Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Fires put damper on December plans

Sometimes Mother Nature has a way of deciding things for us.

Among a few options we had in mind for travel in December is now a no-go.


Well, a goodly portion of the area we had planned on visiting is suffering from one of the worst fires in years.

For those who keep up with happenings in the Great Smoky Mountains, the past week or two has brought news about wildfires and destruction around the towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, TN.

Each year we visit this area, sometimes more than once.

And it is somewhat distressing to hear about all the damage that fires in the area have caused.

Relatives of ours were there during the Thanksgiving week. Their schedule got them out of the area before the worst hit.

They said they went into Gatlinburg during Thanksgiving and found the town, at that time, crowded with more holiday-goers than they have ever seen, who were enjoying the visit.

But that changed over the weekend. Numerous fires, I  believe, are still burning and there have been fatalities reported.

We will now bypass the area this December as they recuperate and begin building back.  

Gatlinburg’s Friday night Christmas Parade has  also been cancelled.

Our thoughts  and prayers have been with those who live and work in the area including national park personnel.

We are members of the Great Smoky Mountains Association, an organization that helps provide funding to the national park through operation of visitor centers and the sale of merchandise.

They are also requesting donations to assist park personnel in rebuilding burned out residences.

Those desiring to make a donation may do so at GSMA.

Any help will be appreciated.

Next post: Dec. 6, 2016

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving! Here's to Clint

Happy Thanksgiving!

With Turkey Day on the horizon, a lot of folks will be in the traveling mode.

As far as me and my wife, the kids and grands are coming over for the holiday.

We won’t be having a formal Thanksgiving dinner. We usually save that kind of affair for Christmas.


Well, there’s going to be a lot of eating going on and my offspring will be getting their full at their inlaws. We’re also having our annual family holiday get-together and there will be even more eating.

Over the past couple of years we just enjoy being together and having a regular meal at our house during this time.

One is homemade pizza, and the other is becoming fettacini alfredo along with some buttered French bread and a salad.

No, the kids don’t like salads but the adults do.

But on another note. 

I don’t remember the details of many Thanksgiving days. It all runs together when traveling here and there, eating too much and wanting to get some rest.

But there’s one Turkey Day that stands out.

I can remember my wife and I in our seventh year of marriage back in 1974. For the midday meal we were invited to eat with friends of her parents in a town 30 or so miles away from her hometown.

The memory, unfortunately, has to do with a football game — one between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins, a traditional matchup on that particular day.

I liked the Cowboys back then (and since Dak Prescott is quarterback now and played at Mississippi State) l like them once again.

One name stands out, and I hear the Skins still get depressed when they speak his name.

And that name is Clint Longley.

He was a rookie quarterback, playing as a backup behind the famed Roger Staubach. I read where Roger the Dodger had a $200  bounty on him for that game. The Redskins figured if they took him out, they could easily handle a rookie.

Well, Staubauch went out, and with no one else on the sidelines to play quarterback, Longley was sent in.

In a back and forth second half, Longley managed to make history and the Cowboys won the game.

But, according to the story, he wasn’t long for the Cowboys because of not getting along with Stauback and reportedly hitting him in the face.

He went to several other teams and then to Canada and finally faded into the sunset.

But this time every year, Cowboy fans, and yes, even the Redskins, resurrect his name.

He’s gone, but apparently never forgotten.

Once again, Happy Thanksgiving!

Next post: Nov. 29, 2016

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Vacation experience relived at home

My wife enjoys tea and bagels at the Microtel Inn overlooking Gatlinburg, TN
I like to call it our "Microtel Morning" when we are at home.

Why that?

Well, it has to do with our making a reservation about 10 years ago with the Microtel motel in Gatlinburg, TN.

My wife enjoys breakfast on the window seat at home
 overlooking the wooded area behind our house
We happened to get room 322.

And ever since that first time, whenever we make reservations there (at least five more times), we ask for the same room, and we have been lucky enough to ask far enough in advance to secure that room.

