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What's New?: Roger's Infrequent Blog (Online Since 1998)

This is a new gizmo called, "Where I've Been." You can navigate it with your mouse, and see where I've been, and lived. The green, "Where I Want to Go" places, are included, but I'm keeping my aspirations moderate for the time being. There are a lot more places I want to go to than this.

December 31-Jan. 2, 2008: Christmas was ok, but there just wasn't any time to go anywhere on an extended trip, so we opted to go on the 31st, to Asheville, NC, where we spent the night, and on the 1st we went to Biltmore Estate. It was the first time for Reanna, and our first since 1999. Everything was nice there, but the temperature plummeted over the afternoon, and became windy. We wanted to take the Blue Ridge Parkway north, past Mt. Mitchell, but the parkway was closed. So, we took I-26 north into Tennessee and took a backroad to Jonesborough, Tennessee's oldest town (1779), and since it was late in the day (almost dark), and cold, we just drove around. I definitely want to go back to J'borough someday. From there, we went to Morristown, TN and spent the night. On the 2nd, we looked for Crockett's Tavern, where Davy Crockett grew up, but it was closed, and then we took backroads all the way to Gatlinburgh. It was snowy, and there was about a quarter-inch of accumulation on the ground. There were lots of folks from Florida there, to see the scenery, but we had to move on through the park to Townsend, and then we took nothing but backroads to Dayton, TN, where I looked around the court house, famous for the Scopes Trial in 1925, while Reanna and Linda napped in the car. That was our Whirlwind, 796-mile trip. Sports Update: I was both elated and disappointed with the Titans, that they made the playoffs, and that they lost to San Diego 17-6. They were good enough to be there, but too many uncapitalized opportunities, and injuries slowed them down in the end. I am proud of what they did this past season, going 10-6.

December 20, 2007: Well, we got everything moved into the new library, and we are officially off for Christmas break. I'm at home right now, and glad to have some time off. Tomorrow, by the grace of some cosmic force, I will be off and have the chance to go to Reanna's school Christmas program for once.

December 13, 2007: Today, we begin the long-awaited move of the Motlow Library (on main campus) to the new Clayton-Glass Library building. So long, Crouch Library, and hello Clayton-Glass Library! This will be a big job for library staff, Motlow maintenance staff, and a professional moving company hired by the college, but we have been preparing for this for a long time. I may be too out of sorts to blog for a while, but we'll see.

My dual enrollment speech class at White County High School finished up this week, and I would like to wish my students a wonderful Christmas, New Year, and remainder of their academic school year. Here's a poem I wrote for them:

Speech Class is Finally Over

Speech class is finally over
No more topics and evaluations to ponder
No more books and sources to find
Too much exercise for the mind

No more searching for informative quotes
To be understood why speak from notes?
Lifeís a peach when not finding figures of speech

Speeches to inform and speeches to persuade
Iíll be so glad to finish with a passing grade

What will I do with all my new found time?
When I donít have to type a preparation outline?

ButÖ just in case the need should arise
No fear or apprehension should surprise

Iíll speak all I want, Iíll speak like the best
For the rest of my college days, Iíll pass the test

For a speaking assignment in my major
I wonít be afraid to make a wager
I WILL recall my public speaking class
And serve up a speech thatís bound to impress

Speeches to inform and speeches to persuade
Must have analysis and support to prove a claim

Speeches to inform and speeches to persuade
Iíll be so glad to finish with a passing grade!

By Roger Merritt
Fall 2007

December 7-9, 2007: On Friday night, Reanna was on the Girl Scouts float in the Tullahoma Christmas Parade for the second year in a row. The weather was mild, but everything went ok. On Saturday, it was cloudy, mild, and misty about all day, and we actally stayed in for the most part so I could catch up on some things indoors, and on my laptop. Reanna, and I ventured out for a little while to ride our bikes down Turkey Creek Road to the new West Middle School on the newly constructed side-walk. The side-walk had a lot of bumps because they haven't finished where the walk meets the driveways yet. We saw about six deer along the way. And Saturday evening, Reanna and I went to a local production of Scrooge the musical, at the Civic Center. This was a hearty and ambitious undertaking by the local theatre group, but I found it uplifting. On Sunday, after church, we had an invite for dinner to some friends of ours, the Johnson's, in Bedford County. Except for the Titans terrible loss to the Chargers (where the Titans allowed the Chargers to pluck victory out of the jaws of defeat) it was all good.

