Translations

Thursday, June 20, 2024

Ferrell Family & Friends Reunion, Saturday, 6-15-2024: Party Room! (published 6-20-2024; article #480)

Introduction

I wish that I had taken a few photographs. Someone should have. Welcome to the 127th article in the family topic section. This is also the 104th entry in the heritage section.

On Saturday, June 15th, family members and friends, ranging in age from 16 to 89, gathered together for a reunion. A good time was had by all! The location was the air-conditioned “party room” at Rogersville City Park, which is the larger of the two city parks listed on Parks and Recreation, Town of Rogersville, TN.

The Inspiration

Who started the party? The inspiration for the gathering was my phone conversation with “Uncle” Skyler and his mother, Shanna, on Skyler's 16th birthday earlier this month. Shanna, most recently highlighted in the 4/30/2022 article, wanted to get family members and friends together soon. Shanna planned the event, with a little help from me.

The four sons of Earl and Betty (Wood) Ferrell had not been together since Saturday, 7/3/2021. It was time. Life, such as it is, and distance should not excuse such gatherings. They need to be more frequent.

Three recent articles about occasions that included us brothers are as follows: The 7/7/2019 article, Ferrell Heritage: 1974 Photograph and 7-6-2019 Photograph, was a great time! The 7/26/2020 entry, Our Niece Passed on My Age "6" Birthday & Daily Life Continues, marked an unexpected, sad, and solemn event. The last time that the four of us got together was the focus of the 7/5/2021 article, Ferrell Family Gathering Fun, on Saturday, 7-3-2021.

The Party

Let's get this party started! Well, we did. The reunion party included a lucky 13 family members and three friends. That made a “sweet sixteen!”

Who showed up? They were Mrs. Appalachian Irishman and me (the oldest brother); Clark (my next-to-oldest brother) and his wife; Shanna (Clark's youngest daughter), her husband, and her 16-year-old son (whom I affectionately call “uncle,” even if I'm his great uncle); Clark's 19-year-old granddaughter (the daughter of Clark's oldest daughter, who passed away on 7/17/2020) and her friend; my next-to-youngest brother; my youngest brother, his wife, and their youngest daughter; my first Cousin Waymon, introduced in the 8/10/2023 article; and Bill, my friend since grade school, and his 89-year-young mother, whose upcoming birthday is on June 29th.

What did we eat? No one went hungry! Food of all types was aplenty. Let's see. There were homemade sloppy joes. (My wife got and followed Dorothy's recipe, mentioned in the 6/9/2024 article.) Fried chicken, mashed 'taters, and cold slaw were traditional southern staples. There were several side dishes. Dessert was fresh fruit and vegetables. What? Did no one bring a cake or pie? That's right. No one missed those sugary sweats.

What did we do? We talked. We joked. We told funny and true stories. We hugged each other. We older folk talked about and brushed off our “whatevers,” as I call various aches, pains, and health problems.

What stories did we tell? Well, there are too many to mention in this article. I'll share two, which involve Bill and me. His mother knew about the first one. She found out about the second one at the reunion! First, there's the story about when we boys were playing tag in the woods. I think there were five of us. Bill was “it,” and four of us were trying to tag him, before he reached the base. The base was an area where the tree line met a field. Bill was running down to the base. I was closest to catching him. The other three were running behind me. I saw Bill jump vertically and sideways into the air and heard him yell, “Snakes!” Right behind him, I didn't have time to stop. Looking down, I saw a bed of baby copperhead snakes! I hollered “snakes!” and jumped up and sideways! The three behind me had time to stop and carefully walk down around the snake bed. Thankfully, no one was snake-bitten! If it bites you, a baby copperhead can kill you quicker than an adult.

Bill's mother finally learned about the second story. Bill, our friend, Randy, and I were camping out in the woods one night. Clark and Bill's younger brother may have been with us. We had built a tree house that was in a field, close to Randy's parents' house. The tree house had a “deck” (a flat section of wood) outside a wall. A section of wall opened to the “deck.”

