Sunday, August 31, 2008


People in our area usually hit the lake, take in Boomsday in Knoxville, or just sit around near an outdoor grill with the family. We chose the later, as we usually do, and thoroughly enjoyed each other.

The Knights stayed mostly on the screened porch, allowing the thermopane windows to muffle the Dragon’s cackling! We even warned Jason (Neena’s son) and his friend, who stopped by later, not to stay in there long or they would become sterile!

For some time now, the Dragons have had this “Dolly Parton” problem. Every time they eat, they invariably drop a bite or two, and their “Dolly’s” catch it! So, Terri was perusing the Net the other night and saw some “adult bibs.” When she saw you could also get a custom designs, she order everyone a bib with a big dragon emblazoned on each one. Next time we go to Red Lobster, we’ll be set!

We look like a Labor Day Celebration of Wal-Mart Greeters!

The food; charcoal grilled burgers, potato-salad, chips, and two desserts were wonderful.

Here is a close-up of mine with a couple of big bites missing! The shot of the group at the table doesn’t quite capture the happiness each was enjoying as they ate, and honest to God, Steve hadn’t had a drop to drink!

Later as we rested on the porch, to enjoy one more FHB provided cigar, and our last beer of the evening, Ron reenacted the dreaded “middle seat” experience I had on our trip back from Alaska! Of course, he is much happier sitting there between these two ladies than I was on that flight home.

As Judy and I left Neena and Ron’s, we saw two deer, one spike buck and a young doe under their apple tree. Deer are plentiful in these parts and the deer quotas have been increased. However, I’m not going again this year…too hot to think about it right now!

Thursday, August 28, 2008


This past Tuesday evening Judy and I met Corey, Tia, and Lily at Wasabi’s to celebrate his birthday.

The meeting was arranged by his mother, Connie, as is always the case. Also attending was Gary, Connie’s husband, her father, Dub and his date Mary Lois, and long time mutual friends Betty Anne and Squeaky.

The food kept coming and we all felt like we would pop. It was entertainingly prepared by a skilled Japanese chef, who performed all the expected tricks, like the flaming volcano, flipping an egg around and then cracking it in mid-air on the side of the spatula, and tossing a ball of rice into each of our gaping mouths!

I love to watch them prepare the shrimp, scallops, steak, and chicken with quick sharp cuts, and then quickly add in the seasonings. It takes a lot of patience to move around that mound of rice, vegetables, and eggs, but it all winds up so temping on your plate.

Lily was scared by a huge ball of flame the chef created on the grill, so from then on he warned her before any further pyrotechnics!

Afterward, we were all invited to Connie and Gary’s for birthday cake, ice cream, and coffee/punch. It was the first time I had been back in that house in over 30 years. After the horrible experience of building that house, it holds no special sentiments for me, but things had changed and it looked very lovely.

We played a very heated and animated game of Win, Lose or Draw, with us men being constantly accused of cheating. I don’t know how they came to that conclusion, but when it was all over the men came out on top!

It is a great feeling to know that all the old animosities, insecurities, and fears are gone. We’ve all grown beyond that silly stage. It’s a good feeling to see your first wife and your current wife interacting as friends and enjoying each other’s company. We were long over these things before Lily came along, but she is now a bonding force for us and with a new one on the way, our lives can only become more intertwined. There is no doubt in my mind that we all look forward to that future.

Anyway, happy birthday son, and thank you too for being such a binding force in our lives.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Here is a retro post for your enjoyment: CLICK HERE

Sunday, August 24, 2008


We had a nice leisurely Saturday, including a good visit with Tia, Corey, and Lily.

Lily was all over the place, investigating new surroundings as a child will do. I went to the basement and dug out some old toys of Katie Bug’s for her.

I found a 15-year old Spin’n Say, which was brand new to Lily. She was used to pushing buttons, so it took a little practice to get the hang of the slot-machine like pull handle! And, there were some plastic building blocks that kept Corey busy for most of the visit! We all made over the nice little truck he made!

It is so hard to get a good shot of a moving 2-year old. First there is the seemingly constant present Sippy Cup full of 1% milk to contend with, the hair that is fuzzed up from doing somersaults on the rug, and the spastic frequent twist and turns they make.

Finally, while she caught her second wind, I got this decent one!

We can hardly wait to find out the sex of their second baby due in February. Naturally, we are hoping for a boy, but we’ll love whatever God sends us!

It is only natural for men to want their DNA line to continue on, but they never regret the birth of a daughter. Daughters have a special love for their daddies, so it all evens out.

For my brother, with his two daughters, his line will end with him. Mine may end as well, but if it does, I’ll still have three of the best granddaughters a man could ever have.

I simply pray, “Your will be done.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Ron had to get his car’s oil changed today, so I picked him up at the Ford place and took him on a road trip around Harriman before a planned lunch at Ruby Tuesday’s.

We first explored a small road that twisted its way up Walden’s Ridge northeast of Harriman, but it did not wind up where I wanted to go. So, we’ll try another back road out of town next trip.

