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December 28-31, 2008: Well, Christmas was ok, folks, but after Christmas, when we finally had a few days to play with, we went on a trip to South Carolina. We thought about going to Baltimore to see Linda's sister, but she was sick, so we opted for Charleston, SC, a place I have wanted to see for a long time. It turned out to be a wonderful destination--the weather was great--and the historical sights were top notch, so this worked out great! The only problem was the usual lack of time to do this trip any justice, but the novelty factor was most acceptable. Once we got to S.C., via North Augusta, I eschewed the Interstate, and took Hwy. 78 through a series of small towns, to see the real S.C., and then hopped back on the Interstate near Charleston, and coasted into the Visitor Center. We drove into the old part of Charleston, parked in a garage, and then walked the whole length of the old market. We walked through Rainbow Row, admiring the houses and the harbor, and then ate dinner at the East Bay Crab Shack, which was one of the highlights of the trip. After dark, we walked to Washington Park, and Cabbage Row, along Meeting Street.

The next day, we toured Drayton Hall, which is the oldest plantation, est. 1738, open to the public. We had an excellent tour guide, named "Booie", and thoroughly enjoyed this excursion. Next, we drove to Sullivan's Island, where we walked on the beach for about an hour. This was Reanna's first encounter with the Atlantic Ocean. The temperature was about 64F and felt wonderful for walking. Next, we drove a short distance to neighboring Isle of Palms, mainly to see and compare its houses to Sullivan's Island. House spotting is a big treat in places like this. After dinner, and a bit of shopping in Mt. Pleasant, we drove up to Columbia, the State Capital, and spent the night.

The next day, Wednesday, the 31st, we drove downtown, and visited the State Capitol building, which was fairly impressive, as Capitol buildings tend to be. Then, we drove on up to Greenville, and then to Clemson, and drove around Clemson University a bit, before returning to Tennessee via the scenic mountains of NE Georgia, sidestepping through a corner of NC, and back to Tennessee. All-in-all, it was a nice little trip, and I think we saw a good portion of S.C., considering how short it was. I think the three of us learned a lot. See photos.

December 16, 2008: Today, my library staff went to visit University of the South's Jessie Ball duPont Library, located in Sewanee, TN. We got a very nice tour of the library by some of the staff. This was a wonderful experience for library buff's like us. One of the highlights for me was getting to see their special collections library, in the Kappa Sigma House, where I got to handle an authentic early edition (1773) of a Samuel Johnson English Dictionary. It was in two volumes, and it was in great shape. I am an enthusiast of all things Samuel Johnson, and I've been to his house in London, where he compiled the first English language dictionary in 1755, at least twice. Great day!

December 13, 2008: This evening Reanna and I went with our youth group from church to Opryland Hotel in Nashville, TN. It is a huge "themepark-like" hotel, with 3 or 4 conservatories, with lots of fountains, waterfalls, plants, and things to see. It was decorated for Christmas, and extremely crowded. It was Reanna's first time to visit there, and my first time in about 10-years or so. It was pretty spectacular. I remember working at Opryland themepark the summer of '82, when they were building the first phase of the hotel. Park employees had to park in gravel parking lots around the hotel construction site. Boy, a lot has happened since then!

December 10, 2008: Wow, we've finally got some cloudy, rainy weather. Hard to believe, but we've gotten 3.77 inches of rain in the last twenty-four hours (according to Tullahoma Utility Board). Give me cloudy, rainy weather! I love it. We've had so much relentless sunny weather that you'd think we were in southern California.

December 6, 2008: Wow, not much time for posting lately. Just been too busy! Last night was the Christmas parade in Tullahoma, and it was cold. Reanna's Girl Scout troop had their own float this year, and they got 2nd Place in the church or civic catagory. Nice job! I must say, they have a great group of adult leaders who deserve a lot of credit. On another note, Reanna will be starting Upward basketball again soon. Practice starts next week. Finals start at Motlow next week, also, and our first semester in the new McMinnville Library is drawing to a close. Time for a break!

November 16, 2008: It's just not easy to be a male these days. Here's three signs that I have no control over my life anymore (at least on the weekends): So far, in November, (1) I've had to dress up like a woman for a church skit, (2) Bowl with the Girl Scout dads, for a "Me and my Guy" date with Reanna, and (3) go to Chuck E. Cheese's to chaperone the little kids from church. Gee, what's next? A matinee of High School Musical 3, or, forbid, a Disney vacation? What is the world coming to?

Election Reflection: I am so glad the election is over. I think the campaign for the election is way too long, for a start. It's too expensive, and it takes up too much of our media's attention. Why is it that most stable democratic countries manage to get their election over and done with in 5-6 weeks, but ours goes on for a year-and-a-half or more? Anyway, I'm glad it was decisive and not controversial, in the end. It's time to move on! I am more encouraged than discouraged at this point.

October 18, 2008: We had a couple of really good activities with the younger kids at church. Fifteen went to visit a nursing home dressed in Halloween costume, and then they went to Grandaddy's Farm, south of Tullahoma, for a hayride, corn maze, and lots more. It was a fun day!

October 17, 2008: Today we had a great International Day at McMinnville Center, with food, flags, and an international flare. We had a Tennessee Consortium for International Studies rep visiting us talking about Studies Abroad programs, and Terry Pazmino, a classical guitar player, from Ecuador, to perform. All that, combined with a great travel photo exhibit by Scott Kafora, of San Antonio, TX, made for a great day.

