2003 -2013 Journals 


March 1, 2003 – Open House

192 of following invitations where sent out:

Charlie Doggett’s Open House
(I’m finally in and settled!)
Drinks, hors d’oeuvres, African art, photos, and music
My new pool table, African Wuri, & cool people!

Saturday, March 1, 2003, 6 – 10 PM
Stay all evening or come & go on your schedule!

1040 9th Ave N DIRECTIONS
row 8.9n Condos are across from Farmer’s Market on 8th Ave N at Bicentennial State Park. My unit faces 9th Ave behind KFC. Exit I-65 at either Jefferson St to 9th or Metro Center 8th Ave south to Jefferson. Park on 9th Ave. If full, park in parking lots at Farmer’s Market or State Park.

Questions or get lost? Call 780-3898 cdoggett@charliedoggett.net

I look forward to seeing you!

From my scrapbook – the message side of my invitation.



March 30, 2003

I talked with Jerry and Bonnie again this afternoon. It almost seems surreal. Jerry and I have simply not related in years. From my college days on, Jerry felt I was condescending to him and I thought he didn’t like me and/or was jealous of me. I have also always been too busy to get involved in his problematic and sometimes depressing life. When Mom died in 1988 and Dad in 1995, he couldn’t take any of the responsibilities, but resented me and was critical of the way I handled everything. In some ways I have felt sorry for Jerry, but in other ways I have said that he is an adult and how he lives his life is his business. He is responsible for his decisions, not me. And so it is again with Jason as I am puzzled about how to relate to him.

Well, we have known for a couple of months now that Jerry has Mantle Cell Lymphoma, an aggressive cancer of the lymph gland, blood, and bone marrow. Without treatment, he had only months to live. He quit his job and left his rental apartment near Bemidji, MN and moved in with his son Steve in Minneapolis. He has been receiving treatment at the Mayo Clinic in St. Paul. After seven chemo-therapy treatments the doctor has decided that he is ready to do a bone marrow or stem cell transplant by late April.

He will start the tests on April 14, the removal of stem cells April 21, a high-dose chemotherapy beginning April 28 for 6 days followed by the replacing of his stem cells on the 7th day. He will be wiped out for a long time. After it is safe to remove him from the hospital, he will stay in a cancer rehab house near the hospital for 4 to 6 weeks. Someone must stay with him there 24/7. Steve & his wife will stay with him the first week, Bonnie the next two weeks, and me the remaining 2-3 weeks.

I look forward to getting reacquainted with Jerry and he with me. I expect it to be an emotional turning point in life and trust we will be friends for the rest of our respective lives. I would have worked harder at our relationship earlier, but I was “owned” by a wife, family, and job over the years with no chance to get to Minnesota or relate to him much otherwise. Something I deeply regret, though I generally say that I did what I could in my situation. Now at this solemn life/death time, it seems we are both anxious to “turn over a fresh leaf.” I am actually expecting a very special new relationship, possibly deep and very meaningful. I want God to be the center of it and maybe this will be the time that Jerry wants God more than any time before. But whatever Jerry’s attitude toward God, I will seek His guidance in this new relationship.



April 7, 2003

This anonymous poem forwarded to me as an email from cousin “Bubba” H.L. Hardgrave expresses a lot of how I feel about life and God’s never-ending grace as my world continues to change:


I’ve never made a fortune
and it’s probably too late now.
But I don’t worry about that much,
I’m happy anyhow.

And as I go along life’s way,
I’m reaping better than I sowed.
I’m drinking from my saucer,
‘Cause my cup has overflowed.

I haven’t got a lot of riches,
and sometimes the goings tough;
But I’ve got loving-ones around me,
and that makes me rich enough.

I thank God for his blessings,
and the mercies He’s bestowed.
I’m drinking from my saucer,
’cause my cup has overflowed.

O, Remember times when things went wrong,

My faith wore somewhat thin.
But all at once the dark clouds broke,
and sun peeped through again.

So Lord, help me not to gripe about
the tough rows that I’ve hoed.
I’m drinking from my saucer,
’Cause my cup has overflowed.

If God gives me strength and courage,
when the way grows steep and rough;
I’ll not ask for other blessings,
I’m already blessed enough.

And may I never be too busy,
to help others bear their loads.
Then I’ll keep drinking from my saucer,
’Cause my cup has overflowed.

No author given—forwarded to me from “Bubba” H.L. Hardgrave, 3/30/03



May 20, 2003 – Email to Friends

Dear Friends,

Thanks for staying on my mail list! I will try not to write too often!

Jerry Doggett, my brother in Minnesota, has been in Mayo Clinic for some time now receiving radiation treatments for Mantel Cell Lymphoma, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. He then received a stem cell transplant after 6 days of intensive radiation. The hope is that this will cause new “cancer-free” blood cells to develop from the stem cells and he will go into remission for maybe 36 months or more.

Jerry is now at the critical stage, recovering in the “Gift of Life Transplant House” near Mayo and requires a 24/7 caretaker. His son and our sister have been doing this and I take my turn next week. We will both appreciate your prayers that this stem cell thing works and he recovers. It will be more difficult to check email there, so don’t write now, just pray! FYI:

Charlie Doggett Itinerary: May 24 through the middle(?) of June:

May 24 – Travel & night with Sean Darby (nephew), Champaign, IL (217) 766-1312

May 25-26 – Travel & Daytime at “Gift of Life House”(see below), nights at Kahler Grand Hotel,
Rochester, (507) 280-6200

May 27 to middle of June: Days and nights at:

Gift of Life Transplant House (in photo above),
705 Second St., NW, Rochester, MN
(507) 285-6385 (Room 26, Jerry Doggett–with answering machine)
Emergency only to house office: (507) 288-7470

I do not know when I will return to Nashville, but possibly 15-27 June–could be earlier, could be later, depending on Jerry’s recovery.


See my Scrapbook Photos of the Time with Jerry in Rochester and return trip on the GREAT RIVER ROAD + a separate gallery for my stop in Hannibal, Missouri.



May 25, 2003

I arrived in Rochester at the Gift of Life Transplant House. After checking in, I walked into the kitchen right past Jerry and Bonnie and didn’t recognize either one of them. Sad but true! A lot of reasons but still embarrassing and though I wish at times we had been closer all along, there was little I could have done about it. I’m glad the opening night seemed to go well. We will be busy tomorrow.

The visit last night with Sean was good and I’m still looking forward to get reacquainted with Jerry.

Tired now . . . off to bed.


May 26, 2003

Visited, photos, shopping, hospital visit, house cookout for Memorial Day, more visiting, and some memory sharing. A good day and a beautiful Spring day!

Tomorrow I take Bonnie to airport and move in with Jerry. He seems to be doing well. Blood development progress is slow but steady.

I’m back in hotel and may read a little, then to bed.


May 30, 2003

I took Jerry to St. Paul and Steve’s house. My three-week stay with him ended up being less than a week, but he seems to be okay – needing time to get his strength back and an almost normal life. For a couple of years anyway.

Our visit was good. I hope to write him more now and stay in touch better.

I left him for my adventure on The Great River Road  (official site), first crossing the river on an interstate in St. Paul, then at the first historic little town of Hastings and on to Red Wing where I followed the river on the west bank down to where I first crossed to the east bank at Wabasha, MN into Wisconsin, again following the big river.

I realized quickly that this would be a pure “Americana” kind of trip with quaint turn-of-the-century (1900) river villages and farm towns on scenic country roads. “The Great River Road” is not a parkway like Blue Ridge or Natchez Trace, but is a route on both sides of the river on the closest existing roads, using occasional road signs to let you know you are on it.

My Great River Road Page links to the photos that are samplings of the color and beauty of this unique route. A relaxed trip that is fun to photograph and I later got to finish all the way to the Gulf of Mexico below New Orleans.


May 31, 2003

The trip from La Crosse, WI to Hannibal, MO will probably be my longest drive day but still a good, scenic drive and fun to photograph!

I got to Hannibal just in time to have dinner on “The Mark Twain Riverboat.” (link to boat’s website) or see my Photo Gallery 2003 – Hannibal Missouri for the photos I made. The meal and entertainment were okay and the boat ride on the river at sunset very enjoyable! I can tell it will be a charming little town to visit, but have to wait until tomorrow!

Robard House, Hannibal, Missouri, June 2003

I’m staying in the “Robard’s Mansion Bed & Breakfast” which is a nice old house and I got a large suite as the only room available for two nights. Of course Mark Twain used to spend time with the Robard’s in this house way back then!    🙂

I would like to go to church tomorrow morning and then soak up all the Mark Twain stuff the rest of the day. It is a remarkable little town. Off to bed now , , ,


June 1, 2003

10:15 AM – A big breakfast with an assortment of interesting people and continuous stories by Leon, the landlord and host. He also gave a tour of the house. Very interesting! He just doesn’t have the money to make restorations as authentic as would be ideal. That would be my problem too if I had such a house!   🙂

I did pay for another night (which I kept optional), so now I’m going to church in a little bit and then spend the afternoon exploring the town. It should be a fun and relaxing day.


River Road Trip visit to Hannibal, Missouri, June 2003

Great time seeing all the Mark Twain museums, houses, etc. I bought books & DVDs & scrapbook stuff. Resting in room and may see cave and then eat out tonight. Too late to see Radcliffe House, another sight here.


The cave was delightful! Like ark Twain, I shall never tire of visiting caves and this one has such neat history or stories!

And dinner at Sawyer Creek River View Restaurant was my best meal yet! Especially the warm blueberry pie with vanilla ice cream! Hmmmmm Good!

I’m ready to travel again tomorrow.


June 2, 2003

Drove to Paducah, KY and I have started reading the autobiography of Mark Twain. Most writers have had trouble with it and I hope to learn from it as I write my own autobiography sometime I hope. And mine will begin as complicated at Twain’s!   🙂   Right now, I’m hoping to begin it on the website and massage it as I go.

I just remembered something that Jerry said that I want to write down before I forget it. We were talking about books and reading and sometimes being more in the mood than other times. Then I mentioned that I often have 4 or 5 books started at one time and sometimes don’t finish some of them. He said something like:

“Perhaps that means that some of the books aren’t worthy of finishing if they cannot hold your attention long enough to finish. Each person’s interest and purpose for reading is different. A book that is significant to one person can be meaningless to another.”   ~Jerry Doggett

THAT’S SO GOOD! A non-judgmental statement of grace. We are all different!



  1. Write a descriptive story of my childhood visits to the Doggett farm near Warren.
  2. Descriptive stories of visits to Grandmother Clemmie and similarly on:
  3. Vacation Trips
  4. Cousins
  5. Neighbor kids & play
  6. Boy Scouts
  7. School
  8. Mary Ann Wilkinson
  9. Spudnuts
  10. Treehouse & playing Tarzan in the woods

June 10, 2003

I have just finished my 4th day of trail building on the Cumberland Train in the Possum Creek Gorge. My team was working on a switchback today and the temperature near 90° F, so maybe that is why I am more tired today.

We scrap off the leaves, then scrape off the “duff” which is rotting leaves or wonderful compost and all of the roots so things won’t grow on the trail.

Then we dif into the side of the mountain to have a level hard dirt path. This often means moving rocks and sometime using rocks as steps. The last thing is to clip off all of the little roots still sticking up.

July 10, 2003   —   Montgomery Bell State Park

For photos of my 2-nights Camping at: Montgomery Bell SP

I’m still reading the auto-biography of Mark Twain – a very dis-jointed, non-chronological spouting of events, thoughts, feelings, beliefs, philosophy. It reminds me of my assorted collection of photos, letters, and journals that I hope to put together in a more interesting way.

I’m camping out at Montgomery Bell State Park for a couple of nights. It is dark and the light is attracting bugs, so I’ve got to quit writing. Bothersome bugs!   🙂

July 11, 2003 – Montgomery Bell State Park

8:20 AM – Had breakfast cereal and drinking a cup of coffee. It rained most of the night it seemed. I chose to sleep in the truck rather than the tent and glad I did!   🙂   And by so doing I learned (first time out with new topper on pickup) that the single bed air mattress almost fills the floor space of the pickup bed which means I will always need a tent for supplies, etc when raining. For some reason I was thinking my bed would only take half the pickup bed width.

I had trouble with the Whisper Lite backpacking MSR stove, but think it just needed the tank pumped up more. It is like I am learning everything all over again for camping. And that was the purpose of this two-day trip – to get used to camping in a truck!

Ideally I would have been out early – before breakfast – with my camera for early light photos, but missed that this time. I do plan to drive to the Narrows of the Harpeth for photos. It is 13 miles from here and managed by the state park, like an extension of the park. 

Montgomery Bell is okay. It is a large park with 3 lakes and a nice Inn with Restaurant where I ate lunch yesterday. Because of budget cuts, the lake swimming and canoe/boat rentals are not included this year – but of course the golf course is open! I plan to write a letter about that – another rich vs poor decision. Ohhhhh! Calm down Charlie! I must stop making everything political! That’s stressful!

Well, I think I will try The Narrows now before it gets hot. Then I will hand around the campsite this afternoon or walk in the park.


And was that ever an experience! Especially trying to find it!

As told, I drove approximately 13 miles on Highway 70 East/Southeast toward Nashville. And, as told, just after crossing the Harpeth River I turned left where a sign clearly pointed down a road to “Narrows of the Harpeth State Park.” That was the first, last, and only sign indicating The Narrows of the Harpeth. From the map, I figured it was a good ways up that road, so I just kept driving, looking for a sign until the read dead-ended into another road with a little market at the intersection. So I went in for directions.

The lady in the market said that I had just missed it and that there is no sign to indicate where to turn, but it was 3 bridges back. So I turned around and “back-tracked” and just past the 3rd bridge was a little gravel road to my left that time and down that road there was a little state park sign indicating a boat ramp and big self-service board with box to pay $3 boat fee. This was not the narrows! Then, as I was about to leave angry, I saw a tiny sign partly hidden by a bush or tree limbs labeled “Hiking Trail to Narrows—->  at the bridge.”

So I walked up to the bridge, checking both sides. No trail I could see. Then I walked back to the boat ramp entrance and found a little trail under the bridge. Ahhhh! Finally I have found it! I took my camera pack and started hiking along the river and eventually the narrow, little-used trail curved uphill away from the river and circled back into itself! Foiled again!

About ready to give up, I got in the car and began to enter Highway 70 again, noticing another gravel road a little further up from the bridge and on the other side of the highway. “Okay! One last try!”

As I entered that road with a big sign pointing up the road that said “House & 14 Acres For Sale.” I then see a small city street type sign with “Narrows of the Harpeth.” Yay! This must be it!

I drive to a fork in the road and choose the right fork just after which is a road to the right with a Narrows of the Harpeth sign and a large $3 Usage Fee. So I travel down this third road to a backwards fork that seems to go down closer to the river, so I take it and it returns me to Hwy 70! Aggghhh!

Okay, I will go back to the other fork and go the other direction. I do this and is about 60 yards I find a parking lot with BIG $3 Fee sign at the base of a cliff and 2 trails down to the water. But I thought the Narrows is suppose to be a tunnel through a hill or cliff that the water runs through! This is just the banks of the river.

So I drive on down the road which is promptly labeled “Dead End” but keeps going past several farms until I dead-end into a huge stone and iron gate as to a mansion. “Okay!” I say, “Let’s go back and explore around that big parking lot some more!”

I return and find that one of the trails takes me down to the upper side of the tunnel. “I’m here!” I almost shout. But how do I get to the other side of the tunnel where it comes out as a waterfall (as seen in photos)? Well, there must be a trail going over the cliff. So I search and search and find nothing but sheer cliffs. Finally, 2 men come walking down the road and I ask them. They tell me that the trail over the cliff is about 50-60 yards up the road near the fork. They said that it goes uphill between two rocks and is not marked.

I go up the road and sure enough, just like they said, there is the other trail! I have now seen both sides of the tunnel or narrows, saw a deer (too quick to photograph), and a little boy with a snake.

Then I hike up another trail to the top of the cliffs for several nice overlook photos that may have been the best thing I saw today! I even flushed out a hawk that I was not able to get a good photo of and even got a photo from the top of the hill of a family in a canoe down on the river below! And the overlook of some farms was also nice! The photos were the reason I came, but boy did I have to work for them!   🙂

I ate lunch at McDonald’s in White Bluff, bought some ice for my ice chest at camp where I returned. I did seek out a park ranger and complain about the lack of signage and how much trouble I had finding it. Then I walked over in the park to photograph the historic first ever Cumberland Presbyterian Church building. Back at camp I read the daily paper, wrote this long journal entry, and before long it will be time to build my nightly campfire! What a day!   🙂


July 20, 2003

Handwritten letter from Fred Skelton:

Dear Charlie,

I will be praying for you each day during your mission trip this coming week.

Your life has been a blessing to me Charlie. God be with you.

In Christ,

Fred Skelton


July 26, 2003   —   Alberta Canada Mission Trip

Our first full day in Alberta and from 7:30 AM to 11 PM we were gone into the Canadian Rockies Banff National Park and Jasper National Park. Beautiful! I got a lot of good photos I think. I would love to come back and hike and photo more! We walked on a glacier, saw waterfalls and beautiful Lakes Louise & Moraine plus Bow River.


July 27, 2003   —   Alberta Canada Mission Trip

Church at Bow Valley Baptist Church in Cochrane with a good message by a missionary to a “Central Asia” frontier country. It was on Phil. 2:5-11, “The Attitude of Jesus.” He challenged us to have the passion, persistence, and obedience of Christ. I sat with Bill & Frankie Faulkner.

The afternoon and evening was awesome. Tom & Mindy Aechner picked me up at 3 PM and we went to Calgary where his parents live and visited until 11 PM. In the afternoon the three of us walked on their riverfront at eau clocive?, then a wonderful home-cooked meal with Tom’s family. Then Tom returned me to the seminary and we talked more. I do not fully understand it, but Tom and I are close and really like each other. Our Christian beliefs and political opinions are the same and we just enjoy being together. It is a little scary in one sense and what I wish I had more of in another sense. We agreed to email-write more often and maybe read and discuss some books.

Another funny thing that affected me was when we parted he said “I love you Charlie” and that is such a powerful statement. Probably more so to me because I can’t remember when someone has said that to me. It may be selfish or maybe a natural desire to be loved – by anyone. So this is probably another reason I like Tom or “Thomas” as his Mom & Dad called him as did his sister Rebecca.

Well, anyway, it was a very nice evening.


July 28, 2003   —   Alberta Canada Mission Trip

Our first day or work and I am tired. I’m passing on games tonight – will down-load photos and read, then to bed early.


August 4, 2003   —   Alberta Canada Mission Trip

I must decrease and God must increase. Christ in me the hope of God.

Whatever happens, whatever I read, the above message keeps coming back to me – the central thing of my relationship to God and His work through me.

For the devotional I am to give tomorrow, my outline:

STORY: Lamin and “Charlie’s Friend”

James 4:4 – God’s friendship is with those who know their poverty.

1 Cor. 1:26-29 – God’s Spirit living in us is the treasure of God.

2 Cor. 4:7-A – I will never full understand God’s compelling purpose in my life, but I must always maintain my relationship with Him! This relationship and the surrounding influence it produces IS Christianity! God’s treasure in clay jars!


August 9, 2003   —   Alberta Canada Mission Trip

Ross brought me to the airport from the seminary last night for my all night “red eye special” discounted flight to Atlanta and then this morning’s connection to Nashville. I is a very tiring way to return, but I saved $200 on this “Skymiles” ticket on Delta. The others left this morning on Northwest.

I’ve had diarrhea all morning which I’m guessing is the salad I ate last night – so I don’t feel good.

Been trying to evaluate this mission trip in my mind. We accomplished a lot of work – about as hard as I have worked since the Cumberland Trail building project. I’m tired but we almost got the student apartments finished and that is so important for the seminary with almost no affordable housing for students in Cochrane.

I felt like the volunteers were not well organized and too much supervision on one person. We had devotionals each day, but no witnessing or ministry with  people – thus not a “spiritual” high which I know is not needed all the time. Hard work is spiritual in one sense and humbling also which I need. It will be good to watch this seminary grow and graduates minister and star new churches all over Canada. It is already in a great beginning, making impacts all over Canada, especially in the West. I hope to come back. I would also like to be a tourist in Western Canad someday, maybe taking the train from Vancouver to Banff or Calgary and then spend a week hiking in the mountains with my camera.


Christmas 2003

Dear Jason,

The calendar makes a more personal Christmas gift than just the money (which is also enclosed), even if not a big thing. It is from my heart because nature photography is what I enjoy the most now. The only one not labeled is the round barn on the front which was made in Minnesota on my return from the visit with your Uncle Jerry. I like the photo of you and Nick and thought you might want one and maybe another to send to your mother.

I thoroughly enjoyed the visit with you Thanksgiving—just being with you! I’m glad we didn’t try to do too much. Just hanging out was just right. And the drives in the mountains and the waterfall were all great! You live in a beautiful place Jason!

I’m thinking about a trip next summer over the whole Blue Ridge Parkway from the Smoky Mountains to the end in Virginia somewhere. I would campout most nights and of course look for things to photograph. If it works out, I will of course spend at least one night in Asheville to see you. And I hope you will have a chance to come visit in Nashville sometime too.

I think we live by somewhat different guiding lights or philosophies, but we are also alike in a lot of ways and of course a son is always special to a father. If you ever feel like you could put up with me for a whole week, I would love to go on a camping vacation trip with you sometime.

I suspect that you handle all the commercialization and family emphasis of Christmas pretty well. I do hope you will do something you like and have a good visit with your Mom. And stop by and say “Hi” if you do travel this way. Me—I actually enjoy being alone a lot now and absolutely never run out of something to do that I enjoy. In addition to photography, I’m slowly putting together all the old photos and memorabilia in scrapbooks. When I die there will probably be so many that I will have to have them put in a library, because you wouldn’t have room for them. But then you could go see them in the library.




Christmas 2003

Dear Jerry,

The calendar is a simple Christmas gift, but from my heart and soul right now, as nature photography is what I enjoy the most. I don’t know if I will ever paint pictures again like I enjoyed as a kid, but this kind of photography is now my creative outlet and joy! I love the outdoors and I love creating images of it.

Note that the calendar cover photo is of a Minnesota Round Barn I took on the way home from our June visit. The red barn was photographed in Wisconsin on the same trip. I have fond memories of the visit which I have wished could have been longer, though maybe under better circumstances for you!

We long ago chose different paths in life or lifestyles and that or “fate” have kept us physically and socially far apart. Yet as I now reflect on life and where we both came from, I realize the closeness or many things we do have in common. I often wish we could have been closer over the years. When appropriate for you and your health, I would love to visit you again where you really live and if you are able, have you show me the headwaters of the Mississippi which must be beautiful and very special to you.

I’m still embarrassed about the sloppy way I sent you the box of memories that ended up with so much broken glass. No good excuse. I was just trying to get rid of stuff in my crowded home now and sent it the way it has been stored since Mom or Dad’s death. I am still going through and slowly scrap-booking the photos and memories from my childhood. Wow! Each life has a story doesn’t it?

I went to North Carolina and spent Thanksgiving long-weekend with Jason just “hanging out” and being together. You and Jason are similar to me with your different lifestyles or goals in life, yet I love you both and want to relate as best we can. Jason and I had a good time together just cooking & eating, watching some video movies, going to see a waterfall hiking, and just being together.

Jerry, enjoy the things you like and whatever the relationship may be now with Steve and family. May that and good memories bring you a happy Christmas and New Year! I’ll try to stay in touch by email better than I have. God bless you Jerry!



Christmas 2003

Dear Bonnie, Tom, and All,

The calendar is a simple Christmas gift for you and one each for Chris & Sean. It from my heart and soul right now, as nature photography is what I enjoy the most. I don’t know if I will ever paint pictures again like I enjoyed as a kid, but this kind of photography is now my creative outlet! I love the outdoors and creating images of it.

Note that the calendar cover photo is of a Minnesota Round Barn I took on the way home from our June visit with Jerry. The red barn was photographed in Wisconsin on the same trip. I have fond memories of the visit which I have wished could have been longer, though maybe under better circumstances for Jerry! And I enjoyed the short visit with you too Sean!

Call it fate, different life paths, or whatever; we have just not been able to spend much time together since you were a pre-schooler Bonnie and I regret that. But we have a lot of common roots and interests and I hope to see more of all of you in my “latter years.” I am promising an effort to make a trip to Missouri sometime in 2004.

I’m spending more time now organizing old photos and memorabilia in scrapbooks or albums as I begin to tell my story—and we all have a story don’t we? One thing I want to do is share copies of photos I have that overlap your life and back into Mom’s as well as make copies of some of yours when I get to visit you up there. I may want to stay a week and work on old photos while you guys are at work.

I went to North Carolina for the Thanksgiving long-weekend with Jason just “hanging out” and being together. Jason and I are on two different tracks in life or different lifestyles, but we like each other. We had a good time together just cooking & eating, watching some video movies, going to see a waterfall, hiking, and just being together.

Okay Darby’s, enjoy the things you like for the holidays and especially each other! You have a family situation Jerry and I miss! May that and good memories bring you a happy Christmas and New Year! I’ll try to stay in touch by email better than I have. God bless you ALL!





March 21, 2004

Yesterday I hiked to Bridal Veil Falls in Sewanee. The trail was difficult for me to find by the directions in the South Cumberland Trail manual, but one question of a local resident got me to the Morgan’s Steep lookout which is the closest trailhead for Bridal Veil Falls trail. In short, take University Avenue to South Carolina Ave. to Morgan Steep Rd. to it’s end for the beautiful overlook. I am kind of sorry I didn’t go back to it for the sunset last night. They say it is beautiful.

From Morgan’s Steep turn right on the Perimeter Trail marked by blue blazes. At a trail junction just below a large house at a creek crossing you take the left turn trail across the bridge and follow the white blazes down into the gulf along the creek for awhile. They say it is 0.8 mile to the falls, but it seems farther because of the slow go on a very rocky trail and through boulder fields. There are some rocks nearly as big as a small house and many much larger than cars. This trail will eventually make a T intersection with another trail also marked white. As I understand it, this trail circles the falls with the right direction going back to the Perimeter Trail at a different location. But the best way to the falls is to turn left here, circling around a balancing rock and on down further into the gorge. It won’t take you a lot longer to get to the falls and you will certainly know it when you get there! It is impressive and had a lot of wildflowers around the base, including two early-blooming Trilliums. There was a tree down across the falls which kind of eliminates that “perfect picture” of the falls, but it is of course natural. Because it goes into a hole in the ground, it is difficult to get the entire falls in the photo frame. I guess climbing a tree might have made it possible, but I didn’t do that.

When I got there, a man from Alabama with about 7 or 8 young teens was there, but they soon left and it was peaceful and beautiful.

From there I drove to Tracy City to make sure I could still find the Grundy Forest and Fiery Gizzard Trail for my photo club group in three weeks. Sure enough I drove right by the cutoff the first time, but now that I have been again (after about 5 years), it is easy. I then found the entrance of Foster Falls which we will also see on April 10. It is much easier to find or more clearly marked. I even stopped and took about three or four shots of the falls from the close overlook. They are building a bridge over the first little creek by the parking lot so people in wheel chairs can get to the first overlook. It is good that so many places like this are becoming more handicap accessible.

It turned out very warm & sunny yesterday instead of the predicted thunderstorms, but it is cold this morning. Thus I am kind of killing time before I try to go see Greeter Falls from it’s own trailhead. I saw it once from the Alum Gap trail when I camped at Alum Gap, but never from this side. And If I have time I may go by Savage Falls for some more shots of it. We’ll see. It is 9:00 here but 10:00 where I am going, so probably only one falls this morning. Hope it warms up! Here goes . . .



March 25, 2004

 It’s Thursday and I’ve been in Dogwood Lodge of FBC Chattanooga with Cumberland Trail Conference since Sunday. I was working on the Cumberland Trail Monday and Tuesday and all day today. Sunday was too cold to hike but I did discover the new trailhead and parking lot for Greeter Falls.

The Monday & Tuesday workdays went well and there has been no rain this week. I took a few photos of the work on those days and will try to get a lot more of people working tomorrow. This is the last of four weeks of Alternate Spring Break student work on the trail and the smallest group. We have only 4 schools here this week: MIT, Hamilton and Frostburg Universities, all three from the Northeast. And then we have a group from Florida International State University, which is the most culturally diverse.

Working with students is full of dichotomies or extremes. Like it makes me feel younger is some ways and older in others. I see many ways in which they are like I was at that age and of course some ways they are different. And as with any group of people, some are better workers than others. I have really enjoyed being with them.

Wednesday was our day off and most of the students went to Chattanooga for various sights and activities from Aquarium to battlefields. But I wanted to hike as did two of the students. We spent the morning with Carol and Warren Devine hiking the other end of the trail section we are working on with the highlight being the beautiful, large waterfall with no official name yet. Then Carol & Warren started marking some more sections of trail for future development. They have designed and marked the path for all of the trails thus far. I took Matt and Rachel to Fall Creek Falls State Park for more hiking and waterfall viewing, which we all enjoyed. We hiked the 4 mile loop trail between the big falls and the nature center and they took the cable trail down to the base of Cane Creek Falls. Then we ate dinner in the park Inn and drove back to the lodge.

Today’s work on the trail brought us up to the waterfall and of course everyone was excited about it. 5 boys went swimming in the icy water in their underwear. Some others who brought swim suits said they will take them to the trail work tomorrow. We ate our lunch on the rocks around the falls and the big swim hole or plunge pool. It was great and I got some more photos.

Tonight I announced that I would put the photos on my website and a few asked for the address. It will be fun. This is probably the journal entry I will put on my website hiking journal page. I’m tired now and will probably go to be early even though the students are doing a bonfire tonight, hosted by MIT students. When I work on this trail I am working harder than most any other time in my life. So my body is sore and I am tired. I return to Nashville after the day’s work tomorrow. I have a Hope Gardens Neighborhood Association meeting Saturday morning.



March 24, 2004

On the way back to camp from Fall Creek Falls the conversation with Matt and Rachel turned to spiritual things when Matt asked me the meaning of life. It turned out that Matt believes in God but that He is only one and the same for Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, etc. Rachel is an Atheist and philosophy major. I didn’t change their beliefs, but hopefully influenced them. They both like me and Rachel said that I am the first Christian she has not tried to convert or wanted to. Interesting! I love to have these kinds of conversations even though I am never sure how much if any witness I have really had. But I have decided that it is more the life I live or the way I relate to them than anything I say.




Monday, May 24, 2004  —  Gulf Islands National Seashore, Pensacola

Left Nashville about 1 PM on Saturday the 22nd after leading the Nashville Photography Club members on a hike to The Narrows of the Harpeth. I got as far as Greenville, AL that day and spent the night in a really nice Comfort Inn.

Checked in here at Ft. Pickens Island Campground in the Gulf Islands National Seashore yesterday, the 23rd of May.

I couldn’t get a shady site with trees, so it’s hot and sunny in the daytime – but otherwise it is okay and this is a nice seashore park – wild and non-commercial!

BUT – I made one big mistake this morning. I spent 2 hours on the beach with only SPF 4 Sunscreen which is simply not strong enough! I’m sunburned! You would think that I would have learned by now!

I went to town and got some aloe-vera lotion for treatment of burns and a new SPF 45 Sunscreen for when I feel like getting out again.

Last night I got some nice photos of herons and the sunset over the bay. Tonight I ate at the nearest seafood restaurant, Pegleg Pete’s – okay but not great!

I’m more than halfway through my second reading of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azakaban. The movie comes out June 4 and I like to re-read the book right before I go to the movie to get the most out of the movie. It is my 3rd Harry Potter book and movie and I have already read the 4th book, Goblet of Fire, but that movie is a year away and another book will be released before it. Thus re-reading before the movies helps.

Thursday, May 27, 2004  —  Gulf Islands National Seashore, Pensacola

4 nights – 4 mornings – on the island! It’s 8:45 AM and I’ve had breakfast and been on a photo shoot on a nature trail with mostly flowers.

Ft. Pickens Campground has been a good place to be overall and a much different variety of nature subjects to shoot than my usual in Tennessee. The only bad thing was my sunburn and I’m still kicking myself for that – my stupidity! And my excuse doesn’t wash, saying I used SPF 4 in The Gambia. That was different in many ways including already being much more tan than I am now. Plus I got sunburned on a trip to Destin with Juli for similar reasons. When will I ever learn?

I think I will get home with some good photos and yesterday I wrote an article for Nature Photography Magazine about The Gambia and will submit it with photos when I get home. (I never submitted it.)

I also read the whole summer issue of Nature Photographer and parts of the April issue of Popular Photography & Imaging Magazine which Lois Williams gave me. Plus almost finishing the big Harry Potter book. It has been a productive week with three good meals in town and a restful change from Nashville!

I’ve decided to leave a day earlier than planned, stopping along the way home for anything that interests me photographically and staying one night somewhere in Alabama in a motel. No rush leaving either – just another relaxed day to wherever I end up tonight.


Saturday, June 5, 2004  —  Warren, Arkansas

I drove to Warren yesterday, June 4. It took from 7 AM to 4 Pm with severa stops on a slow, leisurely trip. It was my first trip with the new Cruise Control installed the day before. I love it! I should never again get a speeding ticket on an interstate and hopefully it will help with gas mileage and stop my leg and foot cramps on long drives.

Last night I had a delightful dinner with Jackie & June West and this morning I had coffee with Jackie at Molly’s Diner in Warren after a cereal breakfast at the Burnett House, also called Warren Bed & Breakfast with Uncle Alvin’s old antique piano in the living room of the B&B. After coffee with Jackie and went to photograph both Pleasant Valley and Parnell Cemeteries, but missed the Alvin & Florence stone the first trip and had to go back to Pleasant Valley.

In the afternoon I had lunch at Hardee’s Warren, visited Joan & Irene, saw Uncle Doc’s house, visited with Wallace & Lois from Mississippi after which Lois and I went to see Agnes in Logsdon Nursing Home.

Tonight we all ate at Lynne’s Restaurant in Warren. Tomorrow is the big reunion picnic in the county park. It’s only 9:15, but will probably not read much before going to bed.

Sunday, June 6, 2004  —  Warren, Arkansas

I got more than 8 hours of sleep last night, feeling relaxed and good on this quiet, rainy morning. I had breakfast before taking a shower which is different for me. After shaving and showering and resting with coffee, I went back by Uncle Doc’s house for a photograph and I may do it again since it was raining with little good light. The house will not last much longer as it is in bad repair and been sitting empty for a long time. It is probably beyond saving now. Just the memories will remain of my childhood visits there and the big Magnolia Tree in front and a Fig Tree in the back.

Then I did a trial run to Bradley Park because it has been 6 years since I was there and not sure how to get there, but found it! That is where the reunion is always held.

I am spending the rest of the morning with coffee, a Bible reading (Matt. 18) and reading from the book The Bondage Breaker by Neil T. Anderson. I got the book while in The Gambia and just now starting it. I would go to church somewhere here but most of the family do not now before the reunion which starts promptly at 12 noon. A few go to Sunday School but I decided to read.

As I started the new book here I had doubts about continuing it as he seemed to be dealing with demon-possession and spiritual warfare. But the more I read the more practical it becomes. I saw and learned about the work of evil spirits while living in a Third World country where everyone is quite familiar with the spiritual world.

We in the western world put more confidence in the scientific or natural world and of course in ourselves and personal independence. And I’m afraid that includes me most of the time. I believe this book will help me to better understand the crucified life and how I can see myself decrease and Christ increase in daily life. Spiritual battle and living is all about yielding to Christ.


July 8, 2004

The Hardy Boys: The Shore Road Mystery

By Franklin W. Dixon

Another good mystery I “read” or had read to me in the car on the way back from Little Rock where I exchanged the previous one at a Cracker Barrel. I’m not sure if I reported on the last one or even what it was at this point.

As when I was a kid, each mystery gets better! This one had to do with a group of smugglers along the shores of Baytown who were also car thieves. From kidnaps to secret caves, it was a classic adventure through every page!

The kind of “Fun Reading” I did as a kid is still fun today!   J


– o –


July 10, 2004  —  Reelfoot Lake, TN

4;45 AM – Left for sunrise photos

5:15-5:45 AM – color slowly developing in sky

5:50 AM – Peak of sunrise

6:00 – 6:20 AM – Other subjects in early light

7:00 AM – Breakfast

8:00 AM – Boat trip with cypress trees, reflections, cypress knees, herons, egrets, osprey, forest & swamp views, American Lotus flowers

11:00 AM – Lunch

12:00 Noon – Boat returns to Airpark with more shots of Osprey, Herons, & Egrets

2-5 PM – Rest

5:00 PM Dinner



August 1, 2004  —  Fall Creek Falls State Park, TN

Photos of this trip are in the Fall Creek Falls Photo Gallery.

I slept late, packed the car and had a leisurely breakfast en-route at the Cracker Barrel Restaurant in Lebanon. Drove on to Fall Creek Falls on SR 30 to the north entrance this time and set up my campsite between 2 & 3 PM. Then I biked to the Inn on the other side of the lake for a bigger map while passing 2 deer and a squirrel. Then I biked to the main waterfall and back to my campsite, about 5 miles total. A deer was in my campsite but by the time I got my camera out, she was leaving.

I’m in the heavily wooded section with no one next to me on either side, so fairly quiet and very dark at 8:30 PM now! I’ve been reading the Sunday paper and will go to bed pretty soon. I’m staying until Thursday and hope to rest, make some great photos, and do a lot of reading. I want to finish a bunch of partially-read books and put them away so I can start new ones. (See my REPORT on that in August 4 entry.)

I will probably go to bed by 9 which seems funny since I’ve been staying up to 10 or 11 lately at home.

August 2, 2004  —  Fall Creek Falls State Park, TN

I heard animals walking in the night (most likely deer) and woke up several time – did not sleep good. I got up about 7 AM with three deer looking at my tent from across the road. I had breakfast and was hiking to the bottom of Fall Creek Falls (the main falls) by 8:45 AM. Nice! Then I got ice at the park general store and back to campsite by 10 AM. I showered and I’m resting, reading and writing until I go to Inn Restaurant for lunch today.

3:45 PM

It has been trying to rain for about an hour with only “sprinkles” so far. I have tried to “rain-proof” the camp including putting my be in the truck just in case!  🙂   A long, pouring rain can mess up a camping trip, especially if your bed gets wet like it did on backpacking trip to Savage Falls one time. But usually these summer showers are short and light. We’ll see! I’m working on book reviews of the books I haven’t finished reading but I’m giving up on. (August 4 book reports) Then when I get home there will no longer be that stack of books in my bedroom.

I got more deer photos in the campground and before that some shots of a squirrel. One is playing around the car now, but my is inside the car. I missed that photo-op! And oh my, it is raining again and harder. I hope it blows over before bedtime! I would feel like a weenie if I had to check into the Inn for the night, but if it keeps raining I might! I’m just glad to have this large dining screen tent. That is what I am sitting under now.

