Monday, June 30, 2014

Bearly Speaking

Thoughts of bears came to the forefront of my warped brain when my daughter Anna and her boyfriend James Prinkey came inside saying that there had been a black bear in the backyard of my home. It ran from an area where a bee hive was located across the grass, crossing the road only to disappear in the high growing grass of a hay field.
The sighting made me think of the times as a child, I would dream of looking out of my window and seeing a bear in the yard of my parents house. Sometimes it would walk in the yard, only to disappear into the woods behind our home. At other times it would rear up and look through my second story bedroom window. When the dream of a bear would turn into a nightmare, I would wake up with my heart pounding in my chest. I knew that having a bear look into my window was impossible; it did little to calm my childish fears.
I had never seen a bear in the wild until driving home one night after work. I crossed the top of a hill and walking along the road was a shaggy, dusty looking furred creature. I thought at first that it was a large dog, but as I passed it, I noticed that it was too tall. The earthen bank beside it was nearly three feet high. I couldn’t see its face, so I turned around to get a better look, but it had disappeared into one of the fields that lined both sides of the road.
The bear sighting also reminded me of a story my sister Kathy would tell me. She would watch her granddaughter at times. Kathy had a potty chair for Alyssa to use when she visited, but Alyssa refused to use it even though she was doing well with potty training at her home.
Finally, after repeated questioning, Alyssa confessed that she was afraid of the decal of a fluffy teddy bear that had been applied to the backrest of the potty chair. Once Kathy made a cover for the back rest, Alyssa had no problem with using the potty and I am glad to say, she no longer needs to wear diapers.
While we are on the subject of potties, I recall a story that Kathy shared with me. My brother, Ken, visited when she was babysitting Alyssa. Ken, who is proud of his gas producing skills, passed gas with a thunderous rip. Alyssa ran from the room. Concerned that Alyssa had been scared by the flatulence, she followed the child. Kathy broke out into laughter when she saw that Alyssa was coming back with her potty chair in tow. From the sound that she’d heard, she decided that Ken was in need of her potty.

Friday, June 27, 2014


I’ve written about my grandparents and will try to share some of the things that I can recall about my wife Cindy’s grandparents. Her granddad Morrison, I never met. He had died before I met Cindy, but her grandmother, Pearl Elizabeth Morrison lived as a neighbor to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater. She lived the last years of her life in the old school beside the church in the Bear Run Preserve. She was a stubborn woman who wanted things done her way.
If it didn’t move or breathe, she painted it. If she wanted something done, she wanted it done yesterday. I remember that she had a beautiful old dining room suite and thought the hutch was too tall. She used a hand saw and cut out the middle section so that the top rested directly on the bottom.
Pearl attached the lights and ornaments to her 5 foot artificial Christmas tree and placed it in the center of a bag used to keep a live tree from shedding needled when it was removed. When Christmas was over, she would pull the bag over the tree and have my father-in-law Bud, carry it to the attic. The next year all she needed to do was to open the bag and her tree was ready.
She would tell my mother-in-law Retha, that she liked something. Retha would buy it and give it to her later as a gift. Pearl would say, “Why did you buy that for me?” Later, Retha found that Pearl had traded it to someone else. One Christmas, Retha bought a clothes hamper because Pearl said she never had one and would like a hamper. Retha bought it and when Pearl opened it, she said, “Why did you buy that for me?” Retha had had enough and said, “You told me that you wanted one and I don’t want to see you trading it away,” but Pearl was hard headed and put the hamper in the hallway with a vase of fake flowers on it, never using it for more than a plant stand.
She had two bedrooms, but chose to sleep on a cot in a corner of her dining room. Buying regular sheets and blankets, she would cut them in half and hem the raw edge to use as bedding. Her perfume still lingers in a halved flannel sheet even fifteen years later.
She was hospitalized with a stroke. When Cindy and I went to visit her in the hospital, Pearl shared that she had been attacked by a skinny black woman during the night. At first, we thought she was confused, but we found out later that a woman had gone over the edge and tried to choke Pearl. The woman was put in the psychiatric ward.
Pearl was proud that she could move the arm affected to the point that she could reach overhead, but not high enough to reach the trapeze bar that patients use to ease their movements while in bed. I said, “I need to get a paint brush for you. You’ll get your arm high enough.” That made her smile. She knew that Bud said she painted everything, including the oak hutch that she cut in half, the table, and chairs. “It wasn’t the right color” and she spread on several coats of a tinted varnish.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