During the night, rain started to fall, and we didn't have our tents. We had a large metal tray, used for cooking. Well, sir, we decided to finish camping out in the dry tree house and to carry the campfire on that metal tray! Our plan was to put the fire, on the tray, on the tree house “deck.” We managed to get ourselves, our camping gear, and the fire on the tray to the tree house. I held the tray, with the fire on it, as I climbed the ladder up to the tree house.

What happened to the fire, you ask? At first, everything was fine. We had extra firewood. The fire, on the metal tray, was on the “deck.” We unrolled our sleeping bags and settled down to sleep in the dry tree house. The rain started falling harder. We were awakened, as raindrops hit us in the face. The roof leaked. We also smelled burning wood. The fire was so hot that the metal tray was burning through our “deck!” We kicked the tray and the fire off the “deck.” Thankfully, the wet ground put out the fire. We managed to sleep well enough, once we found fairly dry spots, under the leaking roof.

The next morning, once I was home, Mom asked me why my face was so blackened. Looking in a mirror, I saw how smoky and dark my face looked. I had to tell Mom the story. She was just glad that I hadn't set myself on fire. I didn't get a spanking.

Conclusion

A first cousin, who is 20 years older than me, minus a month, is enduring a critical health problem. I found out on Sunday, June 9th. My dear cousin wanted to have her daughter or granddaughter bring her to our reunion, if she felt up to it. I wish that she had. This article includes my written prayer to God that my dear cousin will be comforted and blessed, as her family and friends care for her. She knows the Lord.

Another first cousin, a year younger than me, and her family had planned to attend, but other priorities forestalled their plan. The gathering was not just for us, the four brothers, and our families. It was for all family members and any friends, who wanted to come. We want to plan another reunion in the fall. I hope that we do.

Life, such as it is, and distance should not keep family members and friends from getting together more often. Such earthly reunions are foretastes of the heavenly reunion that our family members and friends, who have passed to everlasting joy, are celebrating everlastingly.

Monday, June 10, 2024

June 6, 2024, 80th anniversary of D-Day: Biden is no Reagan (published 6-10-2024; article #479)

Introduction

June 6, 2024, was the 80th anniversary (inclusive) of D-Day. The octogenary anniversary of Operation Overlord, on June 6, 1944, drew more media focus this year. Previous articles that remembered D-Day and mentioned scant media coverage were on June 6, 2020, and June 8, 2021.

On Thursday, June 6, 2024, the morning rain cleared into a sunny and humid afternoon. Late that morning, my friend and barber, at Tony's Best Clips, trimmed neatly away a mound of hair. I called our niece, who lives in Kingsport, and my youngest brother. That evening, a leaking copper water pipe, between the finished basement and upstairs at my nearby in-laws' house, brought down a section of basement ceiling plasterboard. That was a memorable experience, which will be funny in a few years!

This 41st entry under the freedom topic section explains, in the conclusion, why it is also the 69th entry under the "poly-tics" (Greek πολλά, many, plus "ticks," known blood suckers) section. President Biden is no President Reagan.

June 6, 1944

Honor is here given to all Allied soldiers, sailors, and airmen, who were involved in Operation Overlord. Many gave the ultimate sacrifice. This section recommends two sources.

First, D-Day Overlord is an encyclopedic and historical memorial. The website states:

D-Day Overlord is the first website dedicated to the Battle of Normandy in terms of content and visits. It allows you to discover in detail the landing of Normandy as well as the entirety of the Battle of Normandy with its 90 days of fighting, from June 6 to the end of August 1944.

[It is] the most visited of the websites dedicated to the Battle of Normandy and is written entirely by Marc Laurenceau.

Having read several sections, I concur fully. Time will be well spent, reading and studying the website.

The other recommendation is from the National D-Day Memorial Foundation. Located in Bedford, Virginia, their “mission is to preserve the lessons and legacy of D-Day.” The section “About Operation Overlord: Why D-Day Matters” is where I focused my reading attention.

I wondered how I would have felt, if I had been an 18-year-old soldier and one of the first to step from a landing craft onto the beach. Would enemy fire have taken my life? Yesterday, my “adoptive” sister (mentioned most recently in the 5/5/2024 article) and I enjoyed another long phone conversation. She reminded me that one of her husband's uncles had died on the beaches of Normandy. I realized that I'd known but not recalled that profound memory.