We then decided to see if the old road up Walden’s Ridge southwest of Harriman, through the West Hills Subdivision, to, what’s known locally as, Buzzard’s Bluff, was open.

Walden Ridge (or Walden's Ridge) is a mountain ridge and/or escarpment that drops off on the eastern side of the Cumberland Plateau. Walden Ridge is about 74 miles long, running generally north-south, and forming the western boundary of East Tennessee.

Walden Ridge is higher than the Cumberland Plateau, and its eastern slope, descends over 1,000 feet from the plateau to the Tennessee Valley. Walden Ridge continues south into Alabama where it becomes Sand Mountain, which is kind of cool since my Grandparents moved, in a covered wagon, to Tennessee from that area in the early 20s. It’s kind of a neat connection back to my past…don’t you think!?

Buzzard’s Bluff is an easily recognizable outcrop of sandstone that juts out of the ridge just above where Interstate 40 drops down to the valley floor at Exit 347. If you are heading west on I-40 and you pass this exit, look off to your right and along the ridge line to your north. You will make out the rocky face of Buzzard’s Bluff.

I built a house at the foot of this rocky point back in 1978, where Corey’s mom still resides. From there, I used to watch hang-gliders silently floating over the house to a large field about a mile from the base of the mountain. Once, I used the scope of my .22 to get a closer look and some dude freaked out, thinking I was about to shoot him! He made a sharp evasive maneuver to his left and was quickly out of sight through the tall timber. I’d love to hear his side of that tale!

Anyway, back up on the mountain today…the road up is just about as rough as I remember it from 25 years ago! The chain that usually blocks the way was down, so we ventured on out to the bluff.

Stupid people, who have no regard for what nature provides them, have busted bottles, beer no doubt, all over the place and almost every inch of the outcrop has been spray painted with initials, names, “I heart you’s”, dates, and vulgarisms. It’s a great shame that such a beautiful place has been desecrated in such a manner. The area should be a beloved little nature pocket with numerous hiking trails and picnic areas.

Sometimes at night you can see bonfires flickering off the bluff, with the occasional flash from a camera. You can bet there is a party going on, which would be fine, IF they would just take their mess back off the mountain with them.

Here is a shot from 1980 (fall leaves) and the same place today…note the red paint in today’s shot! A damn shame!

It’s things like this that make you understand the reason the Bible says the earth has to be purged by fire…it has to get hot enough to burn up all the crap we leave behind I suppose – glass, pop tops, and rusting tin cans!

Standing there on the edge, you can just about imagine how it was for some Indian brave, on a long hunt, to sit there and contemplate what he beheld. To him it must have been a holy place, a place where the Great Father placed his foot as he stepped down from the heavens.

Today we seem to have no regard for the beauty of this great land, and will go out of our way to make it as ugly as possible. Mostly, I think, it’s an effort to leave a lasting mark on the land. Wouldn’t it be better to leave a beautiful place rather than a scratched or painted name on a rock?

Anyway, Ron and I enjoyed the view for a while and then made a promise to come back in the fall, when the weather was clearer, the colors were brilliant, but we won’t look down at our feet.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


By popular demand, I’m posting one more shot of the kayaking trip, with Jeff firmly planted into the hull of Ron’s kayak! It was a little wobbly at first, but he finally got his balance and enjoyed the short trip back to terra firma!

Jeff’s experiment reassured me that I’m not down to my kayaking weight yet!

After refreshing from the float trip, we headed for Gatlinburg, as posted previously.

Thursday began with a feast at the Wild Wings Café noon buffet, where we did ourselves proud, leaving a large basket of “carnage” to prove our worthiness!

The waitress was so intrigued by our capacity and the “Shandy’s” Judy and Denise kept ordering that she asked if she could document the occasion, but we refused to allow them to post either shot over the bar!

Later, we dropped the girls off at Khol’s and headed for the Leaf & Ale to peruse the cigars! We both have plenty, but true to male form, we bought a few more!

Next Jeff and I drove over to Bailey’s Sports Grill for a quick Yuengling draft. I haven’t been there in some time, but we enjoyed the short visit. The place seems to have been spruced up since my last visit, and I’ve kind of been missing the place. We didn’t get anything to eat, of course, because we were saving ourselves for Los Primos in Harriman!

At around 6:30 we met up with Terri and Steve and Charlotte and Gary for another feast…this time Mexican! You couldn’t tell we were still full from Wild Wings, and the large Dos Equis drafts and margaritas went down easy!

Later Jeff and I relaxed on the porch and listened to my MP3 “party tunes” while Denise and Judy watched the Olympics. Jeff and I always enjoy the porch time the best. This is where we do our deep thinking and male bonding!

Early Friday morning Judy and I met them at the Cracker Barrel for a send off breakfast. True to form, Jeff, Judy, and I stuffed ourselves while Denise nibbled on sour dough toast.

How do those cherry topped pancakes look?!

