Saturday, October 23, 2021

At the Peabody

 Trish and I left Athens yesterday morning and started toward California.  We are in no real hurry so we stopped for the night at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, one of my favorite hotels.  Once checked in we had to visit the Peabody ducks as their fountain in the lobby.

The ducks come down each morning and spend the day here.

After our duck visit, we walked over to Beale Street and visited the Home of the Blues while being entertained by street musicians.  

From B.B. King to W.C. Handy.

Back at the hotel it was time for the ducks to make their five o’clock parade from the fountain on the red carpet to the elevator and back up to their penthouse for the night.  What fun to watch!

They know exactly where they are going.

After saying goodbye to the ducks, it was across the street to the famous Rendezvous Restaurant for Memphis ribs.  

Trish and I shared the whole rack!

Now it’s time for sleep.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Athens Storytelling Festival

 This year was to be the Fifteenth Athens Storytelling Festival.  Everything was scheduled and on go when the tent company announced that all their tents has gone of  the Gulf region for hurricane relief.  All the tent rental places in four states were contacted and they all had about the same story.  So, Athens is again virtual this year.

Instead of trying to record at home, Trish and I came on down to Athens on our way to California.  Then the plan was made for me to tell stories at a festival booster dinner.  It was a wonderful event for about a hundred and fifty people. They are all missing their festival!

Look forward now to this year’s Virtual Festival.

If you go to you can get signed up for the Virtual Festival.  It will begin to be broadcast November 12-13, but can viewed after that all the way through Thanksgiving.

Part of the Athens Festival charm is the inclusion of school children.  In normal years about 9,000 students come to the big tent of storytelling field trips.   This year, no field trips, but, the student tellers here have still been active.  

Working with Leah Oakley the students have chosen or written their stories.  On Wednesday evening I got to meet with those tellers and their families and tell them a story and give them presentation hints. Eight of the youth tellers told their stories in concert that night and then three of them were chosen to tell with me the following evening at the dinner event.  They were great.

We are all looking forward to next year when the Festival in Athens will be held the week of October 16-22.  It is one of our favorite events!

Thursday, October 21, 2021

See Rock City!

 On our way to the Athens Storytelling Festival, Trish and I spent the night in Chattanooga.  Since we had only a short drive the following day, we decided to go up onto Lookout Mountain and visit Rock City.

See Rock City was the title of my fourth or fifth book published nearly thirty years ago.  The title is based on the story of a family trip to Florida that actually ended up here at Rock City.

Yes you can!

Garnet Carter and his wife, Frieda, opened Rock City, the gardens on their property, in 1932 right in the heart of the depression.  People with very little money could ride the street car out from Chattanooga and have a picnic or at least a pleasant day out in the giant rock gardens.

Trish entering Fat Man’s Squeeze.

Frieda Carter loved German fairytales and her touch on the gardens led to adding Fairyland Caverns.  The Cavern is filled with tableaux of such fairytales set into the walls of the underground walkway.

Entering the Caverns.

We found such a collection of fairytales depicted here plus a giant Mother Goose Village at the end with all our remembered nursery rhymes depicted.  These characters are all old German woodcarvings and many are nearly a hundred years old.

Little Red Riding Hood avoids the wolf!

If you have never been here and have a couple of free hours around Chattanooga, it is well worth the twenty dollar admission.

Jack Sprat and his wife.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

At The State Fair

 It has been years since I have been to the North Carolina State Fair in Raleigh.  Trish has never been, so, we started this trip with car service in Durham and an afternoon at the Fair.

I was expecting things to be as I remembered them, but, times and interests (and perhaps COVID) have changed the Fair.  There were so many more rides and food booths than ever in the past.  And, the rides were more TERRIBLE than ever…if you are inclined to motion sickness.  We stood back, watched, and listened to the screams!

Too high up for me!

The Fair was very short on animals.  In older times there were whole buildings filled with chickens, rabbits, goats, and other animals.  This year there seemed to be mostly cows and pigs with a scattering of goats and mixed poultry.  No exotics!  We missed that.

A tired mama with her new babies.

What we enjoyed most were the giant champion pumpkins and watermelons.  If we ever managed to grow something like this, we would never be able to lift it to bring it to the Fair.  We were really filled with admiration at calculating how many average pounds per day the giant pumpkins would have to gain.

Hundreds of pounds of pumpkins!

We finished our visit at the antique tractors while we watched others come staggering off their unwise ride choices.  That’s enough Fair for us for a while.

The old tractors carry many childhood memories.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

A Little Break at Home

 We got home on Tuesday for a small break before hitting the road again.  This time of year is so beautiful on the island; temperature in the 70’s with clear days and lots of sun.  When we got home, our son, Jonathan, and his wife, Kahran, were already here for the week.  This might be their last excursion before their baby comes at the end of November.

Enjoying the porch.

When we get home, we always enjoy walking around the yard to see what has changed since we were home last.  Right in the driveway there had come up some kind of volunteer vine, we don’t know from where.  As we looked at it, we found that it had five melons on it, some kind of muskmelon or cantaloupe it seems.  Where did this come from?  No clue, but we will take it!

Melons in the driveway!

We also look for living things.  Right in the front yard was a very active land terrapin.  This one was not shy and we followed it until it crossed the road and disappeared into the bushes over on the other side.  There were also loads of little green frogs on our banana trees.  We love these little creatures since they live in mosquitos!  We leave them in charge as we leave again today.

Crossing the road.


Sunday, October 10, 2021

Finishing at The Swag

After six unbroken days and nights of rain, the sun finally came out for the weekend!  We have not been hiking all week, but, finally Saturday was a hiking day.

A good picnic day at Gooseberry Knob.

 The Saturday picnic got to be outside at Gooseberry Knob instead of inside as it had to be on Wednesday. Afterwards we had a lovely hike back around the nature trail and by the Swag Pond. It was then a beautiful afternoon to spend the rest of the day outdoors.

We are at 5,000 fee elevation here and often look out on top of the clouds.

This afternoon I brought the car up where we could begin to pack for leaving in the morning.  It has been parked in the trees behind our house all week.  When I got it, you could see that a bear had visited!  There were two large paw prints on the engine hood and a big muddy belly mark across the grill.  Glad it didn’t jump up on top!

Bear prints on the car.  Glad we didn’t meet it in the night.

Friday, October 8, 2021

Back at The Swag

 Trish and I are spend this week at The Swag, the Great Country Inn Of the Smokies, where I do storytelling and lead hikes a couple of weeks each year.

From the Porch of the Main House.

It has rained every day and night of the week, and, we have had no hikes this week.  With all of the mud and rain the trails are slick with fallen leaves and acorns.  We don’t want any serious falls so we are being extra cautious.  Instead we have been having two story times each day instead of just one.

Pretty leaves make slippery trails.

Even with the rain we have poked around outdoors since the fall wildflowers are giving us their last show of the season.  We love to see the plants turning their priority to seed production and the end of year blooms.

When the white bane berry goes to seed, the result is Doll’s Eyes.

No matter what the weather, we always have a lovely time here, near my home town.

Trish beautifies the garden gate on her birthday!

At the Peabody

 Trish and I left Athens yesterday morning and started toward California.  We are in no real hurry so we stopped for the night at the Peabod...