October 14, 2008: Today was day two of Motlow's two day fall break. I had planned to take off early today because a friend of the family, with two children, was planning to come visit us, but their situation changed, and Linda & Reanna decided to go meet them in Shelbyville. That left me out of the plans a bit. So, I decided to go mountain bike riding at the MBT Trail at AEDC. This turned out great. It was my most lengthy ride to date, and for once, I had no hindrances, or time limits. It wasn't always easy to see the trail because of heavy pine needles and leaves, but everything went well. I did get lost at one point, but I just walked the bike through the woods till I found the trail. The trails intersect with each other a lot, so it's impossible to stay on course perfectly. It was a good work-out, and very satisfying, for once, because I usually don't have enough time or liberty to ride as much as I'd like. This was still fairly short, considering I started late in the day, but it was better than usual. I'd like to ride all day on a longer trail if I could.

October 11, 2008: Today, Reanna and I went biking on the Shelby Bottoms Greenway in Nashville, and the weather was great. I have been wanting to do this for a year, and we finally did it! Beginning at Shelby Park, SBG goes for five miles and then loops back for a total of 10 miles. The main trail is paved, but there are side trails that are grassy. It was all rather nice, and it parallels the Cumberland River, which gives one the occasional glimpse of the water. One of the best features of this greenway is the large pedestrian bridge that was built across the River (opened in Fall 2007), which connects one with Two River Park on the other side (near Briley Parkway), where the greenway continues. Check out this page at, which shows pictures of the opening of the pedestrian bridge. Check out this site for lots of information about Nashville Greenway. There are still other sections of Nashville Greenway that I would like to explore, but haven't been to yet. There is also a very new Nature Center near the beginning of the SBG. We went inside and looked around and talked to the rangers. It looks like a terrific place. After our bike ride, we went to visit my sister, Melanie, and brother-in-law, Shane, and the girls. It was a great day!

October 3-5, 2008: Reanna and I went with the church youth group on a retreat to Marshall Bible Camp, near Guntersville, AL this past weekend. Activities included an obstacle course, peddle boating and canoeing, and a nice facility right beside Guntersville Lake. It was all rather peaceful.

There was no TV, and I didn't get to watch the Cubs get eliminated by the LA Dodgers. I had a bad feeling about the Cubs from the first two games in Chicago. Well, for the second year in a row they were soundly beaten in the first round. I, along with many Cubs fans, I'm sure, thought this might finally be the year they got over the hump and made it to the World Series. They had such a good season, and such a talented team. They had the best record in the National League, and what really set them apart from Cubs teams in the past, is that they were very balanced. It genuinely looked like everything was falling into place to make this a post-season to remember--even better than 2003--and one which the Cubs were favored to finally make it back to the WS, for the first time since 1945. The Cubs had even beaten the Dodgers 5 out of 7 times this year, but that was before Manny Ramirez came to the Dodgers. Anyway, I believe the Cubs are cursed. There is order in the universe, and they are cursed.

September, 2008: Man, this has been a busy, busy month! Weekends have been taken up mostly with birthday party invites, for Reanna, church picnic, and other activities, including Girl Scout activities, watching football, and the Cubs taking care of business winning the NL Central division for the second year in a row. In other words, September has been crammed full. This past weekend was a little different (26th-28th). My sister and her two girls came for a visit to my parents and we got to spend some time with them. It was very nice, and busy at the same time, as Reanna had two preplanned activities interspersed with Saturday and Sunday. I know October will be busy too, but please have a little mercy on us October.

September 6, 2008: Reanna had a Girl Scout service project activity today in Shelbyville, TN. They are helping with the landscaping of two "Step Up" houses.

September 3, 2008: We got Marcus to the airport ok, and he is on his way back to Germany.

Labor Day, September 1, 2008: With Marcus's visit winding down (he leaves on Wednesday the 3rd), we decided to go to an amusement park south of Chattanooga, called Lake Winnepesaukah. It has been there for a long time, since the late 1920s, in fact, but we'd only recently heard of it. It was pretty crowded, but pretty good, with lots of things to do, and lots of rides. I got a wee bit sick to my stomach on a ride called the "Tilt-A-Whirl" which we rode, first thing, and it was just after we ate a late breakfast. Oh, well, I recovered after about an hour, and still road some rides, including the nice old "Canon Ball" rollercoaster, and the "Boat Chute." It was an enjoyable day. At least until the UT game Monday night. I stayed up and watched UCLA get the better of UT in overtime.

August 30, 2008: Today, Reanna, Marcus and I went to the U.S. Space & Rocket Museum in Huntsville, AL. I have not been there since 1980, and I expected a lot of change, but wow! They have added a lot since then. Till now, I've considered Reanna a little too young for this, but with Marcus visiting with us, and his interest in Space and flight, it seemed like a good time to go. Great day!

August 24, 2008: It's not in perfecto shape, but here it is--my UK Trip 2008 travelogue. Enjoy!

