It was a great vacation, even if I didn't get to go. When Gina and I were visiting my sister Jeannie over the fourth of July, the two of them hatched a diabolical plot. They planned to meet in Seattle for a weeks vacation. Gina has a sister that lives in Seattle and one that lives in Portland. They all got together and had a great time. I was very jealous. I told Gina that since I couldn't go she needed to take lots of pictures. She came home with lots of great photos.
They really packed a lot of activity into the time they had. In Seattle they went to Pikes Place Market,
And to a Seattle Mariners baseball game.
One day they spent near Ocean Shores, which is a six mile long peninsula bordered by the Pacific Ocean and Grays Harbor.
On another day they spent about 8 hours driving around the base of Mount Rainer.
The Seattle, Washington area sure has lots of beautiful scenery, and so many things to do. While you are there you are required by state law to drink large amounts of coffee. Because of this law there are Starbucks everywhere. Gina even found one location where there is a Starbucks right across the street from another Starbucks. Gina didn't want to run afoul of the law so she made sure to get her iced coffee.
Gina had a great time, and I'm glad she had a good vacation. As she was leaving Seattle she got a great shot of Mount Rainier From the plane.
It's time again For ABC Wednesday. If you aren't participating in ABC Wednesday, you are missing out on a lot of fun. This week the letter is "F". F is for Flautist. Or is it F is for Flutist? The choice of "flautist" versus "flutist" is the source of vicious dispute among players of the instrument. "Flutist" is the earlier term in the English language, dating from at least 1603, while "flautist" is not recorded before 1860.
The first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary lists fluter as dating from circa 1400 and Fowler's Modern English Usage states that "there seems no good reason" why flautist should have prevailed over fluter or flutist. However, according to Webster's Dictionary of English Usage, flautist is the preferred term in British English, and while both terms are used in American English, flutist is "by far the more common choice."
James Galway summed up the way he feels about "flautist," saying, "I am a flute player not a flautist. I don't have a flaut and I've never flauted."
I've never seen James Galway though I have a number of his CD's. Even though I have never seen James Galway perform, I have had the privilege of hearing top quality flute music. A few weeks ago we had a concert at our church by Philip Kim and Katherine Lin. Philip and his family attended our church a number of years ago. I hadn't seen him for some time. When he was a little boy he idolized my daughter and would follow her around wherever she would go. Philip graduated from the University of Southern California this year, and is spending some time this summer here in his old home town.
I asked Philip and Katherine if they would let me film them playing, and they graciously agreed. If you enjoy quality classical music be sure to check out these videos.
I'm sure that you will agree that Philip is an accomplished flutist. Or is he an accomplished flautist?
This week the theme is nostalgia. I have been around cars all of my life. I love old cars. My Daddy has quite a collection of old cars. One day when he had his 1940 Buick out I shot this photo of my son Gavin behind the wheel. I have always liked this shot. You can really see that Gavin is enjoying the Buick.
Yesterday was a beautiful summer day. It was cool for the last of August. After church my Mom and Dad had invited me to go on a picnic. We decided to go to Little Missouri Falls. It is quite a long drive over rough gravel roads to get to the Falls. We decided to eat the picnic lunch at home and then drive out to the falls.
It was such a gorgeous day that there were quite a few people at the falls. If it isn't high water, you can go into the river and play on the rocks. There were some boys there that were having lots of fun playing in the water and seeing who could hold there head under the falls for the longest.
The Little Missouri River plunges through a cleavage creating a spectacular waterfall during periods of high water. Then it tumbles over a series of natural rock dams 2 to 4 feet high, intermixed with relatively quiet pools (natural swimming holes) it continues as a cascade for several hundred more yards.
When you arrive at the parking area, there is a foot bridge across the river that takes you to a half mile, out-and-back trail that is mostly 'easy' with a few steep grades. The trail used to cross a native stone dam across the river. When water was over the dam you couldn't cross the river to the trail. The trail ascends a series of steep steps to the edge of the cliffs overlooking the river. From here you have a great view of the area above the falls.
The view from the bridge is a beautiful preview of the views that are across the bridge.
It had been awhile since I had been to Little Missouri Falls. I shouldn't wait so long between visits.
I never really thought it would happen, but Wednesday night I saw Sir Paul McCartney live in concert at the new Cowboys Stadium in Texas. A little over a month ago I got a call in the afternoon. It was my daughter Cynda asking me if I would like to go see Paul with her. I had to ask her to repeat herself because I wasn't sure what she had said. I though about it for a couple of seconds and said sure. We talked to my wife, my son and his fiance and they all wanted to go. The morning that the tickets went on sale Cynda tried to buy the tickets. Cowboys Stadium is a 80,000 seat stadium, surely she would be able to buy tickets. She tried to buy 5 tickets together. No luck. She tried to buy 3 tickets together. once again no luck. She ended up having to buy 2 pairs and a single. She and I had seats on the floor, My wife sat on the first level, and my son and his fiance sat on the second level.
Things came together quite nicely. My wife Gina already had a plane ticket from Dallas to Seattle for 7:30 A.M. on Aug 20th. We were going to have to be in Dallas the night of the 19th anyway, so why not go ahead and see Sir Paul. We left Wednesday morning and drove to Keene, Texas where we had lunch with Gavin and Rachel. After some shopping at the Adventist Book Center where Gavin works, we got to see his new apartment. He had just moved in and was excited to show us his new place.
It is a 2 bedroom 2 bath duplex within walking distance of the University and work. He is sharing it with his friend Luis. I am happy for him. It's the first place he can really call home. His Mama took him some glasses, a set of stoneware dishes and a brand new set of pots and pans. He and Luis are now ready to do some serious cooking.
