Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Elvis Has Left The Blog

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Tuesday I was to go to Memphis. Unfortunately I was struck by a form of Ernest Angley disorder (see Ernest Angley Makes Me Sick), so I slept in and consequently did not get to Memphis in time to visit Elvis's Graceland. Oh well. Maybe I will see him at a truck stop enjoying a fried bologna sandwich.

On my way out of town, I spotted a billbord featuring Lindsay Boling, captain and star of the University of Louisville soccer team. Lindsay is the daughter of my high school friend Brenda Shearn Boling and her husband Skip. I could not get a photo, so proud momma Brenda was happy to send me one.

I stopped briefly at the Jim Beam Distillery in Clermont, Kentucky, primarily to get this shot. That's the Clermont Baptist Church, nestled in among bourbon aging barns. I particularily like the guys rolling out barrels from the barn on the left.

Several years ago we brought our adolescent nieces here (nice job, Uncle Ted and Aunt Cheri!). They were grossed out by the black mold that grows on the barns. See, an alterior motive, get them turned off of bourbon. Wonder if it stuck...

In Jackson, Tennessee, I stopped at Casey Jones Village. I liked the elevated caboose. Kinda like the elevated VWs I saw earlier (see Leicester, Vermont and Amsterdam, New York).

I spent the night at the Horseshoe Casino in Tunica, Mississippi. I won enough to pay for my room!

Wednesday: down the Mississippi to Baton Rouge, Louisiana to see my college friend Tim Stoll.

A Big Bat and A Big Bat

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Monday I spent in Louisville. First I paid a visit to the Hadley Pottery factory and picked up a few pieces with patterns that Cheri and I do not already have (Hadley is our everyday dishware).

Then downtown for some real blog-worthy shots. Here the handle of the World's Largest Bat pokes above the five-story brick edifice of the Louisville Slugger Museum.

Then, just down the street, there is another World's Largest Bat. It hangs upside down and clings to the brick wall of Caufield's, a costume and decoration store.

BTW, the world's biggest bat is actually the Malayan Flying Fox. Click the link to see one at the Columbus Zoo. Just a fun fact from your favorite zoo dude.

On the same street as the world's two largest bats is a strange monument. A plaque on a small concrete pedestal remembers the writers of the song "Happy Birthday to You" -- two sisters who published a book titled Song Stories for the Kindergarten and altered the lyrics to one song to create the immortal HBTY. No mention of the equally immortal "You live in a zoo" version.

The plaque claims "the song has since become one of the three most popular songs in the English language." Poll: What would the other two be? (cuz I do not know). I am guessing one is "Row, Row, Row Your Boat."

The song is still protected by copyright and will remain so until 2030. If you hear the tune belted out in chain restaurants or in a movie party scene, someone must cough up a royalty payment to the current copyright holders.

Local beer report: Actually out of Boulder, Colorado, but plenty good: Ellie's Brown by Avery Brewing Company. Who can resist a brew featuring a choclate lab?

Tuesday: Memphis and Tunica, Mississippi.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Cousins Round VI

I spent a terrific evening with (left to right) my Uncle Ned Lawrence, his wife Maryanne, and my cousin Bill Lawrence (Ned's son).

Ned is 88 years young, and regularily shoots his age playing golf. Bill is president of an amazing company, CRS Reprocessing, that recycles industrial lubricants among other things. He has been "green" long before green was cool.

We got caught up on all of our family news (I am now a font of knowledge), traded heart health stories, reminised on old times (especially surrounding Ned's pool, a wonderful magnet for memories) and even had some good ole political discussions (or rants, in Ned's case).

Ned said I should write that he is "the same old SOB he has always been." I would be dismayed if it were any other way.

I received an email from my friend Sloane Graff:
"In response to the 'Hummer Flipping' Project, I have started the 'Prius Flipping' Project. The inaugural flip is attached. This is for people who enjoy the effects of global warming and own Exxon stock."

A day in Louisville with my sister Ellen, then off to Memphis.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Tennessee Parthenon and Kentucky Stonhenge

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Saturday I spent in Nashville before heading to Louisville. Burkley and Newton Allen were determined to make sure I got a blog-worthy shot of a Nashville icon. As we did not know any country music stars, we decided on the Parthenon.