This is a kid's story that I wrote and pulled it from my archives to share with you all. Although the tale is fiction, the boy in the story is a friend of mine who lived on a farm and had a dog named Trixie. I hope that you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Pocket Change
                Norman was a curly haired, rosy cheeked boy who lived on a small farm with his mom and dad. His dad raised chickens, pigs, and a few cows. There was never a time on the farm when there were no cats and Norman had a dog. Trixie was his dog and followed him everywhere, helping with the chores.
                The farm had a small orchard and large garden. It was Norman’s job to keep the weeds out of the garden and it was Trixie’s job to keep the animals out. Although Norman spent a lot of time on chores, he did have free time. That is when he and Trixie would explore the open fields and nearby wooded glen. They found secret places to play among the rocks and trees. They splashed in a little stream that tumbled through the woods and raced across the fields.
“Norman, Norman Lee,” he heard his mom’s voice calling. Norman had been in the barn looking for Muffy, one of the barn cats. She had a litter of kittens and he had just found her nest. He slid down out of the hay mow.
“Coming Mom. I’ll be right there,” he yelled as he hurried from the barn.
Parked in the driveway was a shiny black car. His mom and another lady were standing beside it. The other lady looked a lot like his mom. Drawing closer, he could see a boy about his own age standing with them. His hair was so blond; it looked almost white in the bright summer sun.
Trixie ran ahead and stopped by Norman’s mom. She absent-mindedly scratched Trixie’s head while they waited for Norman to catch up.
“This is your aunt Rose and your cousin Frank. You haven’t seen them since you were just a baby. They are visiting for a few hours. You two boys can play together while I visit with your aunt Rose. Show him around the farm and have some fun.
“Great Mom,” Norman said as he grabbed Frank’s hand and shook it. Trixie ran around the two of them barking. She seemed to know that they were going exploring.
“Come on Frank. Let me show you something that I just found.” They started walking toward the barn.
“I just found Muffy’s new kittens We have to be quiet and we can’t touch them yet. They are too young.” Norman was glad to have someone his own age to play with and to share some of the secrets of the farm.
The barn was filled with sweet smelling hay. In seconds, the two boys had climbed into the hay mow. Trixie began to whine at being left behind. “Trixie, be quiet. You can’t come up and you don’t need to see the kittens.” They crawled farther into the mow and peeked into the nest. Frank lifted his hand and started to reach toward the nest.
 “Don’t touch,” Norman cautioned.
“I’m just counting them,” Frank pouted, then began to count, “One, two, three… uhm, I see six kittens.”
They watched the kittens play for a few minutes until Muffy came back and hissed at the two of them. They backed away, slid down from the hay loft, and sped away in search of other things to do with Trixie close on their heels.
Norman showed Frank the other animals; the cows, the pigs, and the chickens. He didn’t seem impressed with anything. Soon the heat chased them into the cooling shade of the nearby woods. Just at the edge of the trees, along the bank of the stream, Norman saw a round black stone. Kids called these smooth rocks “Lucky stones” and this one seemed to shine in the sun. Norman bent over and picked it up. The smooth stone felt hot on the palm of his hand.
Frank pressed close and asked, “What did you find?”
Opening his hand, Norman showed Frank the smooth, dark stone.
“It’s nothing but an old rock,” Frank said, hurting Norman’s feelings.
Nothing that Norman said or done seemed to please his cousin, because Frank said that he “was a city boy and there was nothing a country boy could do that impress him.”
Norman stuffed the stone deep into the left pocket of his overalls. The stone clicked on something that was already in the pocket. He slipped his fingers deeper to see what he had in there. When he pulled his hand out and opened it, there was a bright red marble on his palm. It was almost the same size as the stone.
“How did you do that?” Frank gasped in surprise. His eyes opened wide as he stared at the marble.
“Do what?” Norm asked, not sure exactly what he had done.
“How did you change the color of that rock?” Frank said as he pointed to the marble.
Norm chuckled as he remembered something he had in his right hand pocket. “Watch this.” He dropped the marble into his pocket, delving deeper to pull out a large steel ball bearing. Norman opened his hand and when Frank saw the shining, silver ball bearing, he pointed and cried, “That’s magic. How did you do that?”
Once again Norman remembered something he kept in the back pocket of his jeans. “That’s nothing. Watch this.” He slipped his hand into his back pocket and released the ball bearing. When his hand reappeared, the ball bearing was gone and in its place was a bright, shiny quarter.
“Wow, Norman, that’s great. Tell me how you do that,” Frank pleaded.
“I can’t tell you, it’s a secret,” Norm whispered, his eyes twinkling with mischief. He moved the quarter to his other hand and thrust it into the front left pocket. He allowed the quarter to slip from his fingers and grasped the smooth black stone that started it all. When Frank saw the stone, he begged, “Come on Norm. We’re cousins. You can tell me. Show me how, please.”
A sly smile crept across Norman’s face “It all starts when you find the right stone. Some of them are magic.”
But before Norm could say anything more or before Frank could ask any more questions, they heard Aunt Rose calling, “Frank! It’s time to go.”
“I’m coming Mom,”Frank turned and began to walk along the stream. Norman watched as Frank took a few steps, bend over and pick something up, before taking a few more and bending over again.
Trixie and Norman followed behind. By the time they caught up with Frank, he was standing beside his mom at the car. When Norman saw that both of Frank’s pants pockets were full and bulging with stones, he could hardly keep from laughing.
“All right, let’s get in the car. It’s time to go,”Aunt Rose leaned over to hug and kiss Norman. “We’ll be back soon, I promise.”
As Frank started to climb into the car, he stopped and grabbed at his pockets. Aunt Rose just picked him up and sat him on the passenger seat.
Norman waved as they drove off. Trixie chased the car down the driveway.
There in the dust, was a small pile of “Lucky stones.” Norman picked up one that had rolled almost next to his feet. He looked at it and broke out with a big grin. “Frank picked up so many rocks that they must have poked a hole in his pocket,” Norman thought. The smile became a soft chuckle. I think I finally impressed Frank.”
“What are you smiling about Norman and what is that in your hand?” she asked.
“Just some pocket change, Mom. Just some pocket change.”