President Reagan, June 6, 1984

During my initial online search, I found “‘The boys of Pointe du Hoc:’ Reagan’s tribute to D-Day heroes,” NewsNation, by Taylor Delandro, 6/7/2024. The article embeds President Reagan's June 6, 1984, speech at Pointe du Hoc, Normandy, France.

Later, I found and listened to the immortalized words of the great communicator, President Reagan: “President Ronald Reagan's Address at a Ceremony Commemorating the 40th Anniversary of the D-Day Landings in Pointe du Hoc, Normandy, France,” National Archives Catalog, 6/6/1984. He spoke for almost 13 minutes. His speech begins at the one-minute, 38-second mark. President Ronald Wilson Reagan (2/7/1911–6/5/2004) was 73 years old. His lifespan was 93 years.

Listening to President Reagan's eloquence was inspiring. Reading from notes, his words flowed eloquently and freely from the depths of his heart and soul. He cited Old Testament history and spoke about God. President Reagan spoke as a man who knew the Lord.

President Biden, June 6, 2024

On June 6, my wife listened to President Biden speaking live on television. I chose to focus on a more important task. Later, I watched his speech at “LIVE: Biden commemorates 80th anniversary of D-Day,” NBC News (YouTube), 6/6/2024. President Biden begins speaking at the one-hour and 35-minute mark. (The commercial interruptions can be skipped.) He spoke for just over 15 minutes. Born 11/20/1942, President Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr., is 81 years old.

Even though President Biden should be commended for honoring the just-cause sacrifices from 80 years ago, at times his enunciation was unclear, and his tone seemed to be somewhat combative. He lacks the gift of eloquence. Reading from a teleprompter, his words rang shallow, coming from his shallow heart and soul. President Biden did not come across as a man who knows the Lord.

Conclusion

Truly, freedom is not free. Annual D-Day anniversaries remind us. The brave patriots who fought and survived and those who paid the ultimate sacrifice are honored. We must live in honor of their service and sacrifice.

Did President Biden plagiarize President Reagan's speech from 40 years earlier? Similar settings often invoke similar thoughts and words. You be the judge, dear reader. The following two video segments are each just under two minutes: “VIDEO: Biden Plagiarizes Reagan at Normandy,” The Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show, 6/7/2024, and “What two US presidents said at D-Day, 40 years apart,” BBC, 6/8/2024.

Politics (opposite worldviews competing for power in government) is a necessary evil for a statesman (a moral, wise, and respected political leader). President Ronald Reagan, the great communicator, was a politician and a true statesman.

President Joseph Biden, Jr., is a politician (a person whose interest in political office is for selfish or other narrowly focused, short-sighted reasons). President Biden is a politician, not a statesman.

President Biden is no President Reagan.

Sunday, June 09, 2024

Panther Creek State Park, Sunday, 5-26-2024: Family & Friends (published 6-9-2024; article #478)

Introduction

To enhance the joy of two recent graduations mentioned in the first and second articles from yesterday, what better plan could family and friends have but to gather for a picnic, conversation, and fun at Panther Creek State Park? The park is located just west of Morristown, Tennessee, in Hamblen County.

This 126th entry under the family topic section highlights the gathering of family and friends on Sunday afternoon, 5/26/2024. It includes a now-funny story about how Travis, from Tractor Supply in Jefferson City, rescued my ol' truck from the implanted alien device!

Family & Friends

The 2 PM gathering had been arranged. The weather started off as mostly sunny, warm, and humid. Mrs. Appalachian Irishman and I traveled, in our 2006 Frontier, to the Panther Creek State Park visitor center. Our friends, Steve, Jay, and Dorothy, had already arrived.

Steve's mother and my mother were friends. Since my earliest childhood memories, I have never known a time when Steve wasn't my friend. In the fall of 1978, Steve and I became instant friends with Jay, at Walters State Community College. At the time, Jay and Dorothy were dating. They were married in June 1983. I was honored to be the best man. Dorothy became a good friend. Of course, once my wife and I were married in May 1986, the “long-suffering” Mrs. Appalachian Irishman became a member of “the gang of friends.”

My youngest brother, his wife, and their two recent graduate daughters arrived a few minutes later. We could have kept up the jovial conversation in the parking lot. Bellies hungered for food, so we drove to the picnic area on the ridge near Cherokee Lake.