December 1, 2007: Ahh, December, and still good hiking weather! Today, Reanna and I went to Sewanee again, and found Green's View (on the extreme north-side of the campus), a nice view of the valley below, in our car. Then, we parked near Cheston Lake, and hiked on the Perimeter Trail to Morgan's Steep, another fine view of the valley below, and then to Proctor's Hall, a very unique rock formation in the bluff. The "Hall" is a square passageway formed by a huge slab of rock that fell ontop of two vertical rocks on the bluff, forming a perfect hall, or passage. It is one of the most interesting rock features I've seen 'round this part of the country. We had been to this once before, summer before last, but it was nice to see it in the winter this time.

UT lost in the SEC Championship game to LSU 21-14. UT missed a good chance to win, with LSU banged-up with injuries, and with question marks over their coach staying, and what-not. UT had their chances but came up short. In other news, we finally finished Reanna's room makeover, and moved most of her stuff back in.

November 22-25, 2007: On Thanksgiving Day I took the opportunity to work on our biggest domestic project at the moment, which is to paint Reanna's room. This has been a very long-going, time-consuming project, requiring hours and hours of painting the walls, closet, closet doors, baseboards, crown molding, window, touching up, on, and on, and on. Well, I spent a good part of T'giving Day painting whilst listening to the T'giving programs on NPR on the radio. We had mom and dad over for turkey dinner at about 2:30 p.m.

On Friday, Reanna and I went for our once-a-year hike to Machine Falls, at Short Springs Nature Area, just outside of Tullahoma. It was pretty bright and chilly, but the autumness was gratifyingly serene and undisturbed. It was a wonderful alternative to shopping-hopping-mad Tullahoma. Friday evening, we had a surprise visit by our friends, the Johnson's, who live in the Lewisburg area, and an invitation to go see the new movie Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium with them at the Tullahoma cinema, which turned out to be delightful. It gets an all-round thumbs up from us.

On Saturday, we finally got started raking leaves, but didn't get very far, untill the UT - Kentucky game started, which turned out to be an all-afternoon barnburner of a tooth gnasher that went to four overtimes. Somehow, UT won, but it sure didn't feel like it. The up side of it is that they have a "shot" at winning the SEC Championship next Saturday against LSU in Atlanta--but, well, let's don't even mention what happened the last time UT was in the same situation! On Sunday, we had a fairly large family gathering at my Uncle Dan's and Aunt Brenda's for Sunday dinner. Except for the conspicuously bad performance by the Titans vs. the Bengals on TV, it was all good.

November 17, 2007: Today was partly, to mostly cloudy, but nice for hiking. Dad, Reanna and I decided to go just over into Grundy County, to Savage Gulf, to do some hiking on a trail we began in August of 2006, but did not get very far on. So, we drove to Altamont, TN--one of the smallest county seats in Tennessee--and ate lunch at Spencer's Cafe. Then we drove to the Greeter Falls parking area, and hiked on the Boardtree Falls trail to Alum Gap campground, and then continued along the Rim Trail for a good bit admiring the views of the big gorge below. It was a beautiful sight, with the Autumn colors, and we met some nice people along the way. The total distance we hiked, I think, was about 5-miles, give or take. We want to go back sometime and try the Stone Door to Alum Gap Loop Trail that we discovered, which is about 7-8 miles. There is no end to the beautiful hiking trails in this South Cumberland Nature Reserve area. See these photos at my Flickr site that I took of the beautiful colors and see if you don't agree. Please have a look!

Saturday evening: Reanna and I participated in a local version of the Amazing Race with the youth at our church. This was the first time the group has done this and it went very well. I was a designated driver for a group of four young people (counting Reanna), and we had eight places to find around town, based on photographed clues. At each place a trivia question, or action was required to get the next destination clue. It was quite fun, and we came in 3rd-place out of four teams.

November 10, 2007: Today, since Reanna was coping with a slight cold, I let her stay at my parents while I went out to the AEDC Mountain Bike Trail, located about 10-miles away, near Woods Resevoir. I only just recently found out about the trail, and it has only been open to the public since the latter half of 2006. It is on Air Force property, but it is very remote, and woodsy; not too hilly, or rocky. I have not done any "mountain biking" before on dirt trails, and I thought it was just right. The land was used for artillery maneuvers during the Camp Forrest days of WWII, and today it is only used for mountain biking, horseback riding, and hunting. I think I will enjoy exploring more of this area in the future, and there are also other areas of AEDC that may allow bicycle access. See my new set of recent bicycling photos at my Flickr site.