Monday, June 23, 2014

No Gas Shortage Here

Just a few lines about flatus, it’s a subject that invariably comes up when we start telling tales of our family’s past. My brother tells of the time he was playing volley ball at the Community Center in Indian Head, Pennsylvania. He brags that he passed gas and cleared the large gymnasium area. He said, “Even though someone rips one and won’t confess, I’ll claim it. Why waste it?”
Now, my dad would do things to avoid having an accusing finger pointed at him. I can remember when we were out shopping and Dad would allow one to pop out with an earful of noise. We all knew it was him when he would shuffle along scuffing his shoes to pretend that it was his shoes that made the sound that we’d heard and not otherwise.
The next story is about my son. He was working at a parcel shipping and handling company at the time. The night before he was going to work, I made red beans and rice with venison. Both were flatus inducing ingredients. His shift was later in the morning and he fried a couple of eggs for breakfast. When he came home from work, he said, “Dad, I cleared a trailer today,” and I believed him. The combination of the sulfur egg aroma mingling with the power of the beans and venison would have made almost fatal fumes. I have always wondered what the workers though when that trailer was opened to be unloaded at its destination.
The last story I will mention is about a nephew. He would hold his offering until he walked through a set of double doors at a store. As the first door would close behind him, he’d unload before the second door would close, trapping the odor between the doors in the dead air space. He would walk to the side close by and wait, like a puma laying in ambush. Most people would shrink from the assault as if they had walked into a wall.
Another time his wife was the victim. They were shopping and they separated for a bit to meet in another area of the store later. About ten minutes later, she wandered toward that area and was hit with the aroma like a brick between the eyes. All she could do was to wave her hands to fan it away and mumble, “Oh. Lord.” She knew that she was on the trail of her husband..

Friday, June 20, 2014

Books: Harder Than It Looks

Last evening I held the proof of the book I wrote, Tommy-Two-Shoes. Being able to tangibly hole it, gave me an unbelievable feeling of accomplishment. I have always loved to write. Probably because I am so opinionated and want to tell people what I think, but nonetheless, I love to write, for whatever the reason.
The inspiration is only a small part of having a book published. Finding an editor to work with you is essential, especially when the author is doing it for the first time. My editor had the skill to push me and guide me through the writing, rewriting, and help with PUNCTUATION.
My creativity, interplay of ideas, and knowledge of vocabulary are my strengths. Punctuation is not my forte. My editor asked, “Are you afraid of commas?” I don’t fear them, but I do get caught up in my own story and characters, that I forget about most punctuation other than periods and question marks.
I believe Einstein said, “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” I’m not saying that I am a genius. I am saying that writing is at least 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. Often, my characters will write for themselves telling me what they want or need and no I’m not hearing voices, although, sometimes that might help, but what I am saying these people take on a persona and a life of their own. They become friends or enemies that the writer becomes comfortable with. They become less stiff and formal and more like the friends that are welcomed at the back door and no longer have to ring the front doorbell.
The following listings are where you can either preview now or order after 27 June 2014. All feedback is greatly appreciated. Thanks for reading my blog. I apologize for using this spot for a commercial, but I would share the birth of a child here and this is the baby of my imagination. 