I don't think that I have ever had homemade sloppy joes. The potluck picnic fare was needed and delicious! I hope that my wife gets Dorothy's sloppy joe recipe!

During my teenage years, I used to enjoy family gatherings, where parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and older cousins swapped stories and told tales. Yes, at times, I could be bored, only to have my interest peaked by the telling of a good one. I don't think that our teenage nieces were often bored, while listening to the tales and adventures of us older folks. Steve, in particular, has the gift of telling such a funny story that you have to beg him to stop. Otherwise, you'll laugh so hard that you can't catch your breath!

Ominous clouds rolled in as we were winding down. My sister-in-law took the following photograph at 4:36 PM. Cherokee Lake is northwest and behind our location on the ridge.

A good time was had by all! I hope that we can do this a bit more often. “The gang of friends” have spoken by phone with each other, but we haven't been together in person, since the 8/7/2021 article: Rogersville is the Second-Oldest Town in Tennessee, not Dandridge! Gang, let's not let almost three years pass until we get together again!

Travis, from Tractor Supply, Stopped My Truck's Alien Device!

Light rain began to fall, just as we were all leaving the park. It continued to fall lightly. Darkening clouds to our west indicated a hard rain was coming. Molly, our ol' puppy, needed food and snacks, which I usually buy at the Knoxville Halls location of Tractor Supply.

The Tractor Supply in Jefferson City was on the way home. With light rain still falling, my wife stayed in our truck, while I went in to buy Molly's items. The location is very safe, but with caution, I asked her to lock the doors. That was my mistake! I left the keys with her.

I checked out at 5:10 PM, just after the downpour had started. After a few minutes, the rain slowed to a steady drizzle. My wife, seeing me leaving the store with the purchase, unlocked the doors.

That simple action set off the alien device inside my truck! The parking lights started flashing, and the horn was almost deafening! Our 2006 Frontier had one previous owner, who had installed a security alarm system. I don't use it. It's never really caused any problems, until that ear-splitting and embarrassing event.

The only way to silence that alien device is to disconnect the negative post from the battery. I carry tools in my truck. No tool that I had would loosen the nut that clamps the negative post to the battery! It was on so tight that my all-in-one tool could not loosen it. Along with everyone else at least a mile away, I kept getting ears full of fast and furious horn honks!

That's when Travis, an on-duty manager at Tractor Supply, came to my rescue! I asked, with egg on my face, if he had a socket wrench that could fit the nut on the negative post. He did! In seconds, the alien device was silenced! Thanks, Travis, for saving the day, my embarrassment, and my hearing! I shared my contact information with Travis and asked for his district manager to call me. I wanted to share the good news with that manager.

On Friday, 5/31/2024, Nicole, a district manager, called. She enjoyed the recap about how Travis came to the rescue. Once published, my email to Nicole will include the link to this article. Tractor Supply is welcome to share this article, to honor Travis and to recommend shopping at Tractor Supply. The nearby Tractor Supply sees me about once a month, as a repeat customer. Yes, Molly likes their food and treats. She is a good ol' puppy!

Conclusion

This has been a true story about the real-life adventures of this Appalachian Irishman and his “long-suffering” wife! I hope that you have enjoyed it.

“The gang of friends” needs to get together more often. We ain't that old yet!

I think that I will print and share a copy of this article with a manager at the Tractor Supply in Halls, in Knoxville, when I'm there again, buying food and snacks for Molly.

Saturday, June 08, 2024

Cherokee High School Graduation: Congratulations, Ariel! (published 6-8-2024; article #477)

Introduction

Has it been forty-six years, since my high school graduation? I reckon so. Surely, my youngest brother and his wife will remember two graduations, two days apart, in the same week! Milestones such as these become fond memories!

This second article today honors Ariel! She is the older daughter of my youngest brother and his wife. This 125th entry under the family topic section and 103nd entry under the heritage section affirms that the maxim "as the twig bends, so grows the tree” is true.

Congratulations, Ariel!

Congratulations, Ariel! My wife and I love you, and we are proud of you!