November 3, 2007: Today was such a beautiful day! I had heard that there is a 13-mile biking & horseback riding trail on the property of AEDC, so I took Reanna to check it out. It looks pretty good, just looking from the parking area, but we didn't have our bikes, so we only checked it out for future reference, and then drove on to Sewanee, to hike some of the perimeter trail. As it turned out, it was homecoming at Sewanee, which is probably one of the busiest weekends of the year on the campus, but we patiently made our way to a quiet place to park and start our hike. All together, we hiked about three miles, to an almost dry waterfall, Bridal Falls, and around a small lake, Lake Cheston. We met only one lone-hiker, a nice man who is a math teacher at Franklin County High School, and talked for a good half-mile. As we drove out of Sewanee we passed the football stadium, where they were playing Birminigham Southern in what appeared to be a close game. The student body and alumni crowd at Sewanee are a very affluent, sociable, and well-dressed bunch, and didn't seem to be all that interested in the outcome of the game, from what I could see. Anyway, we enjoyed the hike.

October 28, 2007: Well, the Boston Red Sox swept the Colorado Molehills tonight to win the World Series. Way to represent the National League Colorado! I know you had a great streak at the end of the season, and up to the WS, but what happened? BTW, even the Cubs beat Colorado 5 out of 7 this year. I know, I know, the Cubs didn't have a pulse in the playoffs and expired posthaste. I just couldn't give my support to Boston, however. I was happy for them in 2004, OK? But with all the Boston/New England sports hoopla going on these days, I have to oppose the overkill.

October 27, 2007: Friday night/Saturday morning, we had a lock-in at church with the teens. Although I gave up at 2:15 a.m. (after roller skating from Midnight till 2:00 a.m.), and went home to bed, I was nackered all day today. Still, Reanna and I went to my Grandparent's farm, out at Raus, and walked a good bit over the hills and woods. It was our first walk out there since Springtime, and it was so beautiful and relaxing. The scenery on the farm is just wonderous! It has always been a special place to me--a hidden valley nestled in the rolling hills of southern Bedford County--away from roads, and almost completely void of the sight of construction, except for a few houses. The farm has always been a vast area to walk around in, and for the first time, I took Reanna to the highest part, Billy Goat Ridge, and enjoyed the view. At a place, where the clearing retreats into a wooded area, I tried to explain to Reanna that this part was my Tarabithia, my Narnia, while growing up, and she could hardly grasp the concept. Oh, well, I think she was just being contrary, like a seven-year-old, and didn't mean it.

October 20, 2007: Today, Reanna, Dad and I packed our bikes into Dad's truck and drove to Chattanooga to ride on the Riverwalk Trail, a wonderful Greenway system that parallels the Tennessee River from Ross's Landing to Chickamauga Dam. This simply has to be one of the best Greenways in the country. Although its planning started twenty-years ago, it is very new looking and modern in design, with objects of art, statues, modern bridges, signage, restrooms, and purposefully built parks, with pavilions, piers, and playgrounds, well landscaped. It is the best thing I have seen yet in the Greenway category. I understand Nashville has a nice new Greenway, too, and we plan to check it out soon, but Saturday was the best, and longest cycling experience of my life so far, I believe. We rode a good seven-miles of the Riverwalk, which turned out to be about fourteen-miles upon the return trip. We also rode over Walnut Street Bridge and back, so this was no ordinary day of bicycling. The scenery all along the Tennessee River was exceptional, and the way the engineers have integrated the Greenway into urban, residential, industrial, and previously unused wetland areas is amazing. Reanna was up to the task. She showed a lot of endurance, and still wanted to play in the playground at about two-thirds the way to Chickamauga Dam, and she made it all the way back to the truck, parked near Walnut Street Bridge. It was a fantastic day, weather-wise, the cycling was unforgettable, and I took a lot of photos and video with my camera!

October 13, 2007: Today, Reanna and I went to a Girl Scout outing to the Brentwood Skate Center. It was a very nice roller skating venue, and the Nashville Roller Girls, called the "Rhythm & Bruiser's," were there to give a talk. They seemed to behave like role models. Who knew they existed? Next, we went to visit my sister in Nashville, and my brother-in-law Shane took me for a ride in his recently acquired 1946 Chevrolet Fleetwood antique car. This car is a beauty, and quite an eye catcher. While Reanna and Mattie played, I went for a ride on my bicycle that I carried on our car, around Lipscomb University campus. I was amazed at the new construction and renovation they've got going on, plus the landscaping. They have totally gutted the old Burton Admin. Bulding to turn into a school of Pharmacology, with a music wing. They have just about filled every bit of available space on campus--every nook and cranny--with a building. I was very impressed. This was a very full day!