Pre-order listings:

These are all the places where people will be able to pre-order your ebook.  Other listings will be created the week of the 24th once it is officially released.
Book listing without pre-order capability, but people can download samples (and already have):


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Hair’s Breadth
How much time do we think about hair, quite a bit actually? When we wake, shower, and look in the mirror, we comb or brush it into place. If our hair is thinning or too long, we worry and make plans to have it cut or sometimes think about having the hair replaced if the thinning has expanded to baldness. Some men, tired of it all, shave their heads, but even they aren’t free from hair. Every few days some hair begins to sprout and the razor comes out.
Speaking about a razor, men have to deal with facial hair as well as some women. (Yes women, even you and don’t say NoNo.) Again, the mirror helps men to trim, shape, or completely scrape off those coarse bristles. Full beards are the exception. Women use the mirror and a pair of tweezers to remove those random growths when they emerge.
Women chase those unwanted hairs on legs, armpits, and private areas using a razor, waxes, or depilatories. They subject themselves to the pain, scrapes, and irritation to look smooth and sleek. Now men, other than the body builders who normally would remove body hair to highlight their muscles, are now following suit, stripping their bodies of the “unnecessary” fur.
But the thing that made me think about hair was our old neighbor. He was an older man and harrumphed in his throat quite a bit. Thin almost to the point of emaciation, he would sit on the front porch and watch the yard as we ran, jumped, and played. When we tired, we often sat on his porch and talked. As a kid I was fascinated with the crop of hair that protruded from his ears. A thick thatch of coarse hair, like flowers in a vase, stuck out from his ears. I didn’t understand how he could still hear with so much foliage growing there. I always said to myself, “I won’t allow mine to get that thick,” and have a problem, frequently having to trim of pluck them before my ear canal it filled.
My daughter says I wear a sweater all year round. I do have body hair, but not as much as some having enough hair to be considered body armor.  I wonder if that is how the mohair suit got its name, more hair. (Please don’t write me and tell me that was not the reason for its name. I do know the whys of it.)
There are all kinds of potions and treatments to get rid of hair, clean and volumize hair, to dry hair, or to grow hair, depending on the person’s need. There are also products to curl, straighten, or to color hair. If you have graying hair, even beards, they make you young again by adding color where the color has fled in its old age. If you just want to change the color of your hair, they have dyes for that as well. They make combs and brushes of all shapes and sizes for your convenience or needs.

Monday, June 16, 2014


I am beginning to think that my yard and mowing is a cursed event. All season, the back yard has been an alligator shy of a swamp and I have had to mow between the rains while wearing boots to keep my feet dry. Some places were too wet to mow and I would have to get off of my riding mower to push the swamped wheels from muck.
Then the belt on the riding mower was loose and allowing the belt to slip. I decided to buy a new belt and replace it. Before I go on, I must tell you my wife, Cindy, said that I was mechanically retarded, but I would tell her I preferred mechanically dyslexic. After looking at my owner’s manual and finding the belt number, I removed the belt, remembering how I removed it. Taking the belt and the belt number, I bought one, brought it home, and replaced it on the machine.
I started it up and started mowing. Suddenly, I saw blue smoke and headed back to the basement. I apparently did something wrong, my belt was chewed up and non-functional. I finished mowing with my walk behind mower.
So, I went back and bought another belt. This time someone reminded me to watch YouTube for an instructional post on the mower and belt replacement. Great, now I was ready. I replaced it while watching the step by step on my laptop. It was time to mow again. No blue smoke and I thought that I was home free, but it wasn’t to be. About ¾ of the way in my chore, the blades stopped cutting, but it was still drivable and I headed for the basement. The new belt was still on the pulleys, but the belt was loose. I couldn’t figure out why and finished mowing again with my walk behind.
I had a friend, James, and almost son-in-law look at it and he wasn’t able to figure out what was wrong either. I’ve been mowing with my walk behind since.
About a week ago, I was mowing with the push mower and took a break. When I went back outside, it started, but was barely running. I cleaned the air filter and it improved, slightly, but I couldn’t mow with it and I’ve been trying to figure out why it wasn’t running well. It runs with two things oxygen and fuel. I’ve been trying things to fix it.
James came over Saturday to mow with his mower. He made one pass along the back of my yard and his mower stopped mowing. He pushed it to my basement and believe it or not, it was his belt as well, but while he was here, he looked at my rider and found that a spring had broken. He is going to pick one up and we’ll repair my rider. (I hope.)