August 3, 2004  —  Fall Creek Falls State Park, TN

6:10 PM — It was a full day! A good day!

I did not have to go to the Inn, but slept well in the campsite. I then left at about 6:30 AM on my bike to photograph the fog on the lake and spillway and then went on to the Fall Creek Falls overlook where there was too much fog for  a good photo of the falls but I tried to get some of the trees in the fog. I then experimented with smaller limbs, pine cones, etc. using the fog as a background. Some okay but none super shots!

I then came back to camp for breakfast of my usual cereal with banana. After that I decided to leave the bike and hiked to the Nature Center and the Cable Trail to the bottom of Cane Creek Falls. Nice! I wanted to cross the stream but was afraid of getting the $1500 camera wet! I had tried a similar crossing at Sycamore Falls and fell in, just barely missing a camera splash. I vowed then not to risk it again.

After the Cable Trail I walked behind the Nature Center and over the big swinging bridge or cable bridge to the other Cane Creek Falls Overlook on the other side which gives a completely different view! Then from there I took a hiking trail that leads to Campground C where I’m camping and was back “home.” After a shower, I drove to “The Village” area where I mailed “Happy Birthday” inscribed FCFSP post cards to Bonnie & Jerry.  Before leaving on this trip I ordered magazine subscriptions for each of them; Southern Living for Bonnie and National Geographic for Jerry.

I ate lunch at the Snack Bar next to the Swimming Pool with a BBQ Sandwich, fries, drink and ice cream for dessert.   🙂   Then (wishing for the bike) I hike back to my campsite where I rest in the hammock a little while, reading and piddling around the campsite.

Mid-afternoon I drove in the truck (tired & lazy) to Piney Creek Falls Overlook and trail with another swinging bridge. The sun was in wrong place for good photos of the falls and I will need to go back in the morning. While there I dropped my camera on a big rock I was standing on and cracked the lens cover of my 300 mm lens and couldn’t get it off but hope for the best. (Later at home in Nashville I used big pliers to get the lens-cover off and it had done its job of protecting the actual lens!)

Well after dropping the camera, and it being very hot & humid, I just headed back to camp, thinking I might leave tomorrow, Wednesday, instead of Thursday. We will see. I’m also thinking I will eat dinner in the Inn Restaurant tonight. I don’t need the calories but I would sure enjoy it. Maybe I will go at 7 and then come back and read until bedtime. And I will wait until in the morning to decide if I leave tomorrow, since I can’t use my 300 mm lens. And no hurry since I’m prepaid to Thursday.

I am starting to read a bit before going to dinner and re-reading a book I really liked the first time, What’s So Amazing About Grace by Phillip Yancey.


August 4, 2004  —  Fall Creek Falls State Park

Well, I did decide to go home today since my favorite lens is not usable. Here is the BOOK REPORT of all those unfinished books I never completed reading and why.

 A Review of Books Nearly Finished, but stacked up for months:

While talking with Jerry last summer in Rochester, I commented that I have a whole stack of books I started reading but never finished. Then I said something like “I need to get caught up on my reading or finish these before I start any more new books.” His reply showed wisdom I wish I had demonstrated on this stack of partially read books. He said something like:

“Maybe books that don’t keep your attention through the end aren’t worth finishing.”   ~Jerry Doggett

Well, I decided then that was a true statement and I would put those books away and start on some new, fresher books. And so a year later I am doing it! (though I have read a few other books since then! But I am now putting that dusty stack of books to rest with a quick review of each and finished one which I lacked only one chapter on! Weird! Here they are—7 books!

THE FAVORITE UNCLE REMUS by Joel Chandler Harris, illustrated by A. B. Frost, 1948

I found this new reprint of an old book at Elder’s Bookstore on Elliston Place and it immediately brought back memories of childhood stories. Mom had either this book or one of the original Uncle Remus books and read stories to us from it. This book is actually a compilation of 60 selected stories from seven different earlier books dating 1883-1918.

Harris says they are actual Negro slave stories told before the emancipation and in the Negro dialect of that time. That dialect makes it difficult to read for young white readers especially, but oh how rich and historical!

Many of these stories were known first by my generation via Walt Disney’s movie Song of the South which was one of my favorite childhood movies. Remember the song “Zip-A-Dee-Do-Dah” from this movie? And oh how I wish I had gotten a tape of it when it was available! Because some African-Americans see it as presenting a negative image of blacks, it may never be issued again. What a shame!

The stories are mostly about animals with Brer Rabbit as the star or central character of every story, but including the likes of Brer Fox, Brer Wolf, Brer Bear, Brer Terrapin, etc. They are entertaining, humorous morality tales with each one having a lesson I think, though some aren’t clear to me. I read about ¾ of the book or 212 out of 310 pages or 40 of the 60 stories. They began to make me tired, especially wading through the dialect. It is like reading a book in a foreign language you are still learning. But I still love the stories and wish Disney would do series of movies to tell all of them with his cute cartoon animals!



I got this book from one of the Canadian CCC missionaries while in The Gambia. They were finished with it and gave it to me. I started reading it in 2002 and by now have read 194 pages out of 256.

This is the deepest, most penetrating and detailed discussion of prayer I have ever tried to read! It is by a man who was shaped by prayer and has experienced everything he writes about. I like the way he organized it in 3 parts: Moving Inward, Moving Upward, and Moving Outward. It is just that he uses deep thoughts and big words that make it difficult for the hyperactive guy to stay focused.

If I ever take the 5-day silence retreat at the Abbey of Gethsemani, this would be a good book to read and meditate on while there. But not now.


THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MARK TWAIN by Mark Twain or Samuel Clemmons of course! Edited by Charles Neider

This one is easy to not finish from one perspective. That is because of the sloppy, disjointed, out-of-order way he wrote it and didn’t want it edited or reworked when first published. It is beyond my understanding why someone would write their biography and not try to put it in chronological order. It was written over a long period of time as little short essays on various events and people in his life, sort of as he thought of them in no particular order or style of writing.

Now in my criticism above, I didn’t say it wasn’t interesting. Quite the contrary. Everything he writes is interesting! And I read 316 of the 497 pages before I just got tired of it. That’s 47 of 79 chapters! It could have just as well been called a book of letters or essays and maybe then not have frustrated me for it’s lack of chronology! He is obviously one of the most interesting Americans every! I grew fond of him again when I visited Hannibal, MO last summer and that is when I bought the book.



I would like to say that Jesus is the center of my life and my focus as a Christian! To me, following Him, being like Him, being in Him and Him in me is what Christianity is about! My favorite and most helpful devotional readings are the four gospels which at times I read over and over for my morning devotional readings. Thus the title of this book attracted me!

But this book just didn’t “click” with me. It may be because it is written to women by a woman. (That is how everything written by her is promoted.) Or it just may be that I don’t relate to her writing style. Or who knows? I might try it another time and love it! I read 65 out of 338 pages and was not motivated to get back to it. So I’ll put it on the shelf with other Jesus books and see what happens in the future!



He is undoubtedly one of the best inspirational story-tellers around and here is a whole book of his stories! He even organizes them by subjects in a subject-chapters. The only thing that would make this book better or more useful for illustration hunting would be an index!

You will laugh, cry, and be inspired to act differently with stories that are spell-binding! So why didn’t I finish it if it is so good? Well, it is like my sweet tooth—I love desserts but couldn’t eat nothing but desserts all day every day. I read 1/3 of the book or 83 of 223 pages. I’m putting it on the shelf with my story and illustrations books. If I ever start speaking again, I’ll have another good illustration source!



One of the SBC missionaries in The Gambia gave me this book on spiritual warfare. I have tried several times, but “just can’t get into it!”

I do believe in Satan and demons or demonic powers to a certain degree or in my way of seeing it. I saw a lot of “evil powers” controlling and affecting Gambians and believe that there are many evil powers and influences in modern America. But I’m not as quick as this guy to blame everything bad on a demon nor am I comfortable “casting out demons” as he does. It borders on Pentecostalism as I see it and not where I am spiritually. I relate better to C. S. Lewis and his Screwtape Letters than I do this. But this seems to be the way the Southern Baptist Convention is going. I’m not even sure I will keep this book, but I tried by reading 74 of 257 pages. And hey! It has an index! I like that in books!



This is the 7th and last of my “unfinished books” and it really doesn’t deserve to be in this group! I only lacked one chapter which I just finished and absolutely love this book! In fact I put it among the best I have ever read, especially among devotional books or books about Jesus and that is what grace is about!

The grace of God is about both power and weakness, about lover and forgiveness, what Christianity is all about. In some ways this is the best book about Christianity I have ever read. Both Bonhoeffer and C.S. Lewis would love this book and are both quoted in it!

From the true story of “Babette’s Feast” to a brilliant contrast of gravity and grace, Yancey examines grace from every angle and what I like best is how he shows us that to follow Christ means to both live in grace and have grace for others. I will read this book again as I will his earlier favorite book of mine, The Jesus I Never Knew which reveals the real Jesus beyond both history and the convenient stereotypes modern man has made Him. It is powerful too, but not as much as this book on grace!

I have already given this book as gifts to 2 or 3 young people and probably will again. It’s at the top of my list now.




Monday, November 1, 2004

Shaker Village, Pleasant Hill, KY

See the Photo Gallery of this Trip 

I’m reading Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster and beginning today a spiritual journal of wht I am learning and doing in an effort to grow spiritually or to become more Christ-like which is God-like.

I have always said that this has been my goal, but with no plan, no concerted effort, no specific actions, and no obvious results. Now I will focus on it and try to develop some new habits, some new relationships with God. I am now on a personal retreat in Kentucky for 3 days with this new beginning as my goal. My human excuse was to photograph the Louisville Zoo today and the Shaker Village the next two days. God is using rain to keep me indoors and focused this new spiritual goal. If it clears some the next two days, I hope to walk a lot with conversations with God as the goal. And hopefully I will also get some limited photography included.

I’ve read the first 3 chapters of the book:

Fist was an introduction to the disciplines as (1) a liberation from a lifetime of bad habits, (2) meditation, and (3) prayer. From this I’ve learned that I must:

  • Schedule regular times of significant length for meditation and prayer;
  • Realize that there are different kinds of meditation;
  • I can get started with hands out and palms down to empty my life of sins, hurry, concerns. selfishness, worries, and distractions;
  • Start meditating with my palms up (as I learned from Muslims in The Gambia) to accept the ways of God into my life (love, joy, peace, patience, etc.);
  • Pray with imagination, especially in intercessory prayer, visualizing the positive answers;
  • Meditate on specific Scripture verses, paragraphs or stories

I’m starting with this Scripture meditation, beginning with Matthew and skipping the genealogy (maybe someday I will learn to meditate on that).  Matthew 1:18-21 was my first focus this morning. Joseph and the pregnancy of his fiancee is the setting. I underscored three things to meditate on:

  1. Joseph was a righteous man
  2. An angel appeared to him in a dream
  3. Do no be afraid

I must obey God and stay close to him (a righteous man) to hear God speak through angels or however He chooses to speak to me. In the strange things of life that happen I must trust God and depend on Him and not be afraid.

I guess this is a beginner’s meditation and not the depth that God may lead me to later, but a definite beginning. I will also have to work on the emptying of myself of worldly concerns, the palms down, to be more open to both the Scripture and the still, small voice of God.

Now I’m about to read the chapter on Fasting – a concept foreign to me and I guess most Americans. I did watch Muslims do it in The Gambia during Rammadan and other emphses. I saw the hypocrisy of their big breakfast before sunrise and gorging themselves after sundown as hardly what God meant fasting to be. And I figure we Christians will figure out similar “loopholes” in our fasting if we do it at all.

Well, I read the chapter on fasting and I must begin soon a 24-hour fast once a week for several weeks. I need to get spiritually motivated which I haven’t been and have the right motivation and keep it private. It does no good if I tell others about it.



Tuesday, November 2, 2004

Shaker Village, Pleasant Hill, KY


I started the day with simple meditation and prayer, then meditated on the next verses in Matthew. 1:22-23 and the prophesied name of Jesus “Immanuel” meaning “God with us.” I may meditate on those words for several days. God with us or in us is central to what Richard Foster is saying in his book and also what Thomas Merton is saying in his book Seeking Paradise: The Spirit of the Shakers, which I finished this afternoon. There is a mystical or spiritual kinship or “want-to-be” that I feel with the Shakers as there was also for Merton. I bought his book here yesterday and have finished reading it today. I’m so glad I did and it isvery complimentary to Foster’s Celebration of Discipline. I do hope that this trip and these readings and meditations will begin to simplify my life more and help me to stay focused on Christ. From Merton I have learned that it is not only alright but good that I am giving myself to the art of photography. I want even more to do it well for the good of the viewer as well as my own good. Merton was part of another book The Religion of Wood where he and another writer proclaimed the Shaker’s high quality and simplicity of their work as a form of worship of God. Also Merton had taken up photography as an expressive art he enjoyed himself. The book is actually illustrated with his own photos taken right here at Pleasant Hill.

This morning was warm and dry and I got a lot more great photos of Shaker Village including several in my room and through my room windows during the all-afternoon rain. I even went out when it slacked off to a drizzle and shot a few more with the wet look. Plus I did a little more shopping. I got a Shaker “tree of life” Christmas tree ornament and an instrumental album of Shaker hymns.

“Lemon Bowl” at Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, November 2, 2004

Now I will finish reading the Foster chapter on the discipline of study. It is scary, hard work and greatly needed in my life! But I love the fact that he says only half of our study should be books! The other half should be nature, relationships, culture, and institutions – the things we can observe every day and learn from! I also like the idea of scheduling a study retreat maybe once a month sort of like what I am doing here this week at Shaker Village. I have learned a lot in these two days thus far from two books, the Bible, nature, Shaker culture and lifestyle, and even the people I’ve related to here, both employees and other guests. My very nice photo I am titling “Lemon Bowl” was the suggestion of another guest.



January 3, 2005 

Miami Beach & Everglades National Park


Absolutely wonderful day! Beautiful sunrise on Miami Beach, then after a mediocre breakfast I am on my way to the Everglades with the top down in my rent-car convertible! I thoroughly enjoyed the drive in the convertible and could get used to this! I got some good photos on the Anhinga Trail. Then I enjoyed a beautiful sunset on Florida Bay from the schooner Windfall. Great dinner in the lodge restaurant topped my first day of vacation.








January 10, 2005 – Miami & The Everglades

Written originally for a Blog


January 2-10 in sunny South Florida is a great way to begin any year or cold month! I had this trip planned for months with a cheap ticket on Southwest Airline to Fort Laurderdale, lodging in an economy hotel on Miami Beach at the beginning and ending of the week (Howard Johnson’s Dezerland Hotel) and the middle of the week at Flamingo Lodge in the Everglades National Park  http://www.nps.gov/ever/

It was a fabulous week in every way! I relaxed, got some sunshine, drove a convertible with the top down, and photographed hundreds of birds, alligators, and beautiful scenery. At the end I visited with old friends in Miami Springs Baptist Church and attended worship there on the 9th. It has been 38 years since I left Miami Springs (a section of Miami) and of course you cannot emotionally “go back” in time, but a potluck dinner and a lunch out were good ways to share some great memories. Soon I will have photos posted and will link them here.





January 22, 2005

Written originally for a Blog


I’m Doomed to Live in Meshech


I’m in trouble. I cry to God,

desperate for an answer:

“Deliver me from the liars, God!

They smile so sweetly but lie through their teeth.”

Do you know what’s next, can you see what’s coming,

all you barefaced liars?

Pointed arrows and burning coals

will be your reward.

I’m doomed to live in Meshech,

cursed with a home in Kedar.

My whole life lived camping

among quarreling neighbors.

I’m all for peace, but the minute

I tell them so, they go to war!


This translation of the Psalm from Eugene Peterson’s THE MESSAGE has just come alive to me. In many ways it describes me and where I am right here in the good ol’ USA! The lies are not just Bush’s lies that caused thousands to die, but the on-going lie that our society can fix everything; the lie that a good financial advisor will give me a wonderful life; the lie that if I can get a better city councilman he will stop the developers from messing up my neighborhood; the lie that Bush will stop world tyranny; the lie that if I join the Democratic Party and work hard we can fix this mess, etc.

For years I have been angry about the embarrassing arrogance of our national leaders on the world scene (especially the three years I lived overseas) and have recently become angry with our city councilman who is messing with the community fabric of our little inner-city neighborhood called “Hope Gardens.” I’ve been angry with our condo management and board leader for not doing anything about the sloppy workmanship of the new construction. I join organizations, write letters, fight back . . .

But suddenly I realize I’m “…camping among quarreling neighbors. I’m all for peace, but the minute I tell them so, they go to war!” (Psalm 120) And I’ve been going to war with them! And sometimes against them! STOP! I don’t live in a utopia and this world will never be one! And I am sometimes part of the problem!

How can I say I want peace with my neighbor when I know the “Impeach Bush” bumper sticker on my car makes him angry? How can I promote world peace and not be an instrument of peace in my neighborhood or city?

In the Psalm, Meshech was a city far away from Jerusalem, the writer’s city of God. And the United States (or my Nashville, TN) is far away from the real city of God (Heaven). This is a statement of repentance for me — a turning from all my energies in trying to make my Meshech a heaven and I hope now seeking God and his purity and perfection. I will continue to be a good citizen, participating in the community; but my emphasis now will be to change myself and not an evil world that will always be evil. I am now seeking God, not a utopia on earth.

This “conversion” for someone who has always been a Christian comes after reading only two chapters of the book A Long Obedience in the Same Direction by Eugene H. Peterson. I think he would be pleased with my initial thinking, but what will Chapter 3 do to me? I will try to report it here and I don’t expect all of this book to stir up my political feelings as much as Chapter 2!

Peace to whoever reads this! (And I recommend the book!)     -Charlie




January 29, 2005

Written originally for a Blog

No, my strength comes from God,

who made heaven, and earth, and mountains.

Psalm 121:1-2, The Message

And so, this lover of mountains and all of the great outdoors, a nature photographer who could come close to worshiping nature at times, realizes that there has to be a higher power who made those mountains and can be the only source of my strength–the only one I can depend upon. He is my protector and mentor rather than some part of nature or some human source.

Now that doesn’t mean I can’t stumble on the mountain trail–I certainly have! Nor that I can’t get too much sun–but whatever happens, I can never be separated from God. He is my inspiration, the source of my vision, my strength and my only real purpose for living.

As Eugene Peterson says: “We Christians believe that life is created and shaped by God and that the life of faith is a daily exploration of the constant and countless ways in which God’s grace and love are experienced.”

And these words are inspired by Chapter 3 of A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. See the link above.



April 7, 2005  —  Review of Pope John Paul II Documentary

I just watched the PBS biography documentary movie of 2 hours on The Life of Pope John Paul II. I was deeply moved.

As with most biographies, I tend to either identify with the person and/or apply his life to mine. I id so with this remarkable story.

First, I identified with his spiritual or mystical approach to life and I think also to the way he responded to St. John of the Cross who I must read. (I, for years, had a print of the Dali painting by that name hanging on my walls.)

I see God reflected in nature as he did and love the outdoors as he did.

As a young man I felt God’s hand on my life as he did and taught youn ger people as he did.

I believe strongly that change must come and through non-violent, peaceful ways.

Like him, I feel God has protected me and saved my life for a purpose.

I was fulfilling God’s purposes as a youth minister, in much of what I did as a denominational worker – though I was out of God’s will in my marriage.

Again, I believe I was fulfilling God’s will more recently as a leader of divorce recovery and a Sunday school teacher and then even more so as a missionary in The Gambia.

I asked God to let me rest and put together my biography scrapbooks as my return and then I would serve Him. I have been too slow on the biography and must finish because God has something less self-centered for me to do. I don’t know what – but I must decrease and He must increase in my life and activity. I need your leadership God.


Friday, May 27, 2005

Drove from Nashville to Bloomington, IL



Saturday, May 28, 2005

Night in Minneapolis, MN motel and dinner in The Mall of America


I saw the big shark aquarium and ate at Ruby Tuesdays. I walked all around the Mall and got some needed clothing at Old Navy. Overall I am not impressed. It is just another mall with a big playground/amusement park in the middle and I don’t like malls or amusement parks!





Sunday, May 29, 2005

Dutch Mill Motel, Bagley, MN


This morning I drove from Minneapolis to Bagley with a stop in the Lake Itasca State Park, the beginning of the Mississippi River.

I arrive this afternoon and already we have had a great visit just talking. He shared stories and experiences canoeing on the headwaters of the Mississippi River and I shared stories of The Gambia and London which Jerry loves but he never got to go there. He told me that he had kept a journal of his many months on the Mississippi headwaters between Lake Itasca and Bemidji and some time that year on the Ouachita River in Arkansas. But because it was very personal and he didn’t think anyone would appreciate it, he has destroyed the journal – much to my horror as a family historian! He had even thought about making it into a book or a novel, but when he knew he was dying, he gave up. He has written several other novels which were never published and he said something like, “They never were appreciated and so I destroyed them because of my pending death.”  This breaks my heart.

We also talked about movies seen recently and about death and dying, all in the first day! He announced that he is going to rewrite his final directive or living will to not include a power of attorney so Steve or anyone else will be able to resuscitate him or keep him alive on machines or a respirator. He thinks it will be too difficult to say no when decision must be made. This is something he will change while I am here so I can take him to have it notarized and take a copy for myself and one for Bonnie.

He doesn’t know what we will do tomorrow, but Tuesday is his treatment at the Bemidji Hospital early and then he has places he wants to go in the headwaters on Wednesday. He is limited in how much he can do in any one day. He has shortness of breath frequently and tires easily. He only has one functioning lung now and has tumors all over his body. As a lymph system cancer, it is turning all of his lymph nodes into tumors. He is weak and it takes him 2+ hours in the mornings to get ready and deal with frequent bile movements. He says that the problems now are caused by the cancer and not the Rhytoxin chemo which doesn’t even cause his hair to fall out.




Monday, May 30, 2005

Dutch Mill Motel, Bagley, MN


Well, Jerry decided he felt like starting his nostalgia visits in the headwaters today and we actually made it to four campsites or canoe landings he had frequented in earlier years. He had camped at all of them, some several times which brought back warm memories for him. This was the main thing he wanted me to help him with while here. The four campsites or canoe landings we were able to drive almost to today were: Wanigan Landing, Coffee Pot Landing, Stumphges Rapids Landing, and Bear Den Landing. I took photos and enjoyed seeing Jerry enjoy himself and hearing some of his stories. He was of course worn out when we returned.

My favorite of the stories he shared was when camping at one of the last two sites, he was sitting quietly one morning early among the large White Pines along an animal trail. He saw a wolf coming down the trail and he remained still, just staring lovingly at him. The wolf was within 10-15 feet when he finally noticed Jerry. Jerry says that the wolf was embarrassed that he had been caught off guard. He stopped and looked at Jerry for a moment and then went on down the trail with nothing more than the pause and look. Jerry calls that one of his most treasured moments with wild animals. He has come across bears who are more clumsy and tend to storm off in the woods. He has also seen many beavers, porcupines, raccoons, deer, moose, and thousands of birds. He was disappointed that we saw only one pair of geese and no loons today. The trees are being cut down and the animals are leaving.

Most of the sites were the way he remembered them with some improvements made at all except Stumphges Rapids which had evidently been abandoned by the state as a canoe camp. It no longer had a water pump or outhouse, was full of trash and had two deer blinds added. That was sad to him. The fourth one, Bear Den, was still an okay canoe camp, but had been used by deer hunters with a 2×4 strung between two trees for butchering and maybe a dozen or more deer legs were scattered around the camp along with beer bottles. It seems that some people just don’t really care about the outdoors.

We talked about his family. David has absolutely nothing to do with him and is supposedly in a second marriage now. He said that for awhile, Linda was taking care of the children from that first marriage (I think he said 2). I learned that Walter lived with him for awhile but now seldom has anything to do with him. (Probably because of Linda—my comment.) Both boys were adopted by John Lewis which was a second adoption for David who was adopted by Jerry earlier as an infant. Up until a few years ago, Jerry thought that Walter was his biological son, but he later learned that he is not. He was fathered by the same man that fathered David, an ol’ bowling buddy of Linda’s and one of her boy friends in those days.

Steve is his birth son and is okay with Jerry, but a little patronizing or controlling, Jerry feels. Thus Jerry plans to remove him as power of attorney on his living will so his death wishes can take place as he designs with no life support once he contracts pneumonia or other breathing disorder which is how Jerry thinks he will die. I may take him to have his new living will notarized while I’m here, which is Jerry’s plan.

This motel doubles as a video rental store in Bagley. Jerry had told me that the best movie he had seen on cancer was a made-for-TV HBO movie titled Wit. He was thinking about ordering it again from netflix.com where he gets his movies, but was afraid it wouldn’t get here in time. So I checked Dutch Mill and we were both surprised that they had it! So tonight we watched that VHS movie as the motel since he has only DVD capability. It is a very moving and funny movie about a woman dying of ovarian cancer. He said it was so true to life as it depicted the doctors and hospital staff and dehumanizing ways they treat you. It is probably the most powerful movie I have ever seen about death and certainly about cancer. I highly recommend it.





Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Dutch Mill Motel, Bagley, MN


After breakfast at BnR I took Jerry,  leaving at 7:30 AM, to the clinic in Bemidji for his chemotherapy “Rhytoxin (spelling?).” It is slow and he wasn’t through until around 2:00 PM I think. We ate too much for our late lunch at Appleby’s in Bemidji and Jerry is exhausted. He says it is now the cancer and not the chemo that makes him ill. This is his second of 8 treatments in this round.

We both rested for the afternoon and he plans to rewrite his final directive or living will tonight and tomorrow and rest. I will take him to Bemidji again Friday for blood tests and to have his directive notarized. Oh, his blood count was very low today and Friday, if worse, he may get a blood transfusion or at least platelets. He is not well even though he looks pretty good.

I still had a lot of daylight left, so I went back to Lake Itasca State Park for more photos, not getting back until dark or after.  By evening there were no people at the beginning of the Mississippi, so better photos than Sunday. Then while looking for an overlook I found a large number of Yellow Ladies Slippers and a small white trillium. I really needed the tripod, but still had fun with the flowers.




Wednesday, June 1, 2005

Dutch Mill Motel, Bagley, MN


Jerry was too tired to do anything, so I decided to take a trip. I followed the Great River Road from Itasca all the way to Bemidji with photos at all crossings. Then I went on past Lake Bemidji on 12, 8, 33, 12, 39 roads to Hwy 2 at Cass Lake to complete the first important part of the Great River Road. It will save time on the day I leave because I was going to do this when I left anyway. It was afternoon when I returned.



Outside of the park is Gulsvang Landing and the first entry point out of the park. Got photos there. Hwy 2 where we went to Wannigan Landing, the first one Jerry had used to 40 for house photo past Lake LaSalle. This was near where we found Coffee Pot Landing earlier. Hwy 10 (gravel) to change counties to Clearwater and Hwy 7. This was near another campsite we saw with Jerry earlier.

Continue on Hwy 7 over river all the way into Bemidji 5th Street. Saw all the tourist stuff there, Paul Bunyan statue, and Lake Bemidji  entrance of the river. Got photos here. From 7 to 197 to 12 all the way past Lake Bemidji. Got off river road on 19 to see where the Mississippi comes out of Lake Bemidji for photo. Then back on 12 down to where river goes through Wolf Lake to Lake Andrusia. Somewhere it became Hwy 8 to 33 crossing the river between Lake Andrusia and the larger Cass Lake, the biggest lake thus far. Then back to 12 and town of Pennington crossing the Mississippi where it is heading toward Winnibigoshish Lake. Lost the river itself on 39 to U.S. Hwy 2 where I stopped or left the Great River Road for today.


In the late afternoon I went to visit Jerry. We both ate late lunches and did not have dinner, but rather some watermelon and pastries I brought. Then we saw one of his mail-order movies, The Sea Inside, a Spanish movie about death we thought, but was more of a political movie about the right to die or really the right for one to take his own life. It was not really a very good movie and didn’t convince me or Jerry for the cause. It was about a selfish quadriplegic who wanted to take his life and ultimately did, but after having treated his loving family very badly. It dealt head-on about a real issue, just not convincing either in favor or against it. It was a disappointing movie.

He finished his directive and agreed we would notarize and copy it on Friday.




Thursday, June 2, 2005

Dutch Mill Motel, Bagley, MN

Had a good breakfast at Coach’s Corner. French toast, bacon, & coffee & read the paper.  See also my Photo Gallery of this Trip.

Wanigan Landing on the Mississippi. It is the first one out of the park beyond the put-in point on Hwy 200 called Gulvvig Landing. It is the first of 5 landings Jerry took me to see. Photographed on my May-June 2005 trip to Minnesota to visit Jerry.

Later Jerry and I went back to the Mississippi River headwaters and after trying two different roads finally made it to Pine Point Landing or campsite south of Solway and saw several other places along the river by car. It is a very special place for Jerry. I’m so glad he was able to have this time of reminiscing. Jerry had a rough time seeing the enormous amount of clear cut logging almost to the bank of the river. This camp was one that a nearby boys private camp brought boys to a lot. I continued to be surprised at all the marsh land around here. From there we walked to Jerry’s private point or campsite. We saw the work of both beaver and porcupine on some trees. He said it was the first time at this time of year he saw no ducks or loons. We saw only song birds and 2 great blue herons. Lots of red wing blackbirds which is the most I saw up here. The only ones I have seen other than at Reelfoot Lake in Tennessee. It was a long walk and did exhaust Jerry. The above photo gallery has a sub-gallery on this Canoe Landings Walk with Jerry.

Drove back to Jerry’s apartment and ate sandwiches from his stuff. We talked politics and family a little. He gave me a pack of his 1992 photos he took when he went to El Dorado. It includes all of the landmarks for our family. I hope to make good use of them.  I have no photos of our house, Yocum School or Duggar Department Store, which he included. He says Steve would have no use for the photos or even know what they are, so he gives them to me. It is so moving that he is winding down his life and bringing closure with many little things like this.  And of course our canoe site visits is something that he really wanted to do. It is amazing how much both of us love the outdoors and enjoy and appreciate it.

Writing in the afternoon while Jerry is resting. I will go back at 6:30 to see a movie he owns about commanders or something about a British ship in history that came to the pacific. Made by an Australian company.

Tomorrow we get up at 5:30 to have his blood checked and make his directive copies. This visit has been so meaningful and congenial and so much easier than I thought. It has been as helpful to me as him, if not more so. I am thankful he is sharing so much with me. He really doesn’t have a lot of friends, just many acquaintances.

His landlord is a lady friend of 32 years and wife of his former boss at Bemidji Newspaper. She is 82. She provided an apartment close to a laundromat, grocery and drugstore which he couldn’t find in Bemidji where he knows more people. He is living only on Social Security and got rid of what little he owned 3 years ago when diagnosed and thought death was imminent. He feels a little isolated here, especially without a car which cannot afford nor is physically able to drive now.

We talked only a little about spiritual things. He has been turned off by the hypocrisy of churches and has chosen to live without I would love him to have as a support group. He loves his solitude. He has refused assisted living, which Steve recommended, because of the crowds and he would get more germs which could kill him sooner, since he has few white corpuscles. He enjoys his classical music and the mail-order movies and his solitude. So I think he is about as happy as he could be in his present situation.


 Friday, June 3, 2005

Dutch Mill Motel, Bagley, MN

7:30, left for Bemidji for Jerry’s blood test which was 95, up from 65 and so no transfusion. Then notarized and copied his directive and some groceries he can’t get in Bagley.

After bringing Jerry back we rested and I took him to lunch at one of the Bagley cafes.


Saturday, June 4, 2005

Dutch Mill Motel, Bagley, MN

Today I gave Jerry a break from me and drove to International Falls and back, looking for scenery and possible waterfalls. I saw the Sturgeon, Big Fork and Little Fork rivers and a cascading kind of falls at the town of Big Falls, MN. It was an interesting drive, but not as much scenery as I had expected.


Sunday, June 5, 2005

Dutch Mill Motel, Bagley, MN

I think Jerry and I just visited and saw a movie at night. I didn’t write anything down that night.


Monday, June 6, 2005

Dutch Mill Motel, Bagley, MN

8:30 we left for tests and chemo. Today they added a second chemo on top of the Rhytoxin which was a quicker one. The double treatment is experimental, but is suppose to maybe help stop the growth of the cancer.

He pretty much encouraged me to go on tomorrow which is a day earlier than I expected, but he is okay and we may have had enough of each other. I will go back tonight and say goodbye. He has given me the email address of a friend in Canada for me to notify when he dies. Mostly Jerry talked about what he wanted to talk about and I guess that was be best kind of visit. Our visits to his canoe places was the highlight of the visit for both of us. It is sad that he destroyed his canoe journal and his novels.

It is time to leave. It was overall a positive visit. It may be a permanent goodbye tonight, but really no one knows. He thinks he will die from respiratory problems by the end of the year. I don’t feel like I was of a lot of help to him, but maybe all I needed to be. I did purchase a corkboard for him which he wanted to put above his desk. I keep wanting to do more, but what?

9:20 – Well, I’m back at Jerry’s. I took watermelon and apple fritters which we both enjoyed. He is being very strong and I complimented him on that. We talked about the zoos I will see on the way back. I hated to leave but it was time and we hugged and said good bye.

I went from there by Bagley Lake for some sunset photos and then off to bed in preparation for a good drive tomorrow.


Tuesday, June 7, 2005

Enroute to Minneapolis via the Great River Road. I used the tape recorder to describe the scenery and spots along the river, mainly for better descriptions of my photos.

GREAT RIVER ROAD TRAVELOGUE  (Photo Gallery: Bemidji to Minneapolis)

7:25 AM – I just past where I left the River Road the other day. I’m in a pouring rain. U.S. Hwy 2 is the alternate river road through Grand Rapids. I’ll see how many of the side roads I can follow closer to the river without getting on gravel roads in this rain.

Just crossed the river on Hwy 2 and I’m looking for a cutoff on county road that may be closer to the river. Turned on Cass county road 3 where I crossed the river again. Got a red barn photo on 3 then turned on 74 toward Schoolcraft town and state park and got photo of yellow barn near that junction. I’m now on county rd. 65 and rain slows down a little. In Itasca Co. to state rd. 6 going towards Grand Rapids, but then becomes Co. Rd. 63 still headed towards Grand Rapids. Now on county 76. I just follow the river road signs. Otherwise I really would be lost! This is the most jogging around of roads yet. I’m now on co. rd 23 and into suburbs of Grand Rapids.

I got lost in Grand Rapids. First a detour that ended and finally after stopping for help, I got on U.S. 169 headed south headed toward Aitkin. Somewhere north of Aitkin it became the official river road again and then went off to county road 21. Crossed river here and it is a very big river by now. 169 & 210 are merged and is the river road again.

Welcome to Aitkin pop 1,900.  On hwy 210 now, going south. Creeping through Brainerd following Hwy 371 south toward Little Falls which follows right along the river again. I get only an occasional sighting of the river. Just passed military Fort Ripley with the Minnesota Military Museum located there a sign says. Now I’m passing the Charles Lindbergh State Park.

In Little Falls I will pick up U.S. 10 toward St. Cloud and on official river road all the way on 10. At one point at Rice I got on Hwy 2 crossing over river onto Sterns co rd 1. Now I’m 11 miles from St. Cloud in a rural farming area becoming more residential. I passed Miss. River County Park right on the river in St. Cloud. Now I’m into residential suburban St. Cloud. I got a photo of farm with silo and wheat or hay. Along here there are Bike and hike lanes on both sides of the road.

Leaving St. Cloud with Watab river entering the Mississippi here. Now I’m on Sterns Co. 78, then 133+78 along the river. Back on U.S. 10 with bridge over the river which is really getting big!  Now I’m on other side on Hwy 33 going along railroad between me and the river. There is a Municipal Park on river, still in St. Cloud I think. At the park I cross over the river and  then back on the other side again to 9th Ave. in St. Cloud. This is an older part of town. No I’m on other side of town and going by a college campus. 9th became Clearwater Rd. I have decided that it is not worth the trouble to go through a town on the river road. You can’t really see much of river and it is so confusing as well as congested traffic. Bemidji was okay, but not here.  I would advise getting on Hwy 10 or I-94 when going south and reaching St. Cloud. Hwy 75 went under the interstate into St. Augusta (a small town) where we follow the Interstate instead of the river. Back over interstate and no glimpse of river on 75. I’m still looking for river. Map shows county road stays along interstate instead of river. There is a little park on Clearwater River. Now I’m in a little town of Clearwater. Access to I-94 is here. Hey this is more of a service Road!  I’m getting back on I-94!

I traveled to south of Minneapolis, checked in a motel and then saw the whole Minnesota Zoo in 3 hours. It is okay with great potential, but not there yet! Their Tiger exhibit was featured on Animal Planet’s Ultimate Zoo and the best part is that it is large. But the cats were still pacing like in all zoos. Sad. They have a Minnesota Trail with local animals which I really like and think we should have at Grassmere again!

Spent the night in a suburb of Minneapolis.


 June 8, 2005

Drove from Minneapolis to Kansas City – no photo stops.


June 9-10, 2005

Kansas City Zoo

This was my favorite zoo on this trip with fabulous chimpanzee and gorilla exhibits and a big screen theater with good animal movies, plus butterflies and much more. I had a great time and got good photos and went to Bennie’s house the afternoon of the 10th.


June 10-12, 2005

Bonnie & Tom’s House, Grain Valley, MO

I was with them from 9th until the afternoon of the 11th. We had a good visit and really ate well! I enjoyed their grandchildren too! Just lots of talking with lots to catch up on!


 June 12, 2005

St. Louis Hampton Inn

I spent Sunday night at the Hampton Inn downtown and ate dinner in the old Union Station which I remember visiting during my Brotherhood Commission days.


June 13, 2005 

St. Louis Zoo (05 & 07 photos combined) & Mt. Vernon, IL Stop

Then most of Monday was spent at the St. Louis Zoo which is a really finished zoo, with everything in place but to me not living up to their sign saying they are #1 zoo in the nation. They say it is free admission, but I paid $9 to park my car! Hardly free! It was okay and I got a lot of photos and then drove halfway across Illinois for the night in a motel at Mt. Vernon. Dinner at Bob Evans Restaurant.


Friday, July 1, 2005

Today I had a long phone call from Ben McGinnis where I mostly listened. It is hard being a young pastor in a culturally diverse neighborhood of a big city today! He needs someone to listen and I’m learning to do that better.

But he also asked me to preach one of the last two Sundays of July for him. I’m humbled, sober, and wanting a word from God to share. I want to help him and I want to do what God wants me to do or say.

