
signs, it appears the greenway now extends on the north side of the river all the way to Moccasin Bend. We didn't go that far, but I hope to explore the
part to Moccasin Bend one day. All-to-gether, we rode and/or pushed our bikes for 16.8 miles today. In addition to that, Reanna rock climbed on the Walnut
Street Bridge climbing wall, which is 50-feet high. It was no problem for her, even after riding her bike for over 15 miles. From there we crossed back
over the river on the Market Street Bridge. Then, she was too pooped to ride up the hill to our parking space, but that was ok. The weather was fantastic
today, and I'm so glad we were able to get back to Chattanooga's greenway.
September 25, 2010: Today, Reanna and I went with our youth group to ClimbNashville.com, which was
pretty neat. It is indoor simulated rock climbing. Reanna had a great time. She did more of the tall climbs--8 or 9--than anyone, I think. I did about three
climbs, and belayed several times. Then, we went to the Old Spaghetti Factory, downtown, for lunch.
September 18, 2010: Today, my sister Melanie and her girls came down to visit Mom at Life Care Center with Reanna and me. Dad was there, too, of
course. Mel, the girls, and us ate lunch at Zaxby's, then we visited Mom. Unfortunately, while Mom and Dad were staying in Nashville for the past month,
their kitchen refrigerator died, so we went to clean it out. Then, Mel and the girls went home. Reanna and I then put our bikes on the car and went to
Tim's Ford State Park and rode the paved trail from the main parking lot, to Weaver's Point. Now, we have done this three times before, but not since
August of 2008. I have always wondered just how far it was in miles to the point. I figured it was about three-miles, but now, since the speedometer works
on my blue bike, I clocked it, and it was right at three-miles! The weather was glorious, and this was easy for me, but not so easy for Reanna. This was only the
third ride we have been on together this year. Reanna has lost her enthusiasm for riding the bicycle for more than a short distance. I am very disappointed
about this, but I am not going to let it stop me from riding. I guess it was inevitable. That's just how kids are, but she says she needs a new bike; one
with gears. Humm...we'll have to see about that. This evenig I went for a further 2.1 mile ride on my Dad's Raleigh.
Last evening--Friday the 17th--I rode for
13.5 miles on my blue bike, all within the city limits of Tullahoma. I went from west to east and north, through the West Middle School nature trail, past
Country Club, and back down to Jackson Street, carrying my bike over the railroad tracks behind Hampton Inn, and back down Jackson to the greenway, and
to the DW Wilson Center and back home, via Bel-Aire School.
September 16, 2010: Well, my Mom finally came back to Tullahoma after staying at St.Thomas Hospital for over a month. She has been admitted to
Life Care Center, for the time being, until she is strong enough to go home. Now, I can't believe September is half-over! Where has the year gone?
Autumn is just around the corner.
September 4, 2010: What a difference a week makes. Last Saturday, Mom looked a lot better than she did today. Early this week, her doctor decided
that she needed a special procedure to remove excess fluid from one of her lungs, and that took place on Thursday. It was necessary to put her back in
intensive care again, and they discovered that one of her ribs was cracked during the operation. She's got more tubes coming out of her now, and looks
a lot worse for ware. After a thirty-minute visit, Reanna, Dad and I went to lunch and then Centennial Park, to get out for a while. Ever since Reanna
saw Percy Jackson and the Olympians, back in March, she has been interested in Greek Mythology, so we went to see the Parthenon. It was
Reanna's first time to see inside, and my first time in several years. The Athena statue is pretty impressive, and they continue to add little improvements
to the decor as time passes. I thought the art exhibit and the history about the constructing of the Parthenon for the 1897 Centennial Exhibition, and the
subsequent rebuilding of it in the 1920's to be more permanent etc., on
the lower level, was very good. Then, we went to the playground. I don't think I have ever seen Centennial Park so full of people. Plus, the weather
was glorious, about as close to perfect as it could get, compared to last Saturday's hot and sultry temperature. Yes, what a difference a week makes.