August 23, 2008: Today, Dad, Marcus, Reanna and I went hiking on the Cumberland Trail, from Signal Point (at Signal Mountain, TN) to Edwards Point, along the Tennessee River Gorge. It was six miles round-trip, and quite rocky. The temperature was in the high 80s to low 90s, and cloudy. We actually reached what is known as "Almost Edwards Point" and as Reanna was looking around she accidentally discovered a Geocache under a rock; a plastic container with a log book inside, a pen, and several misc. objects. It is a game played by hiking/nature enthusiasts with a GPS. See this Geocaching article to find out what it's about. We signed the log book and put it back under the rock. We don't have a GPS, and incidentally, we had trouble staying on the trail a few times, because people have made a few bogus trails here-and-there. On the way back, we ran out of water, and a nice young man shared some water with us. I have been wanting to do this hike since last April, when we went there for the first time. It is very beautiful.

August 16, 2008: Today, Dad, Marcus, Reanna and I went to the Natural Bridge, near Sewanee, and then drove south on Hwy. 56, and hiked to "Lost Cove," or the Bugytop Trail cave. This is a fairly large, primitive cave about two-miles hike from Hwy. 56, south of Sewanee, and it is very beautiful. Marcus and Reanna were fascinated by the cave and loved exploring it. Then, we drove back to Sewanee and ate a late lunch at Shenanigan's Restaurant, an artsy, boarding house kind of place. Then, we hiked from Morgan's Steep to Proctor's Hall, a beautiful walk along the bluffs to a unique rock formation along the perimeter trail. This was a wonderful day.

August 11-12, 2008: My library staff and the movers got all of the old McMinnville Library moved to the new Library. What a job! But it is done, and now I am getting things sorted out in the new library. It's a new era for McMinnville Campus.

August 9, 2008: Today, Dad, Marcus, Reanna and I went to Ruby Falls and Rock City at Lookout Mountain, and then we went to Chattanooga. We walked across Walnut Street Bridge and around Coolidge Park. We saw where they were letting people rock/wall climb on the pillars of the Walnut Street Bridge--about 50 feet high--and Reanna and Marcus wanted to do it. I thought I'd give it a try too, since I have never rock climbed before (with cable straps and all). It was hard on the wrists, and arms, but I made it to the top. What fun!

August 4, 2008: This evening, after work, I took Marcus and Reanna to see Motlow's main campus and the new Clayton-Glass Library. It was stifling hot outside, but the campus was pleasing to the eye. Then, we went to my grandparent's farm at Raus. It was a joy to show Marcus around the farm that has been in my family since about 1903, when my maternal great-grandfather, Henry H. Holt, bought it. We went up into the barn loft, and Reanna was stung, for the first time ever, by a wasp. Ouch! I tried to tell her that I was stung a bunch of times before I was eight. I don't know, it may have only been 4 or 5 times, but it seemed like a lot.

August 2, 2008: Last night we went bowling with the youth group from church and I bowled a 122 and a 188. The 188 was the highest score I've had in years, and featured four strikes in a row at the begining. I don't bowl very often, however. Today, I took Marcus and Reanna swimming at Woods Resevoir, but unfortunately, it threatened rain most of the time, and then cleared up as we were about to leave. Then, we went to look at the Air Force/Navy fighter jets on display at the two entrances to AEDC. Marcus has some interest in aeroplanes. Then, we went bike riding on an easy part of the Mountain Bike Trail, since Reanna is not very interested in anything but smooth paths. It doesn't sound like a whole lot, but it was a pretty full day.

July 29, 2008: Last Friday evening our nephew, Marcus, from Germany arrived. He is 16-years-old and he is spending his summer holiday with us. This should be a terrific learning experience for all of us. We are as curious about his life in Germany as he is of our life in the states. He communicates very well in English, and we have introduced him to a lot of people already. On Saturday, Reanna and I showed him around town, and gave him a tour of some of the sights. We also went for our first bike ride in the evening. On Sunday, we went to church, and played Monopoly. Plus, he seems to have brought us some rain. It has rained as much in the last few days as it did for the whole month before that. So far, things are going very well.

July 12, 2008: Saturday was a bit wet--we finally got some rain in our area--so Reanna and I decided to go to Murfreesboro Skate Center West to roller skate. I intentionally took the scenic route to M'boro: Hwy 64 from Beech Grove to Bradyville, and Hwy 99 from B'ville to M'boro. That is some surprisingly hilly-to-mountainous country, with extremely curvaceous roads! My grandfather, Ernest S. Merritt was born in Bradyville in 1898 (Cannon County), and it gave me a special thrill to go there. It was only about the second time I have ever been there, and eventhough we don't know where he was born, exactly, it does my heart good to imagine what it must have been like to travel those country roads back in the day before automobiles. Due to the rain, or the heat, or the birthday parties, or the popularity of skating, the Skate Center was doing a good amount of business. Was I the oldest person skating? You bet!

July 4-5, 2008: What did we do for 4th of July? Not much. Reanna and I did go with mom & dad to Smoke House Restaurant at Monteagle for lunch. Then, we drove to the Sewanee Natural Bridge, but since mom is not able to do any walking, we sort of did the Geritol auto-tour of the south Cumberland. On the way back through Sewanne, we got held up by the "ten-minute" Sewanee 4th of July Parade. Next, we went onto Tracy City, to check out a shortcut to Ravens Point I'd read about in the book 40 Hikes in Tennessee's South Cumberland, but, alas, the people who own the trail access have decided not to let people use it anymore. What a bummer! Then, we went onto Altamont (because mom had never been there), and it appeared that we'd just missed their 4th of July Parade! On Saturday, Reanna and I did something I have been wanting to do for a long time. We rode our bikes on some of the old Camp Forrest roads that are near the present AEDC Golf Course. There are literally miles and miles of these old roads that were used during the Army camp days (1940-1946), where you can see the occasional brick chimney, or concrete foundation. It's all very overgrown with vegitation and a bit spooky now, which is probably why Reanna did not like it much. I could have ridden for hours. Next, we went to the mountain bike trail, which I have been to twice before, but Reanna had not. The dirt trails proved to be a bit too rigorous for Reanna as well, but Woods Resevior Lake, nearby, was a bright spot for her. She liked the playground and the small beach there for swimming. I have a feeling we will be going back to that.