Friday, June 13, 2014

Wash Day

I can remember my mom as she washed our family’s clothes in the old Maytag wringer washing machine. Mom would have me fill the square tub on the machine with hot water and the two galvanized rinse tubs with cold water. The side-by-side tubs were on legs that had wheels on the legs and a drain on the bottom of each tub. Those tubs were placed next to the wringer arm where it could swing over top of both tubs.
Mom would dump some soap powder into the washer and pull out a red recessed knob to engage the agitator, allowing the powder to mix with the water and get frothy. The knob on the side of the washer reminded me of a bellybutton.
The first items to go into the washer were the white and light colored clothing; underwear, socks, undershirts, and dress shirts. Mom would have to out figure how long to allow the clothing to slosh around until they were clean. She would push the agitator button in and the sloshing would cease. Mom would fish the clothes from the hot water with a wooden spoon handle and feed the clothes through the wringer that was positioned over the tub with the “first” rinse water. It was interesting to watch the clothing flatten out, squeezing the wash water back into the washing machine. Sometimes trapped air would hiss and cause the water to squirt high into the air as the pocket was compressed. The flattened clothing was pushed out and into the rinse tub.
Once the washer was emptied of clothes, the next load was tossed in were the bright colors: tee shirts, shorts, dress pants and shirts. Mom would allow the whites to soak in the rinse water swirling them around with her hand. Just before the “brights” were washed clean, she would swing the wringer over the center between the two rinse tubs, running the whites from the “first” rinse, into the “second” rinse water. She’d swirl them to soak the last of the soapiness from them.
Back went the wringer and Mom would run the bright clothing from the washer into the recently vacated “first” rinse and toss in the jeans and darks into the washer. The wringer was turned to the far side of the “second” rinse and the whites would be forced between the wringers’ rollers, only to tumble out and down into a laundry basket. It was time to hang them on the line outside.
Loads of towels, sheets, my dad’s work clothing, and finally the rugs were worked through the washer, rinses, only to join others on the rope clothes lines. It didn’t matter the weather, Mom would hang the clothing outside. (She didn’t wash on rainy days.)
In the winter, she would come back inside, her hands reddened from the cold air on her hands that had been moistened by the wet clothes. More often than not, the clothing was stiff and frozen before she would hang the last piece of each load. Even though the clothing had been soaking in cold rinse water, steam would often rise from the wet material in the frigid air. Once the clothing would “freeze dry” Mom would retrieve them and re-hang them on lines in the basement to dry some more. She would take them down and iron them to get the last of the dampness out of the clothing, either hanging or folding them for storage.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Grandma's Garden
My grandmother’s garden was located on the sloping ground opposite of the privy and between her house and the barn. At the farthest edge of the turkey wire fort, was one of my favorite spots. It would lure me down the length of her large Garden of Eden and into a forbidden zone, by a savory siren’s call. It held an oasis of seven rhubarb plants that spread their wide, verdant leafy fronds, shading the gangly stalks as they grew from slender shoots until they became small trees. My mouth began to water just thinking about the wonderfully sour taste of its stringy yet tender flesh. Raids on the tasty plants were forbidden by Grandma, but I was always drawn to snitch one of the slender stems whenever we visited.
My second favorite spot was among the maze of the many tomato plants, whose thick rambling vines spread across a mat of yellow straw. Nestled in the pale green jungle were the treasured ruby jewels. Those succulent and luscious red gems called my name. I responded by trespassing into their growing field, selecting one of the fiery orbs. I would cradle it my hand, finally deciding to pluck it from the vine. Brushing against the vine’s raggedly velvet leaves, they would release a spicy and pungent aroma. In the palm of my hand, the sun-warmed fruit would transfer its solar power through my skin to the nerve endings, sending signals to my brain. The radiated energy caused me to quiver in anticipation of its fresh, acidy flavor being placed on my tongue.
I pressed the smooth-skinned love-apple to my lips. The warmth of its kiss penetrated my receptors of pleasure and I opened my mouth to have my first taste. I closed my eyes as the sensuous feeling of my teeth penetrating the tender flesh and then the heated juices coursing down my chin to wash across my bare chest. Bite after bite, I consumed the wonderfully savory fruit. The thought of eating another sun-warmed, garden-fresh tomato is a memory inducing experience.
The rest of the garden was a battlefield between the crops and the weeds that would try to invade. They were eliminated by a short handled, much worn hoe. Grandma would chop between the rows of beans, peppers, and beets. She would encourage the army of cabbage, peppers, and lettuce plants that marched down the garden in rows, keeping the no-man’s land open between them and the dark green, Indian-like feather headdresses of the onions that rose in tall rows.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Those Were the Days