Lord speak to me in a new way.      ~Charlie


July 4, 2005 

My 65th Birthday at Home

Well, here I am with the big 65 birthday and like most all of my birthdays since Juli died, it is no big deal—no party, no cake, and no friends or relatives this time. I continue to say that I enjoy living alone and being by myself and that I am never bored. And that is all true. But sometimes I do get a little lonely or wish I could be with people and especially have a family that is close and loving. The family I had was mostly dysfunctional, but I even miss some aspects of it—mostly the children. The young Jason and Juli at all ages were probably the only ones who truly loved me since my own Mom & Dad. This lack of someone close to me or even a best friend is even more of a reason to realize and focus on the love of God through Jesus. He is always there and loves me unconditionally, even though I am a sinner undeserving of His love.

Yesterday after church I had lunch with some single friends at Fiesta Mexicana and even had a desert of fried ice cream with my birthday as the excuse. It was fun.

Some thoughts on different subjects at this milestone of my physical life:


There was a tiny bit of guilt in retiring at age 62 and now I feel more justified in telling people that I am retired, since 65 is the traditional retirement age. Of course I had no choice on what LifeWay did to me at age 59, retiring me really early. And I give God all the glory and credit for allowing me to serve those following 3 years as a missionary in West Africa.


As I have probably said many times, they were 3 of the best years of my life where I loved my job, the country of The Gambia, the Gambian people, and the great outdoors in that tropical place. I could have re-enlisted for another 2 or 3 years with the ISC program, but would probably have been put in another country with French as the trade language and I was having a lot of philosophical problems with the IMB leadership and even the West Africa regional leadership over priorities and how to do missions. I could have probably adapted or worked it out if I had felt led, but I didn’t. I was ready for some time in the states and away from the head-strong IMB leadership and discussed it with God a lot then. I told God I would serve again if I could have two or three years to put my life in order, finish my biographical scrapbooks, and then forget myself and focus totally on Him. I knew that living there without any personal property or focus on material things or family was the purest form of worship or discipleship I had experienced since college/seminary days and that Jesus wants us to die to ourselves and live only for Him.


. . . critical of the selfish, materialistic culture and arrogant, self-serving government of my native land. But as happens when immersed in something, I quickly became very American again and in the process less Christian. I have worked on my biographical scrapbooks off-and-on for nearly 3 years now and still not finished. I have worked chronologically from birth to my days at Ouachita College and I am still working on the Ouachita scrapbooks. The marriage days will be the hardest scrapbooks to do because of emotions and the fact that Ginger has a lot of the photos of those days. But I will do my best.

I also went all out on my hobby of photography with expensive equipment and now files of more than 11,000 photos saved digitally. Am I letting this take over my life? It is not whether it is good or bad, but rather is it keeping me from following Jesus? Am I “married” to photography? Do I need to leave it as Peter left the fishing boats and follow Jesus? I have always let work control my life and interfere with my relationship to God and now that I am retired, have I made photography my new work at the cost of not fully giving myself to Jesus? I don’t know for sure. I’m not sure what to do now. I’m also getting back into genealogy and family history which was the other thing I asked God for permission to finish. Well, do you ever really finish it? Is it too replacing God as the priority in my life.

Now I know that no one lives in a vacuum and maybe these will be my channels for ministry and witness. God, help me to know what to do now.


I am not sure I have grown much. I read from the Bible every day, but I have not been really studying it. I have read some Christian books, but not as many as intended and find some of them boring. We have great worship services at First Baptist Nashville, but I am not excited about worship and not sure I even know how to worship. Our Sunday school class has some great discussions, but is it causing me to grow or be more Christ-like? I don’t think so, but then maybe a little. As a “doer” I have enjoyed being on the Missions Committee and being the Chairman last year and again this year, but I am disappointed in the participation of other committee members and what has become a primary role of approving budget expenses. I look forward to rotating off this fall. I have always believed in serving others and “in as much as you do unto the least of these you do unto me…” So serving Juanita and her family for nearly three years along with other people I have helped has been good, even when I have occasionally grown “weary in well-doing.”

So where am I spiritually? I don’t know for sure! But I don’t think it is where I want to be. Does it take more discipline? Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline has challenged me and I love the book. But to do all those disciplines is simply hard for me! So at 65 I am not where I want to be spiritually, but don’t seem to have a plan or even know how to do it.


I have recently said that I will go back to attending church on Wednesday nights as my social place and my people of support when I will need it again. I told Sam yesterday that I would start attending the “Junior Seniors” monthly dinners and some of their activities and maybe trips. Though the very thought of bus trips with other old people turns me off. I like to travel on my own as an explorer with a camera and will probably continue to do that as long as I am able.

Of course the Nashville Photography Club is my other big social group now and becoming a more important part of my life, especially since I was just elected president of the club! It is also another one of those jobs or work overtaking my life. I may only serve as president one year and go back to being the nature focus group leader which is what I enjoyed the most. We’ll see what happens.


I enjoy telling people that hiking is one of my hobbies and that I walk a lot in the Bicentennial Mall Park as well as ride my bike on the greenways a lot. But I am not really regular in my exercise, especially now that it is hot summer time. It is easier in the Spring or Fall!  My HealthSpring Insurance gives me a free YMCA membership and I am thinking about joining and trying to do more. But going to a building to exercise is not motivating me much. But maybe if I try it they will help me work out a schedule to include the outdoor activities I enjoy mixed with some at the Y.


I have vowed to have more contact with Jerry and Bonnie and Jason and to get involved again with the Hardgrave Family Association and the annual Doggett Reunion. But I am not there yet. I want to write more about family and create a great set of family pages on my website. So a lot of work to do here too!

In another sense I want to develop the “family” of church as my local support and social outlet along with the secondary “family” of the photography club.


I start another period of my life with plenty of goals and the admission of being an imperfect sinner who will never have it all together! But I love life and the people God has put in my life. I love the great outdoors and the opportunities to capture some of it with my camera. I may have 20+ years of life to experience and I begin those twilight years with hope, excitement, joy, and a desire to keep Jesus central. Let the adventures continue!



July 23, 2005

I talked with Jerry on the phone. He says he is doing good for his situation. He is continuing for now the double-treatments of Velcaid and Rhituxin (spelling?). The Rhituxin is what he has been taking for some time which is shrinking the tumors. The Velcaid is experimental from his Bemidji doctor with hopes that it will work with the other for greater reduction. But Jerry is having problems with it. He feels sick for a day or two after taking it and his feet and lower legs are hurting all the time. Thursday he developed a rash on his back which the doctor said may be shingles. It would be so easy to get discouraged and give up.


August 25, 2005

Frisco, Colorado

Yesterday I decided I would not go the Street Fest in Byrdstown, TN with my photos for two reasons: 1) Everyone I talked with said that this kind of event emphasizes the music, tractor pulls, parades, etc. and people aren’t in to buying crafts;  2) Rain was predicted for the whole weekend.

But I had already told everyone I was going to be out of town Thursday through Sunday and I was really in the mood for an adventure trip – so why not? I got on the internet looking for “last minute deals” and chose 4 nights in Summit County, Colorado with airfare, hotel, and rent car for $600. By 8:00 PM last night I was confirmed on a 10:15 AM American Airlines flight this morning and here I am in the Holiday Inn Holidome of Frisco, Colorado. I’ve already seen a lot of beautiful scenery and started photography.

See my Photo Gallery of this Impulsive Colorado Trip – I loved it!

August 26, 2005

Blue Lakes and McCullough Gulch, Colorado

After a big blueberry pancake breakfast, I went first to Blue Lakes to hike the trail to 12,000 feet. I didn’t finish it because I dropped and lost my water bottle and the last few hundred feet were really steep and difficult. I was also having difficulty breathing at this altitude. Had I made the top of the peak I would have been at 12,500 feet, but figure I made it to 12,300.

Both the lower and upper Blue Lakes were beautiful! I got several photos. Between the two was also a beautiful waterfall cascades combo. Above the upper lake was a smaller but beautiful cascades which I went about halfway up. There were also nice views looking back down into the valley and across to other mountains.

On an adjacent road was the trailhead into McCullough Gulch. I decided to do this one also today since they were near each other. This time I put the water bottle inside my pack so it wouldn’t fall out of the little mesh holder like earlier. BUT—I later learned that I should have taken two bottles! I began having breathing difficulties almost immediately and just thought it was exhaustion from the other hike or my lack of recent experience at these high altitudes. Later I decided that I had altitude sickness. I was having to stop every 50 feet or so when going uphill to just catch my breath. But I really wanted to see this lake and the waterfall below it, so I pushed on. This waterfalls/cascades was also beautiful and I sat there a while resting and eating my granola bar lunch. Then I almost dragged myself up the hill to the lake above the falls. I was disappointed in the lake which was not nearly as pretty as the two blue lakes and was wishing I had turned around after the falls. By now I had met several other hikers, including one couple maybe my age who were backpacking and planning to camp on the lake. It still had patches of snow around it and was also above 12,000 feet.

On the trip down I ran out of water and accepted some from another hiker. I was beginning to feel ill, dizzy at times, a headache, very tired, and occasionally nauseous. These are all signs of altitude sickness I later learned. Well, if being sick wasn’t bad enough, I got lost twice on the way down. First I took a wrong fork in the footpath trail and ended up along the creek which was not the way I came up. So I turned back and got on the trail okay until after it turned into the old logging road which I knew went all the way to the trailhead and I was encouraged.

Then I came to a fork in the road that I didn’t remember coming up because it forked back so not seen when going up. Well, at the fork, it seemed logical to take the one which was going downhill rather than the uphill fork. (Wrong!) It deadened at a little private log cabin with a “No Trespassing” sign and I had now forgotten about the uphill fork or branch and was very discouraged. While resting on my return up this wrong branch couple from Nebraska whom I had met on the Blue Lakes Trail came from the wrong direction too and said they were lost. They had gotten to it a different way from a wrong trail they took. (Maybe the creek side one I mistakenly took for a bit?) Anyway, we made it back to the fork and all three realized which way we needed to go this time. The uphill road eventually turned back downhill and to the trailhead.

I was exhausted when I got back to the gravel road trailhead and took a half bottle of water all at once. I then sipped the rest of it while driving back to the hotel. What a day!

When back at the hotel I discovered that I had torn a hole in my jeans on a rock while eating and resting at the last waterfall. I showered and put on shorts and ate dinner at the closest café which was pretty good. I then watched “Monk” on TV for the first time and probably the last time and now I write today’s entry in my journal. Then I will go to bed. I’m so tired! I must make tomorrow easier!


August 27, 2005

Mt. Royal Trail and Boreas Pass Road, Colorado

Late breakfast that was enjoyable because of “Fox,” the Jamaican waiter and cook and a very friendly young lady who waited my table today and talked with me about Colorado, hiking, and the lack of oxygen at these altitudes.

Only one hike today and it was certainly easier than McCullough Gulch! I drove to the Exit 201 Bike Path Parking Lot and hiked 0.5 mile on the bike path to the Mt. Royal Trail which I hiked uphill for just 1 mile to Mason Town, an old mining town with little left but caved-in mines, piles of dirt, rotting logs, scraps of rusting metal, and a bunch of old bricks. The book says that an old mill was removed in the 1960’s and restored somewhere else. Not much to see here! The Glorieta ghost towns had more than this! But it was a nice hike through a forest with only about 500 ft. of altitude climb to the high point of 9600 feet. A lot easier breathing than yesterday – though it was still tough and I made lots of stops, particularly going up.

The forest walk was the best thing about it. There were a lot of people on the trail, being it is Saturday and near town. One woman was talking on her cell phone. As I was about to leave the trail I met a local couple who recommended a drive up Boreas Pass Road and the hike to Black Powder Pass from it.

That became my afternoon goal which was only the drive part, but the best yet with constant scenery and lots of photos! It was cold at the pass (12,159 ft.) and as I left it began sleeting or freezing rain which changed to rain as I went down the mountain. It was an easy day with several good photos. Some scenery won’t be as strong with rain clouds instead of the white fluff on a blue sky like most of yesterday – but that is the way it was! Most of the road was a dirt or gravel road and very narrow in places with deep drop-offs! A real adventure! I will enjoy sorting these photos, putting some on the web and making an album for the photo club. This is the kind of trip I want to make every month!

I’m still trying to decide what to do tomorrow, my last day here. I’ve thought about biking some paved trails, but not as scenic as most hikes and may just do another drive. I may strike out on my own, driving different roads to see what I can find. We’ll see tomorrow!

August 28, 2005

Frisco & Breckenridge, Colorado

I was up during the night maybe two hours with diarrhea – probably as part of my altitude sickness, but could be something that I ate yesterday. I couldn’t eat much breakfast, but tried to eat some pancakes.

I went back to bed for 30 minutes or so, then decided to go to 1 or 2 easy hikes:

Old Dillon Reservoir was a longer hike than the book said, about 2 miles, but a fairly easy hike with a climb of only 160 ft. to the altitude of 9200 ft. There were nice views of Dillon lake and the reservoir was also nice, more like a big pond. I stayed there awhile trying to photograph dragonflies without ever succeeding.

Sapphire Point was a 1.6 mile round trip hike and with one of the most beautiful overlooks I’ve seen yet! It is an easy hike with little climb at the 9,500 altitude. Part is forest, but he overlooks are the highlights.

In between these hikes I ate lunch at Subway, since I didn’t have much breakfast. Then after the Sapphire Point hike, I went to the hotel to possibly stay and rest. After awhile I read about two photographers with shops in Breckenridge, Garry Sales and Tom Mangelson. I drove to see both and loved their work! They are both good, but Tom seems to be the one most published and recognized. I got one of his catalogs and plan to look at his website when I get home.

I’m now getting ready to leave tomorrow, but I can’t find my email plane reservations! Panic!

August 29, 2005

Driving to Denver and flying to Nashville!


I slept only about 3 hours last night, from about 12:00 to 3:00 and that was it! I felt like I couldn’t breathe and just tossed and turned all night. By 5:45 I got up, shaved, showered, checked out and headed down the road, feeling better already! I stopped at Georgetown for breakfast in a little small-town café, then went on the edge of town for viewing of Longhorn Sheep. It was 30-40 minutes before a fisherman on the little lake spotted about 5 or 6 across the interstate, I-70. I tried photographing them for about 20-30 minutes, but was really too far away. I thought I was putting the teleconverter on, but put the extension tube on and could not understand why it would not focus. Dummy me! A slow learner!

I drove on to Denver and the airport early. I managed to go stand-by on an earlier flight and got in Nashville at 6:25 PM instead of 9:21 PM. Yay! Glad that worked out!

This was a good trip except for the altitude sickness and I think I learned something from that. Next time I am in high mountains, I will start with short hikes at lower altitudes and work up to the higher ones. And not do too much in one day!

I think my photos of this trip were pretty good! See at:  2005 August — Breckenridge, Colorado

The Rockies are beautiful and exciting at every point from New Mexico to Canada and I’m sure I’ll be in them some more sometime! In fact, I am hoping for a trip to Yellowstone and the Tetons next year – just have to decide whether to fight crowds in the colorful summer or possible snow in May or September. I need to decide soon! For now I’m planning on a trip in January to the southern Gulf Coast of Florida around Ft. Myer, the Ding Darling Refuge and maybe the northern part of Everglades.

If money is adequate, I might also want to go back to St. John Island like in February or maybe next fall. But then I may do another mission trip and really want to go to England sometime! There is just so much to do! And of course I have an 18-day trip to Tanzania and Kenya this November. Wow! Life is great now!

But I need to slow down some and save money so all future trips can be cash paid as I go or in advance. I must stop putting things on the credit cards! I think I need to read my Dave Ramsey book some more. I don’t think I ever finished it. It is easy to get carried away with travel and get in debt. The truth is that I should have an emergency savings of $10,000 and I have less than $1,000 right now! That need to be a serious goal. I need to start putting some in savings every month and when the car is paid off, the whole $400 every month. It will take some discipline!

I have questioned my wisdom several times. This weekend, spending nearly $900 with meals and fuel included. But then, meals and fuel would be spent at home, so really the weekend cost me $691 which is not bad for this great trip! It was worth it in many ways – just need to have more in savings before I do this again!

An occasional spur-of-the-moment serendipity trip is good for me. Next time maybe I’ll go to Chattanooga or a state park for a little less money. I’m also thinking about Brown County, Indiana in October for their covered bridges. We’ll see. My calendar is pretty full already it appears! And I want to spend time at home on my photo files, website, and family history scrapbooks too! Wow! So much fun and creative things to do.

Hopefully I got a few good photos out of the nearly 300 taken this weekend. I’ll start working on them tomorrow along with taking 3 photos to the State Fair to enter for the first time.

Now with all this activity, where am I spiritually? It is possible that I am letting politics and my disappointment with the SBC interfere with my relationship with God. I need to work on that too! We are having turbulence in the air as a spin-off of Hurricane Katrina. I have to stop writing now.


September 5, 2005 – En-route to Slidell, Louisiana

I took a taxi to the church at 5:30 AM this morning for our scheduled leaving on a church van at 6:00 AM. There are 11 of us going as a chainsaw crew to help clean up after Hurricane Katrina.

Photo Gallery:  2005 September — Louisiana Hurricane Katrina Disaster Relief Team

The delays were many! First, they heard that there was no gas available after leaving Alabama. So we scrounged around for as many gas cans as we could get. Then after the slow, lengthy and late loading of the van, we discovered that the battery was dead! So we spent time jumping a start, buying a battery and then filling more than 20 gas cans. Altogether it was about 4 hours of unorganized chaos without a strong leader. We finally left Nashville at about 10:00 AM. Then we took nearly 2 hours for lunch at a Cracker Barrel in Birmingham – not what I would have done had I been in charge. I’m now guessing/estimating it will now be 8:30 or 9:00 PM before we get there to set up in the dark.

And “there” has been changed several times during the trip with repeated calls from NAMB to Bill – vacillating between Slidell and Covington with no electricity in Slidell.

It is now 4:30 on the road in Mississippi and the latest word is we will go to Slidell, Louisiana.

We have seen National Guard and other church groups and the Maryville, TN Sheriff’s Dept. vehicles all heading south for relief work of different kinds we assume. We just past the I-20/I-59 split.

Well, it is 9:00 PM and I’m going to bed soon. We got to Grace Baptist Church of Slidell in time for some leftover supper after the other groups had eaten. It was prepared by the ladies of the church. In the next 2 days some from Virginia are coming with a feeding van from which we will be fed then. But for now we thank the Slidell church people!

Rusty Sumrall had to drive to Covington tonight to get our chainsaw trailer. The rest of us settled into Sunday school classrooms in the church with no electricity. It is very hot even with the window open. I got a private room though Bill organized everyone else 4 to a room. I snore and I like my privacy.

Can’t do much with just a flashlight for light, so I’m going on to bed. Tomorrow night I will probably visit outside (cooler) for awhile with some of the other volunteers here. There are some from Greenville, TN and Pensacola, FL and others I’m not sure where from. We also have 2 National Guardsmen with rifles guarding the place all day and all night on shifts. They have to do this because some volunteer groups have been robbed already. I also just heard a helicopter fly over. Good night!


September 6, 2005, Slidell, LA

I’m amazed that I slept well last night! My good ol’ air mattress and being used to no air conditioning both helped I guess. Plus I had a room by myself! Just before midnight another group came in which woke me just as I needed to pee pee anyway. Then I woke up again at 5:24 which was great because we were told breakfast would be at 6:30.

It is now 6:00 PM and Wow! I’m exhausted! We didn’t get away for our first work assignment until about 8:00 AM and ended up spending the whole day in one location with many trees down in a very large yard. Plus we cleared the driveway of a house across the street. Two of our men used the chain saws and 9 of us could hardly keep up with them cleaning the debris. It was hot, humid, had work! But rewarding! And even though I drank loads of water and Gatorade, I still have not urinated today. Not good, but then I have been sweating all day! And I ache all over!

It was 4:50 PM when we got back from our work, then dinner at 5:00 PM and I immediately took a shower in the Disaster Relief Trailer. Just the basics! Dinner was ravioli, green beans, bread, and pudding which most of our group complained about. A lot of local people are coming here for the free meals as well as the 100+ relief volunteers here now and more coming they say.

We have a meeting at 7:30 tonight with the “white cap” or coordinator of all the Baptist relief work in Louisiana. It will be interesting, since all of us think it has been terribly disorganized.

It has also been interesting that Army helicopters have been flying over all day and another one just went by. What are they doing? And the Red Cross is here now at the church, but I haven’t figured out what they are doing. We do still have our National Guard boys on the parking lot protecting us in the dark with M-16 rifles.

Well, I am going to read until meeting time. Wellllll, I ended up laying down to rest a bit and suddenly learned that we are to pack up and move to Covington where there is electricity and air conditioning. It will probably be too cold for me!


September 7, 2005, Covington & Slidell, LA

Up at 6:00 AM with less sleep than the night before, but fairly rested. I seemed to have slept pretty well from about 10:30 or 11:00 until 2:30 AM when I heard Rusty snoring. Though he didn’t continue snoring, I seemed to never get back to much sleep.

We had a pitiful breakfast and snacks for lunch. The feeding unit was serving baked beans and peaches for dinner, so we found a Waffle House in Covington that was one of the few restaurants opened and after a wait, we had dinner there with a packed house crowd.

Our work was hard and hot at 3 houses with the third not finished today.


September 8, 2005, Covington & Slidell, LA

Up at 6:00 and on the job earlier today – maybe 8:30 or 9:00. The feeding unit had a better breakfast with ham biscuits and a bowl of Raisin Bran cereal.

We worked all day on the same house we started yesterday afternoon and will go back tomorrow. When we finish there tomorrow we will go back to the previous house for some finish-up work. Nancy was sick this morning – vomiting – and Eileen stayed with her, so we were short two people today.

We accidentally found a Sonic open where we ate tonight (thinking anything would be better than that feeding van!). It was a fun break from all the serious work and logistic efforts. Bill lost his nitro-glycerin tablets today and the lady at the house where we workd go him a new prescription. We got back the earliest yet and I plan to read and if anyone wants to, I will play card games – but going to read now. It is still an overwhelming feeling about this tragedy down here – unbelievable at the moment. Just talking with people and seeing their houses flooded and ruined breaks your heart and makes everyone feel pretty helpless.


September 9, 2005 – Covington & Slidell, LA

Big breakfast at the I-Hop (International House of Pancakes) and then finished up yesterday’s house and worked on a neighboring house we looked at before the others.

The second house was a Catholic Italian and I think our witness was good with them. He is a veterinarian who lost his business in the flood. When the city garbage truck came by he and one of our guys and the garbage men emptied his deep freeze into the garbage truck. The odor was so horrible that I started dry-heaving, almost vomiting. Just one of the many horrible things about this disaster.

We had a great dinner at Ruby Tuesday’s which had just opened tonight for the first time since the hurricane. It was also here in Covington where more businesses are opening because of less flooding as compared to Slidell. Tomorrow we leave on our return trip to Nashville.


September 29, 2005, Reelfoot Lake, Tennessee

Drove here today with two stops En-route – 1 for coffee and 1 at Walmart Jackson for a receipt book.


I set up my space in the Ellington Building and walked the boardwalk along the lake which is just behind this building. I then went back to the Airpark Inn to rest in my room and read this morning’s paper. Now I am going to photograph the sunset and eat dinner. This official state park Inn is 15 miles away from the craft fair and restaurants, but it is the cheapest at only $36 per night and literally on the lake with my little deck hanging out over the water! It is where I stayed for the photo workshop with Byron Jorjorian last summer.

I had a great catfish dinner at Boyette’s and watched “Friends” on TV. I’ll now try to read if I can. The walls are so thin that I can hear people talking or the TV from the next room.


September 30—October 2, 2005 – Reelfoot Lake Arts & Crafts Fair

It was three full, hard days of work, but enjoyable in some ways. It was wise to be inside the air-conditioned building which I should always choose when available. Friday was slow with only 7 items sold, but Saturday really busy and nearly $400 worth of photos sold. Sunday was a bust with only 1 item sold! In three days I sold $469.49 worth, which after my expenses meant only $37.89 profit. It is debatable if I should go back, but I like the place and the people who did shop and buy and will probably try it again.

I was so tired at the end of each day I did not journal anymore, but generally enjoyed it or just being at Reelfoot! I worked in a few quick photo shoots before & after the fair. I ate dinner at Boyette’s each night with lunch snacks from vendors at the craft fair.


October 6, 2005

Good planning meeting tonight for the Tanzania trip. I’m feeling very good about it.


November 1, 2005

I was the host for a Tanzania meeting tonight at Gye Nyame Restaurant, the Ghanaian Café on Nolensville Road that no one else knew about. It was fun! A few came who had just returned from Tanzania II trip and gave us some good pointers and information about our coming experience. The tension and excitement is building! Plus we ate food just like we will get there and it was a first for a few of the people going. I also went to a prayer meeting for the Tanzania trip at noon at LifeWay in the prayer room. It was also a good experience. I’m ready to go!


Saturday, November 5, 2005         En-route to Kenya & Tanzania

I had a relaxed morning with a walk around the park. Everything was ready when Yellow Cab arrives at 10:00 AM. I had fun giving away left-over trick-or-treat candies at the airport until they were all gone by the plane change in Chicago. A long flight to London of about 8 hours and a longer one to Nairobi of nearly 10 hours meant we were ready for bed at the Presbyterian Guest House when we got there the evening of November 6! On the flight, I reread parts of the June National Geographic magazine special issue on Africa and worked a little on my second reading of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.



Monday, November 7, 2005           Driving across southern Kenya

A long drive to Musoma at about 12 hours and ready for bed again. I got several good shots of people and scenery from the van along the roads through Kenya.


Tuesday, November 8, 2005

Our first day out witnessing and our Team 2 went to the little village of Kwangwa. At the end of that first day I wrote in the journal: “Too busy and tired to write!” But I remember it being an exhilarating day with our team having 251 professions of faith.


Wednesday, November 9, 2005

A second great day at Kwangwa! Our team had 309 decisions today, Wednesday. This community has been very receptive and will have a strong church it appears. Some of us will go back there Sunday for a worship service at 10:00 AM

I love Kwangwa not only for the friendly, receptive people, but also because we meet under a Mango Tree, my favorite meeting place all across Africa! It is beautiful and of course delicious in season and it is at the intersection of two main roads. A great location! When we were driving here yesterday, I told our driver, Hesbin, that I hoped we could meet under a Mango Tree. When it happened, he called me a prophet!

Evangelism in this part of East Africa is the most miraculous thing I have ever been a part of! I am lumping with this trip my ’98 & ’99 trips to western Kenya where the field was also “ripe unto harvest.” I can’t imagine any other place in the world being so ready for the Gospel and new churches so easy to start! And I simply can’t understand our International Mission Board resistence to such work and feel sorry for them in missing this joy!

My interpreter is Bennett or Ben for short and is one of the best I have ever had. He is an unemployed Chemist (Pharmacist) and a member of Samson Kisia’s church. He does a lot of talking beyond his interpretation of me and says that he is discipling them or helping them to get started in the Christian life. We were told not to do that, but I think it is good and will help to conserve a lot of the decisions that might fall by the wayside later. I am thankful to have Ben as my interpreter.

I have not been sleeping well and accepted 10 mg of Ambien from Gary Maggart tonight to help. I am sleepy now and look forward to tomorrow.


Thursday, November 10, 2005

I learned this morning that I fell asleep last night while writing in this journal and Michael Yarber came in and took a photo of me asleep sitting up in the bed with journal and pen in hand! I hope he will give me a copy of that pix!

Nyakato Town is a big WOW! It was our town for today and tomorrow with more people than Kwangwa and lots of houses close together, which means more people with less walking. You could almost sit in one place and just let people come to you, which is what Gail Evans did. I had 64 decisions and that is with loosing an hour or more looking at a house a man is offering as a meeting place for the church. It will need a roof and some walls knocked out, but it will do!

A mission trip like this is unlike anything else and is hard to describe to people back home. It is like being back in Jesus’s time, walking from village to village, house to house, sharing the good news in mud houses and primitive surroundings. You have to experience it to understand what I mean.


Friday, November 11, 2005

Today was our second day in Nyakato where Ben and I walked through the houses behind the business strip. We had 57 decisions and some interesting experiences. One man who prayed to follow Christ was named Hitler! We also met with a group of workers who had just stacked many bricks and were being paid by their boss. So I started my presentation using “for the wages of sin is death.” The 3:00 service was “so so” with me preaching today. I used the story of Nicodemus, but the audience was dominated by children today which made it difficult to preach. I tried to gear it to the children, but it was difficult.

Our group had 471 decisions today which Carter seemed to doubt or question again. I am not sure when he is serious and when he is kidding. We have had the largest number of decisions each day of all the teams. I am a little tired of him riding me about it.


Saturday, November 12, 2005

Today we were in Bisarye Town or village which was an hour-long drive and just beyond the town where their former president lives, Busiamu.

We had very responsive people with good numbers in a shorter time period. I had 35 and the group 340 total decisions. The service was great with a lot of involvement from all the people. I preached on the woman at the well and presented the flip chart plan of salvation with many decisions afterwards.

It is Saturday and tomorrow we will be doing Sunday services in all 12 new locations plus 2 other area churches, then follow that with Baptism. So tomorrow will be a busy and wonderful day!


Sunday, November 13, 2005

I did not journal today. I was worn out from preaching at Nyakato and baptizing in Lake Victoria. Samson and some other Kenyan pastors were with me for the service. They conducted a Bible study before the service and we pulled the children apart for their own Sunday School with Kristen Parks who traded to our team today in place of Brooklyn Noel who was part of a taping of the other team. We had about 30 decisions at the worship service and I baptized 26 from Nyakato and then went back later to baptize 21 from another village. A great but exhausting day!


Monday, November 14, 2005

Today we went back to Bisarye where I had 35 decisions and the group 172. We then went to a nearby pond or small lake with a dam on a stream to baptize 29 from Bisarye. Tom helped me baptize today. It was another great day, especially the baptism! But I am worn out again. The baptism was more difficult today because they chose a spot where boulders had been dumped along the dam or road and we had to stand on wobbly rocks which is difficult. But the experience was still great!

Tonight the local SBC missionaries, Paul and Kathy Savage, came to supper and talked with us a little and more with Samson. Then we labeled and packed Bibles for the 14 new churches. We also brought down all our gifts and clothing for Samson to divide up for the interpreters and pastors. Tomorrow night will be the victory dinner with the new pastors and interpreters. They have chosen a local man in each of the 14 communities to be the pastor of the new church. It is amazing!

I appreciate Jim Carter for what he has done with all the mission trips, but I do not understand him much of the time. He has kind of put me down several times on this trip and not followed his own rules for dress. I’m thinking of going to the Amazon River in Brazil with Steve Cretin next August, but not sure yet. I think I will avoid going with Carter to Uganda, the trip he will lead next year. I have also thought about leading one myself to The Gambia, but just not sure I can handle all the hassles to work it out with both Pastor Donkor and the IMB missionaries, plus the recruitment of people for a more expensive trip to West Africa. Probably not.


Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Our last day was shorter in anticipation of the big victory dinner tonight. Our team went to Saba Saba where I had 16 decisions and the team 111. We also had a shorter service. The evening dinner was a little hectic but wonderful for the pastors and Samson gave many of them bicycles to do their work. We were all exhausted again and aware that we must get up early for a long drive to Nairobi tomorrow.


Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Up at 5:00 AM, breakfast at 6:00 AM and everyone ready to leave at 7:00. Then the hotel locked our vans in the parking lot by locking the gate because they didn’t like the charge card payment for our big bill. So we couldn’t leave until after 9:00 when Samson and Paul Savage helped Carter get cash at the bank. Typical Africa! A shorter delay at the border this time, but we still didn’t get to Nairobi until 8:00 PM. Wow!

9:00 PM: At the Presbyterian Guest House again. Because we were late, they gave away some of our rooms, thinking we weren’t coming, so most of us single guys had to have roommates which we didn’t on that first arrival night. I was put with Del Griffin, an older gentleman with the California group who is about 80 and plays the banjo. I snore and so I apologized right off the bat. He said, “No problem. I take out my hearing aid at night anyway and can’t hear a thing!”  Before we went to bed, he also told me that he can’t see well enough to fill out the small spaces on the Kenya Departure Form we were all given for our exit from Nairobi Airport. So I filled that out for him, then he took out his hearing aid and his teeth and went to bed. I get to meet the most interesting people!


Thursday, November 17, 2005

5 of us left from the Presbyterian Guest House for our Safari in the Masai Mara. The rest of the mission team shopped, ate, and flew out of Nairobi today. See my adventure columns for a description of the Safari which may use this journal. And see the safari photos.   Those going with me on the safari are Rick & Gail Evans, Gary Maggart, and Sim Hassler who were of course all on the mission trip too, but on different teams from me in Tanzania.

We back-tracked over the same roads of yesterday as far as the big intersection just past Narok and then it was new territory, almost all Masai people with lots of cattle, and the number of wild animals began to increase as we got closer to the game reserve. We saw gazelles, antelopes, and a few zebra.

After settling in our tents we had lunch outdoors. For the first time on this trip, I had diarrhea today and took the first of my 3 antibiotic tablets at lunch. After lunch I was feeling achy or feverish and borrowed Ibuprofen from Gary to take. From 4:00 to 6:30 we had our first “game drive” looking for animals. It was great and maybe the most exciting because we saw so many elephants and giraffes, more than I saw in 1998. We saw a lot of the other hoofed animals too plus lions and vultures. A great start, even though I was not feeling well at all. When we got back I took more Ibuprofen and felt a little better for dinner. Then I had a really hard night of little sleep with both chills and fever it felt like. About 1:40 AM I took three more Ibuprofen but still woke up feeling lousy.


Friday, October 18, 2005

I felt so bad that I skipped the early morning game drive before breakfast and missed seeing the only rhino seen on this safari and they saw a lion cub. But when you are sick you are sick!

Before breakfast I tried to buy aspirin or something but the shop had none and sent me to the clinic where I had to wait for the male nurse to arrive. He said I had no fever. He gave me some Panadol which is European Tylenol and asked me to come back by the clinic on my way to lunch.

It is about noon as I write this and I feel a little better. I’ll take more Panadol at lunch and another antibiotic which my directions say to take one a day. I am hoping the afternoon game drive finds me feeling better! I have been reading and photographing the little pond in front of my tent. Sarova Mar is a very nice place!


Saturday, November 19, 2005

Breakfast and a long game drive to the Mara River to see the hippos and crocodiles. But of course we saw a lot of other animals on the way over: elephants, giraffes, waterbucks, hartebeest, warthogs, zebra, wildebeest and a black and red bird I will look up when I get home. (It was an African Harrier Hawk.)  I am now wishing I had brought my East Africa field books on birds and another on mammals. But I tried to pack light!

We also saw a lot of vultures from a bridge over the river feasting on croc-killed wildebeests. This was our longest game drive, about a 5 hour trip. It was several miles to the river. We were all tired and hungry when we got back for lunch. We will go out again at about 4:00. I am now resting and reading and feeling much better! No more diarrhea or aches!

Sim is witnessing to the Masai man named Kelvin we met yesterday who did a talk on Masai culture that Gary & Sim attended. I was too sick then. Sim also has an appointment with our waitress Judith at 2:30 to witness to her. I generally don’t make such an effort when I am on vacation, but I admire him for doing it. These are such nice people, I hope Sim is not too pushy with his witness. I think he is just sharing with the Evangecube which the people really like here.


Sunday, 20 November 2005

We had a one hour game drive at 6:30 AM, then breakfast and Sim witnessed to 6 more employees whom Judith had rounded up to see the pictures on the cube. Amazing! They all accepted Christ along with our driver Titus at some point, making 9 new Christians from this safari! Wow!

I am trying to write while riding in the van on our way back to Nairobi and it is bumpy and hard to write! We stopped at a shop just outside the game reserve and now we have stopped again for fuel in Narok.

The morning game drive was just one hour but yielded some great shots of a young Cheetah. It has been a bumpy ride (as all have been) and will be until we get into Nairobi where the streets are paved pretty well. It is 11:00 and we are just at Narok, so a pretty long drive yet to go – I think about 5 hours more.

We met and discussed our plans for tomorrow and have trimmed them down quite a bit. We have decided to rest, go shopping, have dinner at the Carnivore Restaurant and then go to the airport. We are all tired.

9:00 PM – We had a late lunch sandwich and I read on the outdoor balcony of my Utali Hotel room. Then I walked around the grounds to just explore and get a little exercise before a shower and more reading. The surprise was having Samson and his wife for dinner tonight. It was wonderful! We had a slow 2 hour meal and simply great fellowship! Samson just continues to confirm my disappointments with the IMB with his stories. Then on a fluke I asked him if he had known Carl Hall when he was a missionary in Kenya from late 60’s to maybe late 70’s? Carl and I were close friends in college at Ouachita after which he headed for Southern and me for Southwestern Seminary.

He not only knew Carl, but said that he was the best missionary they have had in Kenya and was loved by the Masai people where he worked first. He was then jerked around by the mission and put against his will in Kisumu where he died of a heart attack.

We talked about other things too! It was a delightful, slow, steak dinner with lots of fellowship. That is the way meals are supposed to be!


Monday, November 21, 2005

I just had the most sleep of any night on this trip; in bed 9 hours and sleeping many of them or most. I took 3 of the Trazadone tabs and I think that helped plus being tired and having a pleasant dinner. I will ask the doctor to increase my Rx to 150 mg of Trazadone when I return. My sleep doctor is now Dr. Mihyu who gave me the sleep test before the trip which determined that I do have sleep apnea and I will be getting a cpap machine after the Minnesota trip.

I’m still excited about Samson knowing Carl Hall. I remembered the time in 1970 or 71 that Carl arranged for a young man to go from Kenya to college at Ouachita. He flew him to the east coast where he got a bus to Arkadelphia. But the bus had an overnight layover in Memphis where we lived at the time. Ginger and I met him at the bus station and he spent the night at our little rent house with some neighbors staring when they saw us bring a black man into our house for the night.  He gave us a batik painting of gazelles which I still have displayed as a favorite. It is special! The next morning we took him to catch his bus to Arkadelphia. What great memories!

I’m in the Utali Coffee Shop waiting on the others for breakfast at 9:00 AM. After breakfast we will pack up, check out, then with our driver Titus go shopping, to dinner, and to the airport.

November 22, 2005

Arrived in Nashville about 5:30 and took a taxi home exhausted!


November 23-28 – Home & Sick

Well, it may be something I ate at Utali or at the Carnivore, but I had diarrhea most of this week and felt achy like with flu some of the time. On Friday, the day after Thanksgiving I went to the ER at Centennial Hospital and after a lot of tests finally got a prescription for an antibiotic which I took until the second day with Jerry. It seemed to get rid of the problem, but it felt like a wasted week and I didn’t get my photos processed like I wanted to. Oh well – that’s life!