August 28, 2010: Today, Reanna went on an outing with good friends of ours, and I went to St.Thomas Hospital, in Nashville, to visit Mom. She is
still recovering from some complications, but is getting a bit stronger. I went to eat lunch with Dad, my sister, and her family in the cafeteria. Then,
we went to a new frozen yogurt place called, Sweet CeCe's, that just opened next to Publix in the corner of
White Bridge Road and Harding Pike, close to St. Thomas Hostpital, where you can make your own frozen yogurt treat with lots of toppings. It was
delicious. Next, I went to Two Rivers Parkway, off Briley Parkway, to ride on the Stones River Greenway, from the westside to the eastside. There was
some unfinished business from last summer when we (Dad, Reanna and I) rode here, but could not complete it because of an impending underpass being
constructed under Lebanon Road. But, as I discovered, it has been completed, and although two signs said that the greenway was "closed" presumably, because
of the flood in May, lots of people were ignoring the signs and using the greenway, nevertheless. This was fine and dandy, and eventhough there were some
rough spots with dirt and sand covering the trail from the flood, it was passable and I had a wonderful time. It was very HOT, but a great ride. I also
went back, past Two Rivers Parkway, to the pedestrian bridge joining with Shelby Bottoms Greenway, and rode on a good bit of that. The Shelby Bottoms was
in better shape than I expected, frankly, but I was pleased to ride on it. I used my GPS and clocked 16.2 miles, roundtrip. This was well done and
glorious, just glorious! Incidently, I rode my Dad's old Raleigh bicycle, today, which is a good bike for greenway trails.
August 21, 2010: Reanna and I went to see Mom and Dad at St.Thomas Hospital today, and mom still isn't ready to come home. She's progressing, but
she is still very weak from the surgery. Not sure when she'll be ready to leave. We took Dad out for a walk and a drive around. Went a short distance
behind the hospital to Richland Creek Greenway (which I rode my bicycle on about a year ago), and it was not fully recovered from the flood in May. Some
of the paved pathways and wooden bridges are still being repaired. Then, we drove over to Lipscomb Univ. campus and walked around. The new freshmen were there
already, getting moved in, and doing some activities. It was nice to see the campus again, looking very well-landscaped, and spruced up. The library wasn't
open, but the Science building was, so we went in and took a look around. We went into a lecture hall (Ward Hall) that I had a few classes in when I was in
college, and I was amazed at how nicely renovated and high-tech it was now. Next, went into the student center and bookstore, and again, amazed at how the place
has changed. Then, it started to rain, so we took Dad back to St. Thomas.
August 16, 2010: Saw mom last Saturday at St. Thomas, and she was stable and recovering ok. We went to the wedding of a cousin of mine in M'boro
Saturday evening and saw some relatives from north of Chicago that we hadn't seen in a few years. Mom would have liked to be there. She moved to a
regular room on Sunday, and today, walked, but she is progressing a little slowly, according to my sister.
August 7, 2010: Today, it was hot of course, but I went for an 11.9 mile ride south of town on my bicycle, and about a 5.0 mile ride in the
evening on my Dad's bicycle. It felt great! And, in addition to that, no dogs! Tomorrow, I take Mom & Dad to St. Thomas Hospital, in Nashville, for Mom's
heart-valve surgery on Tuesday.
August 2, 2010: A few days ago, I got my speedometer on my bicycle working again, and I've been having fun clocking the distance of my rides around
town. I just went on a 8.64 mile ride from my house, south of town, over some country roads and back via the water treatment plant, the DW Wilson Recreation
Center, Bel-Aire School and home--all while Linda & Reanna were shopping at Wal-Mart & Krogers.
July 30 & 31, 2010: We had a great "Back to School Games Night" and fellowship at church with our teens on Friday night, and a "Back to School Games
Day" with our younger kids on Saturday. We had a rather tall, infated water slide, and an inflated obstacle course on the church grounds, among other
things. The teens played some good volleyball, and there was food, and a devotional. It was very entertaining. Ditto for the kids on Saturday.
July 24, 2010: Well, today Reanna had an all-day Cheer session; fund raising car wash this morning and then Choreography practice till 5:00 p.m.
There was a heat warning in effect everywhere with a heat-index of 100 degrees or more expected. So, what did I do? I went to Brentwood Greenway
with my bicycle to finish some business that we started last year on May 5th. We didn't complete the Greenway to Ravenwood High School because Reanna
was tired. Well, today the heat was every bit as uncomfortable as advertised, but I comleted the route and then some. There's more to it than is on the
park maps, or signs, but that's ok. Much of the greenway parallels the Little Harpeth River and was flooded back in early May of this year, but everything
looked good and back to normal. I am impressed with Brentwood's Greenway! Then again, Brentwood is one of the wealthiest cities in Tennessee and they
should be able to afford an excellent greenway. Glad to see they're setting an example. There were some neat, unexpected surprises. Nice tunnels with
two-way mirrors to see what's coming around corners, switchbacks, and an old, brick restored two-room-school-house, called Boiling Spring Academy. It was built
in 1832! Then, I drove into Brentwood, and found Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI), which was a nice big
bicycling, camping, kyaking supply store. A lot of very tempting items in there to look at (and dream about). Did I mention it was HOT today?