The Parthenon stands proudly as the centerpiece of Centennial Park, Nashville's premier urban park. The re-creation of the 42-foot statue Athena is the focus of the Parthenon just as it was in ancient Greece. The building and the Athena statue are both full-scale replicas of the Athenian originals.

Naturally, we got a shot of me posing with Athena.

We dodged rain drops and enjoyed a crafts fair in the park. I am hauling back a couple of treasures in the CRV.

As I have visited a variety of "Stonhenges" in my adventure (see Foamhenge and America's Stonhenge), a visit to Kentucky Stonehenge seemed appropriate. It is on private property in Munfordville, Kentucky. Though not to scale or an exact replica, it was pretty cool. It was built from stone in the area.

This self portrait missed the most prominent stone formation, but caught the abandoned tennis court on the left. Remind you of anything, Sloane?

I made another stop in my pursuit of the "World's Biggest..." Here is the World's Tallest Crucifix. It stands 60 feet high in the St. Thomas Cemetary in Bardstown, Kentucky. It is an abstract piece meant as a memorial to four priests. Art or Not Art?

Next: My return to Louisville to see my Uncle Ned and cousin Bill Lawrence (and my sister Ellen).

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Chicamauga, Chattanooga, and Nashville

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Friday morning I took blue highways north from Rome, Georgia towards Chattanooga, with the ultimate goal of reaching Nashville.

My route took me right through the Chickamauga Battlefield, an important battle in the Civil War. My focus in my history studies at Davidson was on the Civil War, so I stopped to soak in some of the almost palpable history. I had not problem picturing infantry charging out of the trees into the teeth of cannon fire.

I got a kick out of this historical marker, not because of what it said, but because it clearly had been under water recently with the flooding in the area. You can see grass hanging on one corner.

On to Chattanooga and the superb Tennessee Aquarium. I really enjoyed this visit, not only because of the well laid out exhibits and animals other than sea creatures, but because of the large number of staff and volunteers around that I got to chat with.

Here was my favorite staff person at the Aquarium, Anne. She has worked there five years -- started as a volunteer. She was pretty tired, telling crabby tourists that the otters were sleeping in the back.

I wonder if I should have been worried when I found buckets catching drips in the Aquarium.

Here we got to feed shrimp to sting rays. Very cool. Hard to believe one of these got the Crocodile Hunter.

On to Nashville, where I stayed with college friends Newton and Burkley Mann Allen. We went out to the home of Carolyn Watt Cantwell and Jeff Catwell for dinner. Carolyn served dessert on napkins instead of plates, and warned me not to include that in the blog. So I won't. That's Carolyn about to choke me, with Jeff on the left, and Burkley and Newton on the right.

We had a fabulous time catching up, trading barbs, and freely giving our opinions on how to make the world a better place. Carolyn and Jeff are deeply involved in a non-profit to help East African refugees in the area, and doing great, if frustrating, work. Newton is an internist and accomplished musican, and Burkley is a recently laid off engineer, so we commiserated on deciding on what to do when we grow up.

Carolyn was concerned that we did not spend enough time talking "life philosophies." I beg to differ... seeing and hearing how my friends and relatives live, react, and interact, as well as what makes them tick, is the kind of life philosophy collection I have richly enjoyed.

Carolyn was bound and determined to make the visit blog worthy. She said "I want you to write that this was the best stop in your whole adventure!" As requested, I have written those very words.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Soup For You!

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Thursday I headed out of Atlanta to Rome, Georgia.

But first I was a "soup dude" at Clyde's Kitchen, part of Crossroads Ministries for the homeless in downtown Atlanta. Fontaine is a regular volunteer there. Here we are right afterward, smelling of soup, various body odors (not all our own), and good feelings.

I really enjoyed spending time with the volunteers and the homeless folks. Despite my Atlanta Braves T-shirt, I was asked about my Seattle Mariners cap more than once, and one guy hit me up for a ride to Seattle. Sorry, dude.

I then headed up the road to Rome, Georgia, and the home of Jim and Brenda Crane. Jim and I were roommates one year at Davidson, and I had the pleasure of being part of his first wedding. He has since divorced and married Brenda, and is enjoying life as a urologist and avid sailor. Catching up with Jim and hearing his tales of personal struggle was enlightening. And we enjoyed watching The Office (just like we used to watch M*A*S*H back in college). You know, important stuff.