November 29–December 7 – Minnesota to Move Jerry

This was an important trip Jerry and I had been working out for a few months. I flew to Minneapolis where I got a rental truck and drove it to his apartment in Bagley taking a slightly longer route than before for better roads which took me through Bemidji and I didn’t get to Jerry’s until after dark, driving the last 50 miles in the dark on somewhat icy and snowy roads. But made it safely. We had dinner and planned our following day.


The 30th we loaded the truck and drove to St. Paul where we spent the night with his son Steve and loaded a couch, coffee table, and lamp table. Then on December 1 we drove to Rochester and moved him into his apartment in a Senior Adult high rise with pricing based on income. I then took the truck to a rental place in Rochester and a cab to the Rochester Airport to get a rent car for us to get around in.

This is the perfect place for Jerry on the bus line with a straight shot to Mayo Clinic and another special shoppers bus taking him to various shopping centers. If he will choose to do it later, they serve lunch every day for about $5 and have some other senior services. We spent time getting him things he needed at Walmart and other places and his first grocery shopping trip. I stayed at the Kohler Grand Hotel which is an old but nice hotel with multiple restaurants and I ate well each evening! But oh was it cold! It was below zero every night and only in the 20’s during the day. I would have trouble living there in the winter!  (This entry was made later on December 24.)


Thursday, December 22, 2005

A day of good deeds gone partially awry! Yesterday my good deed was to take Juanita to pick up her car which had a new or rebuilt transmission put in it. But it also needed two axles which she did not have money for and I paid $186 for her axles which she plans to pay me back when she can.

Then this morning I took Kathleen Edwards to the airport because she can’t afford to park her car. I got stuck in an I-40 accident gridlock for 45 minutes coming home.  But it is okay. I’m in the Christmas spirit and glad I can help people!

Soon after getting home I went to the mailbox and as I was coming back with my mail, a nice, clean cut young man (said he was 29 but looked younger) claimed to be friends of another Row 8.9n resident who is not at home. He locked his keys in his car and wanted me to take him to a friend’s house who had just made another key for his car. I was in a helping mood and what I considered a good Christmas spirit. So, even though I was planning to go see a movie, I agreed to take him to his friend’s house in Hermitage (that’s a long drive). Before we got there, he said he needed $60 to pay for the key and he would more than pay me back with a big reward. We pulled up in front of a house on Toledo Street at the corner of Denver Street. All I had was a $100 bill which he took because on his cell phone the guy had told him he had change. He stepped out of the car with my $100 bill and ran not to the house we stopped in front of but down Denver Street behind my car. At first I thought he was just in a hurry then naive me realized that I had just been scammed. I waited awhile in case he came out of one of the houses and then I drove around looking for him. What a bummer! And how stupid of me! I went wrong at several points in this story! It reminded me of the time I was scammed by the Sierra Leonean young man in The Gambia. I have a big heart and I’m pretty gullible! You would think that I would have learned by now. Of course I will be extra careful for awhile now and hopefully forever. But the real problem is this young man’s. He will have to answer for what he did and it is likely that he will also be living with a lot of guilt in the meantime. God have mercy on him. My life will go on without the hundred dollars and my conscience is clear. It is really his problem, though I am stilled ticked at myself for being so gullible!


December 24, 2005

Well, I have stayed home all day today and just did a little updating of the journal above. As always, I have a million things to do. But it is Christmas Eve and I am a little lonely. It would be so nice to have a family at times like this. Jason had to work today and again Monday, so I decided not to go see him. Besides I am tired of traveling and out of money!

I was going to the Christmas Eve Communion Service at church, but let the time slip by me. I will go to worship in the morning, which is the only service they are having tomorrow, since Christmas falls on Sunday this year. Otherwise I will stay busy with things right here in my little home office. I want to do work on my website, on my photos, and on my scrapbooks. Plus the house needs to be vacuumed! It is hard to know where to start! Plus I am reading the Sherlock Holmes book The Hound of Baskerville. Yesterday I saw the movie Walk the Line which is a bio of Johnny Cash and very well done! I enjoyed it and cried again, which is what movie producers know how to do to me.

It is nearly 7 and I might watch TV, though nothing but reruns on. Do I watch White Christmas again? We’ll see.




Saturday, January 21, 2006 – Dinner at the Eisert’s

Don & Judy Eisert (retired medical doctor) invited me to have dinner with them tonight and promised to have a surprise couple and old friends of mine there also. The surprise couple was Mike & Sarah Plummer from Elementary & Middle School days in PTA and Cub Scouts when I was Cubmaster of their son Ian and Jason. They were the same age and in school together almost all the way. Maybe even preschool, but not sure about that.

We had a great time reminiscing and a fantastic dinner with appetizers, soup, salad, delicious beef and carrots over noodles and desert of ice cream with fresh raspberries and a liqueur sauce. And of course wine with the meal. Wow! A $75 meal in a fine restaurant! We talked about everyone’s families and about photography a lot, seeing a lot of the Eisert photos and I had brought my Africa trip photos. It was just a grand evening!


March 30, 2006 – Atlanta

I just watched the movie Because of Winn-Dixie on HBO on the hotel TV at Amerisuites in Atlanta. By the end I couldn’t stop crying – I’m not sure why I cry in movies, though I have often said the movie producers know how to touch our emotions. This little girl Opal and her dog Winn-Dixie brought happiness and friendship to more lonely people than I have ever seen. I want to be like that! And if I really admit it, I’m one of those lonely people too and I’m thinking that I need to do something like Opal did! Maybe through the Sunday School class or maybe some other way.

The Atlanta trip has been good with a lot of photos made and a lot of new things seen. Good food, rest and seeing a lot has been the schedule for this 3-day trip to the big city.  Photo Gallery: 2006 March — Atlanta & Callaway Gardens, Georgia

I’ve discovered a new restaurant chain I wish we had in Nashville, Hoolahans. I had the best chicken enchiladas I’ve ever eaten or least the best since I first ate them in Monterrey, Mexico. Yum! I’ve also eaten at Durango’s Steak House, another chain new to me and with excellent food!

The Georgia Aquarium, Zoo Atlanta, High Museum of Art, and a drive down to Calloway Gardens have made it a memorable and photographic trip. But I don’t usually do big cities and I hope my next Georgia trip will be to Okefenokee Swamp.


April 13, 2006


  1. Get connected to the internet
  2. Finish registering Windows XP on the internet
  3. Get PhotoShop CS – check with Adobe about not having to buy another copy.
  4. Configure connection to my printers at home
  5. Get software or see if Windows will work for downloading photos from a media card.  The practice doing it.
  6. Practice creating a CD

And that should have me on my way. I will then look forward to trips even more.



May 30, 2006 – En-route to Yellowstone National Park

7:30 AM Mountain Time (8:30 Nashville time) and I am on a United flight about 20 minutes away from Denver.

Last night was my first night to try sleeping without my CPAP machine and I basically did not sleep – plus getting up at 3:30 this morning for a 4:00 taxi to the airport for a 6:00 AM flight has me yawning and sleepy! Even after two cups of coffee! And I don’t sleep on planes, so I have been reading and just finished John Shaw’s book Focus on Nature which just makes me love nature photography even more and increases my excitement about the coming 11 nights in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks!

I will have about 3 hours of wait in the Denver airport before my 11:00 flight to Jackson Hole, Wyoming airport in the edge of the Teton Park. I can hardly wait! There are already a myriad of photo images in my head and of course there will be many surprises after I get there I am sure!

My Trip Photo Gallery: 2006 May & June — Yellowstone & Tetons


8:50 PM – In my cabin in Yellowstone National Park

Wow! What a day already! It was 48 degrees in Jackson and the Tetons when we landed and 1 ½ hours later as I got into Yellowstone it was 34 degrees in the afternoon and in the higher elevations the ground is covered in snow. It started raining on me as I entered the park and as the elevation increased it changed to light snow. It all stopped by the time I arrived at Old Faithful Lodge where I am staying in a budget cabin, meaning shared bathrooms like in a campground. Everything is wet here, so it did rain earlier. I spent time getting oriented to the Old Faithful facilities, where to shower, eat, General Store, Visitor’s Center, etc.

Then I ate a big dinner including Bison Meat Loaf in the lodge cafeteria while watching Old Faithful erupt out the window. Cool! Then I went around the first loop of boardwalks photographing springs and non-erupting geysers before coming back to photograph Old Faithful erupt at near sunset, but it was overcast and no sunset color. I had also photographed it erupt earlier around 7:00 in the daylight. So twice now, but without a good sky background.

Now back in my little one-room cabin which is really half a cabin with someone on the other side, like back to back duplex. I have a sink, but must use community toilets and showers.


Wednesday, May 31, 2006

I was exhausted last night but still decided to process all of yesterday’s photo files so I wouldn’t get behind. That made it about 11:00 getting to bed. Therefore I decided not to try getting up for a sunrise shoot this morning. And it looks like I missed good weather for one. I slept to 6:30 with breakfast at Geyser Grill around 7:00 and then hiked all morning around the rest of the Upper Geyser Basin. I may have gotten a few good shots.

I came back to the cabin to rest and have a coke and granola bar. And now at about 1:15 I’m going to the next thermal areas, Black Sand and Biscuit Basins, then on to Midway and Lower Basins. And maybe I can try again for a sunset behind Old Faithful. Current weather is good.


What a day! This afternoon I finished upper, middle and lower basins and saw some more eruptions. The biggest was on Firehole Lake Drive, the Great Fountain Geyser. But after a day and a half of geysers and other thermal features, I’m tired of them! I will look for something totally different tomorrow!

My immediate discouragement is in how long it takes to drive to other sections of the park. Most will require an all day trip without the rest in the middle of the day I wanted and planned for. Also the sunrise/sunset in other parts of the park will be nearly impossible, thus some of my plans will go unmet. But I will still see and photo a lot and enjoy it!


Sunday, June 4, 2006

Well, I knew I would get too busy to write in this regularly! But I have enjoyed each day, taken loads of photos, and solved a major camera problem in the last three days:

June 1 – I drove the lower loop to Madison, Canyon, Lake Village and back to Old Faithful with a great overview of the lower half of the park and it’s scenery. Fewer photos today which were pretty much all scenery.

June 2 – Planned on doing the Canyon with it’s waterfalls today, but my plans got changed. On the way to Lake Hotel for breakfast I stopped for sunrise photos on the lake and for the second time my camera would not work with the 75-300 lens on it. I kept getting Error 01 message which I could not interpret because I left the camera manual at home. Another lesson learned the hard way! So after breakfast I drove the 100+ miles to Jackson and found the best camera shop in town. He pulled out a manual for my Canon 10D and discovered that the error message was “Clean the lens contacts.” So this guy took a wooden pencil and used the eraser to clean the lens contacts on both of my lenses and on the camera. I worked perfect after that. I could have saved a 100 mile trip had I brought my manual maybe (if it tells how to clean them). So on my way back I took a lot of scenery shots as I drove back through the Grand Teton National Park. (This was a blessing, because when I came back to stay for two days at the end of my trip it was raining and cloudy the whole time! It is tempting to say God is taking care of me or using my failures/problems for a blessing! Though rationally, I think God had nothing to do with my selfish situation that day.)

June 3 – I joined the park’s “Photo Safari” to Firehole and Madison Rivers this morning seeing lots of wildlife, especially along the Madison River. My favorite was the two different coyotes we saw and photographed!

June 4—Today – I did Mammoth Springs and all it’s terraces this morning, but the biggie was seeing a grizzly sow and her 2 cubs near Swan Lake south of Mammoth. I sure hope some of the photos turn out! It’s 4:45 PM now and I just finished laundry which will do me for the rest of the trip which is half over in the morning.

I ate a burger and root beer while doing laundry, so will probably eat a salad and desert for dinner. Today’s photos just finished downloading into the computer, so now I play with them!


Monday, June 5, 2006

Up at 5:00 AM again this morning. I had another sunrise shoot on Yellowstone Lake, though not as colorful today, so it pays to repeat sometimes!

After breakfast at Lake Hotel I headed for Canyon with only a couple of stops for photos on the way. My camera was set wrong for the Pelicans I saw briefly and I’m aftraid it will be very blurred. We’ll see!

“The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone” is magnificent! I think I got a lot of good photos and managed or lucked into being at Lookout Point at the right time for the rainbow on the Lower Falls. It was beautiful and I hope most of my photos turn out okay. I’ve downloaded them into the computer and will organize now before going to eat my combination Lunch/Dinner meal. I am on most days just eating breakfast and an early, big dinner.

And oh yes – I skipped telling about my big downer today. Just below Tower Falls I was pulled over by a park police who said I was doing 55 in a 35 zone. It didn’t seem like it to me. After taking my license, insurance and rent car papers and talking on his radio in his car, he came back to me. He said that I deserved a citation but for reasons he would not explain he could not give me one right now. He then said they have this stop on their records and if I am stopped again I would definitely be fined. I was happy not to get the citation or fine, but still blue or with that feeling of shame for having been stopped. I was so nervous that I missed the trailhead to Tower Falls and just drove through some mountains before going back to Old Faithful.


Tuesday, June 6, 2006

I had a fun, easy morning driving down the Madison River again though no Coyote this time! I did see Bison, Elk, my first Sandhill Crane and some more geese. Then I drove into the town of West Yellowstone, Montana. I had breakfast and afterwards saw the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center with a great movie and live grizzlies and wolves. It is a very nice zoo-type facility that looks like it could easily be approved by AZA. I was impressed. The sunlight was too bright on the bears but I think a few of the wolf photos may turn out okay. I even photographed a Raven over the wolf pen and it may be my best photo there!

Tonight I decided to drive toward the East Entrance to see what I could see in those mountains. My best find was a flock of White Pelicans on the Yellowstone River mouth as it comes out of Lake Yellowstone at Fishing Bridge. I took way too many shots, but always hope some turn out good. Before seeing the pelicans a grizzly bear crossed the road in front of my car, but I fumbled with the camera too long and missed that shot! But it was still neat to see a wild one that close!

I ate dinner here at Old Faithful as usual while watching another eruption. I ate too much turkey and dressing and 2 big cookies and 3 root beers. I feel kind of bloated right now and vowed not to eat so much again! I know I should stop desserts completely! Remove them from my life! But I love sweets! I sometimes say that is my only vice or weakness. I also vowed to eat smaller portions of everything. We’ll see!

I’m tired and may not get tonight’s photos all processed, but they are downloading now. My photo collection is surely growing this week!

I plan to go back to try again to see Tower Falls in the morning – but right now I don’t feel like setting the alarm, so we’ll see in the morning. My stomach doesn’t feel good now and allergies have been driving me crazy this week. I am sneezing regularly.


Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Well, I was up at 5:30 without the alarm and ready go! I felt much better! I just missed the sunrise on Yellowstone Lake but enjoyed another breakfast at Lake Hotel. I then headed for Tower Falls, my goal for the day!

I got a few shots in Hayden Valley and of the snow-covered peaks north of Canyon, then reached the same place of a bear jam yesterday, but this time I got to see and photograph a Black Bear and her two cubs – for about three hours! It was awesome! These may be my best photos of the trip.

It was noon and hot and I was ready to forget the Tower Falls, but since I was almost at the trailhead I went ahead. After photographing the top third of the falls from an overlook, I headed down the trail and was greatly disappointed by a park sign on the trail. Because of erosion the trail is closed after the first ½ mile and there are no views of the falls. The Photographers Guide to Yellowstone book said that the only good view of the falls was from the bottom and from that vantage point it could be one of the best waterfall photos. But trail failure eliminated that photo for me!

I came back to the cabin, getting here around 2:00 PM. I am tired as usual, but downloading photos now. I can’t wait to see if I got some good black bear photos. All of these plus last night’s need to be labeled and filed – so my afternoon is cut out! Tonight I will try to photo Old Faithful from the hillside overlook and in the morning do maybe some sunrise shots around the river or the geysers – then I move to a hotel in Grand Teton National Park.

Thursday, June 8, 2006

Moved to Grand Teton National Park, at the Jackson Lake Lodge for two nights. A big upgrade from camping in Yellowstone! Nice hotel!


Friday, June 9, 2006

I tried the morning sunrise at Oxbow Bend and it was too cloudy to get any color on the mountain. But some of the early morning clouds on the mountains may make nice soft pastel pictures. We’ll see.

I ate breakfast in the Jackson Lake Lodge coffee shop and took the 9:00 AM float trip down the Snake River. The water is at a high or flood-level and fairly fast-moving, but otherwise a peaceful trip with lots of mountain views and some other scenery. I wasn’t fast enough to get the eagle or Sandhill Crane we saw, but did get a couple of shots of some White Pelicans. My better photos this morning were probably the grizzly and cubs we saw at least 100 yards below the lodge veranda (between breakfast & float trip). I hope they turn out okay. I added my 1.4x teleconverter for the distance. Again, we’ll see what turns out. My photos are usually fuzzier with the teleconverter.


I was going to Signal Mountain but it is raining, so I am in the room organizing my photos. I will almost be ready to print some of the best ones when I return which is good. But unless I have a prettier morning tomorrow I will not have pretty pink sunrise mountains you see in so many Teton photos. If not, that is okay too! I have really gotten a lot of photos on this trip! And all of them are backed up on CDs and on the Wolverine storage disk!


Saturday, June 10, 2006

I did not actually write in my journal this day. A summary from memory is that I tried sunrise shots of the mountains from the lodge veranda and again too many clouds, though for a few moments the mountains was purple which may make a good photo. Again, we’ll see! After breakfast I checked out and drove up Signal Mountain for some okay photos as well as a couple on the lake. Then I drove back on the main highway and stopped at many of the overlooks for different views, nothing fantastic. I was early for my 1:30 plane and killed an hour in the National Museum of Wildlife Art located between the airport and Jackson. It is wonderful! I even photographed the green valley across the highway from it. Then a long, tiring trip on 3 planes and 4 airports: Jackson—Denver—Chicago—Nashville. It was good to be in my own bed again!



Sunday, July 09, 2006

Sometimes I just get an inspiration to do or be something when brought on by little things.  In Lisa Pruitt’s Sunday school lesson this morning she taught the Christmas story in July and challenged us to do certain things this coming Christmas as a part of our anticipation for Christmas. One was to do something for someone without them knowing who did it and let that be one of your special Christmas gifts for Christ. I immediately thought of the book Dr. Hudson’s Secret Journal by Lloyd C. Douglas. I told her about it after class and of course she is too young to have even heard of it. I just pulled the book off my bookshelves and plan to start reading it again. I think I read it in that 1956-58 last two years of high school. I believe it was one of Mother’s books or one she gave me. I think she had several of Douglas’s books. I just looked in the front and found that it was published or copyrighted in 1939. So it is an old book – but a powerful story and I want to be re-inspired by it!




Sunday, July 23, 2006 – Savage Falls

I backpacked into the Savage Falls Campground with 7 others from the Photography Club yesterday. Though we all had heavy loads, it was only about 1.5 miles and we all made it pretty well, just tired. Today we are beginning to be a little sore.

We have had a nice campout and several photo-ops! I had a great hiker’s dehydrated supper last night, Mountain House brand Oriental Chicken and Rice with Vegetables. It was seasoned wonderfully and truly a delicious meal. It was made by simply boiling water and pouring it in the pouch and letting it sit for about 10 minutes.

Last night we had a campfire complete with story-telling and got a visitor from the park ranger who checks on all overnight campers. Only problem was that I did not sleep or certainly not much. It is only the second time I have tried to sleep without my CPAP machine, plus my Trazadone tablets were with the food we had already hung from a tree limb to keep away from animals and I didn’t fool with getting it. A mistake! I hope I can get to where I sleep at least some when without the machine.

I got up at 6:00 this morning ahead of everyone else. I had orange juice and morning pills, made a cup of coffee and then two bowls of cereal all by myself. It is now 7:30 AM with me finished with a big breakfast and writing while the others are just now beginning to get up.

The ones who came are the Danny Myers family with his wife, 15 year old son Anthony and 7 year old daughter Beth, plus Randy Lamke and 11 year old son Joshua and Eddy Walker. We plan to hike down the south rim trail today for overlooks and look for other photo ops, then head out around noon or 1:00.


Amazon River Mission Trip, Brazil

PHOTO GALLERY: August 2006 Amazon River Mission Trip, Brazil


August 17, 2006 – Amazon River, Amazonas, Brazil

We left Nashville yesterday around 2:00 PM on a small plane to Miami. The bigger TAM (A Brazilian Airline) was an hour late rippling down to everything in Manaus. That meant we did not leave Manaus until about 2:30 AM this morning and finally got across the ferry at 5 AM and on our boat in Manacapu (a river port suburb of Manaus) around 6:30 AM, with the boat leaving the dock about 7:30 AM.

The last time I checked, we were still on the Amazon River going west, though between Manaus and the Perus border the people call it the Solimoes River. We are heading for the junction of the Purus River where we will turn off. We may not reach the Purus until about 4 PM we were told. Then we keep going up that river past Paricatuba where we begin our witnessing activities tomorrow, working our way back down the river for a week. We will make one stop along the Purus to pick up a Brazilian pastor who will be another translator for us.

Breakfast and lunch food was good on the boat and all of the views are very interesting. I’ve already made a lot of photos. I did not really sleep all night last night or this morning, though I rested. I am tired, sleepy, groggy or not alert and hope for deep sleep tonight. I do have the CPAP machine. I’m in my little shared room now but will go out on the deck shortly to read. I brought Doctor Hudson’s Secret Journal. We have a good group of 13 from the states plus several local interpreters.


August 18, 2006 – Purus River, Brazil

We entered the Rio Purus at about 3:30 PM yesterday and are a a village location where we will be through noon tomorrow. It is 1 PM and we all had good experiences witnessing this morning. We go back out around 2 PM. I was with Pat Still and a local pastor with a name that sounds like “Lee” or at least that is what we Americans called him. He is a great interpreter! We went to three floating houses and spent some wonderful time with 3 families. One was Assembly of God and seemed sure of their salvation. We had decisions at the other two houses. We have bracelets for the children, in all three cases the adults wanted them too. We have ABC and colored beads, each with different message of salvation.

While we and others were on the river, some went to the town center and did children’s activities and others went to homes in the town. We are going back to the same areas but different homes this afternoon.

I’m now reading a book from the boat library, Lost in the Amazon, by Stephen Kirkpatrick, the true story of 5 men lost in the Peruvian Amazon in 1995, battling for survival and their faith. I’ll read the other book after I leave the boat. This book will add to the adventure of this trip!   🙂


We had a good afternoon with 5 decisions in three of the five homes visited. There was also a very good dinner with reports and 2 testimonies. It is about 8 PM and I’ll prepare my devotion for tomorrow and maybe read some more in the Amazon book.


Sunday, August 20, 2006 – Purus River, Brazil

Well, yesterday went by so fast I had no time to write. I did the breakfast devotional from 2 Chron. 10.

For the morning trip I was alone with Tom the missionary (Tom Latham I think) and we had a great time – so much so that we missed lunch! He will spend and hour and a half with persons who make a decision. For one family we went to the lake and baptized 3 men including a 15 year old. Then a home with a man getting a haircut with decisions plus I saw a neat frog. At the house of a fisherman mending his nets I photographed the Ocelot or Jaguar pelt he had on his wall.

Then at the house of the village president’s daughter was a beautiful experience. Two college students were there researching, interviewing the man. They were planning to go with local hunters that night to photograph and record how locals hunt for meat. Very interesting! But best of all is that both students prayed to receive Christ. It took so long that we missed lunch – but well worth it! I also photographed another wild cat pelt on their wall. The afternoon was in a Jon Boat and a lot of mud! No decisions.

In the evening we dedicated and started a new church in Paricatuba.

This AM at breakfast we had reports and plans to disciple today where we were the first day, here in Aruma.

5 PM

I’m sitting on the top deck watching dolphins jump but never able to get a photo. This afternoon Pat & Ellee or Ahlee and I went further up river and into a tributary where we visited several homes, both floating and on stilts where all were Christians. They were ver pleasant visits and I loved tying bracelets on the children’s arms. We are now resting until 6 PM when we go into Aruma to show the Jesus Film. I’m trying to read again now.


Monday, August 21, 2006 – Purus River, Brazil

6:30 AM – Tried some first light photos but no real sunrise shots with the boat on east side of river. I got a boat Derek asked me to photograph – I think it is like what they want to get for use with area evangelist here. Breakfast is not until 7:30, so I will read or try to.

Apuri Nani tribe was contacted yesterday and in the devotional we prayed for them. They are not in a protected area, so we can evangelize them now and the Betuweme pastor says they will.

Two Jon boats will stay here in Aruma while we take the big boat down stream to a small village where the rest of us will witness.

Our morning was first moving down river in the big boat, The Marco Polo, then to floating houses and a few on land along the river. Again all were already Christians but we had good visits and shared the cube with all as education the them. A good time!

We did get stuck in sticky mud again at one place to my ankles (in my good sandals! Ugh!) and Norman was up to his thighs in mud! He was the interpreter for me and Wayne Poling today.

This afternoon we went to two homes with beautiful families, the first were already Christians and the second all prayed to receive Christ. That is where we saw a dog “walk on water” which was really on a big log slightly covered in water! The second family’s floating house was at a stopover on their way down river to Betuwame. So when the pastor from there came by, we invited him in and they got to meet who we hope will be their pastor soon. It was a fun visit as most have been. Everyone is so friendly and welcoming!

We came back and I watched some of our group catch some red-throated piranha. We also watched pink dolphins jumping up and heard parrots singing and saw them flying at a distance.

After dinner, Eh-lee brought in a black piranha. After reading awhile, Eh-Lee and Tom came in with two small caimans which we all photographed and some held for photos. A lot of excitement!


Tuesday, August 22, 2006 – On the Purus River, Brazil

We spent the night at the juncture of a break-through or short-cut across an oxbow bend in the Purus River. It is narrow and we are closer to the jungle and birds than we have been. Again we saw lots of river dolphins jumping. I saw a lot more pink ones here. As we started breakfast the Marco Polo started through the short-cut and I sat in the bow or front of the boat with camera and a plate of food. We saw a lot of flooded forest and many birds. Part was a very narrow passage and part more like a lake. I really enjoyed this 30 minute plus short-cut and being closer to the jungle. We are back in the main channel of Rio Purus now and have passed Paricatuba where we dedicated the church. They have a village in mind for us to work today. and maybe again tomorrow.

The Purus is an amazing and large river, like the Mississippi back home. It is very wide and deep and yet not in the high season (which is Jan-Apr) or the rainy season it is also called. You can see water marks on trees 30 to 50 feet up in some places. They say that the river averages 60 ft. wider or over onto each side bank in the flooded season.

Well, it looks like we may be pulling in and I haven’t read a page yet in the book. Well, I just thought we were pulling in, but we are not to our village yet and it is name Matias. It is 9:30 and I’m back to reading again.

12:25 PM

We (Wayne, Tim, Pastor Natan, Junior and I) went to two floating houses with decisions in one. Then Pastor Natan wanted to go to the school where 2 of his church members teach. He visited with them. Pat & Linda were finishing up their witness to children and it is lunch time now!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006 – Purus River, Brazil

We docked in Beruri last night and Pastor Natan explained how we will canvas two neighborhoods today – our last day of work.

I slept fairly well last night and I’m down to the last 3 or so chapters of Lost in the Amazon book. I will now try to read some before breakfast as I really want to finish it before we leave the boat tomorrow.

I actually finished the book before breakfast! Great! The author, Stephen Kirkpatrick also has a coffee table photo book Romancing the Rain which I would love to see.

At breakfast I got email addresses of several here in Brazil which I will not include in the public journal and I’m not sure I ever used them.

We had good morning visits in Beruri in the rain! We had seven decisions.

It was a great afternoon with seven more decisions. All total the group had 95 today and 280 decisions to become Christians this week. And we still have a church service at 7:30 tonight.

Thursday, August 24, 2006 – Purus & Amazon Rivers to Manaus
Plus My “MANAUS ADVENTURE” Before Jungle Trekking

Up early and on to Manacapuru after breakfast. It was a nice trip and visits. When we crossed over the Rio Negro on the ferry I said goodbye to all the team members who were going to the airport and I got a taxi to my Hotel for three nights, The Tropical Manaus Hotel. It is huge and very nice though mostly old, colonial style with one modern tower of newer hotel rooms. I’m in the old part which is more interesting and colorful. (Since writing this on the trip I have learned that the tower is separate now as a Wyndam Gardens Hotel and that the old hotel I was in went bankrupt and closed. Hope someone save it – a cool old hotel!)

I had lunch and met my local travel agent so we could discuss Saturday plans. Then I explored the large hotel grounds and got on a list for a plane trip over the “Meeting of the Waters” where the two different color rivers come together, Amazon & Negro. They must have at least two people to fly, so I hope someone else wants to go. I will check back with them again in the morning.

I also plan to meet the biologist in the hotel zoo tomorrow, check email, rest, swim, and play with my photos – possibly a full day tomorrow!

Tonight I went to the dinner show off Indian dancing which was really good but not indigenous people. They were all college students (or that age) doing what might be authentic cultural dances or just story-telling about the indigenous people of the area. But whatever, I really enjoyed it and now it is after 10 and I’m off to bed!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Wow! It is already 2:15 PM! I was in bed a full 8 hours with about 4 hours of deep sleep and the rest off and on as usual with the CPAP machine. I have decided to not take it to Mamiraua. Hope I don’t regret that, but we are limited in what we can carry on the “speedboat” to the reserve. I even plan to do without it tonight so I won’t have to pack it in the morning. That means 6 nights without it. A real test! Hope I get enough sleep.

After a huge breakfast (A “Tapioca Omelet”) She used tapioca in a skillet to make something like a crepe. I chose the ham, cheese, tomatoes and onion in mine. They also had fruits and jellies you could use. Then I got several cool pastries that are all so good here! All that with 2 cups of coffee and finished with a plate of fresh fruits and a glass of orange juice to wash down my morning pills. I will miss all that tomorrow! I leave too early!

After breakfast reading my Amazon Wildlife book, I checked with the seaplane people to see if someone else had signed up. No! I even checked with Maristela for some other option with no help.

Then I went swimming and sunbathing & reading a little until it started raining. I’ve spent most of my time since backing up and erasing my photo disks to be ready for Mamiraua. I took a walk around the pool close to me and through their bosque or forest, photographing some interesting plant life and one yellow and black bird too far away.

One of the times I was in the room, right after the rain I think, the seaplane guy called to say he had another single passenger wanting to fly and they will do it for the 2 of us. So I am scheduled to meet them at 4:00 PM and fly out at 4:30 PM – a 20 minute flight over the city of Manaus and “The Meeting of the Waters” where the Rio Negro and Rio Amazon merge but don’t mix at first, meaning a two-toned river for awhile. I’m looking forward to this and hoping for some good photos. Then tomorrow my water taxi/bus might drive through it. We will see.

I love the Amazon and all of the people! Plus this hotel is really nice! Even the old colonial par that I’m in. This feels more like Brazil than a new one would. I love the colonnades, many courtyards and fountains and the rich-looking gardens with tropical flowers of course!

I have seen 3 swimming pools and there may be more. The one just out my window has a waterfall, fountains and multiple sections or walled off areas. And they have a wave pool here!

Their “Zoo” is great for kids but would never pass AZA rules! And the cages don’t allow for good photos. The biologist who was supposed to guide us through it this morning never showed up! Nada!

I’m missing lunch today. I had a granola bar and water earlier. I’m now tempted to get the can of cashews and the Guarana in the mini-bar. I love this distinctive Brasil drink made from the beans or fruit of the Guarana Tree that grows only in the Amazon. They pronounce it with a rolled “r” in the middle that sounds to me like  “Gwa – ta -naa.”

Well, nearly three, so just an hour to play with photos and have my snack before the plane ride.

7:45 PM

The second person for the seaplane trip did not show up after we waited until 4:30. The price for a solo trip is R700 but they gave me a special price of R550 making the discounted price about $200 for me and I accepted it because I was really pumped to go, though I thought a little expensive, but then planes and pilots are expensive!   🙂

It was a great experience and worth the increased price! My first time in a seaplane which took off from the water of the river by the hotel. The views of both rivers and the city of Manaus were great. I hope the photos turn out okay.

I then dumped all the images off my cards and charged all my batteries in preparation for the jungle tomorrow. I’m getting excited!

Then I had dinner as a sandwich or Brazilian hamburger in the little cafe next to the coffee shop which is also next to a game room with pool tables and other game tables like for cards and gambling with green felt tops. I had a unique Brazilian ice cream made from the fruit of some tree that was fabulous! I hope to get the name when I’m back here the 31st.

I’m going to organize photos for awhile then off to bed. Alarm is set for 5 AM.

P.S. EXPLANATION OF WHY THE BOAT TRIP TO TEFE TOMORROW:  My original arrangements were to fly in a small plane from Manaus to a little landing strip in Tefe, the closest village to Mamiraua Reserve and the Uacari Lodge. The last week before coming down for the mission trip I received word that the little plane airline could no longer fly to Tefe because the Chief of the village had moved their garbage dump to near the landing strip, bringing vultures and other birds that can cause a small plane to crash. “But don’t worry.” the travel agent said, “We have arranged a speedboat for you to go up river, meaning that you see more scenery. And since it takes 12 hours, your first night will now be in the little hotel in Tefe.” I understand that some people canceled because of that, but me and one other solo guy from Paris, France did not cancel and we were the only 2 in the lodge that week.


Saturday, August 26, 2006 – Boat Trip to Tefe, Brazil on the Amazon River

My next adventure is beginning! Up at 4:47 AM. I decided to take the CPAP after all since I did not sleep well without it. So before checking out I had to retrieve it from the stored bags. Then I checked out of the hotel with them promising to take care of the bag I left with them.

I did not sleep much last night, just short spells. I may have woken every 15 minutes it seemed, and my mouth was dry all night, waking up with a sore throat, plus my legs were stiff or hurting which is another sign of Sleep APNEA. It looks like I am destined for the CPAP the rest of my life.

After visiting with the nice desk clerks I was taken to the Port of Manaus by Maristela’s brother for US $20. It is a long, covered boat with windows all around and air-conditioned! It is more than I expected! It’s more like a floating bus with a center aisle and two seats on each side like a bus, plus a bathroom and kitchen in the back. I was assigned Seat #4 and I hope it is by a window for my photos.

The dock is packed with people, luggage, many boxes of freight shipments I assume, etc. It looks like it is going to be a full boat. So far I have found no one who speaks English including my car driver to here. They are selling breakfast food on the dock. I got a ham & cheese sandwich and coffee for R2 which is about a US $1. Not bad!   🙂

I just gave up my seat on the dock park bench to a lady. Hey! I will be sitting all day!   🙂   It is scheduled to be an 11 or 12 hour trip arriving in Tefe at 6 or 7 PM. They still haven’t started boarding people yet, just all the luggage and freight, but it is 6:50 and we are suppose to leave a 7 AM.

I’m on the boat now! As expected, it is packed! Maybe every seat. It is less roomy than a greyhound bus, but I’m thankful to be by a window on the right side up front. I’m shoulder to shoulder with a guy on my left who does not speak English and I only learned a few phrases in Portuguese. And my knees nearly touch the legs of the guy in front of me who is in a seat facing the aisle. Twelve hours packed in a sardine can – wow! But it is part of the adventure and I will read my wildlife book now.

11:00 AM

They just served lunch which seems a little early to me, but I will eat. It is a dry fish hash or chopped up fish with vegetables, white rice and brown beans plus the ever-present maniac crumbs and a banana. I ate all of the beans and rice, some of the fish hash, all of the banana and a little cup of Coke. Some have been drinking beer all morning and the increased volume of talk and laughter seems to indicate it, and the smell.    🙂

I’ve  made only a few shots with my little pocket camera, missing some good ones because I am so conspicuous, sort of standing out in the crowd of locals as the only gringo tourist, especially when I bring out the camera! I’fm going to hope I get all the shots I need at Mamiraua! But I was pleased to photograph a moth on the dock before we left.

The passengers seem to be all Brazilian except me and maybe one casually clad young man in the back. I have been wondering if he is going to Mamiraua with me. I should know by tonight if I don’t get a chance to talk with him before then.

This Discovery Channel Insight Guide to Amazon Wildlife is very good and broadening my insight into the whole Amazon and maybe I will see some of it for real and hopefully get some good photos. Of course much of the wildlife, like the cats, are nocturnal and we will never see, but hopefully some birds and maybe other creatures.

The boat is very fast! So my travel agents description as a “speed boat” was fairly accurate. Hope we don’t hit anything! With the front windows open we have not needed the air conditioning yet. It is hard to believe that we still have 7 or 8 hours before Tefe! I am already tired and getting sleepy but can’t sleep like this! I will try reading again.

There is a beautiful child on board, about 2 years old I’m guessing, who is entertaining all the passengers. All of the people are so friendly. I just wish I spoke the language!

The crew is putting out some bags for what I assume will be a stop soon. I was beginning to think it was non-stop to Tefe. Well, we did not stop in a town, but to transfer a family to another, smaller boat at the mouth of a tributary. I think we are beyond the Purus River and this one looks smaller too. And it looks like the cute little 2 year old boy left with the family.

After that we did stop in a town with a name that sounded something like “Pavie” to me but I doubt I spelled it right! At the dock a big gang of young men were greeting what I’m guessing is a soccer hero and their coach who got off the boat here.

4:00 PM – We stop again at a much bigger town with a name that sounds to me something like “Tucumcari” but again probably not spelled right. Many people got off here but almost an equal number got on for the continued trip up the Amazon River. It is an interesting “collectivo” style floating bus that changes passengers at every stop.

9:40 PM – I’m now in the Hotel Egas in Tefe, Amazonas, Brazil. I’m dry again and sitting up in bed since there is no chair in the room. The 12-hour speedboat ride took 13.5 hours plus another 30 minutes to get my checked bags.

A girl representing Uacari Lodge in Mamiraua Reserve met us and put us in a taxi for the short distance to the Hotel Egas. The “us” is me and the only other guest in the lodge this week, a younger single guy from Paris, France name Jean-Luc. I saw him on the boat and guessed he was also going to Mamiraua and sorry we did not get to talk on the boat. He says he has been traveling internationally since age 14 and has been to Brazil 8 or 9 times but never to the Amazon here, though he has been on the Amazon in Peru. He usually goes to Rio when in Brazil.

Leaving the dock to the taxi we had to walk over several planks over water. I slipped on the last one which was wet and fell down into the water, getting my right side wet & muddy from sandals up to my shorts. I just showered and rinsed the muddy side of the shorts.

This looks like a frontier town, rough, simple board buildings and this  Hotel Egas is just the basics! No restaurant that I could see. I always have granola bars to fall back on when needed for breakfast, if I don’t find a restaurant in the morning that I like the looks of or maybe the hotel will serve something, we will see.