July 17, 2010: Today, Reanna and I went tubing on the Ocoee River with the youth group at our church. About 17 of us went tubing. It's the
first time, believe it or not, that I have gone tubing, and it was a blast. It was a lot of fun, and not difficult, although you have to stay in the
middle of the river--a full flowing river--and avoid tree branches and stumps. That sort of thing. We used the company Outdoor Adventure Rafting,
O.A.R., who's website is www.rafting.com. It was located about a half-hour east of Clevelend, TN. I haven't been to the Ocoee area for recreaction in a long
time, but there's lots to enjoy!
July 12, 2010: My travelogue for Germany, England & Poland 2010 is now available. Check it
out, and read about the whole trip in my own words. This is what travel is about, from my point of view. Also, see the photos as a slideshow, and/or individually
with descriptions; either way you like it at my Flickr page.
July 10, 2010: Today, I carried my bicycle to Nashville, parked the car at Bicentennial Capital Mall, and rode my bike all around the Bicentennial Mall,
including the World War II Monument, and Farmers Market. I have been wanting to do this for a long time and finally did it, today. I didn't know that Farmers
Market was so big and crowded--lots of fruit and veggies there--and I must say, the WWII Monument was one of the finest I've ever seen. There is a big
granite globe, with several time-line stone enscriptions. Next, I found a landscaped link to the Cumberland River, particularly, the Cumberland River Greenway,
which I have been wanting to check-out and ride on. I didn't know if it would be accessible after the Big Flood in May, but it was--looked fine, in fact--and
then I continued on the Downtown Greenway that goes past Fort Nashboro, River Front, First Avenue, ect. It's hard to believe that this area was flooded
over 50-feet above flood level, and now it looks back to normal. Next, I rode across the Pedestrian Bridge over the Cumberland, turned around, and went back down to the
Country Music Hall of Fame, and then across Downtown, to War Memorial Plaza, the Tennessee State Library & Archives (where I used to work), and around the Capital Building, and back down to Bicentennial Mall. It started
to rain right as I got to the car and packed my bike on the rack! This was a great day of riding, and sort of a continuation of my ride on the Metro
Center Levee Greenway last year on August 1, 2009. Next, I went to my sister's house to pickup Reanna and it rained for over an hour! When we got home this
evening it hadn't rained in Tullahoma a bit!
July 3, 2010: Today, Dad, Reanna and I took our bikes to Sewanee to ride around. It's the first time Dad has come with us in many months. This just
happened to coincide with the Sewanee Forth of July Parade. Sewanee, being the surreal place that it is, was positively hopping with people and interesting
sideshows. We ate some BBQ at a food stand, and rode around, finally, riding on some "Rails to Trails" sections that I have been wanting to ride on, much
to Reanna's protest. The parade was one-of-a-kind though, and possibly one that we will go back to again in future.
July 1, 2010: Yes, it has been a long time. We had a wonderful trip to Europe and got home late Tuesday, June 29th. I'm physically in Tennessee,
but mentally, still in a holding pattern across the pond. It was a very satisfying trip, I must say, and I hope it won't be another six years before we go
back to Germany! We had a shorter than usual trip to England, but it went very well. My fears of volcanic ash activity never materialized, thankfully, and
we were able to fly in and out of Stansted airport without a hitch. We didn't make it to Paris, as we'd hoped, but we did make it to Poznan, Poland, on a
daytrip, and now I can say I've been to 26 countries. All-in-all, we traveled by plane, train, car, taxi, bus, bicycle and boat! We rented two cars on both
sides of the English Channel, and I also got to drive a trabant in east Berlin, which was a bonus. And now, I officially love Cambridge more than Oxford.
More to come...
See a slideshow of my trip photos at my Flickr page.
May 31, 2010: Memorial Day. We always do something good on Memorial Day, and this year, my cousin Greg, from Ridgecrest, California, whom I hadn't
seen since our trip to the Southwest in 2006, was in Middle Tennessee with his daughter to attend a funeral. Linda, Reanna, and I met them in Lebanon, TN
for lunch at the oldest Cracker Barrell restaurant in the country. Then, we drove to the square and walked around Lebanon's historic square, which happened
to be recovering from the big flood in early May. Then, we drove to Cragfont plantation (built 1798),
north of Lebanon, and eventhough it was closed on Monday, we were able to walk around and see the grounds unhindered. It was very well maintained and
attractive, and had a splendid English garden that I would love to have. This was a wonderful outing with our California cousins. Unforgettable.