July 2, 2008: Have a look at our vacation photos to the United Kingdom at These are the best ones in my opinion. I didn't want to overdo it, if you know what I mean, but I wanted to include as many of the highlights as I could. Flickr now accepts short video clips, but I have not tried that yet. That might really get me carried away! Also, note my new photo banner at the top of my blog. I thought the old one was getting way too old. Check last year's blog to see it if you've forgot what it looked like.

June 29, 2008: Just a side note: I found out that a minor buzz was created around Tullahoma last Monday when teenage actor, singer Miley Cyrus (aka Hanna Montana, ala the Disney Channel) was shooting a scene in her upcoming movie at Rutledge Falls, a scenic natural area near Tullahoma. How about that? According to a local newspaper, a handfull of little kids got autographs. According to one blog I found, the scene at Rutledge Falls was supposed to represent Miley dreaming about being back home in Tennessee. This is a spot that is very familiar to me and my family. We've been there several times over the years.

June 26, 2008: I thought I'd share with you the highlights of our trip. We saw a lot of things in London which weren't necessarily new to us, but were new to Reanna, or were places that we wanted to visit for old time's sake, or to see what had changed. We went to the following places/attractions in this order: Camden High Street, and Camden Lock Market, London Zoo, Regent's Park, Westminster Abbey, Parliament Square, Trafalgar Square, National Art Gallery, Greenwich Park, Leeds Castle, Canterbury, South Norwood, Croydon, Wimbledon, and a tour of the All England Lawn Tennis Club grounds (including centre court and court number one, etc.), plus the tennis museum, Covent Garden, China Town, The Royal Opra House (to see the ballet Romeo & Juliet), Queen's Walk (south of the Thames River), City Hall, Hay's Galleria, London Bridge, Leadenhall Market, The Gherkin, Tower Bridge, The (north) Lake District, Castlerigg Stone Circle (near Keswick), Edinburgh, The Royal Mile, Edinburgh Castle, Dunnottar Castle, St. Andrews, Golf Course, Greenwich Foot Tunnel, Brick Lane, Whitechapel, The British Museum, Piccadilly Circus, The London Trocadero, Lewisham Centre, The Lewisham Registrar's Office (where we were married in 1992), and the O2 Dome (aka The Millennium Dome). This is just a list of the primary places we went. There is a lot that could be said about each place, but I don't have time to write more at this time. We drove, rode the train, tubed, and walked a lot. I lost at least five pounds on the trip from so much walking. We mostly stayed with our niece in Greenwich, which was a wonderful homebase, and we visited our friend Cherrie a lot. We went to church at New Cross three times, and I spoke at the service on 22 June. We spent three nights on the road with friends and in guest houses on our trip to Scotland, and I drove 504 miles in one day, from St. Andrews back to London (because of time constraints, but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone). We enjoyed watching the Europe Cup Football Tournament on TV with Marissa & Serkan, who were very gracious and hospitable to us. The trip to-and-from the UK went just fine, thanks to Northwest Airlines, and we had a good experience with our car rental from Alamo, a Vauxhall Zafira. That was our trip in a nutshell. No big problems, no regrets, just one big, delightfully robust dose of London and the UK, right where it was needed. The only thing that could have made it better was to have more time!

June 24, 2008: Well, we're back. Everything went very well and according to plan on our trip to England & Scotland. I am humbled by how well everything went, actually. All our flight connections, transportations, car rental, and driving in the UK went practically without a problem. London is a bit crowded and slow, getting around in, but that is another subject. I am glad to be back home, but the UK experience was such a wonderful, and intense shock to my system that I am feeling like a foreigner in my own country right now. Mentally, physically, and spiritually, travel can fill your senses to such an extent that coming home makes you feel like you have lived in your own country in a previous life. The experience of the past two-weeks will no doubt fade, but for the time being, I am still in the moment, the zeitgeist of London, and that is the best kind of feeling in the world to me.

June 6, 2008: It's time for a wee little trip to the old country. No bleeping "staycation" for us!

May 31, 2008: Today, Dad, Reanna and I took our bicycles to the Murfreesboro Greenway and rode the entire thing, which is 4.5 miles, and then back for a total of nine miles. It was very leisurely, and enjoyable. We stopped several times to walk along the Stones River, and part of Fort Rosecrans, an actual remnant of the Civil War fort. The Greenway is a beautiful oasis of nature and man-made trail, with neat bridges, and underpasses that almost give you the impression that you are away from the big city. The trail ends at Thompson Lane, and right adjacent to McFadden Farm, where a memorial to the bloodiest battle of the Stones River Battle took place. The history markers and silent canons give one a sense of the horrific battle that took place there on January 2, 1863. I highly recommend this greenway to anyone interested in walking, biking, or skating. For the first time, we tried carrying three bikes on my bike rack, and it handled everything fine. I'm still hoping to go to Nashville's Greenway this year, but don't know when we'll get to go.