I got tired of reading on the boat, but may a little now to just get sleepy. I’m glad I brought my CPAP machine. Now I know I will sleep better tonight. If I wake up early I will go out for sunrise photos of the town or just explore the street in front.

Sunday, August 27, 2006 – Tefe & Uacari Lodge, Brazil on the Amazon River

Wow! I slept nearly 9 hours in Hotel Egas with the CPAP machine and it is a good thing because I just earned that the rooms at Uacari Lodge have no electric outlets. So four nights coming without the CPAP which probably means little sleep! Oh well – part of the adventure!  Que sera, sera!

At about 7:45 AM I ate breakfast in the hotel dining room next to a courtyard, kind of nice! They served a typical Brazilian breakfast of coffee, breads and a pastry with lots of fruits and two fruit juices. Then I walked around town for some photos.

On the boat ride to the Uacari Lodge in Mamiraua Reserve I photographed several birds including two kinds of ducks, one being Black-bellied Whistling Duck and the other I don’t know yet. There were also both Great Egrets and Snowy Egrets along with a Wattled Jacana. I’m feeling like this is really going to be a good place!

Lunch is at 12 noon and our first hike at 3:30. Jean-Luc and I are the only two guests here, so we should get a lot of attention!   🙂

We had a very good lunch with lemon icebox pie for dessert. Yummy! I drank star fruit juice for the first time. Delicious! Fran is our house host and she ate with us. I forgot the name of our guide, a local man who will take us hiking at 3:30. And I am really enjoying visiting with Jean-Luc, a 43 year old single dentist in Paris. He is in a group of dentists and can take off for a month at a time, with the others handling the business and patients.

It is 1:45 PM, raining with me sitting on the porch of my room writing and I will soon be reading again or photographing birds that are flying over even in the rain.

6:00 PM

At 3:30 we took a canoe across the bay and then walked a trail for 2 hours with talks about the flooded forest which is not flooded right now, thus we are walking where it floods part of the year. Though I was hoping to see wildlife, this is very interesting and their first activity for all visitors. I photographed many trees and plants which I will never remember except the Strangler Fig Tree and the Rubber Tree. I was wishing I had taken this notebook/journal with me to write down the names of trees. I did photograph one bird which I will try to identify later, using their good bird book. We also saw a Squirrel Monkey and a Capuchin Monkey at a distance too far for a photo.

Fran went with us and was  the talker and the translator with Reimondo the indigenous guide at front of the line as spotter of wildlife. We also had 3 or 4 Brazilian college students doing research here to go with us. This “Várzea Forest” or flooded forest is amazing.  We will have dinner at 7:30 PM and a talk afterwards. I think we go out in a canoe tomorrow morning.

Monday, August 28, 2006 – Uacari Lodge, Mamiraua Reserve, Amazonas, Brazil

I did not journal today but will catch up tomorrow.


Tuesday, August 29, 2006 – Uacari Lodge, Mamiraua Reserve, Amazonas, Brazil

YESTERDAY CATCH UP!  –  Monday, August 28

Yesterday morning we went to the village of Caburini by boat. On the way we saw many birds and the most number of dolphins yet – mostly pink or “Boto” dolphins as they call them here for their bottle-shaped noses. I think in English they are called Pink Bottle Nose Dolphins.Beautiful creatures but nearly impossible for me to photograph, staying under water or just an occasional dorsal fin showing. You would have to have your camera pointed in the right direction for when they occasionally break the surface of the water. And jumping out of the water is very rare they say.

The village of Caburini was a nice visit but no better than most we visited on the mission trip. The only house we went in was our host’s and then at the end of our visit in a house to buy necklaces and bracelets. I got a set for Bonnie.

In the village we went into the little catholic church which was primitive and interesting for photos. Saw his medicinal garden where he explained what some of the plants are used for from headache to itch. He also had a little herb garden and a bigger vegetable garden. We also saw the community planting of beans and corn on the beach of the river while it is is not flooded.

He further explained how the village collects turtle eggs laid on the beach, keeping them in a fenced area to protect from predators. Two weeks after hatching, they put the baby turtles back in the river. Mamiraua Institution has been teaching all the villages to do ecological activities like this. I photographed some bird eggs on the beach and some children in town. A nice visit.

After lunch at the lodge and a time to rest, we went on a canoe trip to spot birds and monkeys. It was raining most of the time, thus we didn’t see much wildlife! We waited out the worst of the rain in an abandoned or vacant floating house where I made one of my favorite photos of Raimundo looking out into the rain.

Last night we did a night hike with Raimundo carrying a car battery and flood light to see more. In the canoe trip to the trail head we saw hundreds of red eyes of the caiman. We didn’t see much on the trail at night but heard lots of sounds and Raimundo “talked” to one of the birds.   🙂

BACK TO TODAY –  Tuesday, August 29, 2006

This morning we took our quiet hike to spot animals for 3 hours on a 5 kilometer trail. We saw many things from a distance but none close enough for good photos. I only tried a few and it was raining hard half the time. But from a distance we saw 3 kinds of monkeys: squirrel, howler and the rare Uakari Monkey plus many birds I don’t have the names of all now but included toucans, parrots, hoatzins, black-collared hawks, and some he rattled off the names in Portuguese plus the usual lakeside egrets, herons, terns, kingfishers and others. We saw two beautiful blue butterflies but they didn’t hang around long enough to be photographed. I shot a few more plants in the once flooded forest or Varzea.

I’m now lying in a hammock on my room’s veranda with dolphins and perarucu jumping up around me and the ever-present caiman. There are dozens of birds in sight all of the time. It is an incredible place!

At 3:30 we are going to the Pink Bottled Nose Dolphin Research Center on another floating house nearby to learn about the research. I will nap or rest awhile before then.

7:15 PM

I’m ready for dinner at 7:30 and really enjoyed the visit to the “Boto Projeto.” A your man from Portugal made the very interesting presentation. They are looking for volunteers to come for 2 weeks or more and help count dolphin. We visited for awhile. Two volunteers were there from London, a married couple. We saw several dolphins again but seldom surfacing much and difficult to impossible to photograph.


We talked and visited for a long while instead of seeing the scheduled BBC Documentary on Mamiraua because her TV was not working.


Wednesday, August 30, 2006 – Uacari Lodge, Mamiraua Reserve, Amazonas, Brazil

Breakfast and hiking two trails this morning. The first was full of Uacari Monkeys(in local languages spelled with a “k” – Uakari but English is with) and the second, shorter trail to a little lake had the very large lily pads which Raimundo said were even larger in the Rainy and Flooded Season. It is noon now after a very refreshing shower. Lunch is always at 12:30.


I’m in the hammock on my veranda, writing, resting and hearing the pitter-patter of bats in the ceiling, pirarucu and dolphins jumping in the lake and the constant sounds of hundreds of birds and occasional roar of a howler monkey. To me the howler sounds like a deep wind blowing just before a big storm or at other times a little bit like a lion roaring. There are bird sounds I’ve never heard anywhere else and of course I can see the constant silent presence of Black Caimans all around the floating lodge.

And oh yes, I forgot to say earlier that on the first hike this morning Raimundo asked our permission before taking us off the official trail, which may be why we saw so many Uacari Monkeys! And he removed his boots, going barefoot like a real indigenous guide!

And the lunch was good, sort of – though I’m getting tired of fish, beans and rice. We also had something made of manioc maybe but more like some kind of fruit. The fruit juice today (different every day) was strange to me and almost tasted like soured milk. I would not finish it and ordered a Guaranal which they were out of, so I drank a Coke instead.

Fran is trying again to charge my computer battery which did not take last night or she didn’t connect it right or not long enough. I should have told her I would wait until Manaus tomorrow to charge it.

Jean-Luc just cleaned his boots and I must do the same now! Tonight is our last night here.


Thursday, August 31, 2006 – Leaving Mamiraua Reserve

Last night after a late dinner we finally watched Part 1 of the BBC documentary on “The Flooded Forest of the Amazon.” Very good! I would like to see Part 2!

I was up at 4 AM this morning, showered and waited on the others at the dock with a clear sky full of stars. Spectacular!

Then the 1.5 hours boat trip to Tefe mostly in the dark. Many fish jumped in the boat again, one slapping me in the face!   🙂   This is some unique place! I was afraid they were piranha but they assured me they are harmless. Nothing else big happened on our way to Tefe.

I’m now on the “speedboat” which will take at least 12  hours to get to Manaus, though we are going downstream this time, so hopefully quicker than the 13.5 hours coming upstream!   🙂

My mind is still trying to absorb all of this most unique experience in the rainforests of the Amazon. There have been a lot of “wow factors” and things that I will never forget! I still don’t know how to put it in words. Not everything I expected (like more wildlife photos), but a true wilderness experience! Once I go through all the photos I will be better able to get a handle on it – maybe. And maybe by tomorrow night in Miami I’ll get started. I didn’t see Jean-Luc get on the boat and I don’t see him on the dock, but guess I’ll see him later.

I walked to the back of the boat to get a cup of coffee to go with my granola bar and I saw Jean-Luc asleep in a seat near the back. I have tried to sleep but can’t – and really not comfortable enough a seat for sleeping. I drank coffee standing on the back deck but came in when I started getting wet.

They are showing American movies on TV with Portuguese sub-titles, but the sound is not on and I can’t follow. Occasionally he puts in a concert DVD but also with Portuguese sub-titles, so I’m basically ignoring the TV.

We are going downstream on “Rio Solimóes” (what they call this upper Amazon River) with mostly clear skies and sunshine. River is wide and beautiful, lined with thick forests of huge trees.

9:05 AM —  We seemed to have been stopped by a police, navy or other military type boat. A guy with what looks like sergeant stripes on his uniform is looking at our boat record books and writing something in his book. Maybe just a routine inspection stop.

There is also a lady who was moved up front to catch another boat I assume, like the family did going up the other day. Or maybe she is waiting for a village stop. It is hard to know what is going on when you don’t understand the language! But never a dull moment!

LATER . . .

The man and boy sitting behind me evidently heard me struggling to talk with the Brazilian man beside me. He interpreted for us and then asked if I was an Americano. Si. It turns out that he and his family are from Indiana and he is an Independent Baptist Missionary in a town at 4 hours drive east of Manaus. He of course has to raise his own support and since he is a pilot he is praying for God to provide him a small seaplane. We talked about so many things for the rest of the trip. He and his 13 year old son Caleb were just delightful! His name is Mike Dunn.

Somewhere in the middle of the river about halfway to Manaus we were stopped again, this time by the Federal Police, two boats of 8-10 heavily armed men. They spent at least an hour searching for drugs in every single bag, both checked bags and carry-ons. If they found drugs, they didn’t tell us and didn’t arrest anyone. They did scold one woman who had turtle eggs and another who had an ice chest wit Pirarucu fish, but they were working for INPA (an environmental agency) and so no fines or confiscations.

We were in Manaus Port about 8 PM and it was 9 Pm when I got to the hotel, but I’m eating anyway. And even here at the big Hotel Tropical Manaus, no one speaks English – falo ingles! But I get by just like I did all week in Mamiraua.

At another table here in the cafe are 4 American men talking in English. A Brazilian soldier came by and gave them something. Their conversation is hard to hear except for just a few words, but I think they are here consulting with the Brazilian military. One said, “I don’t think the civilian population will accept that.” Another one talked about “other countries” and another one was constantly on a cellphone that is larger than usual, maybe a satellite phone? Interesting!


Friday, September 1, 2006 – Manaus & Flight to Miami

Eating another great tropical breakfast here at Hotel Tropical Manaus. It was so quiet and peaceful here last week and now the hotel seems to be nearly full and it is hard to find a table for breakfast. I left this pad, pen and a plate of fruit on my first table. When I got back with more food a Japanese man was drinking coffee at my table and refused eye contact. Rather than confront him, I just picked up my stuff and found another table. Some people are rude.

The windows surrounding the Coffee Shop look out on to a “mini-rainforest” of trees surrounding the hotel. This is so much better than a downtown hotel surrounded by dirty buildings and slums!

There are more Brazilian soldiers here this morning with some kind of meeting that I assume includes those Americans I heard last night. There are also a lot of European tourists and Brazilian tourists here as the majority, but some Japanese together in a tour group I assume. But no one here looks like an American and I usually can spot Americans!   🙂

Out one of the windows is a tall tree with 20 or more woven bird nests (like Weaver Birds in The Gambia) and birds are flying in and out of the nests. This is a neat place!

Yesterday I observed Mike Dunn parenting his 13 year old, plus he talked a lot about his theory or approach to parenting. I kept thinking of Jason and things I wish I had done. I’m now thinking about writing Jason a long, frank letter telling him everything I feel, know, and think about life – lessons learned and my feelings, concerns and hopes for him without being preachy or telling him how to live his life as he always tells me I do anytime I talk or write seriously to him.

Yet, knowing Jason, such a letter or conversation could alienate him even mor or just maybe strangely bring us closer together and/or help him with his life. Though every time I’ve tried he has rejected and resented me. But as I write this I think it might be worth the gamble again. We will see.

12:25 PM

I just sat down on the plane. I finally found the little Mamiraua shop in the airport and bought the Mamiraua Guide book I wanted and they didn’t have at the lodge. I had just enough Reas to buy a small basket with RI left as a souvenir I guess. I’m in a middle seat – ugh!  I will read my new book now.

(In Miami I spent the night at the Airport Hampton Inn)


Saturday, September 2, 2006 – On flight between Miami & Nashville

I’m now on an American Eagle flight about halfway to Nashville from Miami. For the first time I bought their snack box for $4 to go with my “free” Coke. It was okay but I could have done without it.

Last night I ate dinner across the street from the Blue Lagoon Hampton Inn at the Casa Juan Cuban Restaurant that I had heard good things about. I asked the waitress for her recommendation and she suggested a Cuban Lasagna with chicken and bananas. It was one of the best I have ever eaten! Unusual but delicious! I worked on photos about an hour and then just 30 minutes starting on my “Full Mailbox” of about 3,000 emails – ugh – and then off to bed for a good a good solid 6+ hours of sleep I hope with the CPAP. It definitely makes sleep better, though I was surprised at how sell I did at Uacari Lodge with it – like 4 hours solid sleep and then off and on for another 3 maybe. Now I know that I can survive without it and might get back into camping. On that photo club camping trip I didn’t take my trazadone and the other reason for no sleep there.

Well, we are now scheduled to land in Nashville in about 50 minutes, 1 PM Central Daylight Savings Time. And as at the end of most trips I am about ready to get home – and anxious to order a couple of photo albums from mypublisher.com.  (I did two photo books on this trip which are no longer available as “mypublisher” went out of business. Maybe I will someday redo them on Blurb.com.)

Of course I will have to grocery shop first, and unpack, and do laundry, etc.  🙂  As of right now I plan to skip church tomorrow and work on photos. Still hoping for some good wildlife photos, though it did not seem like I got any other than a few birds. We will see. I will now do just a little computer work before we land in Nashville.

THE END   (Of this trip!)


Thursday, September 9, 2006

Reelfoot Lake State Park, Tennessee

Spent my morning driving to Reelfoot and afternoon setting up my booth for the Arts & Crafts Fair. I ate an early dinner while in town, 4:30, but on had a banana & granola bar for lunch.

As always for these fairs, I lifted a lot of heavy boxes and display stuff and while setting up I started hurting in the groin – I’m afraid I may have a hernia – scares me. I took a short walk and felt okay, but standing or sitting, it still hurts off and on. Hope I make it through this weekend okay. Scares me.

Sunday, October 1, 2006,  12:55 PM

Reelfoot Lake State Park, TN

I was ready at 8 AM and 5 hours later not a single sale – I’m discouraged even though I knew Sunday would be slow, especially in the morning. I need $201 in sales today to match last year’s Reelfoot total sales. I don’t think I will make it. I’m beginning to doubt the value of Arts & Crafts fairs. I need another better way to sell photos!

I may check with some galleries and even frame shopsfor maybe consignment photos for sale. I could improve my display, but without buyers that is little help. I’ve thought of offering only a hand full of the more popular images, fewer choices, but not sure that will help either. I’ll also consider doing more online with current gallery + maybe the art exchange that Bill Latta uses.

Some other vendors just consoled me but sales is what I need! It is now about 1:20 PM and the crowd is picking up after lunch, so maybe I will get some!


Beginning Blue Ridge Parkway Trip

My Trip Photo Gallery:  2006 October — BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY, VA, NC

Thursday, October 05, 2006 – Fishersville, VA 

Hurt my back loading suitcase and bags in the car this morning and it is still hurting tonight. Oh my!

I left at about 7:40 this morning and got to Hampton Inn, Fishersville, VA (near Waynesboro & Charlottesville) at about 5:30 PM.  It was tiring; especially with my back hurting every time I stopped and got out of the car. I tried walking and it seems to stretch or loosen it up a little or ease the pain. It doesn’t hurt when sitting or lying down, but always when I stand and somewhat when walking.

I had dinner at Applebee’s, the half-size Oriental Chicken Salad and a blond brownie & decaf coffee for dessert. Yum!

There is nothing worth watching on TV. I checked email and after this journal entry will study the Blue Ridge Parkway materials to see what I want to do tomorrow. I expect to get at least as far as Natural Bridge and maybe farther if I don’t see one or both zoos there.  I looked over some material at dinner and there is a lot to do all along the parkway in both Virginia and North Carolina. I think I could take longer than a week if I wanted to. I just hope my back clears up tomorrow. That could ruin the whole trip!

By the way, the wifi at Hampton Inn is really nice with a laptop! There is also an Ethernet cable if I wanted to connect that way. Neat!

Okay, parkway reading and off to bed early. I might even try soaking my back in a tub of hot water – maybe.



Friday, October 6, 2006 – Peaks of Otter, VA

Water, water, everywhere! It was raining when I went to bed last night and hasn’t stopped as of 6:45 PM tonight. There was also heavy fog most of the day driving and I decided to stop at mile marker 87 and stay inside the National Park at the Peaks of Otter Lodge right on the parkway. It could be my only night on the actual parkway. Other than campgrounds, there are only three other lodges and two are close enough to where I want to drive that I will try them: Rocky Knob and Doughton Park. The other one is at Mt. Pisgah which is south of Asheville and I will stay in Asheville for sure to see Jason. And right now I plan to stay the night before at Linville Falls in a motel. But everything is flexible and no reservations are made. I.e. last night I was planning to spend tonight at Natural Bridge but decided while driving that being on the parkway was better and more scenic.  It the rain has stopped in the morning, I will drive the 20+ miles out of my way to see Natural Bridge, but if raining, I will likely just drive on. Or it may depend on how I feel in the morning! I guess I could see it in the rain and maybe fewer tourists would be around. We’ll see!

Even with rain I got several decent photos today, mostly some trees with color and then shots of Otter Creek and Abbott Lake behind the lodge here. I hope photography gets better tomorrow! I missed a lot of vista shots today because the overlooks were fogged in. The forecast I saw this morning indicated the rain would possibly continue tomorrow but begin moving out.

I was here by 2:00 and enjoyed reading and cataloging what photos I did have. Tonight the lodge had their weekly Friday night “all you can eat” Seafood Buffet which was pretty good. Of course I ate too much! And of course the desserts were my favorite! At least I am just having fruit and granola bar for lunch each day.

I kind of miss the Hampton Inn with wifi and more comfortable bed and breakfast included which is not here at a higher price! Sunday night I may choose to drive 25 miles into Wilkesboro, NC for a Hampton Inn there instead of Doughton Park on the parkway. And I already have one picked out in Asheville! The only one I know about in the Smokies is in Gatlinburg and I don’t like staying in that busy, junky tourist trap. But I may decide to so I can see the fabulous aquarium everyone has bragged on as the best.

Well, I will now read in one of the books I brought or start playing with My Publisher Bookmaker to begin a Blue Ridge Parkway book. And as usual, play about 3 rounds of FreeCell Solitaire. I always have something to do and never get  bored! I’m looking forward to another adventure tomorrow.

And oh, my back still hurts but not as bad as yesterday. I guess it was good to have soaked in warm water awhile last night.    -Charlie

Saturday, October 8, 2006


Sunday Morning, October 8, 2006 – Hillsville, VA

Got so busy last night with other stuff I didn’t journal! So first a recap of yesterday:

I had another leisurely morning and left Peaks of Otter in very cold, cloudy, foggy and intermittent rain. I went ahead and drove the 20 miles off the parkway to see Natural Bridge and glad I did. It is big and impressive, but ruined by the commercialism of the private owner. It is almost a mini-Gatlinburg with all the junk there. Because most of the trail was closed off by rain and creek flooding I got in at a reduced rate for AARP of $9 but could not walk under the bridge. It was sprinkling on the walk down and I got some photos from the last point they let us go and shots of the cascade creek. After coffee and biscotti I headed back to the parkway with gas stop in Buchanan.

It was still cold and raining most of the drive yesterday. I stopped at some overlooks and for some fall color along the way, including a trail walk down to the Roanoke River Overlook. The big thing I wanted to see and photograph was the Mabry Mill. Of course it was raining when I got there and I photographed it in the rain under an umbrella. Not the most favorable conditions! Hopefully the rain will stop for most of the North Carolina portion. The rain is okay for close-ups of leaves and some close scenery that doesn’t include sky. I probably should be looking for more such opportunities. Though one shot of a dark gray cloud over a valley is pretty ominous. That is more of a photo than non-descript gray overcast sky.

Near Mabry Mill I tried getting a cabin in the park-owned lodging and they were full. Then I checked out the motel in Meadows of Dan (ugh) and Fancy Gap (more ugh), so at suggestion of a man working at the Rocky Knob campground I got on I-77 and went 9 miles north of parkway to Hillsville exit where there is a Hampton Inn – Yay! I was so pleased that while checking in I went ahead and made reservations for 4 more nights in Hampton Inns: Wilkesboro, Morganton, Asheville, and Gatlinburg. At least I now know where I will stay and that it will be comfortable with a firm bed and soft pillows! I just love Hampton Inns!

I had dinner last night next door to hotel in a “Country” something local buffet restaurant but ordered from the menu. I got stir-fried chicken and veggies which was very good but too salty with too much teriyaki sauce.  Then I yielded again and had dessert, pecan pie and decaf coffee. After a little news on room TV, I worked on an excel spreadsheet of trip expenses and gas mileage, checked some email and played FreeCell. I forgot about the journal!


It is hard to believe that it is 10:00 already! I was in bed 10 hours last night and really feel rested! I’ve had breakfast and may fool around here a little longer before heading to Wilkesboro. There are not as many sights to see today as there will be tomorrow. I will check out the Blue Ridge Music Center and hope for at least one performance that I can photograph, like some bluegrass performers. There is a cabin at Doughton Park and several overlooks. That’s it! Tomorrow will be busier with Blowing Rock, Grandfather Mountain, and Linville Falls. I plan to read from my Bible (it is Sunday!) and then take off pretty soon.  And oh yes, my back is much better, just a little pain occasionally. I think walking more yesterday helped.


Well I got to the Hampton Inn in Wilkesboro, NC about 4:00 PM, so time-wise everything has fallen together well today. It began to rain again and there was heavy fog much of the drive down, especially in the higher altitudes. So I have some more fog and filtered light photos! Ha!

I did get to photograph two older men playing and singing at the Blue Ridge Music Center which was about all that interested me there except some of the parkway photo books. Man, a lot of people have done photo books on the parkway! At 12:35 I crossed the state line into North Carolina and photographed a historic marker where the parkway supposedly began, I guess as a cooperative between the two states. There was lots of spotty roadside color, two ponds, several overlooks photographed and two cabins. Plus at the Bluff Mountain Overlook I went down a trail and photographed a lot of flowers, berries and leaves. I should have been doing more of that on the cloudy days.

Tonight I ate barbeque ribs and blackberry cobbler dessert. Both were good! Tomorrow it must be a salad and no dessert!  I was back up in the room by 6:15 and on the computer. I started reading my October National Geographic Magazine at dinner and may get back to it in a bit. But first I must download the photos and label them. For a moment today I thought maybe I was driving too short a distance each day, but I now think it is just about right. Tomorrow it is not so far to Morganton but with Blowing Rock, Grandfather Mountain, and Linville Falls to see, it will probably be another full day.  Tomorrow night I will call Jason and let him know that I will be there Tuesday night. I may get to meet Julie his current girl-friend of a year or more.




Monday, October 9, 2006

A good day! After breakfast and the drive out of Wilkesboro, it was about 9:15 when I got back on the parkway.  It started foggy but burned off soon and there was a blue sky most of the day. There were a lot of overlook photos and roadside shots with my favorite being the Jesse Brown cabin with a red tree behind it! I stopped at Blowing Rock and it was an interesting group of leaning rocks not as large as I expected. I had to pay $5 to see a big rock and took a lot of photos and left. It is commercialized on private property like Natural Bridge and not my kind of thing. There was a lot of color around Grandfather Mountain and I took a lot of photos. The Linn Cove Viaduct was impressive with a lot of color around it. Then I saw Linville Falls which meant a 2 mile round trip hike, half uphill and good exercise that I needed! There are like 4+ falls and they are pretty impressive with one coming down in a cave or hollow of a big rock right above the big falls. Hope my photos do it justice.

By then I was ready for a place to spend the night and had decided that I would not backtrack to Boone where I had a reservation in the Hampton Inn there. I looked in the village of Linville Falls and didn’t like the looks of maybe 2 or 3 little places there. So I went further south to a little village of “Little Switzerland, North Carolina” where a ranger had told me there was a 4-star hotel. Not so sure about those stars, but I like it anyway! It is the Switzerland Inn Chalet and Restaurant on a hill overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains. The view is gorgeous and I watched it while eating dinner, my best of the whole trip so far! I had a salmon filet cooked on a cedar plank with Caesar salad, green beans, and apple pie alamode for dessert. I even had some wine with the meal. My companion was National Geographic Magazine and an essay on National Parks. Overall it was a great and relaxing meal.

Back in my room I called Jason with a phone card because the hotel is not set up to charge me for long distance (4-star?). The plan is that I will call him again after 3:30 tomorrow which is when he gets off from work. In the meantime he will talk with Julie to see if she wants to join us for dinner. Then he has a music group getting together about 8:00 tomorrow night. I forgot to ask if he is off work Wednesday, which I will do tomorrow. If so, we might visit then and I can delay my stay in the Smokies. We’ll see tomorrow. Now I will organize today’s photos I have already downloaded. This new camera creates larger image files as a 10.1 mega pixel camera, thus I am getting fewer photos on a card. I have already filled two 1-G cards! I got some CD’s this afternoon in case I run out of cards, I can back up my files on CDs and erase a card or two as needed. The fall color photos got a real boost today with many good shots!

Wow! It is already 8:20! I’ll do photos and my 3 games of FreeCell and go to bed – if I even have time to catalog all the 155 photos made today.



Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Another delightful day on the parkway! Just ate too much! There was a big breakfast buffet at Switzerland Inn and I had bacon & eggs for the first time in a long time with potatoes, grits, biscuit and part of a pancake. Too much! Then a granola bar in route and Taco Bell taco salad for lunch in Asheville and a grilled chicken salad at Cracker Barrel for dinner with Jason and Julie.

The parkway photography included lots of overlooks, 2 tunnels, wild turkeys, a coyote, flowers, color, Mt. Mitchell and the most beautiful red berries. I learned they are Mountain Ash and have produced more berries this year than in many, says a ranger. I got in the Hampton Inn by 1:30 and had a productive afternoon. Tonight I treated Jason and girlfriend Julie to dinner at Cracker Barrel where they both ate veggie plates and I had a big salad. We had a nice visit with not much revealed about them and their relationship. Jason shared some of his black & white photos with me and I my Brazil and Yellowstone albums plus a slide show on the laptop of some Blue Ridge Parkway images. He had a meeting soon after 8:00 with some music buddies maybe starting up a band again and Julie needed to get home. So we were out of there by 8:00 or a little after. I’m doing all the usual computer stuff tonight, except I organized the photos this afternoon. Maybe read now after checking email. Good night!   -Charlie


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

It is nearly 5:00 in the Hampton Inn, Gatlinburg and I’m about to go eat, but a quick summary of the day thus far: Left Asheville about 9:00 AM after calling Jason to say goodbye and eating breakfast, reading paper. It was foggy most of the way down so probably no fantastic photos, but we’ll see – sometimes fog can make for great images! It was mostly vista shots of mountains and some flowers at the overlooks. The big surprise was the upper and lower falls at “Graveyard Fields” with fall color around them. I hope some of the shots turn out good. When I entered the Great Smoky Mountains National Park I made a few images of the Mountain Farm Museum buildings and one of Oconaluftee River beside it. A little ways down the road was Mingus Mills which I shot but not immediately impressed. Again we’ll see what they look like after dinner when I go through them and catalog, etc.

There is almost no color in the park here and I put away the camera for the day and will be ready to head for Nashville in the morning. I have been wishing there was a bypass around Pigeon Forge! I’m tired of traveling and ready to get home now.



Friday, October 20, 2006

Manchester, TN – Bell Buckle Webb School Craft Show

In a Hampton Inn in Manchester, TN after having setup this afternoon for the Bell Buckle Webb School Craft Show tomorrow and Sunday. I feel really stupid. I left two of the walls for my tent and the sign and awning. Because they don’t easily fit in the tent bag I have kept them separate and just didn’t see them or think about them. Rather than drive back home I used my plastic drop cloths to finish enclosing the tent for the night and thus went ahead and setup all my photos. I’m ready to go in the morning!

had a great big meal tonight at the Cracker Barrel next door – roast beef with three veggies, cornbread and then carrot cake and decaf coffee for dessert. Hmmm good!

I enjoyed the Newshour with Jim Lehr and a special on the American language on PBS. Now I will read and/or listen to my Spanish tapes. Tomorrow will be a long, hard day and I hope profitable! Sunday is never as good for sales and there is about a 10% chance of rain Sunday, but tomorrow is supposed to be sunny and up to 70 degrees. So it should be a good day tomorrow. I will try to get to bed early and up early tomorrow and probably breakfast at Cracker Barrel.



Saturday, October 21, 2006

I sold about $115 worth of photos today which doesn’t even pay for my booth space rental. I’m pretty discouraged about this and all Arts & Crafts Fairs. This kind at least is just not for my kind of art it appears or at least quality photos is not what the people attending are looking for. I’m beginning to think that I need to put more energy into my website and other web sales of photos and maybe do some few selective shows like Franklin Main Street if not raining and the Centennial Park Live Along the Lake, the only two shows this year with much potential.

I also believe I need to rethink my approach at such shows. I think I have too many photos, too many choices, too many sizes and maybe need to simplify more like what Michelle Cribb does with hers.  Also maybe a new approach to my display.

I also need to work on getting some of my work in a gallery or two in Nashville. And that means preparing a portfolio to share or show around. This is the end of my show season for this year and I will do a lot of re-evaluating and planning for next year. Something needs to change.

Okay Gyro for lunch, good fish dinner tonight at Cracker Barrel and hopefully no rain tonight or tomorrow and better sales. I plan to run a Half Price Sale – will see if that works!


Sunday, October 22, 2006

They wouldn’t let me run a sale which is not like a professional artist and I agree. I still didn’t sell much, but got more than my booth rent finally. And no rain! I’m still debating with myself about whether to continue doing this whole arts & crafts fair thing. Right now my decision is to do fewer good ones. It is hard work and so far not very profitable. I would really like to beef up my web presence. We’ll see. Right now I’m tired.


Wednesday, November 15, 2006  –  Rochester, MN

I’ve been here since Monday afternoon and have had a great visit with Jerry along with getting some errands run and things fixed in his apartment. He is so appreciative and I’m so glad I came.

Tonight we opened up and shared with each other about our wife problems and divorce and he gave me all of his early family photos and canoe trip photos as the “keeper of family history.” I plan to produce an album of his canoe adventures adding some from our nostalgia visit on the headwaters of the Mississippi a year or two ago.  Hopefully it will be something that he will enjoy and Steve will appreciate getting upon his death. I might even make copies for Bonnie and myself of course. I guess I could go ahead and make a copy for Steve now. We’ll see.

It appears that he is ready to give up if something great doesn’t happen with this third round of a new experimental chemo treatment. He seems to think this is his last winter, last year, etc.

I have been trying to take him out to eat but tonight he insisted on preparing a meal that was always his favorite that Mom prepared. It was a delicious roast with potatoes, carrots, green beans. Then we talked until about 9:15 and I think we are both tired and sleepy. Tomorrow will be my last day here with a Friday morning flight.

Again, I am glad I came.



December 2006 – Concerning Arts & Crafts Fairs



(written in Rochester, MN hotel while visiting Jerry)

  1. Pro Panels seems to be the best even though Armstrong has a pretty good competition. I will study both some more and make a decision. Maybe look for some testimonies to help me finalize my decision.
  2. Call to see if they will send a sample swatch of the green carpet which may be the way I will go. If I don’t like the green, then I will probably go black.
  3. Study the possible designs again, but I think the basic three walls for hanging photos with a desk in front and a pedestal in back corner for my laptop to do a slide show is the way I will go. If I can get matching carpet, I will build my own bins for presenting prints for sale and maybe include their one bin for my large prints. Also consider the Armstrong bins which are pretty good it appears.
  4. Draw a diagram with measurements.
  5. Check on top quality tents and see if any could match the green carpet.
  6. Check prices for trailers before considering the Atlanta one.
  7. Design a new logo, card, stationery, banner, and most of all a brochure presenting my work and the channels of purchase.
  8. Maybe most important of all, redesign and improve my Café Press site!
  9. Continue to add to iStockphoto.com!
  10. Begin creating some still life shots of natural items like fruit, veggies.



My 2006 Guatemala Adventure

Title link is to the PHOTO GALLERY for this 11-day adventure


December 10, 2006 – Guatemala City, Guatemala

Arrived on time in Guatemala City and settled into hotel for a short night. Excited about tomorrow.

December 11, 2006 – El Peten & Chiminos Island Lodge

A super day en-route to Chiminos Island Lodge!  (link to lodge website)

Up at 4 AM, shuttle bus at 5:05, TACA flight at 6:30, and arrived in Flores at 7:30 AM. Transportation was provided in a little Chevy hatch-back to Sayaxche (about an hour drive) where I met my boat guide for the next 3 days, Herman. Quiet, very polite, very knowledgeable of the Mayan ruins and moderately good with his English.

We went by boat first to Ceibal ruins (1 hour by boat) which was awesome as my first ever Mayan City to see. You arrive at this very small boat dock in the middle of the jungle with adventurous-looking stone steps winding up the hill around great trees and jungle under-growth. At the top of the hill we went in multiple directions to the astronomer’s platform, dozens of stelae, a sacrifice stone with jaguar head on it and then to the Templo Ceremonial (what Herman called it) which was impressive and and surrounded by stelae. That is all they have unearthed and restored thus far. If they do it all, the place will be huge and take half a day to see, at least. We saw the shape of the largest temple under dirt, trees and undergrowth. It dwarfs the one little temple now restored.

After less than an hour boat trip back to Sayaxche, we got my luggage and headed for Chiminos Island and lodge, which took another hour with several slow-downs for me to photograph birds. The ones I recognized were Cormorants and Great Egrets. Others I did not know.

When I checked in, Norma didn’t have the room ready, so I talked with Herman the best we could with neither knowing the other’s language well! Then I photographed some flowers and looked around the little island some until they announced that my room was ready. Norma doesn’t know English either, so wow! We barely communicated.

I’m resting now at about 3 PM in the perfect eco-lodge bungalow overlooking the lake and surrounded by jungle and insects and the sounds of birds in the distance plus a few monkeys earlier.

Herman kept telling me to be on the lake or dock at 5 PM to see the flocks of birds that will fly over.

I didn’t sleep much at all last night with the CPAP machine, so who knows what will happen tonight without it. We have electricity for only 2 hours from 6-8 PM. But I am tired. We walked a lot at Ceibal and climbed a hill. Iff’m dozing off now, so there is hope for sleep.


Wow! What an evening! In the late afternoon a party of 3 came in to keep me from being the only guest here tonight. I didn’t know until just before dinner that the party of 3 was the Head Archaeologist of Aguateca Ruins that I’m visiting tomorrow. He is in charge of restoring and researching all of Aguateca, a hilltop Mayan City. Now I will get to see it tomorrow with the #1 expert on these particular ruins. He brought his teen daughter and a teen nephew to see his work.

At dinner I learned that Eric got his Master’s in Archaeology from Vanderbilt University in Nashville (what a small world!) and this teen daughter was born while he was there! I don’t know why God keeps blessing me with these little “extras” in life, but it sure is fun!   🙂

So I am more excited about the visit of Aguateca tomorrow and I even learned a little about it at dinner which was super good, like a 5-star restaurant!

During the meal I asked him how accurate the new Mel Gibson movie, Apocalypto was and of course he was a little guarded in his answer, saying that it was entertainment and not history, but that much of it was pretty true to what they now know.

I’m tired and hope to sleep well tonight!


December 12, 2006 – Chiminos Island Lodge, Guatemala


About to go to breakfast. I had lots of loud howler monkeys all night and a lot of birds singing now. I seemed to have slept in little short snatches all night. Feel okay right now.

12:30 PM

A good visit to Aguateca ruins with a short boat ride and a long walk and climb uphill to the old Mayan city. Once you leave the boat you must walk through a narrow, large, deep crack in the rock mountain single file, uphill to the top as the only entrance to the city on the mountain top. This made it well-protected from any enemies who might try to attack. The narrow canyon or “crack” in the mountain was spectacular to see and a challenge for some to climb. The city itself and the vistas from it were also spectacular to see! In many ways it was more interesting than Ceibal and of course I have yet to see the larger Tikal, but Aguateca, like Chiminos Island, will always be remembered as unique!

Eric and family came in after us and he was proud to show off some of his work of beginning excavation, especially some of the best preserved Stelae found anywhere. He share a little of the technical stuff and all was intriguing! Herman was a good guide, but to have the head archaeologist here was really special!

Among the jumble of rocks I found a flat one with a round hole in the center. I felt like an archaeologist discovering an artifact, which I gave to Eric. I hope some of my photos are good enough to show the feel of an ancient city being excavated in Central America!

Another fun incident was that along with the ruins I tried to photograph a monkey in one of the trees above us and when I did, he threw a nut at me! Really! Like he was saying to me, “Go away and leave me alone!”   🙂

After returning to Chiminos Island Lodge, I started to explore the few ruins of the small Mayan settlement or royalty home that was there, including some stone ruins of the main building on a hill, a ball court, and some small stelae. The rustic jungle eco-lodge becomes even more special when you realize it is in the midst of a Mayan ruins that they know very little about. I photographed some of it, even if not as impressive as Aguateca!

I rested a bit before going to lunch which was delicious! A beefsteak with carrots, potatoes, bread and some tropical fruit for desert, I think maybe it was what I have call paw paw in the past, but not sure. And three people from France checked in so again I am not alone here tonight, my second and last night here.