May 29, 2010: Ahh, Memorial Day weekend, at last! Today, my sister and her girls were down in Tullahoma, and we spent the day with them. We visited
with two of our last remaining aunts, on the Merritt side. One of which, was visiting from Chicago, IL, and the other one lives in Tullahoma. We went to
Shelbyville for a little wedding gift shopping for a cousin of ours, and then we went to the park, so the girls could play, and Melanie could run around
the high school track. Then, we went to Sonic for milkshakes. Not a bad day!
May 22, 2010: Today, Reanna went to spend time with her cousins, and I rode my bike in Nashville, around Belmont University campus, Hillsboro Village,
and over to the Peabody portion of Vanderbilt campus, and then Scarritt college. This was very enjoyable as I love to ride around and observe college
campuses. There were lots of activities going on everywhere I went. I had lunch at the International
Food Market on Belmont Blvd. Then, I drove around Greenhills a good bit, seeing a lot of its streets and taking note of what's what. I haven't spent much time
in Greenhills in recent years and I was curious about the shops there. I went past a house, off of Hobbs Road that I rented way back in the summer/fall
of 1982, my first experience renting a place to live, and it was torn down, and a new condo was in its place. What a surprise!
May 8, 2010: A note about the flooding in Tennessee one week ago--A record amount of rain hit Nashville and surrounding counties on Saturday and
Sunday last weekend. Over 13.5 inches in Nashville, and more in some other areas. Nashville is very hilly and has a lot of steams and rivers. Never before has it
seen such widespread flooding and destruction. Some estimate that the damage will cost one billion Dollars to repair. We were very lucky in Tullahoma to
get only 3.5 inches of rain. My sister and her family were affected by the rain, but they are safe and that's the important thing. Melanie and the girls
left their home on Saturday morning and drove south to visit some cousins and me, and ended up staying in Tullahoma till Monday because they could not go
home. There were so many roads closed and uncertain routes. Though it was nice to spend some time with them, it was an experience they hope never happens
Today, Reanna and I went to Falls Mill, an historic mill that's been in action since 1873, and then we went to the Dogwood Festival in Winchester, TN.
That was the first time we've ever been to it, and it was a lot bigger than expected. I was impressed. I also met a young man from France who was pushing
his well-equiped bicycle through the crowded square in downtown Winchester. He is on a cross-country bicycle trip, starting in New York, and he hopes to swing
down to Louisiana, and go all the way to the west coast. He was very interesting to talk to.
April 24, 2010: Today, the weather was very stormy and threatening, but Reanna and I drove to Nashville without too much trouble. while Reanna
played at my sister's house, I went to the Frist Center for the Visual Arts (www.fristcenter.org) to see
the exhibit Masterpieces of European Painting from Museo de Arte de Ponce (MAP). The collection is on loan from Puerto Rico while the MAP is being
renovated. It was originally owned by Luis A. Ferre (1904-2003),
a successful industrialist, philanthropist, and former governor of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico from 1968-1972. The collection was purchased in Europe,
and in New York, by Ferre, begining in 1950 and over the course of several visits. He was a big fan of the European Masters of art from many different nationalities. Although
there wasn't anything super famous in the collection I saw today, it certainly was of high quality, and very representative of the finest art from the
1500s-1800s. I saw at least one painting by Cranach, Van Dyke, Rubens, and Goya, among others.
Upstairs, there was an exhibit called, Heroes: Mortals & Myths in Ancient Greece. There were a lot of ancient artifacts from Greece, including a very old
bronze helmet, which was amazing. This collection was on loan by the Walter's Art Museum in Baltimore, MD, which I have been to, by the way. Unfortunately,
they wouldn't allow any photographs of the exhibits, but it was a nice visit. After that, I pressed on, despite the rain, to the San Antonio Taco Company
(www.thesatco.com) near Vanderbilt, for a late lunch, which I haven't been to since the mid-90s.