October 5-7, 2007: Reanna and I went on a church camping trip to Henry Horton State Park, which lasted from Friday eveing till Sunday afternoon. This is the second church camping trip we have been on. Everything went pretty much as planned. The camp grounds were pretty full. We had about five camp-sites reserved together, and made our central area for cooking, and congregating right in the middle. Reanna slept with two teenage girls in a tent, and I slept in a one-man tent. We learned some pioneering lessons, and cooked like pioneers using heavy iron kettles. The teenagers did a lot of the heavy lifting cooking with, and cleaning the kettles, and we had some very good meals. We went canoeing on the Duck River on Saturday afternoon (the second Saturday in a row for Reanna and I) and we had a good time. Saturday night, we went on a night hike with a ranger, and listened for owls, and other birds. We had a worship service on Sunday morning, with about 30 in attendance, and then we packed everything up. The last thing we did was eat lunch at the Park restaurant.

One thing I've noticed on these camping trips, is that hardly anyone gets any sleep. Try as we may, we can never get comfortable enough, and it is never quiet enough to get a half-decent sleep. That's just the way it is.

Saturday evening was also filled with a bit of anxious sports distraction. Via cell phones, we kept abreast of the UT - Georgia football game, and the Cubs - D'backs playoff game. Well, I guess I was better off NOT watching the Cubs game, as they were stunningly swept by the more disciplined and homegrown D'backs. In a series that was about as baffling and frustrating as it could be for Cubs fans, we are left to ponder how a team, as talented, and payrolled as the Cubs, could play so poorly on offense. As a team they batted .194 for the series, and .087 with runners in scoring position. Inexplicably, the Cubs "big three," Soriano, Lee, and Ramirez, combined for just a .158 batting average. It really hurts to see the Cubs underperform against a team who was near the bottom in team hitting, and had a higher team ERA than the Cubs during the season, but the Cubs seem to have trouble against certain teams, and the D'backs are one of those teams. Oh well, I didn't get my hopes up too much before the series, but I am disappointed in the way the Cubs played.

September 29, 2007: Today, Dad, Reanna and I went canoeing on the Duck River, a few miles west of Henry Horton State Park. We did a five-mile trip, and the weather was sunny and warm, but not too hot. It was very nice. The outfitter's we went with were The River Rat's Canoe Rental ( I have always enjoyed canoeing, since I was a boy, but have never been able to canoe as much as I would like. This may be the first time in my life that I have been canoeing twice in the same year (we canoed on the Elk River in June).

Also, don't look now, but the Cubs have actually won their division! For only the fourth-time in my life-time, the Cubs have done it. This team, as every Cubs fan should know, has talent, and they should have won the division, but they waited till the very end of the season to realize this dream. They are the most balanced team I have seen before in a Cubs uniform. They don't rely on the long-ball as much, and they don't have any of the top sluggers in the league, but they have a handfull of good hitters, and a good starting rotation. Lou Piniella has done an admirable job as manager to bring the Cubs from last place last year, to first place this year. I don't want to get my hopes up too much, however. They play the Diamondbacks in the playoffs, a team who usually beats them, but hopefully, the Cubs can turn it around. The series is going to be on TBS. I'm still not sure how TBS got into the big-time MLB Playoff coverage competition, but there you have it.

September 22, 2007: Today, Reanna and I put the bike rack on the car and carried our bikes to Murfreesboro's Greenway for a ride. I am a big fan of Greenways, and this is the best one I've seen around here. I've been to Tullahoma, Manchester, and Estill Springs's Greenway, and I think the concept of turning underutilized urban wetland into recreational trail, for walking, running or cycling is a wonderful idea. The M'boro Greenway also has numerous benches for sitting, signs with history, and trailheads with parking areas.

We also went over to MTSU to walk through the Mass Communication building, and the lobby of the Library, for old times' sake. Reanna had not seen them before. I have not been over there in quite a while, and there has been a lot of new construction around the east side of campus, and East M'boro in general. The growth around there has been amazing.

September 15-16, 2007: This time of the year is big for birthday parties with Reanna's friends, and this weekend we had a record four parties to go to (three on Saturday and one on Sunday). Fortunately, the ones on Saturday were scheduled apart enough so that we could attend all three for at least a portion. The tricky thing was that the one in the middle was located at Henry Horton State Park (an hour away), but we made it all right. We had three parties on the same Saturday last year, and we were able to attend a portion of all three. Reanna doesn't quite understand the logistics, she just wants to go to all three, so I did the best I could.