I can remember times in my childhood when cars didn’t have seatbelts and nobody had heard of a child’s safety seat. There were still one room school houses and outhouse bathrooms. They weren’t called restrooms then, because no one wanted to rest inside. The outhouse was a place to visit only when necessary and not a place to linger. It was an unsavory, smelly, unpleasant place.
Drive-in was the thing; movies and restaurants. The movies were a rare treat and only when my dad didn’t have to get up for work early the next day. If we were good, Mom would pick up some drinks and popcorn at the concession stand. We could listen to the movie through a metal speaker that would hang on the window of the car.
The drive in restaurants either had speakers affixed to a division between parking areas and orders placed like Sonic Restaurants still do. The food would be brought to the car carried on trays by a waitress. Other drive in restaurants had waitresses that would come to the car and take your order returning later when the food was ready. One unusual aspect to some of the drive-ins was that the waitresses wore roller skates.
Another drive-in restaurant was the type that the customer went to the order widow, put in their order, and retrieved it when the food was ready. One of these was Cubby’s. It was located just outside of Mt. Pleasant, Pennsylvania. Mom would often stop there and wait to pick up Dad when he worked the afternoon shift. We had only one car and when she needed it, she would drop dad off to ride with one of his co-workers and then pick him up after.
The one item that Cubby sold was the foot long hot dog. I imagine that he sold other items, but sometimes Mom would buy a foot long and share it with me while we waited. It depended on who Dad rode with. Other times we would wait at a gas station parking lot. Mom would bring a large bag of Snyder’s potato chips in their silver and navy blue bag. She would open it and share. Teasingly, when she’d find one of the chips that were made from a potato green with chlorophyll, she would pull it out and say, “These are poisoned,” and pop it into her mouth. After chewing it, she would loll her head to the side and close her eyes, pretending that she had died. I imagine the first time she did it, my brother Ken and I were afraid that it was true, but after a few times, it became a game. We would shake her, pat her face, and say, “Mom. Mom. Wake up. Wake up,” and she would shake herself awake and would “live” until the next green potato chip. It was hard to keep two kids occupied in a car, late at night, waiting for Dad to arrive.

Friday, June 6, 2014

This is just a quick note of encouragement to the young woman that I met at the Scottdale library. She was there with her friends. I teased them asking if any of them liked to read or wanted to write. When the other two pointed to her, I gave her one of my business cards hoping to encourage her in her writing. This is for her. May all of your romance stories be true, all of your mysteries be solvable, and all of your adventures be good ones. 

