Category: Travel

Iron Bowl Day in Southwest Virginia

It’s Iron Bowl day in Southwest Virginia, and I feel like I’m in a foreign country.

It’s a long way from Tuscaloosa, but I talked with Number One Son a few moments ago and he’s there, primed and ready. He promised me that he will have no voice at the end of this game and that regardless of what happens, he will probably cry.

Here’s to tears of joy.

My heart stopped this morning when I looked at the TV listings in the sports page of The Roanoke Times and saw the Houston v. Rice game listed on CBS instead of the Iron Bowl.… Read the rest

British Emily Gets A Little Cheeky

I’m pleased to report that we made it to Grandma’s house in Virginia, GPS notwithstanding.

I thought I would spice things up a bit for the trip by switching from “American Jill” to “British Emily.” Nothing personal against Jill, mind you, but I’ve always been something of an Anglophile, gravitating toward C.S. Lewis, Manchester United, James Bond and the like.

I felt downright sophisticated traveling up the interstate with British Emily’s smooth, cultivated King’s English guiding my every turn. She practically paid for herself just west of Knoxville when she nailed that Mellow Mushroom, one of our family favorites and the unofficial pizza of Southeastern Conference Football, just seconds before we would have passed that exit by.… Read the rest

Guide Me O Thou Great GPS–And Talk Sexy To Me While You’re At It!

garmin_nuvi_750_001.jpgI did a double take when I filled up the trusty German sports sedan at Sam’s Wholesale Club the other night.

Was the final total really only $33? I took off my glasses, checked for smudges, rubbed my eyes, put them back on again and stood there staring at the digital readout. I wasn’t seeing double. I was seeing half.

I looked around and the mood among my fellow customers was one of great jubilation. One man was happily chattering into his cell phone, “Can you believe this?” Another finished filling up his Ford F-150 Double Cab, stared at the final total and started bawling like a baby, tears of unadulterated joy flowing like a river down his ruddy cheeks.… Read the rest

The Old Shoes Never Fit So Fine

As long as you notice, and have to count the steps, you are not yet dancing but only learning to dance. A good shoe is a shoe you don’t notice. Good reading becomes possible when you need not consciously think about eyes, or light, or print, or spelling. The perfect church service would be the one we were almost unaware of; our attention would have been on God.

–C.S. Lewis

This is the Roanoke Church of Christ, the congregation where I grew up in the 1960s and 70s. As is our custom, we visited and worshiped there during our recent trip to Virginia.… Read the rest

On Otter’s Summit We Made Our Stand

The last time I climbed Sharp Top Mountain, one of the two Peaks of Otter in Bedford County, Virginia, was in 1997. That year, I was in training for a marathon and had just run my first 20-miler. The very next day, my “recovery” day, I hiked the strenuous, 1.5 mile trail to the top of Sharp Top as if it were a mere stroll in the park.

A lot has changed in 11 years. This year, I only ran 4 miles and then hiked the very vertical trail to the top of Sharp Top the next day. And while I did feel a little more strain than last time, I’m pleased to report that I made it to the summit with oxygen to spare, passing several huffing and puffing younger men along the way.… Read the rest

“We the People” Are a Motley and Colorful Crew

My Huntsville Times community column this month is dedicated to Chris and Suzanne, Jane, Father Ray, Marquez, Maricela and many others (e.g., Nic and Diane, Uncle Dick, M.C., Mike and Jeanette and their three fine sons and, of course, Elsie) who made our recent Washington D.C. trip one to remember but whose names I didn’t mention because they limit me to only 680 words.

But I mention them now because it’s my blog and I can if I want to!

Let freedom ring, baby.… Read the rest

Color Me Audacious

Recently, during a Bible class at my church, the teacher, a man in his early 30s, said something to this effect: I wish we could return to our 1950s morality.

I immediately thought: Which 1950s morality are you talking about? The black and white, warm and fuzzy, cut and dry predictability of Ozzie and Harriet or the black and white Jim Crow laws and state-supported racism which consigned a significant portion of our Southern population to second-class citizenship, public lynchings and other various and sundry travesties of justice?

And what year were you born in? 1975? What could you possibly know about “1950s morality?”Read the rest

Take That, Mein Führer!

Number Two is “wheels down” in Huntsville after his three week tour of Germany/Austria/Switzerland. Huzzah!

We were expecting more of a grungy, grizzled Euro-backpacker look upon his return. Instead, we got this:


I guess he got a good night’s sleep and a chance to freshen up a bit at that Ho-Jo in Philly.

He also brought back a handsome stash of stuff that included Euro ’08 t-shirts, candy galore, soccer mini-balls, shot glasses for all his friends, a lovely wooden miniature Christmas tree for Eyegal and this little jewel for me:


That’s not just any Swiss Army Knife. That’s one that came direct from Switzerland.… Read the rest

Hey, US Airways: Plplplplplpt!

We had the perfect evening planned: Attend the opening night party at the new Barnes and Noble at Bridge Street Plaza and then head out to Huntsville International Airport (that’s right, international airport) to meet Number Two Son as he returned home from Germany.

But then he called from Philadelphia. They had flown from Frankfort, made it through customs, checked their bags again (which made their way onto their flight to Charlotte), and then ran to the gate only to find that the US-Air agent had just sold all sixteen of their seats to standby customers.

Again, mind you, their bags made it onto the plane, but they didn’t.… Read the rest

When in Spain–Or Vienna–Do as the Spaniards Do

Eyegal and I are back home from our D.C. excursion, a little exhausted, but full of stories and good memories of the people and places we saw.

But our travels pale in comparison to Number Two Son. He’s currently on a 3-week tour of Germany, Austria and Switzerland with a group of students from Huntsville. About a year ago he approached us with the idea of going, and since then he has worked hard to help pay for it, including a lot of 5:00 am lifeguarding shifts at the local YMCA.

All that hard work has payed off. From what we’ve heard, he’s having an incredible experience so far.… Read the rest

How to Do D.C.

Eyegal and I have been in Washington, D.C. since Wednesday for a little getaway plus a friend’s wedding, and we’ve compiled a list of tips on how to “do D.C.” I’ll probably have more to say about my impressions of this wonderful city and the wedding later in the week, but since we’re traveling back today this will have to do for now:

  • For outdoor touring, pick the one day in the summer when the temperature tops out at a mere 75 degrees with only a trace of humidity and a few scattered clouds. Oh wait–that was last Thursday and probably won’t happen again anytime soon.
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I Got In The Truck

tow-truck.jpgI promised everyone more details regarding my “mad, moonlit dash into L. A. (Lower Alabama) with a chain-smoking, Diet Coke-swilling insomniac tow truck driver named Keith.”

In my community column in this coming Sunday’s Huntsville Times, I’ll deliver.

Looking back, I had two choices. I could have simply given the keys and a note to the dealer to Keith and had him deliver the car by himself and checked on it the next day as we drove through Montgomery on the way home. Or, I could get in the truck and see what adventures lay in store along U.S. 331 on a Friday night in the heart of the Deep South.… Read the rest

Breakfast, Seagrove Beach


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The Eyeguy Was There


But he’s not anymore–he’s somewhere else, far, far away. But the Eyefam is still “there.” The story of why they’re still “there” and why I’m “here” is a complex, heartrending saga of trouble in paradise. One that features a stuttering, sputtering Audi A4 with faulty ignition coils, a tense afternoon spent on the phone plotting an escape, and then a mad, moonlit dash into L. A. (Lower Alabama) with a chain-smoking, Diet Coke-swilling insomniac tow truck driver named Keith.

More details to follow.… Read the rest