The receptionist a couple years ago told me that we barely beat out another party that was also interested in that same room.

What’s so great about the room? 

Well, it is on the third level. It is on the west side of the facility and overlooks the downtown while giving a nice look at the mountains .

The Space Needle is just a block or so away.

But what it seems we like most is the fact that they have a window seat.

I know, that sounds kind of trite. But my wife and I love the view and being able to sit there to see what’s going on.

We especially like eating our breakfast of bagels, cereal, coffee, tea and some sweets while sitting there.  The room downstairs where they serve their continental breakfast is not that big. And my wife doesn’t always get up early enough.

So I take the room tray downstairs and load it up with our food and beverages and take it back to the room.

OK! What’s that got to do with our own “Microtel Morning.”

Well, we had a new house custom built for us in our hometown.

And guess what? In the design we incorporated a set of window seats.

We are surrounded by woods and it gives us the mountain feel.

So when we get up, this is usually for a Sunday morning, wifey meanders over to the window seat and I fix bagels; tea for her, coffee for me, and maybe some cereal!

And we enjoy the morning looking out over the expanse of woods.

It's not Gatlinburg, but somehow, there is that feeling of being in the Smokeys.

Just another Microtel Morning.

Next post: Nov., 22, 2016

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

There are many roads, but which one

It appears that a lot of people will be  traveling out of the country soon, depending on which candidate wins the  presidential vote.

They said so. If Donald Trump wins there will be a lot who say they’ll move their citizenship. Likewise, if Hillary Clinton wins.

The government will still get them if they leave because of the regulations enacted that will caused them to be heavily taxed on their exit.

As for me and my family, we’ll just stay here and ride it out no matter the outcome.

I’ve read and heard stories about how bad things may have been socially and economically over the past 40 years or so, and all I can say is that I survived and will continue to do so.

It is unfortunate that so many people still want the government to be their savior. That can never truly happen. Those who think so will just become enslaved by their so-called masters.

There are a number of roads which we can travel down. Writer Robert Frost put it succinctly; “I took the one less traveled by.”

That particular road for some, is the straight and narrow. That is the one that leads to life’s true enjoyment and thriving regardless of whom is president.

But it is the road less traveled.

Next post: Nov. 15, 2016

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

2017 offers a few more challenges

2016 is quickly coming to an end.

This time next week a little more than half the country will be jubilant for their candidate in the presidential race and the others will be looking toward 2020 (or either filing court suits to have the results overturned).

2020, that has a good ring to it. Let’s hope that we’re still around  for at least another four years and hopefully a whole lot more.

There is still a lot of traveling to do, and for those of us getting older, it will probably be to places that we are comfortable with and that are easy to get to.

My wife and I, once upon a time, use to travel to the West Coast each year. And we did that for 10 to 12 years. But that has fallen by the wayside.

The writing on a wall in the movie “Kuffs” is so true: “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” I read on Wikipedia that  the saying should be attributed to American writer Allen Saunders.

I still yearn for the enjoyable times that we once experienced in San Francisco those many years ago, but things are changing.

I yearn for more long road trips, but I don’t believe my wife and I can handle 30 days into the unknown.

The mind fantasizes, but the body is reality. We may be a step slower, the airplane seats seem to be smaller and just getting ready for a trip now seems to be such a challenge.

But travel, we must. We must persevere and continue to meet the goals set years ago.

I still have three more states (as does my wife, but not the same) to visit to wrap up setting foot in all of them. Maybe that will happen next year.

We have already started making plans.

I am beginning to believe that cruising may fulfill a lot of our travel needs. It is a one-stop option where one can unpack once until the trip is over. There’s no beds to make, food got cook or dishes to wash.

And we only have to drive 70 miles to New Orleans to get on a ship.

That truly sounds good.

But, the problem is, we are campers and love to be out in nature, such as in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

It will really be hard to not be able to experience the landscape and wildlife in those mountains.

Next post: Nov. 8, 2016