6:15 PM

I’m basically waiting for dinner to be served which I assume will be about 7 to 7:39 like last night. I’m sitting in my room, having just finished reading the English portions of a large bound collection of research papers and magazine article on Chiminos Island, Aguateca and Dos Pilas, the other Mayan City nearby which was not on my schedule this trip. All is very interesting, especially the articles by Vanderbilt Professor Arthur Demarest, who earlier was a key archaeologist here along with the newer Eric I met last night. It seems that Vanderbilt University Archaeology Department specialized in Mayan ruins. Being from Nashville now, that gives me a special connection to all of the Mayan ruins here and in nearby Mexico!   🙂

I’m now reading about Tikal from my 2 travel guides in anticipation of being there tomorrow. I’m suppose to leave here at about 8 AM tomorrow by boat again to Sayaxche where my driver will meet me and drive me to the Zip Line outside Tikal through the jungle canopy before checking in at Tikal’s Jaguar Inn.

Overall I have been pretty relaxed with it being as much a vacation as a photo trip. So far there are no great images it seems, but I have plenty of time. The amount of wildlife has been minimal and a little disappointiing. So far not as good as the Brazilian Amazon, but this lodge is better than Mamiraua’s Uacari Lodge, especially with the food which has been like a 5-star restaurant here at Chiminos! Superb!

Well, I’m going to put on long pants or khakis and a clean shirt and go to dinner early, reading over there while I wait.


Good dinner again! Fish, veggies, soup, and pudding desert. It is only 8:30, so I will try reading awhile. This first phase of my trip has been good. The neatest thing was having the archaeologist here yesterday. Photos are only so so. Wishing I had a tripod sometimes for sharper pictures, but a pain to carry around! I just realized that with the power on I can play with my photos on the computer, so I believe I will while I can. Buenas noches


December 13, 2006 – Tikal, Guatemala

Slept well the first 4 hours and then off and on to 6:45 AM for 8 hours of rest even if not all sleep. Another big breakfast of eggs with beans & rice, bread, coffee, jelly and pineapple juice. I was off by 8:15 with Herman in the boat he called a “launcha” for a one hour trip to the colorful town of Sayaxche and then an hour an a half car drive to Tikal.

I got her about 11:30 to find out I can’t check in until 2:00 PM. I would have arrived later  with the planned canopy tour on a zip line near the entrance to Tikal Park, BUT . . . it was raining hard and I thus postponed it with the staff until Friday.

It is still raining and I am stuck in the Jaguar Inn Restaurant waiting for my room or bungalow to be ready and eating an early lunch, tho it is now 12 noon, so really not that early!  🙂   I’m having tostados and guacamole with a pineapple bedida con leche. I thought at first I was getting a milkshake like back home, but with little electricity they cannot have ice cream, so it is just pineapple juice and milk. But I like to try new things! Ahhhh! My food and drink was just delivered and it is delicious! I will now read about Tikal and take my time with this light lunch.


December 14, 2006 – Tikal National Park, Guatemala

Yesterday afternoon was touch! After finally getting checked into my room at Jaguar Inn I decided to walk up into the ruins on my own for a preview of my big tour tomorrow. It was a 30 minute walk to just the entrance of the huge old city of Tikal. I was hoping for a sunset view through old Mayan buildings.

Well, the light rain turned into a downpour, my little collapsible umbrella broke, I slipped in the mud twice and my tailbone still hurts! I was soaking wet and my camera bag too! I was kicking myself for not bringing the rain jacket to go over my camera backpack! I came back to Jaguar Inn miserable!

It rained through dinner and all night and of course none of my wet items are dry yet. I did have a great dinner last night and got some photos sorted before the power went off at 9 PM.

It is 7:20 AM now and I just ordered granola for breakfast. I go up to the larger lodge at 8:30 AM for a guided tour of the Tikal ruins. I’m hoping for sun or at least minimal rain. I did buy a new umbrella last night and will take my gore-tex rain jacket today!    🙂

This tour includes a box lunch and will take most of the day! This is a huge city! The archaeologists are working on the Court of 7 Temples now. It is neat to see them working – well, their apparatus and efforts – they were not actually working in the rain yesterday afternoon.

There are other solo travelers on this tour besides me, all young, including one single girl/woman. At breakfast I over-heard two young guys comparing notes of their adventures and getting directions from an employee to some off-the-beaten-path kind of place that adventurers like to explore.

This Jaguar Inn is the cheaper lodge of the two in the park and the grounds are filled with tents and there is a pavilion with hammocks for even cheaper housing. Jaguar Inn is the kind of place you expect to see a lot of world-traveling college students. It has that wild, “campy” feel, an eco-camp kind of place in the jungle for cheap lodging, though my “bungalow” is pricey compared to the campers and of course I am probably the oldest person here. Most older adults are in the expensive big hotel up the road closer to the city ruins. I like the youthful, campy atmosphere and being so close to the largest of all Mayan cities. It is different from Chiminos Island that did not have the young people or camping, though they might allow it there – I don’t know.

Well, I’m finishing a second cup of coffee and then to the room before walking to the “Jungle Lodge.”


Friday, December 15, 2006 – Jaguar Inn, Tikal, Guatemala

It is after 8 PM and I’m trying to get packed and ready to go at 5:50 AM tomorrow morning before the power goes off at 9 PM tonight.

Yesterday was a great day with the excellent all-day tour of the city! Today was also an excellent day, starting with a morning bird-watching hike with an excellent guide! We saw or heard 20 birds plus other wildlife including the rodent called Agouti, lots of Coatis and a few monkeys. I cut the birding walk short because my bruised tailbone was hurting plus my left leg for some reason.

This afternoon I did the postponed “Canopy Tour” which is just a zip line through the tree tops, a real rush and a neat view of the canopy of the forest but not much wildlife (too noisy), though we did see one toucan at a distance, even with the noise.

The bill is paid and I should be ready to go when the driver gets here at 5:50 AM in the morning. The second half of my adventure will be easier I expect.


December 18, 2006 – JC & Lilliana’s House, Guatemala City, Guatemala

Wow! Time has flown and me not writing! A quick review of the last two days:


I overslept as I accidentally turned off the alarm sometime before it was to ring. I was 20 minutes late leaving but still made the plane okay from Flores to Guatemala City.

I visited with J.C. and Lilliana and they showed me around Guatemala City plus we ate three great meals at their house! Latin American people are so welcoming and hospitable! Including their maid and cook!


We had a long beautiful day driving to and around Lake Atitlan which Aldous Huxley called “the most beautiful lake in the world.” And I tend to agree. I got several beautiful photos of the lake while there. It was a perfect weather day with blue skies and white fluffy clouds. We had a delicious breakfast on our way to the lake and a gourmet lunch at a classy hotel on the lake! Muy bueno! Candy, Lilliana’s sister, went with us and I made lots of photos!  A perfect day!

TODAY – December 18, 2006

It was a shorter, easier day going to Antigua, the old colonial capitol of Guatemala. It is old, historical, arty, picturesque and with a lot of architectural interest. Muchos fotos again and the best meal yet at a hotel-restaurant in an old monastery. I’m eating too well! Fantástico! It was a short drive there and back, just the three of us. And it is now another one of my favorite places!

I forgot to say about last night, that one of Lilliana’s sisters and her 2 children stopped by. She is a single mother with a 10 year old boy, Pablo, who loves animals. I gave him my card and told him he could go to my website gallery someday and see my wildlife photos. He immediately went to his Aunt Lilliana’s computer and looked at them and I then showed him my Yellowstone photos. He has a teenage older sister.

Tonight I’m going to watch Monday Night Football with J.C. (football not my favorite thing, but I like being with J.C.)


Tuesday, December 19, 2006 – Guatemala City


Well, last night I was working on my photos during the game and JC brought in his poetry which I had shown an interest in the night before. So we ended up turning the TV off and reading poetry for 2 or more hours. It is 8:10 AM this morning and they are not up yet. And oh yeah, JC’s poetry was written over the years and he has one long one about the Mayan people. Quite interesting! He has tried to be published and got no interest (reminding me of Jerry and his rejection by publishers).

I went to the kitchen at first this morning but don’t know how to order much in Spanish and decided to wait on JC & Lilliana. But now I think I will go down for a cup of “Café Negro” at least, one thing I know in Spanish! “Black coffee. ”

Well, I did and the cook is making coffee now and the canary is singing. This big ol’ Spanish style house is beautiful with all tile floors, many windows, tropical plants and flowers outside and in with Poinsettia bushes growing in the yeards here and servants to wait on you and the most gracious hosts in Lilliana & JC and Candy too! This has been a great vacation just being in their house. The father of Lilliana & Candy still lives here with them though he has had multiple strokes, but still responds to some conversation. I have enjoyed engaging him through the interpreters.

Well I got a “plato de fruta” and Juanita gave me the Spanish words for each:

  • Watermelon = Sandia
  • Papaya = Papaya
  • Cantelope = Melón
  • Pineapple = Piña   (which I had learned at Tikal)

I actually knew all of that except the word for watermelon. If I finish before they come downstairs, I will go to the upstairs TV Room and work on my photos. I will just eat and relax now.


We went to the Guatemala City Zoo this afternoon after a traditional Guatemalan meal called the same word as “cook” in Spanish. A soup broth over rice with many different kinds of vegetables and beef.

La Aurora Zoo  in Guatemala City is a big and very nice zoo. The only one I’ve seen bigger or better in Latin America is the huge Mexico City Zoo. The above link is to the zoo’s website or you can see my photos of the zoo.  We took my young cousins Christy and Pablo and really had fun, plus me getting some okay photos!

Tonight’s meal was black bean soup and tostado with guacamole. The cousins were here all evening as was Roberto, Candy’s boyfriend.

After dinner I was torn between Pablo and JC for my time. I gave Pablo a CD with the zoo photos from today. And my showing an interest in JC’s writings has really encouraged him I think or at least he has said so.

I have really been immersed in the Guatemalan culture by staying here 5 nights. It has been fun to see the multi-generational family members interact, share, talk and enjoy one another. Tonight we had 10 people for dinner counting the 2 servants. The love, laughter, joy, sharing and good manners or kindnesses has been refreshing and encouraging to me.

Nothing planned for tomorrow except eating at their local chicken franchise restaurant and me doing a slide show of my El Peten Trip. I’m still working on that! Buen provecho and now buenas noches!   🙂


Wednesday, December 20, 2006 – Guatemala City

It is a little after 5 PM and I haven’t left the house today. The slide show is ready. I ate at Pollo Campera for lunch, a Guatemalan KFC type restaurant and have visited with JC off and on today. The compound is locked, so I’m waiting on him to maybe go ao a little walk in the neighborhood (near downtown) in a few minutes. The kids are coming over for dinner and the slide show tonight. I called to reconfirm my flights which are both at different times than originally scheduled. I won’t get home until 10:15 PM tomorrow night which is later than originally planned. I will get to the airport here 3 hours before my scheduled flight at their suggestion, which will be at noon tomorrow. I’m winding down now. The adventure is nearly over. And the days here have been as much an adventure as trekking through El Peten!


Thursday, December 21, 2006 – Guatemala City to Nashville

Last morning, sitting at dining room table drinking Mango juice with my pills and wondering how I can order bacon & eggs in Spanish. I know the word for eggs but not for bacon. Hmmm. I may go upstairs and get one of the books with a list of foods translated. I did and can now order eggs & ham. Then Candy is up and told me that bacon is “el tocino.”

Now Candy has Juanita preparing Bacon & Onion Omelet for me! Plus she is making “mosh” from scratch, not the instant oatmeal.

This morning I woke up realizing that I had not told JC about how he could self-publish his own books of poetry on CafePress.com or several other online publishing sources. So I am excited about showing him on the computer. And I would even be willing to publish his poetry for him through my shop. I’m not sure what his interes will be in any of this – we will see.

I was asked to send my photo of Juanita to: J.C. Doggett, 34 Calle 11-26, Zona  11, Las Charcas, Guatemala City, Guatemala.


It is about 2:12 PM at the airport where I have been since about 12 noon. It took an hour to get to the gates and then I shopped and bought another nativity scene. I also had a giant cookie with coffee and have been reading my Tikal guide book. I hope to put together some info with my photos on a web page separate from my gallery. There are several college-aged young adults traveling for Christmas I assume and others waiting here are possibly “going home” for Christmas. It is at this time of year that I am sometimes tempted to be a little depressed not having much family and as usual, no plans to be with either Jason, Jerry or Bonnie at Christmas. But I am thankful for the time with JC and Lilliana and will call Jason, Jerry, and Bonnie over the weekend.

And after being surrounded by people this week it will actually be relaxing for me to be alone again! It is possible that I will have my Guatemala Gallery made and an album ordered by the day or two after Christmas. Then on to another project!


I’m sitting next to a really nice High School Senior who is the son of a Wycliff Translator in The Gambia! We have been talking for one and a half hours – very enjoyable! His parents are now in Florida and his Mom has cancer. He needs someone to talk to and we have several things in common. “Thank you God for this little experience!”  Now I’m going to the bathroom.


I checked phone messages and now I’m going to bed. VERY TIRED! But this was a great trip!






I wrote the above while in the hotel in Rochester, MN last week. Below is the collection of little notes I wrote myself during slow times at the Christmas Village before going to Minnesota. The above was a summary in my memory. Below is what I wrote over a two-day period little bits at a time when nothing to do.


  1. A lady bought 3 cards and told me she gets a lot of things, including my work, on Café Press. She thanked me for my good work! Just what I needed after 2 hours with no sales. Another lady bought the 11×14 Rocky Point photo with compliments. I will print more tonight! The first evening has been a little slow, but encouraging with these two compliments and a good reminder to work on the Café Press shop.
  2. So a separate note to WORK ON CAFÉ PRESS SHOP! Update it with better images and new products. Add a black t-shirt and all of my popular images.
  3. Teresa Walters just came by who was fun to visit with, then Gail Oldham, John Oldham’s wife.
  4. “Pro Panels” is the brand name of the nice cloth or carpet-covered display panels which the only other photographer I have seen yet is using. He is Michael Cothran. I may decide next year to go all out and get Pro Panels and a high-quality tent, maybe even a 10×20. Well, I may stay with 10×10 which seems to be adequate for most of the other photographers. It is just that the extra space gives room for several customers with plenty of walking around room, etc. Plus I could display more. We will see!
  5. I learned that Michael gets most of his supplies for mounting his photos from “Coda” which I will check on. He gets his mounting boards from there which are a foam core board a little different from Chromatic’s “Gator Board” which I guess is just another brand. He glues them to the boards I think he said rather than a peel-off board like I once got from the art store. He also got a laminator and laminates the front of his photos before he mounts them to the boards. Whew! I’m not sure I’m ready for all of that! He said he used to take them to Chromatics but that they have no guarantee and he had one ruined once. If I go the mounting board route, I will probably just let Chromatics do the laminating, and for large prints, I will let them do everything and pass the cost on to the customer who buys a large one, though few buy the large ones and that is what Michael said too.
  6. Michael also prints his mid-sized and smaller prints with a border and his signature in the border, which I might experiment with. Most of his large ones are borderless with a couple of exceptions. He also has some flowers where some of the flowers are sticking outside the border. An interesting and contemporary touch.
  7. He makes his own display bins and said that black carpet is all the same. What he got at the carpet store matched what is on the Pro Panels. Since the bins they offer aren’t too great, I will probably do the same thing and make a carpeted bench to sit them on which is what he does.
  8. Someone recommended that I take my portfolio to “Wood Thrush” shop in Westgate Shopping Center on highway 100 just past the Y. They sell nature photos there. I do need to try to get in several shops like that!


INVESTMENT – If I am going to be serious about selling photos, I need to consider several investments that hopefully will pay off in the long run. Some possibilities I think of now are:

  1. TIME contacting galleries, shops, and other venues for my images. This requires having sample prints and portfolios to show.
  2. I need at least one nice PORTFOLIO and maybe multiple ones with series or themes. I also need to evaluate whether better to use traditional portfolios with actual photos I print or a nice book from “MyPublisher.com” I am thinking the latter is best because I can order additional copies if a shop wants to keep a portfolio or even sell from it like The Arts Company does with Joe Fizer.
  3. I must UPGRADE CAFEPRESS shop as soon as possible. I am already having regular sales and with better products and promotion, it could be a real money-maker! It is a much higher priority than iStockphoto and maybe anything else right now! I need to 1) Use their marketing suggestions, 2) Use their newsletter system, 3) Increase my keywords for searches, 4) Advertise on my own website more and maybe other places, 5) Create a brochure promoting my CafePress products as my shows and other places & mail it, 6) Redesign the CafePress web page to be more shopper-friendly and encourage buying
  4. A NEW TENT is another must! A high quality one that won’t blow over and looks really nice and sturdy. I would like 20 ft. but think 10 ft. is more practical now. Must have before spring.
  5. Invest in PRO PANELS before spring.
  6. Get panels first, then buy matching carpet and build bins and boxes for them to sit on.
  7. Make a decision on going to GATOR BOARD or something similar and forget the mats. That will be a major shift for me.
  8. Develop A PROFESSIONAL IMAGE and a photo LOOK so that people will say “That’s a Charlie Doggett photo!” I’m not sure what that image or “look” is yet, but I need to be distinctive from other photographers. One possibility is the close-ups of animal faces like the birds I have, insects like the dragonfly or waterfalls which I favor. I could even do several series of photos, like barns, bridges, birds, butterflies, etc. Think about it!
  9. CONSIDER HIRING A DESIGNER OR MARKETING EXPERT to help me with logo, presentation, and sales promotion.
  10. INCORPORATE LOGO, color, image in everything I do like a banner, brochure, business card, stationery, etc. Part of #8 might be to do only nature or only certain kinds of nature photos or some DISTINCTIVE FOCUS to develop my identity and have people returning to me for a particular kind of photos.
  11. Consider in my building, a STAIR STEPPED SET OF BINS, one over another in two or three sizes.
  12. Get a SECOND CARD RACK, the one from Photographer’s Edge, and have two at art shows. (Consider this carefully. There are pros & cons.)
  13. Continue keeping RECORDS OF BEST-SELLERS and for art shows keep extra stock of all of these in every size.
  14. Check on FLOOD LIGHTS for booth or tent. Christmas Village provided them and it really made a difference. I need to make sure they are the kind that stick into the holes on the top of the Pro Panels.
  15. Consider multiple ways to have A HELPER at my shows, like hiring a teen or young photographer. Jason Young said he is interested, but he primarily wants to sell his photos and I need to make a decision on how much space to give him, etc. Consider using one panel and labeling it my “Guest Artist” panel with his or whoever’s name on a sign that matches mine. Also make a prints bin to match mine for that guest artist to use.
  16. A CREDIT CARD SYSTEM is a must if I am serious. Another investment, but I can use it on the web and at all shows plus at home for local sales, telephone, and maybe email or postal mail sales.
  17. AN ALL-TENNESSEE PORTFOLIO or that could even be my new image for shows and maybe websites, or maybe as one of my series. I want to also make all of the crafts fairs in state parks and regularly send photos to Tennessee Conservationist It is tempting to make it my primary focus or only focus and become known for that or my state park photos. Oh, so much to think about and consider!
  18. In addition to a Café Press brochure, consider a simple “RACK CARD” to put in the greeting card rack explaining very simply how to order my prints and products.
  19. Think of a UNIQUE ITEM FOR EACH SHOW that speaks to that particular show and draws attention to my booth. Some ideas: a Christmas ornament for the Christmas Village or maybe all fall shows, something about spring or summer for those seasons, use of regional photos like at Reelfoot or South Cumberland, change the magnets for these regions, maybe a foam-mounted cut-out photo like a cut-out of a big fall leaf, Reelfoot tree photo, mountains photo with top cut along the mountains, or around buildings, etc. Maybe I could do this with Exacto-knife? Ask at art shop.
  20. A PROMO SLOGAN is needed for those people who say “My walls are already filled with pictures.” Something like, but better than, “Every wall needs a fresh look from time to time.”
    • Wildlife Faces, Wild Faces
    • Forest Details, Nature Details, Nature Intimates (Intimacy)
    • Water
    • Sky
    • Mountains
    • Nature Love
    • Earth Photos, Earth Art, Earth Images
    • Nature quotation as series title
  22. A NATURE QUOTATION like from Ansel Adams, etc. as my photo theme or exhibit theme with even a banner across back of tent or above panels with the quote. It needs to be short and really good for impact.
  23. RADICAL CHANGE: like going to all new images with very high resolution and perfect clarity, every shot taken on tripod, etc.
  24. Try a TIE-IN or RELATIONSHIP with some organization I belong to like the Sierra Club, Nashville Zoo, etc. Or on my signage list my memberships, maybe.
  25. ADD CHRISTMAS bows to the large hanging photos at the Christmas Village and try to add a Christmas image, like photo of a Christmas tree, nativities, sparkly ball hanging on a tree, etc. And maybe even a show banner promoting photo gifts for Christmas in red & green colors, etc.
  26. Consider PROMOTIONAL BANNERS for other shows appropriate for that show.
  27. Get the PROSHOW GOLD MOVIE MAKER SOFTWARE and have different movies/slide shows of my images running on a laptop at all my shows.
  28. Have a shelf in my display with PORTFOLIOS from which people can ORDER THE IMAGE THEY WANT
  29. Or another approach would be to print a CATALOG OF AVAILABLE IMAGES from which people can order.




No journals found for 2007 year





January 1, 2008 – “New Year’s Resolutions”

  1. WALK at least 1 mile every day! and . . .
  2. BIKE at least twice a week (can sub for walk)
  3. WATER as drink with all meals (no sodas & no caffeine)
  4. DESSERTS: None in restaurants & 1 light one at home per day
  5. PHOTOS: Minimum of 1 shot each day (document daily favorites)
  6. READ at least 1 book per month that I enjoy (don’t like, get another!)
  7. ART SHOWS: Never two weeks in a row – make a choice! And try to hire someone at each show to do the lifting for both set-up and take-down


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Yesterday was a “weather day” driving from Nashville to Rockford, IL on my way to be with Jerry in Rochester, MN.  I breezed by a winter storm of freezing rain, sleet and snow in southern Illinois just before it hit hard and while the radio was announcing school closings. The further north I drove the patches of snow got larger until eventually everything was white by La Salle and there were flurries and snow showers off and on, some blowing in the wind like little blizzards. I kept wondering what I’m in for.

Good dinner at Applebee’s and restful night.

There was 2 to 6 inches of snow here and in southern Wisconsin I’m about to drive through, so again there is a little feeling of the unknown. But up here they usually clear the roads pretty quickly.  Well, I’m off!


WOW! If only I had known! By 9:30 I was aware of the snow falling and a few icy spots on the highway but I was truckin’ on like everyone else when I hit an icy spot and my pickup spun out of control. The truck slid off the road and rolled down the embankment into the medium strip ditch. It  landed on the driver’s side. My right hand was bloody but I seemed to be alright otherwise. The passenger door was my ceiling and it would not open when I tried. I have heard of wrecked cars exploding, so my first instinct was to get out. The window did roll down (or over) and as I stood up and looked out two men were walking down the embankment to check on me.

One saw my bloody hand and went back to his car to get a first aid kit. By the time he got back down the embankment the highway patrol and ambulance had arrived and took over. They insisted I be taken to the emergency room of the nearby village of Edgerton, Wisconsin. I got 4 stitches and lots of paperwork. It was 12:30 before I got out of the hospital.

I had called Jerry to tell him I would be delayed and was trying to find a rental car. Enterprise of Janesville was the only one that would pick me up but they were out of cars. I got on the list for one that would be returned this evening. The ER person called the one taxi in Edgerton which took me to the one chain motel, Comfort Inn. The one wrecker service in town, Denny’s, finally got my car and his wife brought my luggage to me at the motel! I just love small towns!

When Enterprise said it would be after dark before they could pick me up, I decided to wait until tomorrow morning. I ordered Pizza and Tom Crowe called me from church just to check on me at my brother’s house he thought. So I told him the story. Now get this! At about 9:30 they were praying in their staff meeting and prayed for me and Jerry! It is not the first accident I have survived because of prayer.

I talked to Jerry again who told Bonnie and she called me. I finally finished most of my pizza and watched Animal Planet and part of a Obama speech as I relished in his three wins in today’s primaries. I’m tired and beginning to feel sore. I’m going to bed. I will shower first.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I’m not as sore this AM as expected. Had breakfast and waiting on Enterprise  Rent Car to pick me up. Will get car, come back here for luggage and clean out car at towing service before heading for Rochester. It is 0 degrees cold but sunny. So I expect a good trip, but will drive slower today!


Road was dry and clear with no snow today. Though cold in the single digits, it was an easy drive compared to yesterday. Having become overly cautious maybe, I got a all-wheel drive Jeep expecting more snow experiences while here. It was only a 4-hour drive from Edgerton, WI to Rochester, MN and even started out with a little sunshine.

I got here about 2:30 after a stop by HyVee for bandage material. After visiting, I did a little grocery shopping and we had supper. Jerry is still doing most everything for himself as in making his own sandwich for dinner.  We saw part of a TV movie and talked and he got two phone calls. I’ve built my nest and will go to bed soon, maybe reading a little first. He wants me to plan on leaving some most days for lunch, computer use, etc. so he can have alone time or “woods time” as he called it. Okay. My service to him now will be mostly outside the room like mail, laundry, trash, etc. I’m anxious to help with everything and will have to just cool it for awhile. He showed me the medical report of two weeks ago and it doesn’t sound like he will last long at all, yet he seems so alive and active right now. I must learn to listen and respond to him as he wishes.



He gave me a spiral notebook for taking notes and whatever. On Feb. 13th He gave me the following instructions :

  1. Never call 911. If any emergency with him, sickness, accident or death, call the Hospice at 292-1170
  2. He says he doesn’t need someone here all the time. He desires to be alone some; his “woods time” he said. There is to be a nurses aide who can relieve me when I leave, but he doesn’t want that. So just let her clean or do something, but don’t call her every time I leave.
  3. Susan Lack in the building is always wanting to help he says, but he doesn’t want her help. He feels she is driving him crazy. He thinks she has another agenda: her prayer group which is evangelical and after Jerry.
  4. He now takes morphine 3X a day. He has a large dose at 7:00 AM and at bedtime with a smaller dose at about 3:00 PM so it doesn’t put him to sleep. He says he feels his worst at 7:00 AM but starts feeling better around 10:00 AM or by 11:00AM. At 7:00 AM he takes meds, pees, and goes back to bed. He also explained that his shower is extremely painful and is done in afternoon or evening after dinner. (He ended up only taking about 3 or 4 showers the rest of his life.)
  5. He announced that the nurse’s aide, Karen Harris, was to come today to get acquainted but will now do that tomorrow. He reminded me that the nurse is Kathy Klein Schmidt and the volunteer friend is Dianna. Deanne is Dr. Inword’s nurse and speaks for him and has the last word, but works with Kathy.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

I went to the Double Click Coffee House this morning after breakfast to check my mail and of course had to drink a cup of coffee. That is probably where I will check email each day. I also did more shopping, some cleaning, laundry and met the new Aide, Karen Harris, and we learned what her roles will be as we need them.

Jerry and I watched The News Hour after dinner which I cooked (Hamburger Helper) and then later we watched “The Clinton 12” documentary on PBS.

Jerry is hurting a lot except when knocked out with a lot of Morphine. “Oh me, Oh!” is what he says as he moans with the pain. I’ve heard it what seems like a hundred times today. There is nothing I can do.

And I also had nachos for lunch at Taco Johns today.


Friday, February 15, 2008

We are getting into some routines, but then every day is different. Because his pain has been increasing, the doctor has increased the amount of morphine he takes three times a day as pills. Plus he has a “breakthrough” med for the particularly painful times like right after a shower. It is 1 ml of liquid morphine that is immediate acting. I mixed it with 30 ml of orange juice tonight but he said it still tastes terrible. So tomorrow I’m getting him some grapefruit juice which he thinks will hide the medicine better because it has such a strong and tart taste. We’ll see.

I have been going out to coffee house in the mornings to check email, but he is still asleep most of that time. So it was not giving him much alone time or “woods time” by himself. So today I left again in the afternoon for about 3 hours with a WiFi time, then a big lunch at Perkins and a stop by HyVee Supermarket. I think he liked that better. I may just do my email visit in the afternoon from now on.

Steve called during supper tonight and Bonnie after supper. Jerry pulled out his old 13” TV for me to have in the living room where I stay so I can watch The News Hour. He does not like to watch any news anymore. He says it is too depressing. I have watched a few other shows with him on his bigger TV in his room. But even with all those cable channels he has, there is just not much either of us care for. Last night we watched part of a global warming documentary on the National Geographic Channel for example. And we watched “The Clinton 12” documentary about Clinton, TN desegregation. We just talked a little before he went to bed at about 9:15 tonight.

I got 600 minutes added to my phone today, so I think I’m covered for a good while. I wrote Ron Castle about some of my South Cumberland photos I posted for him to use on the Friends website and newsletter. I also wrote Paula Barnes saying I cannot be at photo club to promote the art show and she is going to ask Robbie Hunter to do it. I will write Robbie tonight and send it tomorrow. Whew! I’m staying busy!

Going to read a little more in C.S. Lewis’ The Problem of Pain before going to bed.  I also work crossword puzzles, play Free Cell and clean up a little more each day in Jerry’s apartment.


Monday, February 18, 2008

Busy with chores and shopping Saturday & Sunday. I bought a new shower curtain yesterday for Jerry and installed it this morning with my shower + cleaned the shower stall.

This morning I got everything worked out on the car. State Farm chose to total it and will pay me a little more than $10,000 for it, but I owe $6,000, meaning I will have only $4,000 + for a down payment. During my computer time at the internet café I checked out the Toyota possibilities. I would like a Corolla, but will probably go Yaris just because of the price. It is the smallest, a hatchback for about $12,000. Boy! I just keep getting deeper in debt!

Though not a final decision yet, but if I get a sedan instead of a truck I will probably quit doing arts & crafts shows. Just can’t really do it without a truck. I will try to sell my craft fair stuff, including the trailer. That will help a little + cut down on monthly rent for trailer space. And if BlackLion doesn’t start doing better I may even pull out of there. (This is already my last month at Gas Lamp.) $350 a month rent is high, especially when not selling that much! Decisions, Decisions!

My food is here at Applebee’s, so turning off the laptop and eating now!

Back at Jerry’s and did a little bit of cleaning. I’m planning to cook pancakes and bacon for dinner tonight. I’m still debating with myself about what kind of car to get. Financially, I should get the smallest, cheapest. A little bigger sedan would be safer and I could haul more stuff & people. I will study them some more again tomorrow at the internet café. I also must schedule my plane trip back to Nashville the 28th  (there a day or two and return). So much to do, but then I seem to thrive on solving problems and being busy. Oh my!

I think I will read about an hour before fixing dinner. But first, I may start a comparison chart on the Yaris and Corolla to help me decide. I’ll do that in Excel.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Today I started using the notebook to keep a record of Jerry’s meds and other things that happen.



7:20 AM Three different pills with applesauce, then he went back to bed
12:40 PM He had nose bleed after shaving and was in a lot of pain
1:45 PM Ate maybe half a granola bar
2:30 PM Kathy called saying her visit would be delayed to maybe 3:30
3:30 PM Afternoon pills with water and applesauce
5:00 PM Kathy finally came with Steve coming soon afterwards. She just talked and took notes on his conditions, vitals, etc. She explained to me that Adavan is PRN for him but should be taken about twice a day for anxiety and he believes it helps with nausea. He does not like to take the Compaziene for nausea because he says it makes him “climb the walls.” I am to call her if any problems or if we think we should use the “comfort pak” in the refrigerator which is a collection of medicines for various problems. If I think he may be dead I am to place my hand on his chest to feel for any breathing.
6:30 PM Steve and I brought dinner from TGI Friday’s and Jerry had chosen the plain hamburger from the menu I had gotten earlier. He ate maybe 1/3 of it.
10:15 PM He took his Advair
11:00 PM Evening pills and to bed


I checked on flights from Madison, WI in case I had to take the car by myself. I would have to fly back to the twin cities to get to Rochester. Not quick or convenient. Steve is going to try to find a time he can take me to La Crosse to get rid of the rent car.

 Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Yesterday we had both the nurse Kathy and Jason’s son Steve visit and I spent a little time cleaning up for them.

I’m working on remembering and helping Jerry stay on schedule with meds. I have the alarm set for this afternoon.

Baked a pie and may go out looking for photo ops after the 3:00 PM meds. Decided not to travel back to Nashville the 28th and will extend the lease at Gas Lamp and have friends take down my Starbucks display. Steve will drive to La Crosse this Saturday, the 23rd, to bring me back after taking rent car back there. Then I will get one here at airport.



7:20 AM Pills with water
11:00 AM Breathed the Advair and drank orange juice, then fixed two Eggo Waffles and ate more than half with coffee. I was amazed and he was hungry!
3:00 PM Meds with coffee
5:30 PM He ate part of a frozen dinner with coffee and a little bit of the Raspberry Pie I had cooked, a frozen Mrs. Smith Pie
10:45 PM He breathed the Advair and then took his pills and went to sleep


Thursday, February 21, 2008

It has been a quiet morning. Got up at 6:30, showered, gave meds at 7:00. Jerry was nauseous. I saw headline news, washed towels, wrote some emails and played FreeCell. It is about 11:00 and Jerry needs his AdVair. Guess I will wake him for that and then may go to internet café and grocery store, giving him some alone time awake. He was nauseous and did not eat. He went back to bed.

Well I sort of did the usual alone time for him, but that is no longer a factor and even he said so. He slept much of the time I was gone. It is after 4:00 and he has been in bed all day except for bathroom and getting himself a piece of pie for brunch but only ate about half of it.  That and a few spoons of applesauce are all he has eaten today. He is eating very little and not even drinking as much. He just sips on coffee (no longer finishes a cup) and only enough water to get pills down. He took a small amount of orange juice this morning.

He was confused when I gave him his 3:00 PM pills. He wanted to know when I would get the results of my blood tests. He was certain I had some. He is moaning more with the pain and saying “Oh me, Oh God” all day long when not sound asleep. He seems to have congested lungs with a hacking cough. I feel so helpless. There is nothing I can do to help his pain. The Morphine will later, but then makes him sleepier. I try to touch him several times a day as maybe a form of comfort. I could easily get depressed.

It is 4:40 and he is still moaning in pain and now worrying about blood tests to see who the parents of Walter are. In an earlier year he told me that he was so disappointed when Linda told him that another man was Walter’s father. I assume that a lot of concerns over his life may be flooding his mind. I sat with him 20 to 30 minutes and agreed with all he said, even if I didn’t understand. He is beginning to remind me of how Mother was that weekend before she died. She had hallucinations, seeing things come out of the walls and imagining things out in the hospital hall. I wish Jerry were in a residential hospice where I believe he would be more comfortable during his last days. For the first time it appears it may be just days rather than weeks.



7:20 AM Meds with applesauce, then nausea
1:30 PM Coffee sips
2:00 PM Ate a little bit of Raspberry Pie and sipped a small amount of coffee
3:15 PM Meds with small amount of applesauce – confused, asking about my blood tests
4:30 PM This was when he started worrying about who Walter’s parents are and asked me to find out by Monday
5:45 PM He ate a few spoons of baked potato and a little raspberry pie with ice cream
10:45 PM Meds with water
10:55 PM AdVair
OPPOSITE PAGE: With the spiral notebook open I used the right side for my notes on Jerry and the left side or back of his previous day for notes on my personal business. This page was for both the 20th and the 21st : Scheduled a Thrifty Rent Car at Rochester Airport for early afternoon after Steve brings me back from La Crosse. At internet café I re-checked my library book on the Nashville Library website and got the mail address so I could mail it back. I brought a book on landscape photography with me. I checked my voice mail on Vonage website, scheduled my Visa card electronically through my CU, compared the Yaris with Corolla and Camry online and called Results Physiotherapy on where to mail payment. State Farm called me to see if I was okay.



Friday, February 22, 2008

After meds and breakfast, I did early internet time and came back to fix cable TV that was not working. The company walked me through many steps and the problem was so simple, the TV wasn’t on Channel 3! Washed my sheets and now playing with camera, shooting out the window for snow scenes.

Jerry seems a little better this morning. Got up and dressed at 10:30!



7:10 AM Meds with water & applesauce
7:20 AM After bathroom he had great difficulty breathing, even with oxygen
10:50 AM Jerry threw up violently with lots of dry-heaving after drinking a little OJ and coffee. Once he settled down, he took a 10mg Compiziene with water, refusing the suppository – I was surprised he could keep it down
11:45 AM He ate a small amount of applesauce which stayed down
2:00 PM He ate a bowl of ice cream which stayed down and surprised me
3:00 PM Meds with water & applesauce
6:00 PM He ate maybe 1/3 of a chicken breast I had baked, a few spoons of veggies and Jello and maybe half a piece of toast – he seemed to be feeling better
10:15 PM AdVair
10:30 PM Meds – He told me he was taking Adivan twice a day at his bed on his own. That was when I began watching and tried to get him to take it morning and night on our schedule



Saturday, February 23, 2008

I did not journal today because I woke up at 5:00 vomiting twice and feeling horrible. I thought I had food poison from the older chicken breast from his freezer I had eaten last night. I had given him the fresh one I had bought at the butcher shop. I still don’t know if it was that or a virus, but after this morning, I had diarrhea for two days before feeling better. Of course the car return scheduled for today was canceled. (This paragraph added later.)



7:00 AM Meds with water and applesauce
1:00 PM AdVair
3:00 PM Meds with water and spoonful of Jello
6:30 PM He ate a small amount of chicken noodle soup with a cracker or two and sips of coffee
11:00 PM AdVair and Meds
OPPOSITE PAGE: For 22nd and 23rd my personal business notes were: I looked up addresses for three of the arts & crafts fairs I had signed up for and wrote hand-written letters canceling out. Denny’s Towing called to say they had mailed my auto tag to me in Rochester and they charged $10 to my Visa card.



Sunday, February 24, 2008

Wow! I’ve been sick since I guess Saturday morning when I threw up twice, then had diarrhea. I still have diarrhea but no more vomiting. Steve was still sick with his virus Saturday, so we didn’t do the car exchange at all this weekend. I still feel puny and not wanting to do much or get out. And of course Jerry is as sick as ever, barely eating anything and I don’t think drinking enough. He is in bed virtually all the time now. We are a pitiful twosome right now.

About 5:30 Shaunette called to say Steve is still very sick with a stomach virus too and to check on me and Jerry. I am not hungry and not sure what to eat tonight. Jerry is sometimes hungry but can’t eat much. I’ll discuss with him what he might want. Then I may read a magazine which is easier than a book. It is nearly 6 now. Ugh.