Labor Day weekend: On Saturday we went to the Chattanooga Nature Center (, which is located partly on a wetland between Lookout Creek and Lookout Mountain. There is a lot to see at the CNC, such as endangered Red Wolves, and a number of birds, and reptiles. There is a large, one-of-a-kind treehouse that you can explore, and some other natural garden displays, including a 3.5 mile drive called Reflection Riding (, which is a 300-acre arboretum, botanical garden, and historic site dedicated to the study and conservation of native plant life. This was very interesting, particularly the two bamboo patches. Anyway, this is a great place to visit.

On Monday, we went to Nashville to The Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park ( with some friends and our kids played in the fountains. After that, we all went to the Old Spaghetti Factory, on 2nd Avenue, to eat, and to our surprise, it was not very crowded.

August 31, 2007: Boy, life has gotten busy! Reanna has started dance and piano this month, and she is continuing with gymnastics and brownies. Work-life is very full for me this fall. McMinnville's enrollment is big this semester and they have started building a major extension onto the building, which is going to force everyone to adapt to a lot of change. Plus, I am teaching a speech class for Motlow in Sparta, TN at White County High School two days a week. I am already feeling guilty for partaking in Labor Day weekend!

August 14, 2007: I bought a new Mountain Bike last Friday from a friend, who built it himself. See a few photos at my Flickr site. It rides very well, and now that Reanna is into riding bikes, we have ridden all over the westside of town, and we are hoping to expand our itinerary a bit.

August 10, 2007: Here's my travelogue about our recent vacation to Trinidad, and please enjoy the trip photos at my Flickr site.

August 4, 2007: Today I took Reanna to a Brownies activity at Camp Lencoya, near Old Hickory, TN. After that, we went to the Lane Motor Museum (, located in Nashville, on Murfreesboro Road, near I-24. This museum was wonderful. I am not a big car enthusiast, or anything like that, but I loved this museum for its terrific collection of classic European, and Japanese cars. They have several Citroen's, SAAB's, MG's, Mini's, and Isetta's, the kind of cars that all adults and children would find interesting. It is a very tasteful museum, which brought back memories of when I lived in London, and saw lots of unusual cars. If you live in middle Tennessee, check it out!

July 31, 2007: Today marks the 10th year we have lived in our house. We bought the house ten years ago and moved in on this date. It is by far the longest I have ever lived in the same house.

July 26, 2007: Well, we got back late, late last night from Trinidad. The whole trip went very well, although the spicy diet and bumpy roads did a number on my digestive tract! I've had an unsettled stomach for over a week, but that's a small price to pay for the experience of Trinidad, you better believe it. Right now, I feel like I am in a different place, and a bit dysfunctional, so please give me some slack. I'll report more details about the trip, hopefully, some time before the memories lose the battle with the regular mundane routine we can't get away from.

July 3, 2007: Last night, we went to see Ratatouille at the cinema. The animation was great, but it sure was long-a-touille! Whew! Lately, we've been to see Shrek the Third, Nancy Drew, and Ratatouille, and I must say, they cram so much action into these movies that the whole movie seems like a preview. There is hardly a nano-second of rest in the movie to collect your thoughts.

June 30, 2007: Today, Reanna and I took our bicycles to Tims Ford State Park ( and rode them on a paved trail, for the first time. It's a trail that we have attempted to walk several times, to Weaver Point (a narrow peninsula jutting out into the lake), but have never been able to finish. It felt great to finally see Weaver Point, and to ride our bikes. Reanna is still getting used to riding her bike on different surfaces, and this was a bit of a challenge, but she really liked it.

We are ready for a trip! If you don't hear from me for a while, it is because we are on an island. Hint: it's an island that was discovered by Christopher Columbus.

June 23, 2007: In an ongoing effort to learn more about my family history, today, Dad, Reanna and I located the old farm where my Great-Grandfather Benjamin Madison Merritt (1853-1929) lived when he moved from Cannon County to Coffee County in about 1901. My Grandfather was about 3-years-old at the time, and that was where he grew up, so to speak. It is located between Gnat Hill and Hoodoo, on a rather typical, but nice stretch of country-side in Northern Coffee County, TN. It was, and still is a farming community, although new houses and subdivisions have popped up here and there. We have known for a long time that the farm was locatd on this road, but we didn't know exactly where, until recently, when we talked to a cousin of my Dad's on the Floyd side of the family, after the funeral of my Dad's (my Aunt) older sister Nancy Lorance (1927-2007), last Thursday. The owner of the property, a widow, who has lived there for over 57-years, remembers hearing about the former Merritt occupants, but we didn't get to talk to her long enough to find out very much. Maybe another time. But, this is great to finally discover, because this is the furthest back that we can get as to where my ancesters lived, with any certainty. We know what districts they lived in before that, but no exact locations.