April 17, 2010: Today, Reanna and I went to Huntsville, AL to the Huntsville Botanical Garden where they have a new exhibit called Tremendous Tree
Houses. We like stuff like this, and every couple of years HBG seems to put on some kind of interesting feature that keeps us coming back. There were
several very creative and thematic tree houses/play houses there for young and old to climb, play on, and admire. They really can help adults dream about
being a kid again. After that, we went to Bridge Street Shopping Center. It wasn't too far from HBG, and it is a new indoor/outdoor shopping
experience, similar to The Avenue, in Murfreesboro, TN, but with a Venice theme. It had some interesting shops and outdoor music performances going
on, but the hottest draw that I could see was the Apple Computer Store. The place was packed with people looking at I-Pads and lots of other
Apple computers, I-Pods, and I-Phones. I have not had much exposure to Apple, so I was curious, more than anything, to see, and use some of the products.
The I-Pad was very tasty as far as appeal and use-ability. Very favorable, but I'm not sure I can justify buying one yet.
April 10, 2010: Today, Reanna went on a school trip to Nashville Zoo, yes, a school trip in a yellow school bus. Only thirty could go and you had to
sign up for it. She was lucky to get in, and about four teachers went to supervise. With so much time on my hands, I took my bike to Sewanee and rode on
the horseback riding/mountain bike trails. This kind of riding doesn't appeal to Reanna, so it was best that I go alone. It was a bit rigorous on my body,
but I thoroughly enjoyed it, and covered a lot of the trails on what's called the "Parallel Trail." I've been wanting to do this for a long time and I think
I have satisfied my longing, now. I went there last August, too, but the temperature was a lot hotter, and I didn't do as much of the trails because I wanted
to ride on the campus, as well, and take pictures. The beauty of going in Spring is that the temperature was in the 60's and you can see a lot more since
the leaves were just beginning to bud.
April 2, 2010: Today was a beautiful day weatherwise, and birthday-wise. Reanna and I took our bikes to Fall Creek Falls State Park, for the first
time and rode on the paved trail between the big falls and the Inn, although we did this to a lesser extent last year when I rented a bike. I wanted to
ride on an unpaved trail on the east-side of the park, but Reanna didn't, so we went to the Nature Center instead, looked around, and climbed down around
the cascades. There were so many young families in the park sporting bicycles, riding together. I was impressed, however, I believe it is mostly a weekend
thing for the majority. We went home via Spencer and McMinnville.
March 27, 2010: Well, March is almost gone and it's just now looking like Spring around here. This has been one of the cloudiest, wettest winters
I can remember living through in Tennessee! The Japanese Magnolia in our yard is starting to bloom--a sure sign that Spring is here--but it will certainly
turn cold a few more times till warm weather is here to stay. Today, Reanna had another Cheer competition in Nashville. They placed 6th out of eight teams.
That might do it for this season. We'll see. Later today, I finally got to ride my bicycle for the first time this year. Just around the neighborhood. It
March 22, 2010: Ok, so health care passed. It's way too early to tell what this is going to be like. I say, give it a chance. Fifteen-years ago,
under Clinton-Clinton-Gore I was probably a little more against it than for it. But, the time has come to do something, people. We have the highest
health care costs in the world, and the state of our national health is far from the best. Our current health care ranks below many other industrialized countries.
The time has come. In most industrialized countries universal health care is as common as public transport, and it works just fine. I wish all those
fear mongering tea party yahoo's who live in the Independent Republic of Fox News would grow up! It's time for us to be a little more like the rest of the
developed world and stop acting like the last frontier of the free-to-be-me (even if I'm an idiot) franchise.
March 19-21, 2010: Reanna and I went on our church's youth group retreat. We visited the Mayfield Milk/Ice Cream factory in Athens, TN
on the way, which was interesting. Then, we went to a rental lodge in Pigeon Forge, and spent Friday and Saturday night. On Saturday, we cruised up
and down the strip of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg (something which was fun with a group, but I personally don't care for it). We shopped at the Bass Pro
Shop in Sevierville, rode go carts in Pigeon Forge, and hopped around from one attraction to another for a short hour and a half in Gatlinburg. Reanna
and I went to the Ripley's Moving Theater (not a good idea after eating a baloney sandwich) and the Hollywood Wax Museum. Neat stuff, but again, I
prefer to go to the Smoky Mountains to see nature as the main attraction, not a backdrop, but that's what you've got to do when you're with
American teenagers, apparently. I think all would agree that the retreat was a big success, however, because the spiritual emphasis was very good. We
had some good activities, and a very good guest speaker from Knoxville that provided fun, fellowship, inspiration, and Biblical truth.