7:00 AM Meds
11:00 AM AdVair
11:45 AM Jerry wanted a little orange juice
12:15 PM I gave him his Ativan pill
12:45 PM He ate a bite or two of toast and a couple of bites of cantaloupe which he said he loved
3:00 PM Meds
6:00 PM He refused any food
11:00 PM Evening Meds + AdVair + Ativan – He also sat on the toilet and went to sleep there. I had to wake him up and help him back to bed. It must have been midnight or later.



Monday, February 25, 2008

Well, I think I’m actually getting a little depressed. I’m sick with virus or whatever which interferes with me helping Jerry. Jerry is getting worse, hardly ever getting out of bed and he is moaning “Oh me…” or “Oh God…” much of the time. I have to wait in line for a washing machine upstairs. When Jerry had trouble with his TV the other day he wanted to disconnect the little one in my room, so no TV, no newspaper available before noon, and I don’t feel like eating or reading much. It’s a downer, but this too shall pass! And as cruel as it may sound, it seems like Jerry is never going to die. And I know he is fighting death. I asked him the other day if he ever wished it would hurry up and be over. He quickly and curtly said “No!” He is tough and a hanger-on, so it could be several weeks or even months. And that is depressing. Oh well, maybe God is trying to teach me patience again or perseverance.

One thing that has happened is I have solidly decided I to quit the arts & crafts fair business, get a regular car, probably a Corolla though I would like a Camry. Then I will just rest and do some limited travel, participate in the church more and enjoy other local activities. As already planned earlier, this year at least will be just travel within Tennessee, so much of which I still haven’t seen. A visit to every state park is a goal! And I simply can’t afford out of country or even out of state trips.

Well, time to go check the dryer.



7:00 AM Meds & Ativan – He can hardly stay awake for meds and it took 45 minutes to get the pills down him
3:00 PM He refused meds and won’t or can’t hold head up
3:50 PM I called Kathy for help since I couldn’t get pills down him
4:35 PM Kathy got the morphine down him and ground up some Tylenol for a temperature he had of around 100.
9:00 PM Temp. of 98.6 – He walked to bathroom very wobbly but didn’t want my help much. Later I fixed him a Coke Float which he loved. Then he went to toilet again.
11:00 PM Meds


When Kathy came this afternoon she suggested I get straws (which he could never use), Carnation Instant Breakfast, Pudding, and Ensure. So I went to grocery store and got all of this for Jerry. We discussed going to liquid morphine which would mean I would have to administer it every two hours around the clock. Ugh! She said she would be back Tuesday between 2 & 3.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

No journal today, but



7:20 AM Meds with water + Ativan
7:45 AM He had a large bowel movement
8:00 AM Ate a spoon full of diced pears from one of the little lunch cups
2:00 PM Drank a little orange juice which he seemed to crave, but refused soup
3:10 PM Took a little bit of a Coke Float
3:15 PM Meds
3:35 PM Kathy visit, checking vitals and writing notes
10:15 PM Maybe one teaspoon each of pears and peaches
10:30 PM Meds



Wednesday, February 27, 2008

No journal entry today.


5:20 AM Nausea, dry-heaving, refused nausea meds
7:05 AM Meds with water and one taste of Jello + Ativan, then back to sleep
11:00 AM Karne came and he let her do nothing
1:00 PM I made him a vanilla milk shake with vanilla ice cream and Vanilla Carnation Instant Breakfast, but he never touched it
3:00 PM He took one sip of milk shake from glass but couldn’t suck it through a straw. Took Meds and one tiny taste of chocolate pudding
4:30 PM Dianne visited him and he smiled but did not talk
11:00 PM Meds
OPPOSITE PAGE: 25th & 27th personal business notes: At internet café I emailed two more arts & crafts fairs to cancel. By phone I scheduled a rent car at Rochester Airport again for this Saturday when Steve and I are planning to try again to return the rent car. I checked three voice mails and called the Janesville, WI Enterprise Rent Car to tell them my new plans on return


Thursday, February 28, 2008

No journal entry today but



6:40 AM I woke up and Jerry was sitting on the carpeted floor, cross-legged in front of the bathroom –I have no way of knowing how long he had been there. But I helped him back to bed  and prepared the meds
7:00 AM Meds, well morphine only – that was all I could get down him
10:15 AM Ativan pill – He tasted one pinch of a muffin Dianne had brought yesterday and maybe two sips of coffee. He still has not had AM Neurontin but Kathy said not to worry about it.
11:15 AM After bathroom, he refused food and went back to sleep
3:20 PM Meds – I got all three morphine pills down him and one of the Neurontin. He tried to chew the other one. He would not even taste the next flavor of pudding, butterscotch. I was trying to bring him some variety.
10:50 PM Meds – morphine & ativan only
OPPOSITE PAGE: My personal business notes on the 28th: I scheduled Thrifty Rent Car for Saturday, called Nashville Post Office to extend the holding of my mail. I had told them I was flying back to get it on the 29th but had now cancelled those plans.


Friday, February 29, 2008

I am putting the notebook notes first before my lengthy journal:


7:00 AM Morphine & Ativan
3:00 PM Morphine only with great difficulty swallowing. I change his underpants & sheets
5:00 PM He cried out loudly and I just hugged him and sat with him for awhile
OPPOSITE PAGE: My personal business notes for the 29th:  I had to call back to the Nashville Post Office between 8:00 & 8:30 to talk with my carrier to make sure he continued holding my mail. I left another message with the State Farms Claims office. I called La Crosse Enterprise Rent Car to get directions to their place of business for tomorrow. I received my payment check from State Farm today and mailed it to the Credit Union by Registered Mail.


Wow! In some ways things seem to be moving a lot faster. Jerry is not eating anything now and almost no liquid. I’m having great difficulty getting him to swallow the pills, having to pour water into his mouth myself. I’m gearing up for using the liquid morphine which I was just told by Linda at Heartland to do in a 0.5 ml every two hours. She also said that to avoid the frequency all night, I could give him the same three pills rectally for the time-release benefit. They do not have a time-release suppository, but the pills do work if I can get him to let me insert them. I will try pills orally again tonight and see if he can or will take them.


At first he refused the disposable underpants but now he accepts them and I am basically changing his diaper periodically. I need to change his bed and maybe tonight I can get him to sit in the chair for a few minutes while I change his sheets. Or I may try now. Waking him is no big deal any more. It is nearly 4:00. This is a wearying job! I got a nice card and encouragement from Bettye Lane today. She is so nice.

Also got the insurance payment check for my car (after they paid off the loan) and I sent it registered mail this afternoon to the Credit Union to be deposited in savings as my down payment on a new car.  I have been canceling arts and crafts shows and decided I really am quitting it. I’m tired and been losing money for three years and this year could be worse with the recession. So now is a good time to stop. I will do photography for fun and maybe sell online in a better way plus do some local exhibits, etc. It is time to really retire, travel for fun and do more things I enjoy at home. And I really need to work on my personal family history books some more and get that project finished, then maybe some more genealogy research plus a few photo shows as exhibits. I also want to get a little more involved in church again, going on Wednesday nights and developing relationships there. That is my family and if and when I get like Jerry, I will need them for support. But, I will not refuse assisted living or residential hospice like Jerry. I would not ask anyone to do what I am doing now.

Whew! Maybe I will write more later.

9:30ish (wasn’t looking at clock) Jerry hollered out something like “Help me!” (His speech has been slurred and garbled for several days now.) I went in and by the smell knew that he had done another B.M. in his pants. I moved him to the bedside toilet to finish his job. He seemed a little more limp than usual but was alive and grabbed the side of the bed as he sat on the toilet. I got the disposable underpants off and urged him to finish in the toilet. I went to get the toilet paper, wet ones, and rubber gloves. I came back and cleaned his bottom. I thought he was alive then but he may not have been. I picked him up to move him to the bed and he was limper than usual. As I laid him on the bed he sort of slithered through my arms, trying to slide to the floor causing me to double-take or make extra effort to hold on and get his whole body in the bed. When I had him stretched out on the bed, I covered him with sheet and blanket up to his neck and noticed that his eyes were staying open which had not been the case recently. The gapping mouth was usual for him and his breathing lately, but not the eyes. They did not blink. I laid my hand on his chest and did not feel him breathe.

I immediately called Heartland Hospice, getting the answering service. They said they would have the nurse on duty to call me. It was Lynda, whom I had talked to in the afternoon about moving to liquid morphine. I was nervous or shaky, unsure of what was going on and that I was doing everything correctly. I was afraid to call Steve until she got there to confirm that Jerry was dead. Lynda called right back and said it would take nearly 30 minutes to get there. I waited until she arrived to confirm before I called Steve. In retrospect, I wish I had gone ahead and called him after calling the Hospice. I continued to feel shook up, cold, unsure about what to do.

Lynda had a lot of paperwork to do while we waited on Steve to come down, which he debated about doing for a few minutes. But he decided he wanted to see his Dad one last time. I had to sign two of Lynda’s papers and then I helped her count all remaining pills for her to record and then she flushed them all down the toilet. She put the funeral home on call but told them to wait until she called back after Steve spent time with the body. It took a little more than an hour for Steve to get here. Lynda and I talked after all the chores were done, including trashing some more medical stuff.

When Steve arrived, I gave him a big hug and told him I was sorry. We then let him spend some time alone with his Dad. After a few minutes he told Lynda she could call the funeral home. They talked about some business. I had been planning on spending the night there, but then in talking with Steve about all he needed to do, including closing down the apartment, I realized that he needed the only set of keys and so I told him I would go to the Hampton Inn for the rest of the night and let him have the keys. I quickly packed and called for a reservation.

The funeral home removed the body around 1:00 AM. I then moved my rent car around and began loading it. Lynda left. I hugged Steve again and told him if he needed me for anything to call on my cell phone or at the Hampton Inn. It was a lonely time for both of us.


Saturday, March 01, 2008

Wow! Another fast-moving and filled day! It is about 3:30 and I am sitting in the airport in Madison, Wisconsin. I got maybe 3 to 4 hours of sleep and tried to stay in bed but couldn’t sleep. Had the Hampton breakfast and found plane reservations for this evening rather than spending another night on the road and traveling in the morning. I left Rochester about 10:00 and got to the Madison airport about 2:20 or so. I leave at 4:00 flying to Chicago and then a separate flight to Nashville, arriving at 7:45 PM with a Dollar Rent Car waiting on me to drive home. I also emailed the Sunday school class + Rus & Tom about the death but said I would not likely be in Sunday school tomorrow. I need to rest and get my head together as well as life again. Then Monday, I need to buy a new car, thinking in terms of a Corolla now. I may consider the cheaper Yaris or the more expensive Camry. I will need to go to the Credit union first. And I just thought of a problem. My down payment check is in the slow mail and could be as late as Friday arriving by registered mail. Oh me! Well, dear Lord, I turn it over to you! So there is a lot to deal with! Time to board the plane.


In Chicago terminal at 5:20 for a 6:20 flight: I’m tired. I would like to go to church tomorrow but I’m tired and would like to sleep in, IF I can! I will not set the alarm and see what happens. This has been such an emotional trip that I somewhat feel like I am starting all over in many ways. I think I need to set new priorities and maybe even a new or slightly different life style than the last 2 or 3 years. I am beginning to feel relieved that the arts & crafts fairs are over. They were fun in some ways and rewarding to my ego as people bought my photos, but tiring, the major cause of my backaches and the only cause of my large financial setback. It could take me two years or more to get back on a decent financial standing. I must eliminate all debt! I must learn to relax. I also need to cultivate the relationships I have at church. Help me dear Lord to get my life together in a different way than the last couple of years. And thank you for this opportunity to help usher Jerry out of this world. I am still overwhelmed by it. I’m not sure what I think or feel, but I do know it has touched me and maybe changed me. Maybe I need to write down a “bucket list” of what I want to do or be or accomplish before I kick the bucket. So, let’s get a rough start:

  1. Finish my personal history scrapbooks
  2. Find a “real” ministry whether through the church or elsewhere & I have no clue or inkling of what yet – this needs prayer and time
  3. Visit all TN state parks
  4. Visit more national parks
  5. Develop an easier way to market my photos without expense and so much work, which includes improving Café Press and PBase plus maybe another or better internet presence.
  6. Write a memoirs?
  7. Do more genealogy research
  8. Publish a newer and better Doggett branch history book
  9. Become a model zoo docent
  10. Figure a way to make BLACKLION profitable or quit it
  11. Should I try continuing Gas Lamp? A discount outlet?
  12. Relate better to Jason and to Bonnie, the last of my family
  13. Improve my photography
  14. Need to be rested to deal with this list more efficiently!

We boarded the plane 1 ½ hours late and then sat on runway another 45 minutes. Bonnie called while I was sitting in plane and while we were talking, the plane started to taxi away from terminal and we had to stop the call. In Nashville about 10:15 where I got a rent car and was home by 11:00 and sent out an announcement of Jerry’s death to relatives and some friends. I was totally exhausted.


March 1, 2008 EMAIL:

Dear Family & Friends,

At approximately 9:30 PM, Friday evening, February 29, 2008 Walter Jerry Doggett died after a 5-year battle with Mantel Cell Lymphoma cancer. At his request he stayed in his home in Rochester, MN until death. I was with him during his last 18 days which were painful and difficult.

His wishes are for no funeral or published obituary and that after cremation his ashes be scattered in the headwaters of the Mississippi River in northern Minnesota, one of his favorite canoeing areas for 34 years. This will be handled by his son Steve. With no service there will be no flowers. He said that if anyone must memorialize him, do so with a gift to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society at http://www.leukemia-lymphoma.org/   or by phone at (800) 955-4572 or by mail: The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Donor Services, PO Box 4072, Pittsfield, MA 01202.

Jerry was born August 24, 1943 in Warren, Bradley County, Arkansas. He grew up in El Dorado and other towns in Arkansas graduating from Camden High School. He attended college in Shreveport and worked and raised a family in various towns in Arkansas. After a divorce he and son Steven lived in Minnesota where Steve finished school with a PhD in microbiology and Jerry became the editor of The Bemidji Pioneer newspaper. He loved northern Minnesota, especially canoeing the many waterways. He has lived the last two years in Rochester, Minnesota just blocks from the Mayo Clinic which deserves credit for his lengthy life after diagnosis.

He is survived by son Steven and family in St. Paul, Minnesota, brother Charles Doggett of Nashville, Tennessee and sister Bonnie Darby of Grain Valley, Missouri. (This is not an official obituary which Jerry did not want!) Just the basics for family and friends.     🙂

Today, Saturday, March 1 I drove to Madison, WI where I had to return a rent car gotten there after my wreck nearby on Feb. 12. I then flew home to Nashville with the usual two-hour delay in Chicago. I am really tired, but otherwise okay. Tomorrow will truly be a day of rest.


Charlie Doggett
1040 9th Ave N
Nashville, TN 37208


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

It is hard to believe that I am still pretty-much exhausted both physically and mentally or emotionally. A quick summary of all that has happened as I remember it:

Sunday, March 2, I slept late after getting to bed at midnight and almost no sleep the night before. I had a late big breakfast at Noshville Deli and went grocery shopping. Then I think I tried to get organized with personal business, emails, and I’m not sure what else.

Monday, March 3 was the big day of getting a new car after going by Credit Union first. I had pretty well decided that I must go the cheapest route for a new car and thus made a quick decision on a 2008 Yaris Hatchback. I definitely didn’t want electric windows and the only one without was an automatic transmission, so I gave in on that which I thought was better than electric windows. It happened to be black, so two black cars in a row! And I like it, the cost, the monthly payment and the great gas mileage.

The rest of the week was busy with all kinds of business, just trying to get my life back together again. I was tired and still sleep 8 hours every night, though not straight through the night. I went to church supper on Wednesday and decided I needed to start that again just for the relationships at church, my only family here. And Saturday I saw a movie, The Spiderwick Chronicles on the big screen at Imax. I went to church Sunday and lunch with Cliff Abel. The rest of my time seems to just disappear with piddlin’ things on the computer and around the house. All arts & crafts fairs are cancelled but I still haven’t started trying to sell the equipment. I plan to go cleanout the trailer tomorrow and put a “For Sale” sign on it. I will then finish my list of items and prices and start advertising. I have about $6,000 worth of stuff that I hope to sell for $3,000. But realistically some items will not sell and a few I’m thinking about keeping.

I’m still tired and a little depressed. And there is nothing good on TV with March being a fund-raising month on PBS/NPT. I have trouble reading for long or keeping my attention on what I read. I have received many cards and today got a phone call from Roy McPherson from Columbia. We had a nice long talk. I’ve talked with Bonnie twice but heard nothing from Steve, though I sent him one email. I’m working on better organizing my photos and bought a “MyBook” external hard drive of 1 terabyte or 1000 gigabytes. So I finally have plenty of room! And I’m wanting to get back to work on my scrapbooks but haven’t seemed to get to them yet. It’s 10:00 and I’m sleepy tired again.


Saturday, June 14, 2008

I have just gone through some kind of major emotional experience for the last 25 minutes or so. I watched the DVD movie Mother Teresa which was overpowering in some ways. At the conclusion I was crying and could not stop crying and having these feelings that I am not doing very much with my life now, not making a difference in the world, not following a call from God, not being what He planned for me to be. I feel guilty about putting most of my time, money and energy into photography and trying to sell it. I went to my bedroom and sat in the chair trying to pray or evaluate my life. This perceived lack of ministry with my life added to the feeling of failure because of divorce and a wayward son is either depressing or overwhelming.

I even thought of going to talk with Pastor Frank but not sure of that. How about evaluating my life right now or my calendar and seeing how it could count for more. Is my volunteering for the Zoo the wrong kind of volunteering since it is not “spiritual?”  It is sort of like I am kind of confused after seeing the humble service of Mother Teresa’s life. And on top of all this, I am maybe two-thirds through the book A Purpose Driven Life which you would think would give me all the answers. I really like the book, of which I read one chapter each morning at breakfast. It is inspirational but hasn’t given me my calling in life for now. I really felt called in college and young adult life. I feel God was pretty much in control of my life and that I was doing His will until I got married. And the change then is my fault, not Ginger’s. It was like I switched my loyalties from God to Ginger or to the marriage and trying to save it. But that is the past.

Before I moved downtown the first time, I did talk with Pastor Frank about feeling a call to living and ministering downtown. I had been doing some downtown prayer walks at the time. But I have never really done much ministry or witnessing downtown. Is that my calling? I’m about to work in VBS, but I don’t see children’s work as my calling, or have trouble seeing that. Being a greeter at the church door on Sunday morning is important, but I would really like to have more of an impact on the world than that. But I just don’t know what. I could try to use my photography for the church but there are already several others doing that. I could try to sell more photos with scripture verses on them, but the few I have tried simply haven’t sold. I’ve already donated framed photos to the church and that is good, but not an ongoing ministry.

Maybe I should just “go with the flow” which is sort of what I do now. “Bloom where you are planted!” Accept the witness and ministry opportunities as they pop up in front of me. That is almost what Mother Teresa did as she walked down the streets of Calcutta. But her ministry is not mine. What is my ministry now? That is my current challenge.

I’m not sure how this relates, but Steve Hewko’s invitation to drive a truck and work with him for a month or so in The Gambia is really appealing. But I don’t want to go just because of my good memories there, knowing it can never be the same and I may want to go more for the personal satisfaction or old friendships than for the ministry. And it might be hard to not be in charge or work for a young person. But then it might be good for me and might be a real ministry. Well, I know it will be a real ministry, but is it God’s will right now? And should I spend that much money before fully paying off my Visa card? Life has always been full of questions and decisions. And here I go again. I feel like the college student I once was, trying to determine God’s will. Later I learned how to justify doing what I wanted to do as God’s will. But that is not the case now. “God help me make the right decision about the Gambia trip and about what I do right here in Nashville.” Maybe I will talk with Rus rather than Frank. I think I will invite him to lunch some day this week. My eyes are tearing again. It is beginning to feel like a turning point in my life again. Wow!


June 29, 2008 – LETTER TO JASON

Dear Jason:

Hope you are well and school + work are both going good for you. The enclosed clipping is from today’s newspaper about a “living art” person who is visiting Nashville from New York City. I don’t think it is exactly like what you do, but similar. Also, Opryland Hotel uses some local living art people in their indoor gardens dressed and painted as plants. I haven’t seen them, but a girl in our photo club brought a photo of a woman as a plant. Interesting! It seems one of your preferred art forms is happening here.

I just finished reading the book A Purpose-Driven Life by Rick Warren. And almost at the same time just concluded a week of working in Vacation Bible School, the first time as a teacher since before you were born! It was fun! I was with 3rd Graders. Of course it reminded me some of when you were young and your participation in church then. That plus the book made me hope so much that you would renew your relationship with God. I remember your decision at Glorieta to follow Christ and your baptism at Judson Church. But if I remember right, you soon after that began to lose interest in church.

Being a follower and having fellowship with other Christians in a church of your choice is not magic and won’t solve all your problems, but it will bring some purpose to your life and a joy or happiness that is experienced better than described. And maybe best of all you will have a “family” or group of friends your own age that support you and who you can support and enjoy. I know you don’t like me “preaching to you” which I am trying not to do. But I love you and want the best for you and believe you can only have that with God in your life.

I expect these thoughts to most likely be rejected as “telling you how to live your life,” kind of like all my unwanted advice on your finances and jobs. But as a Christian and your father, I just feel obligated to encourage you to get back to God in some way. I will try not to say anything else unless you request it, but I will pray for you Jason. The best to you!



Proverbs 3:5-6




Most of these journal pages were originally written by hand in one of my journal books and transcribed to the computer later. It is obvious that I mainly write journal pages when on trips or with special events, but these writings are still an important part of my story.


January 24, 2009, early morning – Costa Rica Bird Safari


There’s been a lot of preparation tor this adventure and I have high expectations! All the readings make the rainforest of Osa Peninsula sound like a paradise and even if exaggerated, I know there will be a lot of great photo-ops. My only regret as I sit here waiting to board the plane is that I did not take my jacket off and put in the checked bag before checking it. Oh well!

I just finished coffee while looking at a Nossi photo exhibit in Concourse A. It is now time to read the newspaper!

HOTEL AEROPUERTO, San Jose Airport, Costa Rica, 5:15 PM

I checked in at about 3:45 PM and called Laura. She was soon to meet with our guide, Gerrado, and said we would eat by 7:00 PM. I walked around the garden, first trying to photograph a bird unknown to me. Then I focused on flowers. I had already taken a photo of the surrounding mountains as the plane landed, using the little PowerShot pocket camera. I am now looking at the bird guide while waiting on dinner.


January 27, 2009 – Lookout Inn

It has been busy and I just haven’t made time to write. We left San Jose at 5:00 AM on the 25th and haven’t slowed down since. Luna Lodge was the nicest so far even without electricity and so much to see and do there. Plus we spent a day in Corcovado National Park. This is a birding trip and the only other client, Larry from California, has gotten the most out of it because of his big 600 mm lens. I’m having trouble focusing and dealing with low light, plus my distance limits with a 300 mm. I’ve tried to use teleconverter, but it makes the light even lower and slows the auto-focus. My best shots have been landscapes until today where I will probably choose a bird photo, the Baird’s Trogon, as my shot of the day. I hope to get a good Scarlet Macaw tomorrow. I did get more birds today, but my camera just can’t do what Larry’s does. I’ve somehow developed a “diaper rash” (jock itch) and may not hike tomorrow because it hurts to walk. Hope it heals tomorrow! Until now I’ve been the big hiker, doing more than the others. But I will have lots of photo-ops here at this lodge on the side of a mountain. I will now read a little and go to sleep.


January 28, 2009 – Lookout Inn

It was a slower day for me. I missed the AM trip to Shady Lane, staying to photograph Scarlet Macaws from the deck and work on photos on my laptop. In late afternoon I walked down the road with Larry & Gerrado toward the landing strip. It was hot and not much seen. But I got some other birds from the platform and had a restful day. Tomorrow we are going to bay to find a Boat-billed Heron we hope.


February 1, 2009


Wow! Sunday morning and the bird tour is over and I’m tired! After going through photos each night, I just did not get to writing like I thought I would and there was a lot to write about! It was a fast moving trip with 158 birds seen by someone in the group, though I saw less than half that many probably.

After 2 nights at Sevegre Lodge in the mountains, we came back to San Jose Hotel Aeropuerto for last night. I’m headed to Guatemala City to see J.C. again. (My 2nd trip there) I hope four nights is not too much for them or me! I was a little unsure in ’06 also, but became relaxed and comfortable quickly.


I can hardly wait to go through my photos and build a gallery on PBase and make a new book from MyPublisher.com. If Like my last visit , I will have plenty of time at JC & Lilliana’s to at least delete, sort and start labeling. But first I will have to pick several for a slide show to show them. Then I’ll go from there.

From a lodge standpoint, I believe Sevegre was the best, Luna next and then Lookout third. Laura liked Lookout better than Luna, but it was a little too laid back for me and more of a bar atmosphere. The bartender made fun of me for not drinking. But the high point there was the macaws and the only place we could photograph them. Luna was closest to Corcovado National Park and why it was chosen. Sevegre was the only one close to the Quetzal birds. All three had different birds, which was good for this trip purpose.

At Luna the birding was probably better at the lodge than in the park. The only other animals we saw in the park was the white-nosed coati and one small green snake. So I was disappointed I did not see a sloth, tapir or other larger animal. Outside the park we saw several kinds of monkeys: black howler, squirrel, spider, and a white-faced at Lookout Inn. But I got no good photos of monkeys. I need to work on shooting in the dark and deep shade of the forest in places like this. Maybe I need a separate flash that shoots for a greater distance than my built-in flash. That would also help with birds in trees.  I got only a fraction of the shots Larry got, but I had fun anyway! Plus I did a few landscapes which he didn’t fool with. I wish I had tried more people shots. And oh, I did shoot a lot of flowers. Going to rest more in Guatemala, but expect them to take me to a least one place of interest – we’ll see!

Plane is now taking off. I will read my book finally, The Tales of Beedle the Bard (related to the Harry Potter stories).


February 5, 2009 – On Plane from Guatemala to Houston

This trip has shown me to not be a good journal writer OR to have had such a good time enjoying other activities that it never rose to a level of importance. Either way this trip is drawing to a conclusion.

The last 4-5 days in Guatemala with JC and Lilliana have been both relaxing and fun. They are such gracious hosts and have such a likable extended family who make me feel I am a part of it even though I speak no Spanish!

Pablo, Lilliana’s sister’s son was again a special joy to be with and he seems to like me too. He is now 12 and in the 5th grade with the usual pre-puberty energy, rebellion, and struggle for independence. He also doesn’t like to do his homework which I actually enjoyed helping him with – mainly just his English lesson and a little with math.

As in 2006 we went to Antigua for lunch at Santa Domingo. But this year JC was obviously not as well and felt so dizzy at the conclusion of meal that he had to take a wheel chair out to the car. Of course Lilliana does all the driving. It was my privilege to treat them to the gourmet lunch as a cost of about $100 USD. Wow! But well worth it and would have cost much more in the states. One of my favorite restaurants anywhere in the world!


While at their house I checked email each day and the only negative thing was a nasty email from Jason in response to my “How are you?” email back in December. He called me several nasty names and the murderer of Juli, and then he threatened to kill me. He was bemoaning his terrible plight in life, that of course I don’t understand, he said.  I must not care about him because I won’t help him with his financial problems anymore. After spewing his hate toward me, he gave me the phone number of the housing board or someplace where I could pay his rent for him.

This all goes back to last spring when I told him that I would no longer rescue him after about 15-20 years of doing so. In the spring I spent a lot of money repairing his car and explained that it was the last time I would rescue him and not to ask me for money again. Then in the summer he was behind on rent again (I had rescued him from that before) and asked me to pay it. I reminded him of my “tough love” agreement in the spring and that I was not rescuing him again. He became very angry then and would not talk to me after that. For his November birthday I sent clothing instead of the usual money he always wanted. Then for Christmas I sent the same coffee & pancakes breakfast gift set I gave Bonnie & Tom. It was very nice and appreciated by the Darby’s. But in his email, Jason cursed both gifts and said he wanted no more contact with me. It is hard, but that is what he will get.

I am deeply hurt but not surprised. He rejected me a long time ago—years ago! We have not been close since his pre-teen years and though I kept having hope with every little contact, it was really always him trying to be polite so he could get more money from me. We never had any common interests or anything to talk about.

Possibly the most hopeful time was my last year in The Gambia when I paid for him to come visit me and we toured the country with another visitor, a friend from FBC Nashville. It was a polite and I think enjoyable adventure for him, his only time outside the states. We didn’t talk much there either. But were together and that was nice for me.

He carries and communicates much of the bitterness of his mother and spews her hatred of Baptists, conservatives (which they consider me, though I’m moderate). He has now picked up on his mother’s blaming me for Juli’s death which is so ridiculous I don’t know how to respond. I have had no contact with his mom since Juli’s funeral and it now looks like I may have no more contact with him. It is sad! But I don’t know what else to do. I am convinced and encouraged by friends to stick with my “tough love” policy of no more financial help. So now I move on with my life without Jason, much to my disappointment.


HERE’S THE EMAIL FROM JASON to help the above make sense:

(with more journal after it)


From: Jason Doggett

To: cdoggett@charliedoggett.net

Sent: Monday, February 02, 2009 1:13 PM

Subject: return how am I


After you sending me discriminating mail, insulting me for being poor, shaming me for being poor and less fortunate than you, you have the nerve to ask me how I am?

Try spending the night in the freezing cold with no electricity. I have filled out more job applications than you have in your entire life, yet you are still a blind selfish piece of shit that could care less if I die. Don’t even tell me your manipulative broken record comment of get a job, go fuck yourself and bury yourself in that grave you have next to my dead sister you murdered.

The economic situation in this hell hole effects people like me, so why do have to continue to be a stupid asshole that has no idea what is going on.  People like you are the problem in this country and this reason the less fortunate get beat down.  You are bias and discriminative to the poor and less fortunate, so don’t waste any time sending me pancake mixes, that does not help. And stop sending clothing like you want to dress me up like some homo corporate slave.

My phone is disconnected, and no, don’t call, write or anything.  And if you try to contact anyone I know, I will put a restraining order on you and perhaps put you in that grave you have myself.

If you want to call anyone, call Asheville Property Management  (828) 254-2229 and pay my past due rent before I get evicted this week.

I have worked more than you, have more skills and have more kindness yet all you due is sit back while the ones you claim to care about rot in hell.

Don’t email, don’t write, don’t do anything unless you are making up for insulting me for being poor by calling that number there. I have given you plenty of chances to change but you are still a southern  baptist conservative selfish piece of shit that lies and manipulates people so you can control them.  Well you don’t own me and I disown you.  You are nothing to me, and never were anything to me, but a fucking asshole.

Well, that was hard, but I feel it needed to be written down. I wrote most of that on the runway and during takeoff. We are in the air and I just stopped for potty break. They will serve a little breakfast in a little bit. It is 2 hours and 40 minutes to Houston. I have my Nature Photographer magazine to read. I read the little Harry Potter book, Tales of Beedle the Bard in a couple of sittings at JC’s. It is a cute spin-off children’s book with a moral to each of the five stories. It is a Potteresque witch’s version of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. It is okay but not great. JK wrote it as a fund-raiser for an organization that helps homeless and troubled children.

I was just given the U.S. Customs form to fill out which I will do now, then read and eat again when served. I had a ham & egg sandwich and coffee at the Guatemala airport.


Well, I enjoyed another breakfast and finished reading Nature Photographer magazine, Winter 08-09. Plus I have been looking at the airlines magazine. We land in 20 to 30 minutes with only an hour to go through customs before my next flight, so no time to waste! Oops! I just re-checked my schedule and I have 2.5 hours which is good! I was thinking of my flight down when I had only one hour. This will be much better and give me some time on the laptop with photo organization and labeling. I’m mainly just labeling right now, though I can’t label all birds at this time. I took notes on some photographed beginning on the 27th which still leaves 3 days before with no notes. A few are obvious and some can be found in the bird guide, but I will have to write Gerrado on some I expect.

He looked at my Guatemala ’06 book and found 3 mis-identified birds. I wish I had written those down, though I remember one, an Osprey I labeled a Kite. One I labeled a chacalaca he said is something else, but don’t remember that now. This labeling is always a challenge for me, but rewarding when done.

We are approaching the Houston Airport now and I need the baño but will just wait until we land.


The Costa Rica bird tour was good and the main reason for this trip. I do have mixed emotions about doing another bird trip because I am not a birder or bird-watcher and lose interest in the intense checking off of many species. Plus I do not have the equipment for good bird photography. It really requires a very good quality long lens and a good flash attachment for distant lighting. At this point I’m not going to spend the money. Someday I do want an L-series Canon 100-400 mm telephoto which will be better than my 300 mm. But it still won’t be enough for some of the small birds high in the trees. And I will still have the light problem.

But I will still shoot birds, just not as my primary focus and I do hope to get a few good bird photos out of this trip. There are some good landscapes and flowers but our focus was birds, particularly the Macaw and Quetzal. I did get them, just not great shots.

When home I will split my focus between recording this trip (both online and in a book)and planning the Gambia trip in June.

Occasionally I have mixed emotions about getting involved in Gambia again, but I am trusting God to close the door if not right. Part of that will be determined by the interests of First Baptist people and before I left for this trip, it seemed to be growing. It is a “wait and see” proposition. We could even have a small number do the survey and still decide “it is not right for us.”

Now I’m yawning, tired and going to close my eyes and rest – but if typical of me on a plane, I will not sleep.


Monday, June 1, 2009 – Bird Safari Camp, The Gambia

Joan, Jill and I had a long flight from Nashville to Atlanta and then Atlanta to Dakar. We flew much of yesterday and all night last night. Jeremy met us at airport and we made the 8 to 9 hour drive to Janjanbureh, The Gambia where our residence for the week is Bird Safari Camp. We relaxed and had an African dinner with Mark Thompson, getting to bed about 10:00 PM GMT.


Tuesday, June 2, 2009 – Camp & Janjanbureh

Many tropical birds and one monitor lizard and one monkey outside my tent this morning.

Later we spent time in Janjanbureh which was open with many good visits. We ate lunch in a home, met a singer who called himself MC Hammer and Mrs. Katchikally whose mother the famous Katchikally Crocodile Pool in Bakau is named after. She was fun to visit with. We are all getting very comfortable visiting with Africans now. It is hot today at about 108 degrees.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009 – Kunting & Yonna

We spent most of the day in Kunting with the Selah family of teachers. They served us something like Chicken Yassa in a common bowl. We got a complete tour of the Qu’ranic School and much of the town, including the public school. We visited in every Selah home plus several others.

On the way back we stopped in Yonna which is about half Jahanka, but a smaller village. We were worn out by the time we had dinner around 8:00 PM.


Thursday, June 4, 2009 – Barrokunda

We had a great reception and visit in Barrokunda today, especially for Jeremy. It is about 1.5 to 2 hours west of Janjanbureh, but with significant Jahanka Qu’ranic schools.

We ate another bowl lunch today in the home of Wahab Sware, our primary host. On the way back we drove through Sutukung and Bereng as two other possible villages with a Jahanka presence.

When we got back to camp I had two cows and a black cobra waiting by my tent. Only in Africa!


Friday, June 5, 2009 – Boat trip on River Gambia

No journal writing today.


Saturday, June 6, 2009 – Kuntar Fula Kunda & Jakaba

Most of the day was in Kuntar Fula Kunda and next door in Jakaba. Both were very friendly.  We visited many compounds and at least two Jahanka teachers. We also met the Fula Alkalo (Chief) and his 1st Lt. so who is an important officer in the national police drug control for MRD. They were very inviting but not Jahanka, our target people group. They also asked for aid or money.

We had lunch at a Jahanka teacher’s compound, the father of Kolibah Fofana. At the smaller village of Jakaba next to and touching Kuntar we visited a wedding party and met a Peace Corp couple.


October 31, 2009 – At Home

I’m starting the journal again. There seems to be a juncture of many things in my life happening right now.

  1. I felt lead into this Jahanka-Gambia Partnership I am calling it. Things have started slow with few participants, making me a little discouraged. Is it really God’s will? I’ve turned it over to God – admitted I can’t do it and waiting to see what He will do. I’m trying not to project my desired results but that is difficult. I’m puzzled and not sure what to do.
  2. Several weeks ago I joined the class Pastor Frank is leading with the little book How to be a Blessed Church by Standish. It is a great book that has changed my thinking. I want to be more spiritual, more dependent on God, more expectant of God, more mystical, and more of a pray-er. I want to believe and trust God in prayer like I was the morning I was called to The Gambia. God help me to be like that!
  3. And tonight I am finishing the little 3-chapter book suggested by Frank Lewis titled In the Name of Jesus by Henri Nouwen. It is more about being a spiritual leader and the importance of doing it in fellowship, in family, in Jesus name. Lord help me! Especially with the fellowship/family part.
  4. In addition, tomorrow I will be ordained as a new deacon at First Baptist Nashville. I have turned down several previous nominations because I felt I am not qualified as a divorcee. Harold Bergan talked with me about that issue and right now I am feeling good and expecting a spiritual experience tomorrow and on the Gambia trip next week.

Now I am going to read the last chapter of In the Name of Jesus.

Today’s blessing: I am thankful for good books and the joy of children this morning!


November 1, 2009

Ordained as a deacon today – a beautiful, loving experience I will always remember.  Today’s blessing: The love I experienced from the laying on of hands in service.


November 2, 2009

Today I am thankful for Gambia, personal time alone, and meeting Steve Sparks while walking.


November 3, 2009

Many good things were done today including printing 80 business cards just for the Gambia. They have my Yahoo email address, a Scripture verse and photo. It is coming together and I believe God is going to move in Barrrokunda and do something BIG next week. I’m asking for a miracle and that is what God does. I’m learning of others having conversions on their first trip and it can happen with us too.

I take a treadmill test tomorrow and expect to be pronounced healthy.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I had my treadmill stress test today after a photo cat-scan of heart arteries which put me as a “5” on the scale of calcium in the arteries. Perfect would be “0.”

On my stress EKG I have a wiggly line or inconsistent “ST” beat which he said indicates a possible blockage or build up of some kind. He will find out tomorrow with a “Nuclear Treadmill” test using a radio-active dye in my blood. Interesting!

I’m not sure what to expect tomorrow. Surely I don’t have a serious problem requiring surgery or heavy treatment. I consider myself healthy and certainly not expecting anything like this! But he may find nothing serious and I’ll be normal or okay.

I am Thankful for Dr. McRae who can find and treat any problem with my heart. He has my confidence and I feel secure with him.

I did have moderate pain in my thumbs today with writing very difficult. That is why I am about to stop writing. I took only 2 Tylenol Arthritis this morning. I’m trying not to take too many!