The class of 2024 commencement ceremony at Cherokee High School began at 8 PM, on Friday, May 24th. After my wife returned home from work and gussied up herself, we started the drive, at 4:42 PM in our 2006 Frontier, to the home of my youngest brother and family.

Upon our arrival, we were greeted by my youngest brother, his wife, our high school graduating niece, our eighth-grade graduate niece, my next-to-youngest brother, and my sister-in-law's sister and her husband. A light supper, which we enjoyed and needed, was prepared. The comfortable setting included five ladies and four guys. At one point, Robert, my sister-in-law's brother-in-law, was alone in the living room, overwhelmed by female conversation! Leaving the nearby kitchen, where my brothers and I were, I overrode the ladies and engaged Robert in a manly conversation! That, however, didn't last long!

As a graduating senior, Ariel had to be at the field house, near the football stadium, by 6:30 PM. The nine of us drove, in a caravan of three vehicles, to the high school parking lot, arriving just before 6:30 PM.

In the event of rain, the ceremony could have been held in the unair-conditioned gymnasium. The football stadium provided a better venue. The weather was warm, but not hot, and sufficiently humid. Light clouds, not carrying rain, drifted across the sky. The bleacher section faces east, so we had shade during the intermittent sunshine. The bleachers were packed with family and friends. Two hundred and twenty-six seniors were graduating.

The hour and a half wait went by quickly and enjoyably. My younger brothers and I talked about family memories. We even bantered each other a little! My brothers deserved what I dished out in humorous fun! Several songs, playing through the speakers, entertained or annoyed us. The announcement about the upcoming ceremony repeated itself about every 15 minutes and made us laugh. I almost memorized it.

The commencement ceremony started on time and ran just over an hour. A moment of silence and the National Anthem followed the senior-class president's welcome. The valedictorian and then the salutatorian each spoke. After the principal spoke, the presentation of diplomas began.

I took the following photograph at 8:51 PM, as Ariel shook the principal's hand and received her high school diploma! We had been awaiting the moment when the principal would call her name!

I couldn't capture Ariel's face, since we were seated near the 40-yard line, on the south side of the field. Ariel was one of the few graduates to wear the Beta Club gold stole and tassel. She also wore several other regalia distinctions.

After every diploma was presented, the high school alma mater was followed by the recessional. We were glad that the audience could stand during those! Concrete seats require remembering to bring stadium cushions next time! Dusk had turned to night. The stadium lights had turned on.

At 9:36 PM, I took the following photograph of Ariel, the high school graduate, and her family! The location is a few feet south of the field house. The football field is a few yards farther south (or to the right) in the image.

That is a handsome-looking family, even if I do say so myself! Don't you agree? I thought so!

As I said before, I will say again, “Congratulations, Ariel! My wife and I love you, and we are proud of you!” As a young Christian lady, your focus and direction are on the right path. We look forward to seeing what God has in store for the rest of your life!

As the years go by, Ariel will have good memories of her high school years. I still remember my high school days at Rogersville High School, which is now Rogersville Middle School.

The Tree Still Grows Tall and Straight!

My father and mother planted four trees in the yard, on the west side of the house, near the well house. One tree was for each of us four brothers. That was in June 1974. Dad, as Ferrell's Well Drilling (since 1901), drilled the water well. Papaw Marion Ferrell (4/13/1880 - 11/21/1970) had started the business in 1901.

I may have an archived photograph of the four trees, but I couldn't find one, to include in this article. Each tree is still standing tall, firm, healthy, and straight. They are deeply rooted in good water. They get plenty of sunlight. I saw them most recently on May 22nd. The previous article today that honors Lilliana includes my visit to the homeplace.

Conclusion

The maxim "as the twig bends, so grows the tree” is true. The four twigs that my parents planted bent straight up and grew tall. They provide excellent shade. Nourished by good water and sunlight, they continue to flourish. Over five decades, the trees have endured strong winds and severe storms. They still stand tall.

Ariel, winds and storms will try to bend you at times, as they do to everyone. Nourished by Living Water, Son Light, and the godliness of family heritage, you will continue to grow tall and straight and will continue on the right path that you have chosen as a Christian. My wife and I look forward to seeing how your future unfolds! We love you, and we are proud of you! You will bear much spiritual fruit for Christ and his kingdom.