Jeff and Denise left at 9:30, on their way to Graceland. There plan was to leave Saturday morning on the last 7 or 8 hour leg of their vacation.

I’ll have to admit, they wore me out, ‘cause I’m not used to getting up at 7 each morning and staying awake all day! However, it was a grand time and I loved their visit immensely and especially getting to meet Denise. These two kids are good for each other and enjoy life to the fullest. We need folks to get us off our dead asses occasionally and these two fit the bill.

I told them as they left that I would get into shape about two weeks early next trip! Naw, it wasn’t all that rough on me, it was great fun.

We love you guys…and we are looking forward to next year’s visit. We already know what one or two days will involve…the outlet malls in Pigeon Forge and Sevierville!

Yep, you should have seen Denise’s eyes light up when we pointed out the Red and Green Roof Malls in Pigeon Forge, and the Tanger Outlets in Sevierville, Tennessee! I guess Jeff and I will pass the time at the Smoky Mountain Knife Works and the Brewery!

Ya’ll come!

Monday, August 18, 2008


Please take the time to do this!

Here's your chance to let the media know where the people stand on our faith in God, as a nation. NBC is taking a poll on "In God We Trust" to stay on our American currency. Please tell every Christian an/or patriot you know so they can vote on this important subject. Please do it right away, before NBC takes this off the web page.

MSNBC poll is still open so you can vote.

This is not posted for discussion, if you agree tell someone!

Friday, August 15, 2008


Wednesday morning began at 8:30 down by the Emory River in Harriman. Ron met us (Denise, Jeff, and me) with his canoe and kayak, and took them up stream as far as the river would allow, ending at the shallow rapids about an hour away.

I sat, well…I really laid back, read my new Cormac McCarthy book and took a short nap! It wasn’t long before Jeff and Denise came paddling around the bend and into sight, with Ron just behind.

After beaching the boats, Jeff decided he needed to try out Ron’s kayak, but soon understood that kayaks are for little fellers!

Just like the day before, Jeff showed off his lung capacity by sucking on a stogie while working out with the paddle. Me…well, I’d have to have oxygen hooked up! The day before on the hike, I suddenly smelled smoke and noticed that while I was laboring for air, Jeff was walking calmly along toking on his cigar! I was impressed!

Around 1PM Judy and I headed out for Gatlinburg, going in the back way through Townsend, TN, and showing the beautiful drive through the Smoky Mountains and into the south side of Gatlinburg.

We first rode the “Sky Liftup the mountain to get a grand view of the little valley where Gatlinburg is nestled. Then Jeff wanted to see the celebrity cars at “Star Cars”, while Judy and Denise shopped.

We then got tickets for the ski tram that takes you to “Ober Gatlinburg”. It was fun watching Denise as the tram moved up the mountain at a steady 17 mph…she’s a bit uneasy with heights! She and Jeff rode the “Pirate Ship” in the mountain top amusement park; Jeff had to cut it short since the sensation was just a bit too much for her.

We then settled down to a couple of nice “normal” Yuenglings, while Denise converted Judy to her “Shandy”. She even intrigued me enough that I tasted of it…not bad, but I like “real” beer taste!

Back down the mountain, we went decided to drop a hundred dollars or so each at “The Peddler”! They come by the table with a large slab of ribeye and New York strip steak, and you get to guide the “peddler’s” hand as he cuts you custom slice of juicy steak! I was so filled by the salad bar that I had to get a “to go box” for over half my steak and baked potato!

We didn’t get back to Harriman until around 10 PM, so since they planned to leave Thursday, we wanted them to get plenty of sleep. Well, we woke this morning to the good news that they were staying an extra day!

More about the extra day soon…

I’m sure Jeff will be a lot more descriptive of his travels once he gets back and catches up!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Monday evening we closed Big Ed’s Pizza in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The pizza was exceptionally good and we were all starving…not that we look like it, just that we were feeling it!

Jeff and Denise arrived a little later than planned, so since we had to be up and dressed for hiking by 8 AM, we turned in fairly early Monday night.

I picked Jeff up at 8:15 and headed for the Cracker Barrel in Lenoir City to meet Ron (my brother-in-law). After a hardy breakfast we made for the Smoky Mountains and specifically the Middle Prong Trail near Cades Cove.

The temperature and humidity was perfect and we enjoyed a 4 mile round trip hike, going from 1900 to 2500 feet in elevation. It is a steady gradual climb along a beautiful mountain creek filled with boulders and green moss. I showed Jeff where I slipped and fell in back in May. He and Ron wanted me to reenact the event so they could get shots, but I passed!

After the hike, we went back to Turkey Creek in Knoxville, and met our better halves at the Smoky Mountain Brewery for a late lunch/supper!

Then it was back to my house and the screened porch for music, cigars, beer, and lots of conversation. This lasted to almost midnight, but since we had to be up again at 8 AM to meet Ron for a canoe trip, we said goodnight and turned in.

I’ll post shots of the canoe trip later.

We’re having a ball! We’ll be back with you all soon.