May 28, 2008: Raccoons! Today I had another first on my morning commute. It was rainy and a bit dark, but to my surprise I was startled to see two large raccoons stumbling across the road in front of me on Hwy. 55 this morning. Luckily, they were just far enough ahead of me so that I could slow down in time not to hit them. They looked clumsy and a bit out of their element. As for my commute these days, except for in Tullahoma, all the school zones are now turned off, as school is out for the summer. Tullahoma schools finish this Friday. With the price of gas getting to all-time highs, the cost of my commute has never been higher. I figure my commute is costing me about $10 a day. That is based on about 30 mpg that I am getting on my car. So far, we are not suffering because of this, but I hope things don't get worse. Who knows what the future holds? With 40-miles one-way, riding my bicycle is out of the question.

May 25-26, 2008: Sunday, we left for Kentucky and spent the night at a motel in Shepherdsville, and on Memorial Day, we went to Louisville, KY to Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom. It was the first time we have taken Reanna to a large theme park. The forecast was for lots of rain, but luckily, it only sprinkled on us a few times. One odd thing that developed out of this day was that Reanna, who normally, is very keen on adventure, does not like roller coasters! When we rode Thunder Run, an older wooden roller coaster, she was absolutely terrified. And later, even on a little kiddy roller coaster, she was afraid. She was very enthusiastic about most of the other kid rides, and didn’t want to leave until she’d ridden a water ride of some sort. So, I made a deal with her that if I rode the Blizzard River ride with her--where you’re virtually guaranteed to get wet--she would agree to leave the park and we would go home. We waited a good thirty-minutes in line (Linda decided to opt out of this ride), rode the round, raft-like ride down the white-water simulated river, and got sopping wet! After that, Reanna was ready to leave, so we changed clothes in the car and headed back to Tennessee. It was a good overall trip, albeit short, but we didn’t want to pass up this Memorial Day Holiday without going SOMEWHERE!

May 24, 2008: Saturday, we’d planned to go to the Hot Air Balloon Festival in Decatur, AL with our church, but Reanna’s Girl Scouts had other plans. They decided to have their “end of the year” activities on the same day and all close to home in Tullahoma. So, Reanna wanted to be with the Girl Scouts, understandably. I did, however, steal a brief opportunity to go mountain bike riding, while they were bowling for two-hours. I carried my bike out to the AEDC Mountain Bike Trail, which was in the general direction of the bowling alley, and for about an hour and a quarter, I biked on the winding, wooded trail for a few miles, and really enjoyed it! I took a shortcut back to the parking lot via a dirt road, and the horse riding trail. Then, I circled around to see a portion of Woods Reservoir Lake, briefly, then loaded my bike onto the car, and then headed back to the bowling alley to pick up Reanna.

May 21, 2008: This one falls into the Amazing Coincidence catagory: Last night Linda's sister Victoria called out of the blue, and Linda and her talked a long time. The TV was on and flipping over to the Travel Channel's Bizarre Food with Andrew Zimmern, I noticed that the episode about Trinidad & Tobago was on. So, Victoria turned her TV to the Travel Channel and they critiqued it together. How amazing is that?!

May 17, 2008: Today, Dad, Reanna and I went to Cloudland Canyon State Park in NW Georgia for some hiking and to explore this area. We'd never heard of Cloudland Canyon until an article in the Tennessean about a month ago, which is only about 80-miles from Tullahoma. It turned out to be spectacular, and definitely a place worth going back to. Multiple views of the canyon and vistas to the north along the rim-trail were gratifying, but the trek down into the canyon to two waterfalls was neccessary to complete the overall package. The trails down into the canyon, or gorge, were mostly stairs and boardwalks, but don't let that foul you. It was a rigorous set of steep angles to traverse, and we were pretty tired as a result. The temperature was kind, however, in the low-70s, and everything about this trek was ideal--lucky for us! After that, we drove back to Lookout Mountain via Hwy. 189, along the Lookout Mountain Scenic Highway, passing great hang gliding territory and views of the valley below. We stopped by Covenant College as we passed by, which is quite visible from I-24 on the other side of the mountain. I have seen the tall towered-building from I-24 many times and wondered what it was. Now I know it's a small Presbyterian college. This was a wonderful day!

May 9-10, 2008: Reanna's dance recital was Friday and Saturday night at the South Jackson Civic Center in Tullahoma. It was a big production with all the dancers from Long School of Dance and several high schooler's from the THS Aristocats song & dance group. It was very entertaining, and Reanna enjoyed it.

May 7, 2008: Linda was invited to speak at the Bel-Aire Elementary School career day to the K-2nd grader's. She spoke about nursing and showed a lot of neat stuff pertaining to nursing.