Bulls Gap Middle School Eighth Grade Graduation: Congratulations, Lilliana! (published 6-8-2024; article #476)

Introduction

On Wednesday, May 22, while walking toward an entrance to the Bulls Gap School, I realized that this year marks the semicentennial anniversary of my eighth grade graduation. Well, we didn't have an eighth grade graduation ceremony, but it was fifty years ago in May 1974, two months before my 14th birthday.

This first article today honors Lilliana! She is the younger daughter of my youngest brother and his wife. This 124th entry under the family topic section and 102nd entry under the heritage section affirms that, with the right support, new generations of family members continue the godliness of family heritage.

Congratulations, Lilliana!

Congratulations, Lilliana! My wife and I love you, and we are proud of you!

The Middle School Honors Day and Eight Grade Graduation ceremony started at 8:15 AM. The distance from our house to the school building is 68.5 miles. I forgot about the local morning rush hour traffic! I should have left the house 30 minutes earlier. At 8:40 AM, my 2006 Frontier was finally able to rest in the parking space that I found. I was 25 minutes late.

As I was entering the building, I could hear Lilliana's name called. The claps and cheers indicated that she was walking to the stage. Once inside the gymnasium, I realized that she had already walked off the stage. I did find her mother and older sister. My brother could not take time off from work to attend.

After the ceremony concluded, visiting with my sister-in-law and our two nieces was memorable. After their mother left to go to work, our nieces and I visited Lilliana's classroom. I took the following photograph of our nieces at 9:12 AM. The welcome sign is beside the classroom entrance.

Lilliana is on the left. She is holding her diploma and awards. In a graduating class of 56 students, Lilliana was the valedictorian. Also, she won the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award in sports. During football season last fall, she was the Homecoming Queen. That is a trifecta of first-place finishes!

Our nieces and I left the building and enjoyed a long conversation on topics that included accomplishments, family heritage, future plans, and a focus on God. Well, I tossed in a sufficient amount of humor, which they returned in kind! They, with their other plans, and I, with mine, went our separate ways, but it was a great and memorable experience at Lilliana's eighth grade graduation!

As I said before, I will say again, “Congratulations, Lilliana! My wife and I love you, and we are proud of you!” As a young Christian lady, your focus and direction are on the right path. We look forward to seeing what God has in store for the rest of your life!

I took the following photograph at 10:27 AM, just as my ol' truck and I were leaving.

As the years go by, Lilliana will have good memories of her middle school years in this building. I still remember my grade school days at Rogersville City School (grades 1-2) and Hawkins County Elementary School (grades 3-8). The county school wasn't built until my 3rd-grade year.

Homeplace Visit

After a brief visit to The Rogersville Review, I arrived at the homeplace at 11:14 AM and stayed until 1:57 PM. The neighbor across the road and other men were gathered under his large cedar tree. I joined the conversation. Interestingly, I became reacquainted with a man, who graduated high school a year before me. His cousin Rex and I graduated high school together, forty-six years ago. Rex's younger brother was there, and I took down Rex's phone number. A couple of days later, Rex and I spoke pleasantly by phone. We hope to see each other in July, around Independence Day.

I took four photographs while at the homeplace. Two are included below.

The above photograph, taken at 1:47 PM, shows my partially successful attempt to upright Papaw and Granny Wood's grapevine. Another trip is planned, to reconstruct the supports and truly upright the grapevine. It's a work in progress. Dad set up the original supports in 1974.

Four minutes later, I took the above photograph. The view looks southwest. Several more trips are planned, to do some trimming and branch cutting.

Conclusion

With the right support, new generations of family members continue the godliness of family heritage. In 1974, my father and mother transplanted a section of Papaw and Granny Wood's grapevine, from their home in Bean Station to where it still grows today. The six of us (Mom, Dad, three brothers, and I) moved into the homeplace in June 1974, just after my eight grade “graduation” and before my 14th birthday. The grapevine has toppled several times over the years. It has been uprighted and kept alive. It still bears grapes.

Lilliana, life may topple you at times, as it does to everyone. Rooted firmly in God and in the godliness of family heritage, you will upright yourself when toppled and continue on the right path that you have chosen as a Christian. My wife and I look forward to seeing how you continue to grow! We love you, and we are proud of you! You will bear much spiritual fruit for Christ and his kingdom.