June 16, 2007: Today, Dad, Reanna and I went canoeing on the Elk River, in Lincoln County, about 10-miles east of Fayetteville. It is a beautifully calm river for leisurely canoeing, and since this was Reanna's first time, it was perfect. I have always loved canoeing, but it has been 10-years since I last canoed, I am embarrassed to say, and that was on the Elk River at about the same location. Now that Reanna is about the right age to canoe, I hope we can go more often. Check out the expression on Reanna's face here. We are blessed with some beautiful lakes and rivers in our region, but to actually get to see them and enjoy them is an all-too-rare thing, I have to admit. Saturday eveing, Reanna went to a birthday party at the public swimming pool in Winchester, to a member of her Brownie's troop. Reanna's had swimming lessons one hour a day for the last two-weeks with a private instructor in Tullahoma, and she is eager to get some more swimming experience. I would have swam, but none of the parents did, so I enjoyed conversing with the adults.

June 14, 2007: Well, the annual Bonnaroo music festival that takes place near Manchester, TN is underway, again, and I have to drive right through the build-up of it with people driving in from all over the country, converging at the same Interstate overpass that I drive across to go to McMinnville for work. In the first couple years of the festival, the sport of "Roon spotting" (watching a lot of young people dress, and act sort of like hippies) was casual and refreshing, but since about 2005, the traffic has become so efficient that, although slow, everyone stays in their vehicles, and hardly anyone wanders around. How Boring! I hear that a lot of Roons go over to the Wal-Mart for supplies and tailgating for a day or two before Bonnaroo actually opens, but that is too far out of my way. Such is life. The entertainment value of my commute just ain't what it used to be.

June 8-9, 2007: No trip this weekend because I had to chaperone a Youth Lock-in at church. We rented the local roller skating rink from 12:30AM to 2:30AM, and I learned to skate backwards! I have wanted to do that for a long time. And, we played laser tag. I haven't done that since 1991 in London.

June 1-2, 2007: Another trip to Chattanooga? Yep! This time, Reanna had a Brownie's Troop activity at the Build A Bear Workshop at Hamilton Place Mall on Friday night. We spent the night at the Marriott Convention Center Hotel (troop and all), and then the girls went to the Tennessee Aquarium ( on Saturday morning. While the girls were looking at the Aquarium, Dad and I visited the Hunter Museum of American Art (, where there was a special exhibit about Grandma Moses (1860-1961), with many of her paintings. The Hunter Museum was very good, spanning all the styles of American Art, all housed in a spectacular building; part Guggenheimesque, with its interconnected shapes, part southern mansion, and part straight-lined modern, perched on an 80-foot bluff overlooking the Tennessee River. I highly recommend the Hunter Museum.

May 28, 2007: The three of us went to Chattanooga Sunday evening and spent the night and most of Memorial Day. It was like a mini-vacation. Linda hasn't had many chances to see Chattanooga's Riverfront attractions, so it was fun to show her around. Reanna played in the fountain at Coolidge Park, and we walked around a good bit. Also, we drove around St. Elmo for a while, and stopped at another public park for Reanna to play some. The Chattanooga area is my new "favorite place" in Tennessee. There is a lot to see there, and the new artsy atmosphere is quite eye-opening. Plus, the architecture, and amount of renovation going on is amazing. We will be going back often, I hope.

May 19, 2007: Today, Reanna and I went to the Tennessee Renaissance Festival ( near Triune. We got there at about 11:00 a.m. and boy was it getting crowded already. Last year when we went it was all new to us, but this year it all seemed exactly like last year. I like the festival, but it really seems expensive. With the price of admission, lunch, three kiddie rides for Reanna, and three child's souvenirs that seemed reasonable to get (but pricy), we had spent $93.00. That seems pretty steep, even to an Anglophile like me. By 2:00 p.m., I was ready to go, to avoid the temptation to spend anymore money! And, the line of cars lined up to get into the festival at about 2:15 p.m. was UNBELIEVABLY long (I'm glad we got there early). The costumes were great, but some of the shows were a bit more PG rated than I would have preferred; not suitable for children. I think this will do me for a few years.

May 12, 2007: Today, Reanna and I went to Cannonsburgh Village, in Murfreesboro, TN, to see the self-guided folklore village and museum. It was free, and worth seeing in my opinion. It is a good backdrop to the history of Murfreesboro, and the area. There was plenty to see to take up a couple of hours, easily. We also went by Oaklands Mansion, to walk around the grounds and to see if anything was new. And, this evening, we checked out a new attraction in Tullahoma, the Bounce Barn (, for little kids. It's an indoor, inflated-playground for kids (and parents) to jump around on. The place was packed, and Reanna loved it. I didn't play, but I did take pictures.