I got another puppy fix there too. This is Zeke, Jim and Brenda's Jack Russell.

Friday I am off to Nashville for another Davidson mini-reunion with Burkley Mann Allen and her husband Newton, and Carolyn Watt Cantwell and her husband Jeff.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Land of a Thousand Golf Carts

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Have you ever wondered what a town would look like if electric cars were the rule rather than the exception?
  • Picture a town with 7500 electric cars registered...

  • Where the high-school has special parking designated for electric cars...

  • Where most all the households have at least one electric car...

  • Where the kids do their first driving behind the wheel of an electric car (safer!)...

  • Where the moms run them to school and soccer in the electric car (saving money on gas)...

The town is Peachtree City, Georgia... and the electric cars are golf carts. There are some 90 miles of golf cart paths connecting the residences with the businesses and parks and churches and libraries and schools, and - oh, yeah, the golf course. You never have to drive your regular car if you don't want to, as long as you don't leave Peachtree City.

My friend George McKelvy teaches at McIntosh High School in Peachtree City. It was amazing to see the hundreds of golf carts at the school. As 15 year olds can drive the carts in Peachtree City, nearly every student has one.

Catching up with George, as well as his wife Julie, was great. George taught with me at Woodward Academy, and later moved on the earn his Phd and teach at Georgia Tech before returning to the high school ranks. Despite publishing text books, he is a true teacher and loves the classroom and the students. He doubles as annoucer at all the school's sporting events.

And look at George... the perfect Santa Claus. He does that too, at church functions.

I do believe George either knows everyone, or knows someone who does. And he is a huge repository of tales of both humor and wisdom. Thanks for sharing, George.

For those hankering for more beer reports, tonight I had Red Brick Pale Ale, from the Atlanta Brewing Company. They were out of the Blonde, which I really wanted. Overall good; nothing special.

Tomorrow: Rome, Georgia to see college roomate Jim Crane.

World of Coke and a World of Hurt

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Tuesday in Atlanta turned out to be a beautiful, nearly cloudless day. The floodwaters receded leaving a mess around town, but did not deter me from seeing some sights.

I headed to the new World of Coke, a gigantic advertisement for the planet's favorite beverage. It is single-focus TaT on a giant corporate scale, as opposed to the single-focus TaT on a small-town scale in Mt. Airy (Mayberry). Here I am outside. The giant bottle suspended in the tower just right of my head is quite impressive.

Gotta love folk art. I seem to be attracted to it on this journey. Here are some of Coke's version.

We all know Coke is a big part of pop culture. For instance, this is the sofa used on American Idol, Season Five. I wish now I had someone take my picture sitting on it.

I enjoyed the bottling and the tasting area. We were encouraged to try the various beverages from Asia, Latin America, and Europe, especially one named "Beverly" from Italy. It was horrendous. My favorite was Braq's Red Creme Soda (North America). I will be looking for that one.

Afterwards I drove by Centenial Olympic Park, and was debating going to the CNN Center. Unfortunately I got rear ended right outside CNN. Not much damage, but a pain in the rear. Literally and figuratively. The claim is already in, and I will get it repaired in Texas.

I was hit by a Honda Element, not this Hummer.

Tuesday night Fontaine and I headed out into the countryside to visit with our high school friend Chip McIlvain, who neither of us had seen in thirty years. Chip has been working for years as a special ed teacher, and is a successful lacrosse coach (despite never seeing a stick until he started coaching). He and I were soccer teammates in high school, and soccer opponents in college, as he played at Furman.

Chip gets the award for having the youngest children among my high school and college friends, with boys Will, 5, and Sam, 3. Here are Fontaine and me (left) with Chip and his wife LeighAnn (right).

And here is the McIlvain's pound puppy, Moose. Always gotta get a puppy fix. Should I feel guilty not photographing Will and Sam?

Wednesday I am visiting with George McKelvy, my collegue when we both taught at Woodward Academy.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Rain Rain Go Away

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I arrived in Atlanta on Sunday night, after driving through some torrential rain. And it rained some more, all day Monday. I mean, it was like Noah-type rain. And this after rain all weekend. Flooding ensued everywhere. Here is a good description from a Facebook entry by my college classmate Ifor Williams, who lives in Atlanta:

"Typical Atlanta street view from Tuesday morning, 9/22/09. Peachtree Creek's flood waters have receded leaving a thin veneer of mud over everything it touched. A tree across the road means time to turn around and find another way through. After the flood the price of the house on the left might need to be further "Reduced."