Saturday, June 01, 2024

House Mountain Hike #191, 5-30-2024: Conversations at the West Bluff (published 6-1-2024; article #475)

Introduction

Greetings and welcome, fellow hikers, to the first day of meteorological summer! No, I didn't hike today. Instead, Mrs. Appalachian Irishman and I helped our niece, who lives nearby, move furniture around at her house. I fixed a leaky shower nozzle while there. Pepper (her dog) and Mr. Biscuits (her cat) mostly stayed out of the way. My youngest brother and his family, however, hiked Laurel Run Park, in Hawkins County, Tennessee. He called and told me.

This 67th entry in the hiking topic section recounts my 191st hike on House Mountain from two days ago. I hope that you enjoy a virtual hike by reading this article!

The Hike

That morning, I started working on the article about Molly Branch Fireflies, which I published after hiking. The sky was a crisp blue and partly cloudy. The temperature was in the 70s Fahrenheit. House Mountain called me, and I had to go!

After my 2006 Frontier and I arrived, I started hiking up the west trail at 12:35 PM. Flat rocks provided excellent stepping stones, as I navigated over the initial muddy bottom area. Only a few hikers were trekking down, as I hiked up. Seasonal growth is abundant, due to all the recent rain. Wearing short pants is not advised, unless you know how to spot and avoid all the poison oak, which grows in abundance along the narrow trail edges. The lower trail was damp only in certain areas. The four lower switchbacks were easy. I felt my oats.

After 15 minutes, I reached the first of the six upper switchbacks. I heard and saw a few birds. Thankfully, no snakes were nearby. I reached the sixth upper switchback in 10 minutes. I still felt my oats! Hiking just below the ridgeline to the west bluff took only an extra 12 minutes. I am becoming more confident and less of a “lame mountain goat!” Touching the rock at the west bluff, I marked 1:12 PM, 37 minutes to hike to the bluff. A good “pre-bionic” time would be 25 minutes.

The next section is about conversations with fellow hikers at the west bluff, where I stayed for 33 minutes. At 1:45 PM, I started hiking back down the west trail. A few hikers passed by, as they trekked up. A man and his dog are noteworthy! I had seen them before. I remember Trooper, the name of the large and friendly German Shepherd! Before I left the house, Molly (our ol' puppy) didn't indicate that she wanted to hike with me. Trooper wanted to come home with me! After that pleasant delay, I touched the trail sign, near the enclosed picnic tables, at 2:32 PM.

Conversations at the West Bluff

I thought that I would have the west bluff all to myself. I took the following photograph at 1:18 PM. The view looks southwest. The clouds were darkening, but it did not rain.

Just before hiking down, a lady, ten years older than me, arrived from the ridge trail. She had hiked up the east trail and across the ridge. Born in 1950, she looked like she was only a couple of years older than me. Recently widowed, she hikes for the views, exercise, and to just be in the woods, as I do. The passing of her husband was an obvious blow, but she is determined to keep going forward, in hiking and in life. I commended her spirit! I hope to see her on House Mountain again. I hope that I can keep up with her, if we're both hiking up at the same time!

Just as she started hiking down the west trail, two ladies, in their early twenties, arrived from the same ridge trail. They are from upstate New York and are visiting here for a few days. They were not stereotypical New Yorkers! The influence of their moral and rural upbringing was noticeable. Since both were wearing short pants, I described poison oak to them and warned them about it. None were nearby, since it isn't very noticeable past the four lower switchbacks. They were planning to hike back east to the upper middle bluff, about which they would not have known, without my suggestions. I hope that they did, took photographs, and enjoyed the view!

Conclusion

Only nine more hikes to reach 200 on House Mountain! I already feel the call to reach 250 hikes! What about 500? Who knows? The Good Lord does.

As I've said and written many times, “a day in the woods is better than not having been there, and it adds a day to your life!” Well, three minutes shy of two hours in the woods was better than not having hiked!

I took the above photograph at 2:37 PM. My 2006 Frontier was waiting faithfully, near the sign. Do you hear the mountains calling? If so, you must go!