Dr. McRae also started me on a daily baby aspirin which is now just called an 81 mg aspirin. It slightly thins my blood which helps the heart.

The rest of my time is spent getting ready for the Gambia trip. Sleepy now.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

I had my second treadmill test today, a nuclear test with pictures. I have no blockages. I’m normal, dr. McRae told me. I’ll see him again in one year.

I’m feeling prepared and ready to go – praying for miracles in Barrokunda.

I enjoyed a great symphony concert tonight with a world premier for Aguila, a Botok number and Strauss as the “Space Odyssey part of the show. All was good and all parts different.

My THANKS tonight is for seat #9 in the left balcony. It’s a great spot for me!


Friday, November 6, 2009

Today I’m double-checking my packing list and hoping nothing important is forgotten.

The LifeWay Reunion lunch was very enjoyable today, especially seeing so many old friends, most of whom said they would pray for us next week.

I’m turning it over to god – just need to practice my stories. As I told Marvin Nail today, when I try to do things myself it fails and when I trust God exciting things always happen. I have no idea what God will do but I believe He will do something big, something miraculous this week. That is my prayer. Surprise us God! This is so exciting!

Today I am THANKFUL for the several who promised to pray. God bless them!


 Sunday, November 8, 2009, 5:45 AM GMT – Flying into Dakar

8-hour flights are no big deal anymore, but I still can’t sleep very much on a plane. We will land in 30 minutes or so. Garry seemed to sleep pretty well. I just sat back and had dozens of things going through my mind.

I’m concerned about a period of thinking cynically about the way WA IMB does CPM. They did not share any positive results in Base Camp and Jeremy hasn’t started any churches. Neither have the Kauffman’s or Kelly’s. Is God telling me something or is the Devil trying to make me cynical? I don’t know. I will probably talk with Jeremy about these feelings. We will have plenty of time in the truck to talk today.

Don’t know if we’ll make it to Barrokunda tonight or have to stay in Soma. It all depends on the ferry wait I think. Well, we will soon land and start driving.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009 – Morning, Barrokunda

I got no sleep on the plane the 7th, a good night’s rest at Palinding Camp in Soma the 8th. Last night was our first night in Barrokunda with very little sleep. They seem to stay up most of the night or until after 1:00 AM plus lots of noises and prayer calls beginning at 5:00 AM.

My big first impression coming outside this morning was the little boys on the teaching Bantaba practicing their prayers in Arabic – memorized of course. Others are reading their text books. If they offer breakfast we know it will be later. I’m reading my long obedience book now.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009 – Morning, Barrokunda

My bed was coming apart by morning prayers at 5:30, so I got up by 6:00 in the dark. I used the bath wipes and came outside where it is cooler. I started reading and a little boy came over to watch me, then another. There are now 6 boys watching me as I write. None speak English, but we can smile at each other. Cor-ti-non-tay (spelling) is the only Mandinka word they respond to. It basically means how are you or “how is it there.” Three young teachers came back from prayers at the mosque and tried . . .

Yesterday we walked the village in afternoon after a morning in the compound. We met more new people, many who are Mandinka rather than Jahanka as our compound.

Our compound host is Al Hajji Mama Sware. We had a photo made with him and later one made with his brother, Al Hajji Sumeto Sware. We also met the new headmaster at the public school named Jatta. He is different from the one we met in June. We also found the little boy named Batou that Joan Lehning had a photo book for me to give him and ask him to write her son Hank. His older friend, Yankaba, was one of our guides last time but was in Brikama this week. Someone rung him up on a cell phone and I spoke to him briefly.

Last night we sat on the street outside the compound with a herd of sheep and many children. When Garry called his wife he told her “We are sitting in National Geographic.” When here it is like you step back in time 300 to a thousand years. It is another world from America.

Somata Sware just came by and greeted me. I assume he was returning form the mosque. The boys are sweeping the teaching Bantaba and putting out a big mat. Others are coming with the slates and/or books. They will practice or recite Qu’ranic verses and prayers – some read, but most from memory.

The women are preparing breakfast, bread and coffee. At least that is what we got every morning. Jeremy and Garry haven’t come out yet, but are probably up. It is 7:30 AM. The compound is now alive with activity.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009 – Evening, Barrokunda

It is 7:15 PM and we just got back from a soccer game in a big field on the outer edge of the village. Garry played with them. It was interesting! It is very hot and on a very rough field that some actually played bare-footed on. The relationship building was great! I watched and made photos. I am tired. We have decided to leave in the morning for quick visits in Sutukung and Bereng and then on to Bird Safari Camp a day early.

We expanded our contacts here but did little storying or witnessing. We did pray for several. We will debrief but I’m concerned we did not make much progress.


Thursday, November 12, 2009 – Morning, Barrokunda

It is 8:00 AM. All three of us have been reading our Bibles out in the courtyard which I pray will be a positive witness. I also read another chapter in A Long Obedience. We are waiting for breakfast and will then do farewells and leave with visits in Sutukung and Bereng before going on to BSC.


Thursday, November 12, 2009 – Evening, Bird Safari Camp

We walked around the Jahanka part of Sutukung before heading to Janjanbureh this morning and had a great experience, an answer to my prayers! After talking to two teachers, a young man came up to us in one courtyard. He said that his brother wanted to see us. He led us to the house of Mohammed Lamin Jatta.  We decided he was seeking and wanted to know more about Jesus, like Cornelius of Caesarea sent his servant to bring Peter to talk with him. Thus we decided that Cornelius would be the code name for Lamin and Caesarea the code name for Sutukung. I shared the Creation to Christ story and then both Garry and Jeremy talked with him about many different things, answering questions, etc.

Before we left he begged us to return to talk more and that if we let him know in advance, he would get together his family and friends for the discussion. He is a textbook “man of peace” and we were all quite excited about this development!

Tomorrow, Friday, we plan to take the hippo boat trip down river. Then in the afternoon we will go shopping in Janjanbureh and look for the immigration officer Jeremy struck up a friendship with on last trip. Saturday we will head for Dakar.


Friday, November 13, 2009 – Evening, Bird Safari Camp

It was a pretty easy-going day. We spent the morning on the boat looking for hippos, monkeys, birds and other animals. We ate lunch at camp and spent the afternoon in Janjanbureh witnessing to the immigration officer we met in June. His name is something like Abdullie Morsanto. It was a nice visit with Jeremy doing most of the talking. We walked around town looking for a Gambia soccer shirt for Garry’s kids, but no luck. We had a late supper at camp with Gambian music.


Saturday, November 14, 2009 – Evening at Dakar Airport

After jotting down some future travel info like most ATMs here take Visa Card more than any other and I jotted down ideas for an article on the trip for The Evangel. Then I wrote this as a draft for an Evangel article:

In Acts 10 you can read of the time Cornelius of Caesarea sent a servant to ask Peter to come visit him. When we entered our Caesarea and talked about Jesus with two different teachers, a young man cme up to us and said “My brother wants to see you. Will you come with me?” We followed him into a small house where we were introduced to Cornelius (not his real name). He is a young, well-educated, beginning Qu’ranic teacher. He began to ask questions and we talked about Jesus for more than an hour, mostly in English, though that is not his heart language. He begged us to come again, calling him first so he can gather together his family and friends to all “broaden their understanding of Jesus.”

I had prayed that God would give visions and perform a miracle by preparing someone to seek and find Jesus. We belive that Cornelius of Caesarea is the “man of peace” for this trip.

I ask you to pray for others to join in this discussion there and in Miah. Please discern if it is God’s will for you to go. We are hoping for someone to go every two months or so. Contact Charlie Doggett.

I wrote most of the above after getting on the plane as a jump-start for an Evangel article and something for the Jahanka-Gambia Prayer Newsletter.

Today was spent driving about 9 hours from BSC to Dakar. We are tired and hope to sleep on the flight.  Before the airport we saw the lighthouse and ate a nice dinner at a Brazilian all-you-can-eat restaurant run by a Brazilian missionary using reclaimed street children as employees and all the profit going to support them. It was enjoyable and we met a bunch of teen girls and their house mother from Dakar Academy. Several were daughters of our Southern Baptist missionaries.


Sunday, November 15, 2009 – Washington Dulles Airport

I just spent an hour and 45 minutes in Customs because I was radioactive from my stress test a week ago. Strange! It is the first time I have ever been delayed that long, but we still made our connecting flight to Nashville.



Tuesday, December 21, 2009 – On the Death of Cliff Abel

Saturday afternoon the 19th I received a call from Jim Lowry of our church informing me that Cliff had been found dead in his house this afternoon. He did not show up for his stats-keeping job with Jim at the Vanderbilt basketball game. The first time Jim called Cliff’s house, no one answered. During the game’s half-time he called again and Chad, cliff’s son, answered. He came over around 3:45 PM and found his Dad, fully clothed, lying on his bed.

Things were pieced together later that Cliff did church hospital visitation as a deacon Wednesday morning and then evidently came home, took his shoes off and laid down on the bed. He did not show up for Wednesday night church, but many miss this close to Christmas, so no one checked on him. Cliff had some kind of heart surgery in earlier years, but I saw him as being in good health for someone 74 years old.

I have been morning ever since the word, very down or blue. Several friends have called and Ben McGinnis has called twice to comfort me. Cliff was in some ways my best friend. He was my Sunday lunch buddy every Sunday he didn’t have a Titans game. He was a fellow-photographer and missions trip enthusiast. We also attended the First Friday Prayers for Muslims each month with Ben McGinnis. His focus there was on his friend Debbie working with Kurds in northern Iraq.

His funeral is today at noon and I plan to be there for visitation by 11:00 AM. Ben has asked to meet me there and meet Cliff’s family.  Need to get ready pretty soon. And will report after the funeral.


4:00 PM – The lower auditorium was full and it was a well-done service with Pastor Frank, Rus, Tommy Dixon, & Michael Valentine participating along with an Abel family quartet. A life well-lived became the theme along with some humor typical of Cliff. Frank read passages from Cliff’s Bible that he had highlighted while stories were told by Tommy & Rus. It was memorable. I got to talk with Chad before the service and Debbie (the Iraq missionary) afterwards. I then took Ben McGinnis to Germantown Café for a long, leisurely lunch with lots of talk about life, both our lives. It was a good day.




Saturday, August 7, 2010

Here I go again! After a long absence, I’m saying I will try to write in my journal more regularly.

I just spent a week putting my computer back together after Dell Support couldn’t make it work properly. It is very aggravating since it is a nearly new computer, bought in December. I lost my address book in Outlook though all my files and photos were backed up. I’m just starting all over with the software products and still haven’t gotten the Epson printers to work. Maybe this week.

Yesterday was our monthly “First Friday Prayer” meeting of a small group of people who meet monthly to discuss and pray for Muslims in Nashville. It is a highlight of every month and after that I wish for more prayer meetings. I mean we just mainly pray and it is so refreshing to spend time with God. Why don’t I do this more at home? Another goal!

I’m working on my scrapbooks again and up to 1997. Once I’m through 1999, the bulk of the work will be done. Then I have a lot of “cleaning up” or “tweaking” of many of the albums. It is quite a collection, filling a whole closet. It has become a massive biography with photos, letters and limited or spasmodic journal entries like this.

I’m tired and have a big day tomorrow as a volunteer after Sunday school at the Mayor’s First Day of School program next door to our church at the Bridgestone Arena. I work 10:30 to 2:00. It is hot but will only get up to 94 tomorrow. And I’m on the early shift which is a little cooler.

I’m mainly just being retired with lots of volunteer work at church and at the zoo plus an occasional AARP Driver Safety Program class I teach. I turned 70 last month and still think of it as a big milestone or me being really old now. 🙂


Tuesday, August 31, 2010 – Thought I Saw Jason

I was up at 6:30 without an alarm and did my back exercises and walked around the Bicentennial Mall State Park two times which is my new morning habit. On the way back as I walked through KFC there was a bearded white man (homeless-looking), sitting on the curb at the beginning of their back drive and corner of condo property. He was smoking and looked dazed, so I assumed it might be marijuana. As I walked past him I did a double-take, thinking he held himself or his demeanor was a lot like Jason.

I went in the house and started thinking it was Jason and wondering what I should do. After all, his last communication with me was to never contact him again and he threatened to kill me. I was concerning myself with the fact that I really do not have room for him to live here with me and can’t afford the many ways he runs through money. Plus how much does he still hate me? On the other hand, is this the modern prodigal son story happening and he has just returned? I showered, I prayed about it and for Jason. Then I went outside and said “Good Morning!” to the man who was still there. When He lifted his head I instantly saw that it was not Jason. I spoke briefly with the man and let him know I had mistaken him for someone else. I returned inside.

But oh what a mental/emotional/spiritual turmoil I just went through over that sad homeless man near my house. (There are a lot of homeless around here, but most are black.) I wondered if God was testing me. I’m glad I went back and spoke to the dejected-looking man and glad it was not Jason. But what will I do if Jason does show up? Of course I will accept him, but with lots of rules and only a brief time sleeping on my office hide-a-bed. I would seek help, starting with Rus Roach and insisting that he get with some agency for help. But my real hope is that he is getting his own life together and wherever he is, he has a job and is living a decent life. The last I heard about him was from Brandie who said he moved in with his mother in Memphis in summer of 2009. That’s a year ago! Oh how I wish we had a father-son relationship. For years, he only contacted me when he needed money which became way too frequent. When I said no the last time, it was over with Jason. Then he wrote the hateful email in January 09 I think and that is the last I have heard from him. I lost Juli to death and I have lost Jason to what? A broken relationship for sure, but is it hatred? Different life philosophy? Dependency? I am refusing to be codependent which was possibly the main problem I had with Ginger. Jason is my blood-kin, but we seem to have no other relationship.


Sunday, October 03, 2010

After worship this morning I heard that the primary purpose of the business meeting at church tonight is to eliminate Sam & Margi’s positions along with possibly some others. I am upset, angry, and prepared to speak against it tonight.
Dear Lord, please help me to seek your wisdom and to be cautious and kind in whatever I say. My written statement may or may not be the right thing to say, so I seek your leadership and guidance. This reminds me of LifeWay job deletions and I hurt for my friends. I want what is best for the church but don’t understand how they work and why it is happening the way it is. Please help me to seek your will and follow it. Help me to be slow in judgment and to avoid harsh words. Help me Lord.
Also Lord, thank you for the positive response thus far to the class on connecting with Muslims and help me to be wise in my leadership there tonight, not letting my emotions about the business meeting hurt the class. In Jesus name I pray.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010 – Remembering Scouts

I read an article in National Geographic Traveler today that reminded me how much Boy Scouts influenced me and my life. I stuck it in my scrapbook between 1952 & 1953 because that was when Scouts were really beginning to be big or when I moved from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts. Boyd Matson (who works for National Geographic) titled his article “I Blame the Boy Scouts.” He says things like “They stole my soul when I was a kid–and planted it firmly in the wilderness.” Another quote picked up by the layout designer was “The lessons went beyond digging latrines and setting up tents in the rain. We learned about facing life’s challenges.”

I suddenly realized that all those camping trips & hikes plus outdoor skills did the same thing for me! I have loved the outdoors ever since and find some of my greatest joy when out in the woods hiking and photographing things. Taking Chenxu and friends to Fiery Gizzard Trail and Stone Door last month was the highlight of the month for me. I can now hardly wait until the nature tour of Costa Rica with boat trips and hikes through the jungles and so many things to see and photograph. Even working at an exhibit at the zoo is an outdoor adventure for me.

I so deeply regret that Jason chose not to continue beyond Cub Scouts because I think he would have learned more responsibility along with a love of the outdoors. I wish he would contact me or that we had a relationship that would not be dependency/co-dependency as before. I miss having a son. But even in this estrangement I find peace in the outdoors, even walking around the state park across the street. Thank you God for this relationship with nature, your creation!


Wednesday, November 24, 2010 – Thought I Saw Jason Again

I had another false spotting of Jason yesterday. I was walking around the park and this 30-something, thin man about Jason’s height and build with a knit cap like he wears and a beard. He was just standing along the history wall staring into space. My second time around the park I walked up to him and asked “Are you Jason?” He said “No” and I immediately knew it wasn’t him. We chatted a bit and I realized this was the same man I had mistaken for Jason over by KFC August 31.

It is a weird feeling. I would really like to see Jason, yet I’m afraid that we can’t relate and that he will just want to bleed me of my money again. I pray that he changes – that he will find a friend that will bring him back to God and influence him positively. I can’t do it and Jason won’t change or relate to God until he wants to. It is a helpless feeling. A sadness for me


Thursday, November 25, 2010 – Thanksgiving
It has been a nice, quiet day. I turned down Bettye Lane’s offer of a dinner plate and went out to eat which wasn’t as easy as I thought! The Downtown Details said Copper Kettle was open for Thanksgiving but it was not when I got there at 2:45. I read somewhere else that TGI Friday’s was open, but it was not nor any of the other West End restaurants except Maggiano’s which doesn’t appeal to me. I went to Harding Place Cracker Barrel and they said it was 1:15 wait, but the girl said Logan’s and Swett’s was open. Not! I ended up getting take-away at the Charlotte Ave. Cracker Barrel which I enjoyed at home. The only TV was PBS Newshour. I got my mail list ready for Christmas Cards and read two more chapters in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. And oh yes, this morning I rode my bike to the end of Metro Center and back on the greenway, 12 miles. So an overall nice day! And I found a quote from Bonheoffer I plan to use on my website. Bedtime now


Monday, November 29, 2010
Just thought I should write it down somewhere that since I have been home from church and late lunch at Jack’s BBQ, I have been a little dizzy or whoozy in the head. And I’m working at the church for Sam tonight, manning the backdoor for those coming to have church directory photos made. Hope everything will be okay. It is rare for me to have anything physical like this. Strange! Was it something I ate at Jack’s? Is something else happening to my body?

Monday, December 20, 2010 – Miami Airport (10:30 to 11:00 ET)

Up at 3:00, Taxi a little before 4:00 and it was still 5:45 AM before I got through TSA screening. The airport was busy when I got there at 4:10 with a long line for AA check in. So this adventure begins!

I’ve eaten breakfast twice! Swett’s sausage & egg biscuit in Nashville and guava & cheese empanada with banana and coffee here in Miami. I have walked almost the entire concourse here for exercise from D20 to D60 and back. We are suppose to board at 11:10 AM Miami time and leave at 12:10 which will be 11:10 Central time, which is Costa Rica time (like Nashville!). We are scheduled to arrive at 2:15 in San Jose airport making it about a 3 hour flight.

Bonnie gave me a nice journal for Christmas with a compass on the wood & leather look cover. I may use it on trip but it is in the checked suitcase now. And actually the computer is easier and quicker and it doesn’t hurt my arthritis like writing. So we will see. We are suppose to have electricity all the time, but it could be unsure, especially in Tortuguero.

I’m ready for the tropical adventure to begin, but everything is an adventure and that includes the Miami Airport! People watching here seems to include the whole world with many nationalities and lots who habla Español. Another thing that struck me as I sat at a bar eating my empanada looking out at the concourse is how many other single, adventure-looking other travelers there are, though most of the others seem to be in their 20’s. J And just being in the airport makes me want to plan another Miami-Everglades trip! I love it down here!

Well it is almost 11:10, though I doubt they will board on time. Adios!


Thursday, December 23, 2010 – Tortuguero, Costa Rica

Well, this worked out about like usual with me and journals! We’ve had a full schedule and I have used my time at night to process and organize my many photos, not even thinking about journal until today. Of course I’m getting behind on organizing the photos and will do some more tonight, but here’s a summary of what’s happened and how I’m feeling.

Caravan is a good company with good employees and about as good as you can do for the money. The mix of people in our 42-person group is quite diverse, interesting, and fun. Tonight was the first time I dined with people I felt out of place with. They were two couples and a college girl, all from Michigan. I had trouble fitting into the conversation and was ready to come back to my room when I finished eating. But that is okay since all other relationships have been great!


Sunday, April 10, 2011 – Taize Service at Christ Cathedral Nashville

Our Theology of Worship Class at First Baptist visited Christ Cathedral (Episcopal) tonight for their monthly Taize Service which this month was “Prayers for World Peace in the Taize Tradition.”

This was a new experience for me and was quite worshipful in a different way from our First Baptist services. The Taize style worship is quiet, meditative, and reflective. It uses music with simple chanting and includes periods of silence and brief readings. We were encouraged to sing or chant along with a small group of musicians and to focus our attention on the experience and power of prayer.

It helped me to focus on the Lord and to talk with Him in a meditative way as I have try to do at home. It was not easy at first, being so different from our Baptist church services, but I found it to be one of the most worshipful group experiences I have had outside some spiritual retreats or camps. I’m not sure I like repeating the chant words over and over, but that does drive home the message of those words. This kind of worship will have to be mostly in my home as a Southern Baptist!  Though I might try to visit here again since they do it monthly. The ornate building with lots of stained glass and candles was also a focusing atmosphere for meditative worship, but I don’t find it necessary for me. An empty room with no distractions would be just as worshipful.

At home I have a chair in the corner of my bedroom with no furniture other than the bed and dresser. Above the chair hangs my grandmother’s old sepia-toned print of a painting of Jesus praying in the garden. The other wall in that corner has my deacon ordination towel and certificate framed as a reminder of the importance of service. I also have a canvas photo of a Mandinka potter’s hands on the clay on a wheel. The photo includes the quotation “O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, you are the potter. Isaiah 64:8” I have just ordered another larger canvas photo of a sunrise with the quotation: “This mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:27 NIV” These images and Scripture passages create a worship space for me that is used for nothing else but sleep, which in one sense is also worship.


Monday, April 11, 2011, Memento mori

Just read an article in Christianity Today about dying. The Latin above is “Remember your mortality” or “Remember you will die.” The writer, Carolyn Arends, tells about her father singing “With Christ in the Vessel, I can Smile at the Storm” over and over just before he died. Another person memorized and repeated regularly until death “The Jesus Prayer:” Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
I looked up the hymn or chorus and found these words:
“With Christ in the vessel I can smile at the storm,
Smile at the storm, smile at the storm,
With Christ in the vessel I can smile at the storm,
Until he takes me home.
Sailing, sailing home, sailing, sailing home!
With Christ in the vessel I can smile at the storm,
Until he takes me home.”
Dear Lord, keep me humble and always aware that I will die and life will go on without me!


Monday, July 4, 2011 – My 71st Birthday

I’m having a quiet, simple birthday alone this year. For the first time in several years the church is not doing a downtown outreach activity which I always participate in and everyone wishes me a “Happy Birthday!” But I did get invited to a cookout (ribs) yesterday evening at Kevin & Robbie Hunter’s along with Debbie Bright. Robbie made a delicious homemade blackberry pie from Farmers’ Market blackberries. It was my birthday cake substitute this year. Though the day before I had a brownie alamode birthday dessert provided by TGI Friday’s.

This morning I slept until near 8:00, did my back-stretching exercises, walked two miles in the park, bought my own blackberries at the Farmers’ Market, and came back for shower and leisurely breakfast. I read the paper, soaked some stamps, checked emails and the many Facebook birthday greetings before deciding to see a movie.

I went to Hollywood 27 for Cars 2 in 3-D which was okay but not as good as the first one. Most of the adult movies didn’t appeal to me today. Afterwards I ate a salad for lunch at Panera’s which also gave me a birthday dessert and I had another brownie, this one with icing rather than ice cream. Nice!

I’m working on my U.S. stamp collection now for a while. I inherited Jerry’s stamps, most of which were in envelopes and not organized or displayed. I organized and mounted all his foreign stamps in his old 1957 album and then donated them to the church since Sim Hassler is trying to make a church collection to help promote missions he says. I occasionally help him organize and mount the many different people have donated. But at home I am now seriously into building up the U.S. collection I got from Jerry. I got the three-volume American Heirloom Albums and have sorted and mounted most of the stamps working backwards into the 1930’s now. This is something I did as a child and young teen and then in the 1990’s gave my collection away to someone at church after the divorce. But with Jerry’s collection, I’m not starting over from scratch, but probably have nearly 1,000 unique stamps and lots more duplicates. It will be interesting to see if I lose interest or continue for long. It is fun and rewarding to see a collection come together.

It has been cloudy and threatening rain all day, but not a drop yet. If not raining, I may watch the Nashville Riverfront fireworks show tonight from my back deck. And I am flying my American Flag today.

It is almost with pride that I proclaim to people that I never get bored with more things I want to do than I ever have time for. And often add that I am too busy doing things I enjoy to get lonely. But the truth is that on some holidays and especially my birthday and Christmas, I do long for family. Only God know if Jason will ever re-establish contact and ever be a close son. I’m long “over” the divorce and because of how mean Ginger was to me and the growing lack of love between us, I don’t particularly miss the marriage. But I really miss Juli and the great father-daughter love we had and the fun we had together even with all her problems and difficulties. I have always longed for a similar relationship with Jason, but have accepted the fact that it may never happen. Somehow I lost him in his teen years or shortly after. Of course I blame myself for doing or not doing/saying the right things. Sometimes I tried too hard and definitely put myself in a co-dependent relationship with him. It seems that when I said “no” or stopped the co-dependent rescuing of Jason, he divorced me just like Ginger did when I quit rescuing her. Of course neither of them have or ever will see it that way. I feel that my biggest failure in life was at family-life or marriage and parenting. Yet life goes on and I know God has forgiven me of my failures and I accept His mercy and grace and pray that somehow I can live the rest of my life as a follower of Christ, a Christ incarnate. I sometimes wonder if I spend too much time in all my many hobbies and need to focus on following Christ more. Then on the other hand, it is in living a human life with work or hobbies that I become a Christ-like individual. It is clouded by my family failures and other sinful natures or thoughts, but it is part of being “the pilgrim” or the follower on the rocky road. I long for heaven, but somehow I want to have been more while on earth, to have “accomplished” more or represented Christ more or better. Yet in the humility of my failures I am more dependent on Him and that is what he wants from me. So in one sense I am right where he wants me. God help me to trust you and to be at peace with where I am in life.



Tuesday, July 25, 2011 – Reworking My Priorities

I’m just thinking, but do believe I need to rework my priorities, if I even have any. I mainly do what I want to do at the time and schedule trips or big activities ahead of time. I’m spending too much time on the stamp collection and will try to schedule time for it and genealogy work so I get balance in my work and get more accomplished. But I’m falling asleep right now, so this entry will have to be later. . . .


Friday, November 25, 2011 – Contemplative

I enjoyed a Thanksgiving Dinner yesterday with Robbie & Kevin Hunter and her father Bob. Today I put in my 4 hours at the Zoo which was also a joy. My morning scripture reading was Psalm 90 where I particularly liked this line in The Message translation of verse 2:

Long before you brought earth itself to birth,
from “once upon a time” to “kingdom come”—you are God.
This evening I read the 12 steps again and the serenity prayer and just felt compelled to write them down in my journal. It was only recently that I discovered the “second verse.” I long ago memorized the first part but not the second part which is just as powerful:

The Serenity Prayer
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
–Reinhold Niebuhr

In loving memory of
Fr Bertram Griffin — 1932-2000
Requiescat in Pace

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will direct your paths.
Proverbs 3, 5-6


December 17, 2011 – A Passage that Spoke to Me This Morning

Psalm 116 in The Message reminded me how good God was to me during those hard years from before the divorce until after Juli’s death and the loss of my LifeWay job. Thank you God!

Psalm 116

I love God because he listened to me, listened as I begged for mercy.
He listened so intently
as I laid out my case before him.
Death stared me in the face,
hell was hard on my heels.
Up against it, I didn’t know which way to turn;
then I called out to GOD for help:
“Please, GOD!” I cried out.
“Save my life!”
GOD is gracious—it is he who makes things right,
our most compassionate God.
GOD takes the side of the helpless;
when I was at the end of my rope, he saved me.

7-8 I said to myself, “Relax and rest.
GOD has showered you with blessings.
Soul, you’ve been rescued from death;
Eye, you’ve been rescued from tears;
And you, Foot, were kept from stumbling.”

9-11 I’m striding in the presence of GOD,
alive in the land of the living!
I stayed faithful, though bedeviled,
and despite a ton of bad luck,
Despite giving up on the human race,
saying, “They’re all liars and cheats.”

12-19 What can I give back to GOD
for the blessings he’s poured out on me?
I’ll lift high the cup of salvation—a toast to God!
I’ll pray in the name of GOD;
I’ll complete what I promised GOD I’d do,
and I’ll do it together with his people.
When they arrive at the gates of death,
GOD welcomes those who love him.
Oh, GOD, here I am, your servant,
your faithful servant: set me free for your service!
I’m ready to offer the thanksgiving sacrifice
and pray in the name of GOD.
I’ll complete what I promised GOD I’d do,
and I’ll do it in company with his people,
In the place of worship, in GOD’s house,
in Jerusalem, God’s city.


March 7, 2012
Tonight the young NAMB missionary spoke in prayer meeting with great energy and enthusiasm about reaching out to some of the 135 people groups in Nashville. I have wished for a long time that our church was doing something like that. I was excited to do something but at the same time depressed that our church just doesn’t do this kind of missions. I am still confused as to who I am and what God wants me to do. I volunteer for lots at church and it is all good. But am I really fulfilling a purpose? Do I have a ministry? Is it all just to make things better for the people within our church like the SAALT activities? How do I really represent Christ best? I know it means relating to people, more people and as a follower of Christ. But I have trouble getting motivated. Just leaving the card with my tip at lunch is not enough. I need to engage people and not be so self-centered. Help me God!
When I got home I read an article about the dark night of the soul in Leadership Magazine through which I found this prayer that becomes my prayer tonight:

Prayer of Abandonment
Thomas Merton

My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain
where it will end.

Nor do I really know myself,
and that I think I am following your will
does not mean I am actually doing so.
But I believethe desire to please you
does in fact please you.

And I hope I have that desire
in all I am doing.
I hope I will never do anything
apart from that desire.

And I know if I do this
you will lead me by the right road
though I may know nothing about it.
I will trust you always
though I may seem to be lost
and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear,
for you will never leave me
to face my perils alone.
Amen – Charlie

Thursday, March 22, 2012 – Hiking Accident on the Fiery Gizzard Trail
One week ago today (March 15) I had a pretty bad accident. All the forecasts were for a beautiful day and we have had plenty of rain with our early spring, so I wanted to go hiking in the South Cumberland State Park near Monteagle, TN. Forgot to tell anyone I was going. I left early and first went into Suwanee and found the trail to the Suwanee Natural Bridge. I had never seen it, thus my first priority. A short hike but gorgeous rock formation and one of the bigger natural bridges I have seen. Most of the trees had no leaves, thus giving clear shots to the bridge from all sides, above and below. Glad I finally made it and with some photos!

Then I headed over the interstate to my most frequented trails, the Grundy Forest Day Loop and first mile or so of the Fiery Gizzard Trail as far as Sycamore Falls. Little Fiery Gizzard Creek was the fullest and most beautiful I’ve seen it and Blue Hole Falls was just right! At its intersection with the Fiery Gizzard Creek was a huge gush of water through the Black Canyon. I enjoyed the scenery all the way past Chimney Rocks to Sycamore Falls, hiking in and out of a group of about 8 from a Church of Christ in Gallatin. They were hiking through to Foster Falls with an overnight at Raven Point. (Been there done that! Great!)

As they went on after lunch at the Falls with me (my Apple and granola bar lunch). I headed back to the parking lot. Somewhere between the Chimneys and the Black Gorge something happened that caused me to stumble and fall – maybe a stone, root or mud – not sure. I suddenly was falling like a cut tree to the ground or rather the rocky trail hitting my head first it seemed, though the damaged hands indicate they may have all hit about the same time, not to mention my knees and shins with ripped open jeans. I swear I hear a cracking sound when my head hit.

I almost immediately pulled myself up and sat on a large rock by the trail. My head was bleeding profusely, running down my face. I took out my white handkerchief, unfolded it and placed it over my head where bleeding. It caught the blood and caused it to coagulate and thus stopped the worst bleeding. Then I got the leftover paper napkins from my lunch and wrapped one around my left hand near the index finger where there was a big, deep gash and a lot of bleeding. Again the direct pressure and the napkins stopped the bleeding.

Then I did the same to the side of my right hand which was bleeding with multiple cuts and was already swelling. My skinned shins and knees had blue jeans to absorb that blood and I assumed they were more like abrasions. I had used my bottled water to rinse both hand wounds and then drank some. I put the camera that was around my neck into my backpack and told myself I needed to get out of there. I was in pain all over, but believed I could walk. But first I checked myself for a concussion the way docs do in ER. What is your name? What is today? Where are you? Who is the president? I moved my finger in front of my face from right to left and let my eyes follow it. Then ruled I did not have a concussion.

So I took off walking the maybe 2 miles or so back to the parking lot. I kept debating on finding a doctor in Tracy City or maybe there is a little hospital in Monteagle. (I later learned there is one in Suwanee.) But since I did not know and figured a small town hospital may not be able to help me if I had anything serious, I decided to drive on to Nashville to Centennial Hospital where all my doctors are located. After a 30-40 minutes hike out, I had a painful and difficult 90-minute drive to Nashville, but was glad to be at the Emergency Room of a big hospital.

An attendant came out immediately and wrapped my bleeding head in the waiting room, probably grossing out the people waiting there. All their beds were full, so I waited a bit and they took me for a CAT scan of my head. Then I was taken back to a operating or work ward where a young, attractive female doctor named Karen Younghale cleaned and sewed up my worst wound, head and left hand after giving me a local anesthesia. She was fun to chat with.

Then someone took me to a room where they finally had a bed. But I was not there long before I went for an x-ray of my right hand which was now greatly swollen. I later got positive reports from this and the CAT scan – no hand fracture, no crack in skull, and no internal bleeding around the brain. I just continue to be one lucky guy! They gave me pain medicine and I drove my car home where I have been resting since. But I have gotten out every day for something and had stitches removed yesterday. My head, hands, and left leg still hurt. My left knee is swollen and it is the one that has given me trouble over the last year or so. I called Dr. Visser’s office and they said it can remain swollen for two week or longer. They made an appointment for me to see Christian Visser on April 2 if it is still hurting or swollen. So that is it. I look ugly, limp a little, still have some pain, but I am going to be just fine.

I’ve promised several people that I will not hike that far without a companion again. I checked on hiker emergency devices that with a push of a button you can summon EMTs to you with GPS signals. Problem is they must have clear air above them in line with the satellite. That would rarely be possible in South Cumberland, so forget those expensive gadgets. It is the same reason a cell phone has no reception on the Fiery Gizzard Trail, down in a canyon surrounded by trees. A hiking buddy will work better. Or I will start going on Ranger-led hikes and to wildflower festivals where there are group hikes.
That is my True Grit story of the hiking fall. I picked myself up and kept moving. It is the only way I know how to operate.



Saturday, September 29, 2012 – Movie: Barfi
I saw it Wednesday to stay out of the house while the buyer and house inspector were here and chose it because it is a comedy and I can always use a good laugh! Well, this “Bollywood” Indian film with English subtitles was non-stop comedy, but oh so much more! A young man with speech and hearing disability is rejected by the girl he loves and he ultimately finds a truer love (non-sexual) and total acceptance in befriending a special-needs child who happens to be a girl whose family was using her to their own benefit and not truly loving her. Along with constant laughs the story explores a kind of true love that maybe only us who have loved a special-needs child can understand. It reminded me so much of the very difficult but deeply enduring and faithful love relationship I had with my special-needs daughter Juli. We went through so many difficulties together and at times Juli “was impossible” to relate to, making it somewhat understandable that her brother ignored her and I don’t think her mother ever fully accepted her as she was but wanted her for the child-support money. I stuck with Juli through the thick and thin, the horrible tantrums and other poor behavior and consistently guided her gently in the right direction, having to make some very difficult decisions along the way for her sake, but Juli with her disabilities recognized my consistency and love and thus loved me, her father, like no one else has ever loved or accepted me. It is so similar to what Barfi experienced in this movie. I highly recommend it! Especially if you have a special-needs person in your life.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 – The Move is 3-Weeks Away
Okay, so I haven’t written about it yet! For years I have thought and even discussed with different people the wisdom of moving into a retirement village, community, or complex that has the minimum of three levels (which can technically be more than 3). My thinking is

1. I have no family to care for me when really old or ill or to manage my finances, sell my house, etc. Jason is simply not responsible enough and really doesn’t care about me enough to take on such a role. Bonnie (my sister) “would if she could” kind of thing, but has her plate more than full with her family and her health is probably more fragile than mine and they live so far away in a Kansas City suburb and though very friendly, we are not close enough that she would likely take on such a role. Jason & Bonnie are the only two family members left for me and I don’t want to put the caretaker burden on them. Nor do I want to put the caretaker burden on my church which is my local family. Plus, I want to make my own decisions while I can.

2. I had read about tri-level retirement homes where you start off in independent living, still driving and living my life like I do now but with some community benefits. Then, if and when needed you “graduate” to assisted living or nursing facility and can if go back to independent living if you get better. So . . .

3. A few older friends at church bought into a tri-level retirement center here called Richland Place and I even went to visit it, thinking it would be nice and would it! But way too expensive for me! You buy in for a minimum of $250,000 for a very small condo and then pay between 2k & 3k per month. I checked some other place that are as expensive or more so. Then I remembered the older McKendree Village which has been operated by Methodists for several generations out in Hermitage. I also had read that they were bought by an out-of-town company and making improvements. So I checked it out and found it to be the first one that is affordable, though only barely. After prayer, thinking about it and talking to friends and advisors, I made the leap:

In July and August I visited and talked with the folks at McKendree and by the end of August had picked out a “cottage” which is a 1200 sq ft house with an attached garage. It is more space for less money than an apartment in the convenience of the main building. So I put a deposit on it before I left for my Grand Canyons Tour August 25. I was feeling good about it because of several reasons:

1. I don’t have to “buy in” like the others but only pay a monthly rent.
2. The size cottage I chose was an affordable $2,000 per month rent, which is half my income, but it includes all utilities, including basic TV package with Comcast, plus all maintenance, all lawn care, a twice-a-month maid, AND one meal per day in the dining room or the dollar equivalent on a card.
3. Plus I have access to all their services like salt water swimming pool, exercise room, game room, organized activities, shopping and other transportation services, onsite barber and pharmacy and little General Store.
In September I got the ball rolling with a punch list for the house I will move into and began work on my house for sale while listing it with a neighborhood realtor. I spent a lot of money getting it ready but it sold in one week of showing with two back-up offers. We set the closing for October 31 and I am scheduled to move October 30. It all happened so fast and now with a house “decluttered” I don’t have much to do here and anxious for the month to pass so I can get in my next house and make it mine. It is like a new adventure. I’m excited!

I will be busy the next two weeks though since I am leading a hike to Stone Door this Saturday, and have AARP Driver Safety classes to teach the following two weeks. So time will soon pass!