I am staying with my high school friend Fontaine Kohler, and we are high and dry, though having to find alternate ways to leave the neighborhood. Her son Kohler attends Westminister School, and gave me these shots of their football field and other athletic fields. It took him an hour and a half to get home (normally 5 minutes) due to road blockages. Schools in the area were closed Tuesday. First I have heard of a "flood-day."

On a more pleasant note, Fontaine has an 11 year old black lab, Sapphire, and a 4 month old pound puppy, Milo. Needless to say I am getting my puppy fix.

Monday night I visited with my friend Mike Brooks. We met as counselors at Camp Covered Bridge (Boy Scout Camp) in Kentucky years ago and have kept in touch. Mike works in public health for the Center for Disease Control. I am impressed at how green he is; he even rides his Vespa Scooter the 8 miles to work daily. Better yet, he has a border collie, Zoe (and two cats), and brews a mean beer. His "Vespa Red" was lovely (I had the less hoppy variety). Could give "Murray's Special" a run at the Happy Puppy.

Off to do some sightseeing Tuesday, weather permitting, and Fontaine and I will go visit our high school friend Chip McIlvain.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Cousins Round V

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Sunday I got to visit with my cousin Deborah Jones Wettler and her husband Jim in Monroe, North Carolina. Deborah works as a fitness instructor, working primarily in the water with kids and disabled folks. Jim oversees the residency program in Family Medicine at a nearby medical center.

We had a great time filling in each other's family history. I have so enjoyed reconnecting with family. It has been so long since we have seen each other she calls me "Teddy" and I called her "Debbie." Actually we figured the last time was at Ian and Monica's wedding eons ago (see Cousins Round I - Deborah is the second of the four children of Aunt Sue and Uncle Max). All Jones cousins, fair warning! Deborah is preparing to start planning a reunion, likely in Buffalo/Canada, for June 2011. Two years seems like enough warning to get everyone there!

I got my puppy fix with with my "cousins" Stella the rat terrier-Jack Russell mix (on the back of the sofa, just like my beagle Isabelle) and young airedale Tessa.

I then headed for Atlanta. I made a stop to snap a shot of the famous water tower in Gaffney, South Carolina, which is painted to look like a peach.

Here is a Flip a Hummer shot in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

I will be in Atlanta for several days, so be patient for my next entry.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Davidson College

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Friday, September 18, I took blue highways to make the short drive from Hickory to Davidson, North Carolina.

As always, I made a stop, this time in Mooresville, North Carolina, where I posed with this huge fiberglass moose. I am the one without the anthlers.

BTW, Mooresville was also the site of my student teaching experience, at Mooresville High School. Additionally, my beer for this stop was Carolina Blonde, by the Carolina Beer Company right here in Mooresville. Absolutely excellent and Happy Puppy worthy.

Despite the threat of rain during my visit to Davidson College Friday and Saturday, campus was as beautiful as ever. I am amazed how much has changed and yet has stayed the same. They have taken great care to assure that anything new fit in with the old. Check out the students practicing the unique Davidson game of flickerball on the lawn of Chambers. DC continues to be a truly special place.

I had a great visit with one of my wonderful Davidson friends, Carol Robinson. She is a special ed teacher at a nearby middle school. Carol reminded me how long lasting our college friendships are, and how important they both were and have become.

Here we are with Laura Renaud, Bunny's daughter, who is a student at DC. I had delivered a "Care Package" from Bunny to Laura. Bunny added a note that the contents were for Laura's hall (Laura is an RA), to which I replied, "Yeah, sure." Laura's reaction to Bunny's note was, "Yeah, sure."

I managed to get the requisite eye roll from Carol on this shot. This is a new scupture outside the Library, called "Homage to Rodin." Laura said it is known as the "Booger." Hence my pose.

As I left Davidson this afternoon I passed Cornelius Presbyterian Church, which served as such a wonderful anchor for many of us back in the day. The pastor was Didi Whalen, who made a great impression on me. I was pleased to see the Whalen Christian Discipleship Center at the church, in honor of Didi and his wife Jayne.

On to Cousins Round V with Debra Jones Wettler in Monroe, North Carolina.