May 3, 2008: Another wet Saturday morning, so Reanna and I decided to go check out the skating rink in Fayetteville. We'd never been there before so it was pot luck what we would find. Turns out, it was reserved for a birthday party, but since there was only 45-minutes left to it, and then a break till 2:00 PM, they let us come in and skate for free. It was a small place, and the floor looked very old, but was wooden. It was not polished like some other places we've been, but it worked fine; wasn't crowded, and I got a good workout in an old, old pair of skates. Next, since we were half-way to Huntsville, AL already, I decided that we should go to the Huntsville Botanical Gardens. It has been five-years since we were there last (to see the gardens), when they had a nifty tree-house exhibit. This time they had a Dinosaur exhibit--Yes, large dinosaur replicas stationed throughout the gardens. A cheesy idea, in my opinion, but it was actually well done. Whatever attracts the kids, seems to be the ticket. Anyway, the weather turned out perfect for the afternoon, and we enjoyed the walking and viewing. There was also a new children's garden section that was added since we were last there. Next, time was getting on, but I decided to drive up into the hills east of Huntsville, and see Monte Sano State Park. It was a long way up there, but it was scenic, and there were 11 little old stone cabins built by the CCC's in the 1930s. The main viewing point to the NE was nice, but we didn't have much time to dwell on it, so we walked a little bit and then left to head back to Tullahoma. I wish Saturday's were longer!

April 26-27, 2008: Saturday morning was a bit wet, from an early rain, so we decided to go to the skating rink in Estill Springs (never been there before) but to my surprise, it isn't open on Saturday's in the day-time. So, I decided to go to the Greenway in Manchester, where Reanna played at the playground, and then we went for a walk; a short walk, because the greenway isn't very big. We didn't do a whole lot today because my sister's family was coming down to attend a birthday party in Winchester, and then they came to Tullahoma, to my parents, and we got to chat and have a rare meal together at a restaurant.

Sunday, Reanna had her first ever piano recital. The recital lasted about 2.5 hours and featured about 30 pupils from the Crawford-Young school (a private enterprise run by a mother and son) in Tullahoma. Reanna played Rock Around the Clock on the piano, and did a respectable job. She was in the middle, and she had to wait a long time for her turn, and we stayed for the whole program. I guess that piano we bought last September paid off, eh?!

April 19, 2008: Today, the weather was fantastically mild and comfortable, so Dad, Reanna and I went to do some hiking. First, we went to Foster Falls, near Tracy City, in the Cumberland Mountains. Due to the good rain we’ve had this month, this was the first time we’ve seen it with ample water flowing off the top. When Foster Falls is flowing, it's striking beauty is grade “A” in my opinion. Fortunately, it does not take too long to get down to the bottom of it and back to the car, so before long we were on our way, down Hwy. 41 to Chattanooga. Next, I wanted to check out the Prentice Cooper State Forest, which is fairly new, and overlooks the Tennessee River, west of downtown Chattanooga. This was our first time back to Chattanooga-land since early January. When we finally made it to the entrance of PCSF, we were greeted with bad news; the park was closed for a “managed hunt.” They have special turkey hunts and whatnot mostly on the weekends in April. What a bummer, but I talked to the ranger at the station and he suggested we go to Signal Mountain Park, across the valley, for some good scenery and hiking trails. We followed his advice and went to Signal Mountain, which is a very affluent town, I would say, and after wondering a bit, found Signal Point Park.

The lookout was a strategic place of signal communications for the Union Army during the Civil War, and it was breathtaking. We found out that access to the Cumberland Trail, which has only been in existence since 1998, enacted by Governor Don Sundquist, is available here. I have been interested in hiking the Cumberland Mountains for years, but I have only been to the west escarpment. This was the east escarpment, which is in the Eastern Time Zone, and I’d never heard about it. The trail is not complete, but it is projected to go from west of Chattanooga all the way up to the Cumberland Gap National Park on the Kentucky border. This will be an amazing continuous trail, like the Appalachian Trail, one of these days. Next, we sampled the CT going north along the Tennessee River Gorge for almost a mile, and it was very inviting, as we could see bluffs above us and below us. We stopped when we got to a big open gorge overlooking the Tennessee River, which is called “Tennessee’s Grand Canyon River Gorge.” It was spectacular! We didn’t have time to go any further, so we admired this view, and then headed back. Signal Mountain is something else (check out this house), and the Tennessee River really makes Chattanooga-land something special.

April 14, 2008: Going to the movie theater on a Monday night, at least in Tullahoma, is a fairly solitary affair. Tonight we went to see Nim's Island, and there was only one elderly couple and us watching the movie. A few weeks ago, we went to see Horton Hears a Who, and there were only four teenagers and us. A month and a half ago, we went to see Spiderwick Chronicles, and we were the only ones there! Monday nights are the only night of the week that the three of us can go see a movie, but apparently no one else in town goes. Or, maybe it has something to do with the movies we go see. They are usually the "G" rated, and family friendly type movies, or maybe it's because Tuesday night is "free popcorn night." Either way, it seems strange to be the only ones watching, but then again, we have a great selection of seats. One the one hand, there are more movies to see for kids than when I was a kid, but on the other hand, I sort of miss the social aspect of going to a movie that we had when I was a kid. There was just one movie on the one screen and the theater was usually fairly packed every night of the week.

April 12, 2008: Today, it was still a bit cool and wet so Reanna and I decided to go ice skating at Nashville's Sportsplex. Now, it’s been a little over a year since we last ice skated, but I didn’t expect to fall on my face or anything. I haven’t fallen on skates in quite a while. But I guess my confidence was a bit high from all the roller skating we’ve done in the past few years, and because of the near perfect traction one gets on roller skates. Skating on the ice I found the stability of my stride to be very shaky, and it was easy for my toe to dig into the ice and send me straight forward, so I fell three times today!!! I landed very hard on my elbows, and knees, and I think I may have bruised some ribs. Bummer! We were about to leave and they suddenly cleared the rink so that the zamboni machine could smooth out the ice. I’d never seen a zamboni machine in action, so we waited to watch it, and then when it was finished, we skated some more on the smooth ice and the traction was soooo much better.