The Long Trip Home
We woke the campers early. The driving schedule was going to be much longer and difficult than the day before. Two of our drivers had to go to work in the morning tomorrow. While the drivers made breakfast, the campers took down the tents and loaded them into the trailer. After eating, we loaded the last few things, climbed into the vans, and we were off. It was barely light and as we drove back down the main street toward the interstate, we were joined by the kids of the town on their bicycles. They had kept their word. They came to see us off. They waved as they pedaled furiously to keep up with our vehicles. We all waved back until they disappeared in our rearview mirrors.
Hour after hour, the miles rolled by under our wheels. We stopped only for fuel, bathroom breaks, and to change drivers. Traffic ebbed and flowed around us like a river of metal and rubber on a concrete stream bed. Our course, lead us through the states of Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana. Sometimes the flux of vehicles thinned and at other times we were slowed as we neared the cities of Chicago and Gary. The sun started to set as we entered Ohio. Everyone was growing tired and restless and we still had hours of driving ahead.
Not long after we entered the state of Ohio, it began to drizzle making the drive more miserable. The rain was barely more than a mist. It was just enough to make using the windshield wipers necessary. The weariness grew. Headlights, glaring though the rain speckled windows and gleaming off the wet roadway were causing the drivers to switch places more frequently as the strain of all the days of driving and travel were coming to a head.
Even though we were bleary eyed, when we crossed over into Pennsylvania everyone cheered. After one last pit stop and fuel fill-up and we would soon be home. The campers made calls to parents so they would be at the church to pick up the campers.
We pulled into the parking lot at 4:30 a.m. Parents were there to welcome home the travelers. All of the vans were left packed. Unloading could be left for a later time in the day. One of the drivers needed to be at work at 7:00 a.m. and took off immediately. I was working the afternoon shift and could get a little sleep before I had to go to work.
The trip was over and although we had seen the various and wondrous beauty of just a small part of the United States, we were happy to be home and glad to sleep in our own beds. We were glad we didn’t have to set up tents and cook in the dark. The trip was over and we were home.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Long Drive

When we woke, we found that a small group that was bicycling from Florida to the state of Washington, across the United States, diagonally.  The empty site we had claimed was theirs and after apologies and explanations, we shared the tables and conversations. While waiting for breakfast, many climbed several table tops and watched snakes of fog, coil in the vales. The fog muted and allowed the colors to appear. We hurried through breakfast, breaking camp, and loading the vans because there would be a long day on the road.
Everyone was told to make themselves comfortable, because we were going to have longer episodes of driving without many breaks. Mile after mile rolled by with kids and non-drivers grabbing naps. The kids talked and played hand held games. Travelling across South Dakota from the western border to its eastern border seemed to take forever. Mile after mile rolled under our wheels. Finally, after hours on the road, we entered Iowa. Everyone was growing weary and we stopped just short of Des Moines in a small town called Adair. It reminded us of small town America with one main street, feed storage, and a green town park near its center.
It was in the park that we would spend the night. The park had a pavilion, play ground, basketball court, and restrooms with SHOWERS. It wasn’t long until the kids of Adair found out there was a group of new kid visitors. They brought the basketball and played until the food was cooked and ready. Before the kids sped off on their bicycles, they said they’d be back in the morning to see us off.  We thought the kids wouldn’t show. We were going to leave early.
The air cooled and we climbed into tents and sleeping bags. As we drifted off to sleep, the whistle of the trains passing on the nearby railroad tracks sang lullabies.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Faces of Stone

When we woke in the morning, we ate a quick breakfast and hiked around the base of the towering monument. Devils Tower is located in the northeast corner of Wyoming. Its striated sides rose high over head. Many Native American tribes have legends about how the massive mesa was created. Most center around seven women. The Kiowa legend said .that the seven sisters were chased by bears and climbed onto a short rock. They prayed to the rock for help and it became taller and out of the reach of the bears. The bears still tried to reach the women, clawing at the sides. The bears broke their claws, but the tower was left with the long rivulets down its sides.
Once we had circled the base, it was time to leave. We climbed into the vans and began the next leg of our journey. We were on our way to Mount Rushmore. The ruggedness of the road as it wound its way into South Dakota and into the park. The carvings came into view. We parked the vans and walked through the entrance. Slowly the size and the whiteness of the faces of the president’s faces awed us. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt had been shaped out from the side of a granite mountain in the Black Hills.
Blue sky and trees made a frame for the sculptures. After a trip through the souvenir shop, it was time to get on the road again. The road drove through Wall, South Dakota and we had to stop and tour Wall Drug. Wall drug is a multiple-celled attraction. It was like the old Pechin’s Market on steroids, but cleaner and better constructed. There was a huge dining area that served all types of food, including buffalo burgers. Others shops were collected under an all inclusive roof, selling souvenirs, clothing, books, and even boots.
The pastor did a roundup of the wandering campers. It was time for us to head out to our overnight camp site. There had been some kind of mix up and our campsite was already occupied by a crew of rafters. The site across the road was empty and we claimed the spot. There were no showers, so the campers had to do cold wash-offs during the evening.
It was another episode of setting up tents and making our evening meal in the dark. The weather was absolutely beautiful. The grass was long and lush. There was a soft warm breeze. The stars were bright overhead. The boys and the men unrolled their sleeping bags in the soft grass on the top of a small knoll and almost immediately fell asleep.