After Rachel got off work, we headed to our motel near the airport where we were meeting Cynda. After a good meal at IHOP we headed for the stadium. What a nightmare. Not only was there a sold out Paul McCartney concert but there was a Texas Rangers game at the Ballpark right next to Cowboys Stadium.
Cynda had purchased a parking spot when she bought the tickets, but with detours because of construction, no signs directing you to the specific parking areas, and no left turn signs for many many blocks, and no police presence directing traffic, getting to our parking spot was quite a trying experience for a country boy like me. The City of Arlington has some work to do figuring out how to handle traffic for the Cowboys games. The first game at the new stadium is a pre-season game this Friday night.
Once we got inside the stadium it was a madhouse. The staff is so new that they don't know how to direct you to your seats. Gina asked three different ushers how to get to her seat, and we were sent here, there and everywhere. We finally found her section on our own, and then set out to find out how to get to our seats on the stadium floor. Our dentist, Dr. Peppers, had asked Gina to get him a concert T-shirt, so I stood in line for an hour to get him a t-shirt. As much as I hated the pushing shoving surging crowd in front of the t-shirt kiosk at least it distracted me from the opening act. It is probably just because I am old, but "The Script" did nothing for me, and the sound seemed badly out of balance for a major concert event. I could not hear or understand the vocals.
When Paul came out on stage, and started playing "Drive My Car", the entire stadium was on their feet. That energy lasted for the next two and a half hours. Before long Paul removed his jacket and performed the rest of the evening in a white shirt with red suspenders. It was like an evening with Grandpa, but come to think of it he is 67 years old. I hope that I have that kind of energy at 67.
The music included many Beatles tunes along with songs from Wings and his solo career. The two songs from the new Fireman album didn't seem to connect as well with the audience as his older material. One of the highlights of the evening was when he played tribute to Texas native son Buddy Holly by reminiscing about Holly's importance musically to the young boys who became the Beatles, and covering his hit, "It's So Easy". The most surprising moment for me was the pyrotechnics during the song "Live And Let Die". I wasn't expecting that.
If this is Paul's last tour of the U.S. (as has been rumored), I might be able to say that I was at his final concert in America. If the rumor ends up being true, he will have gone out on a high. The sold-out crowd sang and danced in the aisles, basking in the evening’s nostalgic glow. It was hard to believe that most of the songs were written over 40 years ago. The make up of the audience was quite interesting, with many people there in their 60's and 70's. I had to smile to see little old ladies with their walkers and wearing Beatles T-shirts.
These were the songs that Paul and his band performed
Drive My Car Jet Only Mama Knows Flaming Pie Got To Get You Into My Life Let Me Roll It Highway The Long And Winding Road My Love Blackbird Here Today Dance Tonight Calico Skies It's So Easy Mrs Vanderbilt Eleanor Rigby Sing The Changes Band On The Run Back In The USSR I'm Down Something I've Got A Feeling Paperback Writer A Day In The Life Give Peace A Chance Let It Be Live And Let Die Hey Jude Day Tripper Lady Madonna I Saw Her Standing There Yesterday Helter Skelter Get Back Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band The End
The concert will be an evening that I will never forget, and it was great to be able to make those memories with my wife and kids.
It's time again For ABC Wednesday. If you aren't participating in ABC Wednesday, you are missing out on a lot of fun. This week the letter is "D". D is for destruction. Tornadoes are one of natures most destructive forces.
At 8:01 pm on April 9, a tornado warning was issued for my hometown of Mena, Arkansas. Nine minutes later, an EF3 tornado struck the city and killed three people. Thirty people were injured and 600 homes were either damaged or destroyed. I took these pictures during the first two weeks after the tornado.
The Polk County Jail was severely damaged to the point that minor offense prisoners were released, with serious offenders taken to jails around the area. The Mena Regional Health System also sustained damage, but continued to treat patients and ran off auxiliary power. The high winds from the tornado threw a Rich Mountain Community College bus into a tree. The college buildings sustained significant damage and the campus has been closed since the tornado. The campus buildings have been repaired during the summer and the college is set to reopen soon.
The roof at the Mena Middle School was significantly damaged. The damage to the middle school was so severe that it had to be condemned. The tornado also heavily impacted the largest industry in town, Emerson Motor Technologies, and destroyed two businesses at the city's industrial park. The tire and lube section of Wal-Mart was damaged and was closed for several months.
After 4 months there are still many condemned buildings waiting to be demolished. Although a tremendous number of man hours have been put into the clean up, Mena is still far from recovering. I don't think that Mena will ever be the same. Over 11,000 trees were lost in the downtown area. Many of these trees were over 100 years old. The old part of town used to be so quaint with shady tree lined streets. Now with most of the trees gone, the openness look like a town on the prairie instead of a town nestled in the Ouachita mountains of Western Arkansas
Click on the photo above to purchase my latest book, In the Fog, for $5.99. The Kindle version is only $2.99.
I was born in 1956 in Madison, Tennessee, while my parents were attending Madison College. I grew up along the Front Range in Colorado, attending schools in Longmont, Brighton, Boulder and Loveland, Colorado. Two years after graduating from Campion Academy, I married my sweetheart, Regina. We lived in Loveland, Colorado for six years before moving to Mena in western Arkansas.
I love the people of Mena and the friendly easy going way of life here. I have owned and operated my own business since moving to Mena. I enjoy the natural beauty of western Arkansas and being out of doors.
My newspaper column in The Mena Star, An Arkie’s Faith, premiered on January 7, 2016. In March 2017, I published my first book, titled The Little Things - Devotionals from a small town, using articles from the column. I published the second book in the Devotionals from a small town series, titled In the Fog, in December 2017.