March 13, 2010: The other night, the three of us went to see the new Alice in Wonderland movie, but today, Reanna and I went to a movie
for the first time in M'boro. We saw Percy Jackson and the Olympians..." It was pretty good, and we were pleasantly surprised to see Nashville's
Parthenon make a guest appearance. That was nice, and very fitting for the plot. Reanna is very interested in Greek mythology now! And, it also
happened to be her 10th birthday today.
March 6, 2010: Today, Reanna had another Cheer & Dance competition in Birmingham, AL. It was very crowded and raucous. Her team performed
almost flawlessly, but they finished third, again. There's a pretty fine line between these teams.
March 1, 2010: Wow, I really miss the Olympics! It was good. It was so surprising to see how well the U.S. and Canada did. Germany? Yes,
one always expects them to do very well, of course. Man, I dunno what happened to Russia this time though. They were way down from their norm. The U.S.,
in my opinion, may have done well because they were almost the home team, without all the pressure--and because Russia was way down, but hey, I'm
not complaining. The U.S. Hockey team did amazingly well, after placing 8th in Torino (2006), they got 2nd. And, Canada, I know you have a great Hockey
team and all, but 2nd ain't bad considering Hockey is about our 5th favorite sport! Yeah, man, I miss the Olympics. And to make it even worse, I heard
on NPR that NBC may not win the bid for coverage next time. It might go to ESPN, and that might mean no more Bob Costas, and Al Michaels. That would be
a shame. Why, I'm surprised the IOC hasn't already thought about starting the Olympics Channel, and tried to get exclusive rights on coverage. Isn't
that the way everything is going?
February 27, 2010: Today, Reanna and I went roller skating at Skate Center West in Murfreesboro. It was pretty busy, and there were even some
dude's older than me skating! After that, we went to the Discovery Center at Murfree Spring & Wetland. I got to walk completely around the wetland
boardwalk today for the first time. The weather was sunny and cool.
February 20, 2010: Today, Reanna's Girl Scout troop participated in "Thinking Day," an area-wide meeting of Girl Scouts, and they had an
international day, where each troop set up a table about a particular country, made a presentation, and brought some food representing that country.
Reanna's troop chose Trinidad & Tobago. We were very proud to participate in this, and the whole day went very well. It was held at Lynchburg Elementary.
February 13, 2010: After a couple of cancellations, in recent months, Reanna's Cheer Storm team placed 3rd today in their division at
Municipal Auditorium in Nashville. This was the second competition Reanna has been in. Another snow storm missed us--this time to our south--stretching
from Dallas, to Atlanta. We keep missing all the snow. It's gone to our north and to our south. Also, the Winter Olympics started last night. I
watched the opening ceremony (yes, the whole thing, just about) and I really enjoyed it. I've always been a fan of the winter games, ever since the
first one I can remember watching on TV in 1972.
February 10, 2010: It's been three days since the Super Bowl was played and I still find it amazing that New Orleans beat Indianapolis. I
think that at the end of 2010, the fact that the Saints beat the Colts will be voted as one of the biggest "feel good" stories of the year. This is
partly because there just aren't many good stories happening to feel good about out there, and because it was truely an amazing story. I also feel
touched that I got to visit New Orleans, for the first time, mind you, just a little over a month before the Super Bowl. I really identify with
Nola, it's people and it's environment after a trip like that.
January 31, 2010: Well, we've just gone through our second "big winter storm" forcast for January, and we have pretty much come through
it ok. They were predicting a lot of snow on Friday, and it did snow, as predicted, and we got to leave work early (which is rare), and the Tullahoma
schools decided to close early. But strangely, the moisture in the atmosphere warmed up and the beautiful snow turned to rain, and it rained for the
rest of the night. Reanna's Cheer competition that was planned for Saturday morning in Nashville got cancelled--not the competition altogether--it went
on, but our team pulled out because of the slippery conditions between here and Nashville. Saturday morning it was still slushy and had not started
freezing yet, but then by afternoon it started freezing, and it even snowed a little bit more. It remained below freezing all Saturday night until
Sunday morning, about Noon-time, things started to thaw-out. It's now just about February, and I wonder if we'll get any more winter storms? We'll
have to wait and see.
January 16, 2010: Classes are back in session at Motlow, and work is picking up again with a new semester. I'm getting ready for my
class on Tuesday evenings. The weather's pretty blahh this time of year, and there's not much to do on Saturday's except watch NFL playoffs.
I look forward to when weather warms up so I can do more outdoor activities and get more excersize.
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