May 10, 2007: This morning during breakfast, as I sometimes do, I was listening to BBC News on my XMRadio, and I heard Tony Blair's speech (live) announcing his intention to retire as Prime Minister on June 27th. When I was living in London the first time, and cutting my teeth on British politics in 1986, Neil Kinnock and Margaret Thatcher were the leaders of their parties. I remember it well. It was still during the Cold War, and it wasn't hard to distinquish between the Labor Party and the Conservatives. Unlike today, politics was easy to follow then; you knew where they were going with their philosophy, and being a "good Reaganite," I was in agreement with the Conservatives. However, it didn't take me long to get used to hearing the name Tony Blair, a young MP in the Labor Party. He always struck me as being moderate, and willing to work with people on both sides of the spectrum. I wasn't surprised much when he became the leader of the Labor Party in 1994, and still not too surprised when he was elected Prime Minister in 1997. It has been ten-years now. Where has the time gone. I like Tony Blair. He has been unique among British PM's, and I don't think there will ever be another one like him.

May 2, 2007: Well, I have been selected by Arbitron (, the radio audience research company, to participate in their radio ratings diary survey. I am perfectly willing to do this, because I value the radio programs I listen to, however, I am a little surprised that this is the second time I have been selected in about eight-years. The first time, coincidentally, I was in graduate school in Mass Communication, and I was taking the class, Media in the Marketplace, which covered subjects like Arbitron. Isn't that amazing? I start tomorrow, and keep the diary for one-week writing down all the radio stations I listen to and at what time, etc., then I send it back to them. Compensation? Well, they send $3.00 with every diary they send to your household.

April 28, 2007: Today, Reanna, Dad and I went to visit Rock City ( on Lookout Mountain. With so many famous signs that say "See Rock City" all over the Mid-South area, it is easy to lump it in the catagory of a dumbed-down tourist attraction, but actually, Rock City is worth seeing in my opinion. The way they have constructed the winding trails through the massive rock formations and botanical specimens is worth it for me, and all the gnomes and Mother Goose displays were very interesting to Reanna. I had not been to RC since I was about 12-years-old, and it was like a new experience!

We also drove over to downtown Chattanooga, parked, and walked across the Walnut Street Bridge (one of the longest predestrian bridges in the world) to get a good view of the Tennessee River, and to see Coolidge Park on the north side of the river, where there is a big fountain, and lots of open space. All of this and more is part of Chattanooga's urban renewal project that has been a phenomenal success. This is a really cool place to walk. I have wanted to see this part of Chattanooga for years, and I have always been deterred for one reason or another. The weather was good, and the atmosphere of this location was vibrant. There is also a large carousel housed in it's own building that is a fabulous ride for the kids. I could go on, and on...

April 24, 2007: I finally got around to trying a photo stitching program on my laptop and I "merged" some photos together, one of which, I have put as a banner at the top of my blog. I think I will keep it there for a while.

April 21-22, 2007: On Saturday, Dad, Reanna and I went hiking to Savage Falls. It has been about ten or eleven years since I have been to this falls. It is located on the East side of Savage Gulf State Park, near the town of Gruetli-Laager. Most of the familiar hikes I've been to in recent years have been on the West side. The weather was wonderful, however, the trees still look rather bare due to the stunted growth of leaves as a result of the freeze we had around Easter. There were a lot of people hiking and camping, but we had a mostly uninterrupted lunch and viewing opportunity at the falls. About a 1.5 mile hike from the parking lot, it is a beautiful falls to see, and looked to be in pristine condition.

On Sunday, we went to a Nashville Sounds (Class AAA) baseball game. It was an outing with Reanna's Girl Scout group. I didn't know who they were playing until we got there, and as soon as we walked in and I saw the Blue and Red colors of the visiting team, I realized they were playing the Iowa Cubs (a triple-A farm team of the Chicago Cubs), and I was excited. I had heard of at least a couple of their players before. It was a warm, sunny day--I got a bit of a sunburn--and the girl scouts were, understandably, restless and hungry at times, which I expected. It was a low scoring game that finished 2-1 in the tenth inning, with the Sounds claiming the victory. Both teams struggled to mount any offense during most of the game, only trading solo home runs through the regulation nine innings. The Iowa Cubs, true to their Major League comrades on the North side of Chicago, squandered no less than three scoring opportunities by hitting into double-plays, and seemed to resist the notion of winning a close game in extra innings. Supervised by Sounds staff, Reanna seized the chance to run around the bases after the game with a lot of other kids. The attendance figure to the game was over 5,000, but I forget the exact number. It was an enjoyable experience.