In addition to skating, we also drove to NE Nashville, via downtown, and the new Gateway Bridge over the Cumberland River, and went to investigate the new Shelby Bottoms Greenway, for a future bicycling activity. We also visited an area of NE Nashville where I worked with a church back between 1984-1986, when I was in college. It was the Chapel Avenue Church of Christ, and I helped with the youth and a van ministry with some other Lipscomb students. I had some great times volunteering for this ministry, and back then, this area of Nashville was a bit on the decline, and we mostly worked with low income youth. Unfortunately, the church folded up in the mid-90’s, because the membership was quite aged, and the area was in transition. Today, the area is very much on the upturn, and lots of young adults have bought houses and are fixing them up. The old church building has been transformed into a private school that opened in 2001, called East Academy.

We didn’t have a lot of time to drive around NE Nashville because I also wanted to show Reanna some of West Nashville, where I lived from 1988-1990, while I worked at the TSL&A. It was really neat to see the two locations I lived in at the time as a renter. The memories are overwhelming when I return to places like this, but the time is so short to see them again.

April 9, 2008: Let's hear it for the UT Lady Vols for winning their eighth National Championship last night! Way to go! If Memphis State had won the men's final Monday night, Tennessee would have had the rare distinction of having both the men's and women's champion. Wow, that would have been great. And Memphis' only loss for the season would have been to the University of Tennessee. How about that? Tennessee doesn't exactly get a lot of attention for basketball, so you have to get it when you can. Memphis State really dominated the game against Kansas, and I think it's a shame they didn't hold onto the victory. Dad and I were pulling for Memphis, even though his masters degree was from Kansas (once upon a time, long, long ago) and I was born there.

March 29-30, 2008: Today was cool and dreary so I thought I'd take Reanna to Skate Center West in Murfreesboro. We like to roller skate and we have been to the one in Tullahoma so many times that I wanted to try a different one. Last October we went to Brentwood Skate Center with the Girl Scouts and that was a good experience, so I was curious to see how the one in M'boro compared to the one in Brentwood. The M'boro one was similar to Brentwood in that it had a wooden floor with open access around the rink to seating areas, but was smaller. The rink in Tullahoma is a little bit larger, in that it can accommodate more birthday parties, but the floor is not wood. The skates I got at M'boro were the nicest I've ever had; very new and comfortable. I noticed that people in M'boro skated with their cell phones quite a lot, which I don't think they do as much in Tullahoma. Another thing I've noticed is that I'm generally the oldest person skating, but hey, it's great exercise! After that, we went to the new Barnes & Noble at The Avenue shopping center. It is huge, and we just love it there. Sunday, I was feeling very under the weather with a cold, and on TV, interspersed with the NCAA Tournament, I got interested in a marathon series on the Travel Channel, called Living with the Mek, about two British adventurers who tried living with a remote tribe in West Papua for three months. It was quite interesting, and brought back memories of my trip to Papua New Guinea in 1984.

March 21-22, 2008: Good Friday was a beautifull spring day (then things turned a lot cooler), and Dad, Reanna and I went to the PT at Sewanee to hike about three miles. Starting at Green's View, the trail was rocky, possessing many views of the valley below, and had several little streams. Just a few early wild flowers were visible since the last time we came here on March 1. I wanted to show the impressive bolder that Reanna and I climbed to Dad (see photo), and all three of us climbed it this time. Fun, and challenging! On Saturday, we had an Easter Egg Hunt at church for the kids. Reanna had a good time. Later, in the afternoon, we drove over to Normandy Lake, where Tullahoma gets its water, and it looked like the water level has picked up somewhat. The drought last year had caused it to shrink dramatically, until TVA decided to cut back on the outflow to the Duck River. We drove around some more, and as I looked at the Duck River in several places SW of Normandy, it looked OK. I don't think it is suffering at all.

March 14-16, 2008: This was a busy weekend. Friday night was Reanna's first-ever sleep over party for her birthday. She had three friends and two cousins stay the night. We played Uno, Monopoly, and a little bit of Twister... Later, we watched about half of Shrek the Third...On Saturday morning, we cooked breakfast for the girls...It all went pretty well. On Sunday, the Dedication for the new Clayton-Glass Library was held at Motlow's Moore County Campus. It all went very well. Now, Reanna is on spring break.

March 8, 2008: This morning we awoke to snow about 1-2" high, except for Linda who drove home from work. It doesn't sound like much, but it is about the only snow-related fun we've had around here in a long time. I'm glad it happened on a Saturday, or else school would have been cancelled, and a lot of people would have been put in limbo. Reanna and I spent about one glorious hour playing in the stuff, and walking around the block. I mostly liked taking photos and walking around the block. Afternoon: Without much else to do, or anywhere to go, because of the cold, we went to the skating rink and had a good old time skating. What a contrast to last Saturday, when we were hiking on the Cumberland Plateau in beautiful weather!