April 18, 2007: Quote-- "If it's true that the meek shall inherit the earth, us Cub fans are in for some good times ahead." Joe Mantegna
I don't know much about Joe (he's a Chicago-born actor) but that is a terrific quote. April's past the mid-way point and the Cubs already look suspiciously like a last-place team. On paper they look much improved over last year's team, but so far, things aren't looking so hot. Their new 136-million-Dollar-man, Alphonso Soriano, is already taking time off for an injury, and they suffered a painful one-run-loss yesterday to the Padres in the 14th inning. The Cubs can't seem to win close games, or win at home. It's all too reminiscent of bad years gone by. My question is...when are the "good" times for Cub fans going to get here?

April 2, 2007: Every now and then, something neat happens like discovering the answer to a long-lost or forgotten question that has been gnawing at the back of your mind. For years, I have occasionally wondered what that juvenile fiction book was that I read in 4th grade, about a boy who left home to live in the woods, and finds a hollowed-out tree to live in, and learns to survive on his own. I have sometimes credited that book for influencing my interest in nature, independence, adventure and travel, but I never could remember the name of it or the author. The story is a faint memory to me now, but I think it really did have an impact on me. Just a few days ago, I thought about trying to look it up on the Internet and see if I could find it. And then today, on my birthday (of all days), I accidentally found it while reading an online interview of an author who also credits it as being an influence on his life and travel-writing vocation. I searched the net for more details about the book, and Iím confident it is the book I read back in 4th grade.

What is it? My Side of the Mountain, by Jean Craighead George. I am surprised to find out that she is still living, 88-years-old, and active as a writer. Working in a library, I constantly find great little facts like this, but this one is extra special to me!

March 24, 2007: Today Dad, Reanna and I drove to Beersheba Springs, TN, and hiked to the Stone Door, and then down to the bottom of Savage Gulf. This is located just over in Grundy County up in the Cumberland Mountains about 54 miles from Tullahoma. This is one of the nicest hiking areas in the Southeast, apart from the Appalachian Trail. The average southerner has probably never heard of it, but to hiking enthusiast's it is becoming quite popular. The weather was a bit warm but the conditions for hiking were excellent, and we saw quite a few hikers ranging from day-hikers, to long-distance hikers with big backpacks with camping gear. Everyone was friendly and congenial. We went, about two-miles, down to the big dry creek and ate a packed lunch. I was disappointed that the big springs I saw about 8-years ago were completely dry. I don't know why they would be dry during spring time, but it has been dry in these mountains for quite a while. I remember seeing the water gushing out of the rocks the last time I was there. Reanna handled the hike pretty well. She was tired a lot on the way back up the gorge (a 600-800 foot climb over a twisty trail with lots of boulders everywhere), but she got over it once we got on level ground. There were some Boy Scouts repelling on the bluff at the Stone Door. We also drove around the historic Methodist Assembly grounds in Beersheba Springs, and then headed back home. This was our first real hike this year. It was a wonderful day!

March 15, 2007: This has been one busy week! Especially Tuesday. Reanna has been out of school for spring break, and she turned seven on Tuesday. We also had carpet cleaners, and our new Dell computer arrived on Tuesday. It has Vista, and I am slowly getting used to it. I must say, Vista seems to be all about visual appearance. What it "does" is completely subservient to how "it looks." All the colors, ways of viewing icons, and other visual candy has become rediculous to the extreme. Who needs a million different ways to view, and arrange your stuff on a computer? Right now it seems like there are as many differences as there are similarities with XP. What good is that? Why the obsession with visual esthetics? I'm sure I will get used to it, but what's the point of it all?

March 7, 2007: There hasn't been much to blog about the last month. I had dental surgery, and we have had colds to contend with. Reanna lost a couple of baby teeth recently, and she had her first experience bowling. She bowled a respectable 67, but that was with rails to block the gutters. Other than that, its been a dull last couple of months.

January 23, 2007: Here is a fun site that tells you how many people there are in the USA with your name or any combination of names that you choose. Go to I had no idea there were 92 Roger Merritt's out there!

January 20, 2007: Reanna and I went Ice Skating with our church youth group in Huntsville, AL. It was Reanna's first time skating on ice, and my first time in about ten years. It was fun, and I have not experienced any soreness. We have been roller skating twice this year already, which helps keep the leg muscles in shape. I prefer roller skating--because it is easier for me--but the occasional ice skate is a wonderful thing.

January 2, 2007: My sister had a baby on this date. It's her second child.

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