March 1, 2008: Today was a beautifully sunny, cool-ish/warm day in Tennessee, excellent for hiking, so Reanna and I went to Sewanee again to hike on the Perimeter Trail (PT). We went to a completely different part this time, to Shakerag Hollow, a 1.4 mile hike, between University Gate and Green's View. The natural surroundings, the streams, and the occasional unusually big rock (great for climbing, see photo) made this trail very desirable, as we doubled back making it about a 2.8 mile hike. I am never disappointed when we hike on the PT! Then, we went to the Natural Bridge, about five-miles to the south, mainly just to see it again and take some photos. I noticed that a large oak tree near the natural rock bridge is rotting at the base, and I presume, will be a threat to the bridge in the not-so-distant future. If the tree were to fall on the bridge, it could chop it in-two. I hope the caretakers of this wonderful site can do something about that. Saturday evening: Reanna's Upward Basketball League season ended last weekend. Her team finished 3-5. Tonight was the banquet for all the players and their families. There was a very large crowd at this event, hosted by Cedar Lane church of Christ, and a very talented comedic juggler performed, named Todd Key. It was really something.

February 28, 2008: Here's an interesting tidbit of information for ya. A well known American intellectual died yesterday, William F. Buckley Jr, at 82 years of age. Dad's PhD dissertation was about him, and Dad even interviewed Buckley at the time, in 1973, in his Connecticut home. The title was: William F. Buckley, Jr.: spokesman for contemporary American conservatism, a classical Weaverian rhetorical analysis. You can still see the citation in the Ohio State University's online catalog after all these years. Note: they have two copies, not just one!

February 19, 2008: Today's news that Castro has resigned sort of knocked me over. I have been reading a book lately about Cuba, called, The Handsomest Man in Cuba: an Escapade. It is about a Chinese Australian woman, named Lynette Chiang, who went on an adventurous solo tour of Cuba, in 1999-2000, on a folding bicycle. This is the first real book about Cuba I have ever read, I think, and my bizarre coincidence detector would also like to point out that Castro has been in power since 1959, the same year my parents were married. Hum...What about that?

February 15-16, 2008: Friday afternoon, Reanna scored her first basket at one of her church league basketball games! Her team won, and their record is 3-4. I have to credit her coach for trying her best to see that everyone on the team gets ample opportunities to shoot the ball. Her emphasis is on teamwork, and not so much on winning. On Saturday, Reanna participated at a Girl Scout Cookie booth in front of Hastings Book Store. The weather was very pleasant, and though I have been a bit sick lately, I wanted us to go for a walk, so we went to nearby Old Stone Fort State Park, and had a nice light hike around the grounds. A lot of folks were like-minded, because we saw a lot of other hikers.

February 4, 2008: Tonight Linda, Reanna, and I had the rare chance to go to a play together. We saw Twelfth Night performed at Motlow College by the National Players, a professional, traveling theatre company from Olney, MD that has performed at Motlow for about 22-years in a row, among other places around the country. They specialize in performing Shakespearian plays to younger audiences with a unique flare, and interpretation. It was terrific! Absolutely wonderful, and very, very well done! We had the amazingly good fortune to have front row seats, and thoroughly enjoyed the masterful performance.

February 2-3, 2008: These weekly updates have become so routine lately that eventhough nothing particularly noteworthy happened, I felt compelled to write something. Well, most of the past week Reanna experienced a cold, and it got worse towards the end of the week. Linda must have caught the same thing and was pretty out of it. Reanna did not feel like going to her baskeball game at all on Saturday, so we stayed in all Saturday long, and I ended up using the time to catch up on increasing my music collection. I bought about 50 tracks from Yahoo Music on a big song purchasing binge (all perfectly legal, I might add). On Sunday, I caught the second half of the Super Bowl (after church), and was uproariously happy to see Eli Manning guide the Giants to a last-minute victory. It was one of the most unforgettable endings of all time! I'm no fan of the Giants, but just wanted to see the Patriots lose more than anything.

January 26, 2008: I may have been wrong about last weeks basketball game. I heard from a couple of parent's that Reanna's team won that game 19-18. There was confusion at the end (including the scoreboard), and not a lot was said about the final score in the post-game pep-talk. They try to keep the games fun for the kids after all. Today, however, they lost 16-26, which was by far their worst game so far. Reanna has been dealing with a cold and wasn't feeling great. This evening was the big Bel-Aire Elementary School Winter Festival, and it was a packed house at the school, with games, prizes, and food. Reanna was under the weather, but there was no keeping her away from it.

January 19-21, 2008: On Saturday, Reanna's basketball team lost 18-19. They actually led 16-6 at the half, but then went into a scoring slump in the second half. Wow, who can explain it? On Monday, MLK Day, we went to Winchester, TN for lunch at the trendy San Miguel Coffee Company. It is located downtown on the square in what used to be a bank, and has plenty of antique charm, and good food. After that, we drove up to Sewanee and walked on the perimeter trail from Morgan's Steep to Proctor's Hall. We saw a stream that was quite icy, enjoyed the scenic bluffs, and wintry atmosphere. Then, we went to the campus bookstore and browsed a while, and went home. We always look forward to MLK Day because Linda and I are both off work and we can do something as a family.

January 12, 2008: Reanna started playing basketball on a local church league team, called the Lady Cobras, in December, with three practices, and their first game was last Saturday. They lost 16-23, but led for parts of the game. They fell behind at the end. Today, they managed a tie, against the Lady Bears, 15-15. They led 10-3 at the half, but things really got weird in the second half. Reanna hasn't scored any points yet, but she has been learning how to play guard. She's fast, but the goal is nine-feet in the air, which is high for her! It's a learning process...

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.

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